The Aquila School: Embracing Modern Education with Conventional Means

The kind of education that children receive in their formative years decides the course of their career and personality.

The commercial and competitive scenario in the country has forced the education sector, especially the schools, to focus intensively on the syllabus.

Schools are for the overall growth of the students. Though the focus has been distracted from the fundamental purpose of schools, some of these are effectively making a difference by providing young minds with overall development.

Providing children with appropriate experience from the beginning of their school education will help them be effective in what they do. It also enhances the students’ learning abilities. During our quest to find exceptional schools providing holistic development, for our latest edition – The 10 best International Schools in Dubai, we came across The Aquila School. The school has adopted the English National Curriculum to provide its students with a relevant and engaging learning experience.

Establishment of The Aquila School

This unique learning-focused school opened its doors in September 2018. In a short period of over three years, the school has grown rapidly. With fantastic learning experiences, the school is close to approaching a strength of 900 students from FS1 to year nine.

The school has adopted the English National Curriculum and has designed its syllabus to emphasise learning through inquiry. This approach has allowed the school and students to rely less on textbooks and worksheets. Instead, the school is focused on creating meaningful learning experiences for every child.

“We are proud to be the flagship school for International Schools Partnership (ISP). Therefore, we are privileged to have a purpose-built facility with a range of facilities that enhance our curriculum offering. These include: two swimming pools, science labs, three libraries, design technology workshops, computer suites, indoor sports halls, specialist EYFS play areas, a food technology suite, a hydroponics farm, and much more,” says the Principal of the school, Mr Wayne Howsen.

Mission and Vision of the School

There are very few schools that have a clear vision and works on it for the betterment of the community. The Aquila School has articulated its vision through every member of its community. From every adult present on the campus to its students, the school underpins its vision in everything they do.

Being a part of a happy community means providing an amazing learning experience to its students, The Aquila School is on the mission to boost the growth of every pupil. To achieve this noble milestone, the school has adapted to a unique method that allows the students to make choices and have a meaningful learning experience. This method, along with an overall growing experience, also helps the students to be progress-oriented.

Apart from that, the school’s values established in its foundation are respect, kindness, excellence, empowerment, cooperation, and honesty.

Course Objective and Learning Outcomes

The Aquila School has a modern curriculum, yet it believes not to overthrow the traditional methods. The school administration understands the importance of reading and has developed the curriculum to ensure children read.

“We want our children to develop a love of reading and make as much progress as possible across all areas of our curriculum. We want our children to be inspired, to love learning, and for our curriculum to be broad and balanced,” says Mr Wayne Howsen.

Embedding Quality Education with Continuous Learning

The school believes in the continuous learning process for students and teachers. Students at the school are carefully monitored and assessed on the basis of the progress, attainment, and standards they maintain at the school.

“At The Aquila School, we do not take ourselves seriously, but we take what we do seriously. As such, we expect our teachers to be effective, and we hold them accountable for the quality of education they provide and the progress our pupils make. We also empower our teachers to teach our children what they need to learn right now,” added Mr Wayne.

Adapting to e-Learning

Being a modern and new age school, The Aquila School quickly adapted e-learning methods. The changing paradigm of the education sector helped oversee the effective learning means. Despite that, the school values the conventional face-to-face education strategies, which the school’s management believes is ideal for a student to grow, evolve, and learn.

“We adapted to e-learning very quickly, and we are delighted to have received the highest rating of ‘developed’ from the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) for our distance learning provision. As a school, we also know that nothing can replicate the experience of learning face-to-face in school, and that is why we are very happy that this year we have no children regularly learning at home. In our school, we follow the COVID rules strictly whilst ensuring our children are safe, happy, and learning. We are transparent about the COVID situation in our school, and as such, our families have trust in the way we implement the rules,” says the school management.

An Astonishing Leader with a Modern Vision

The school is led by Mr Wayne Howsen, an astonishing personality with a futuristic vision. Under his leadership, the school has seen rapid growth, and within three years, The Aquila School is near to achieving the milestone of 1000 students.

“International Schools Partnership (ISP) empowers every school that they own to be the school of choice of their community, and as such, there is no one size that fits all. The philosophy of our school – supported by ISP, is driven by myself as the school principal, as well as my leadership team led by our Head of Primary and Head of Secondary. ISP provides many international learning opportunities for our pupils, ranging from math challenges, reading initiatives, Model United Nations, and sustainability projects – enhancing the overall experience for our pupils,” says Mr Wayne, emphasising the school’s development arc and enhancing the educational scenario in Dubai.

“As a school, we want to keep it really simple. We want to keep our children safe, happy, and learning. We regularly communicate with families about what is happening so that they know what is going on in our school. We say yes to as many opportunities as we can, especially if it is going to give our children an experience they will remember forever, or something that will actually help them with their learning, no matter how much work it is for us,” added the school’s higher authority.

Maximum Student Engagement Model

The school is home to students aged from 3 to 14 years, and everyone in the school is part of the Aquila School family. The school understands the importance of quality communication and coordination between students from different grades.

Extra-curricular and co-curricular activities are set at the core of the school. The school hosts various themed weeks that engage students in practical learning with an effective student engagement model.

To maintain maximum student engagement on the campus, the school’s Principal has designed a unique CAS activity, an activity-based learning model that encourages engagement and learning. “In terms of our after-school CAS activities (community, action, and service) – because pupil choice is at the heart of what we do, we ask our children what CAS activities they would like at the beginning of the year. These are sorted into creative, cultural, academic, and sporting groups for our teachers to run based on their interest and expertise. We offer these free of charge to all our primary and secondary pupils. Ultimately our CAS provision is chosen and directed by our pupils’ interests.”

Preparing Students for the Future

“I believe that children are the future – teach them well and let them lead the way. Every day is about preparing our children for the next stage of their education. We are not focused on explaining ‘this is what transitioning from FS to year 1, or from year 1 to year 2 is like.’ We are more focused on ensuring that teachers communicate with each other, they are following a shared understanding of learning, and that the children are taught what they need to learn right now. Children are resilient and adapt quickly to change,” says Mr Wayne.

For the secondary school, the school management has initiated one of its kind programs called CEIAG, which focuses on Careers, Education, Information, Advice, and Guidance. This is to prepare and equip students with the required tools to help them receive formal education in later years. “We have implemented this programme from year 7, to ensure all pupils are exposed to all the possible careers they aspire to be. The primary aim of the CEIAG programme is to provide our pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about their career paths,” says Mr Wayne.

“In our secondary school, we also have a variety of life skill-developing opportunities for our pupils. These include Ted talks, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Residential trips, the World Scholars Cup, International Learning Opportunities with ISP, and other leadership opportunities,” Mr Wayne added.

The Next Big Step for the Aquila School

“We are excited that in the coming months, there will be an extension to our current school. The new building will have a canteen and even more specialist facilities for our secondary pupils. Our school has added a new year group every year and will continue to grow and develop to offer up to year 13 in the coming years,” said Mr Wayne Howsen, envisioning the future of the school.

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