Al Salam Private School: A strategic learning partnership

Al Salam Private School was established 30 year ago in the northeast of Dubai. With students from over 50 countries including a 20% cohort of Emirati nationality. The school has a long-established track record of diversity underpinned with inclusion, yet firmly in the UAE context.

The journey of deployment took several carefully crafted stages of strategic deployment in the first term of 2017-18 to ensure that the whole curricula from EYFS, Primary through to Secondary and A level was mapped out in Classroom Monitor.”

Mr K. Amin-Ali, Principle at Al Salam Private School

The school has consistently high academic outcomes and ranks in the top 10 schools in the UAE over the past years, and its rankings in the international TIMSS surpasses Singapore in Year 9 (Grade 8) in 2015.

Yet despite such clear high attainment, there is a need to ensure all students make exceptional progress. This ensures a culture of adding value is firmly embedded in the learning at Al Salam. Student-teacher dialogue about progress over time, progress in lessons, responding to feedback to demonstrate progress in learning are all vital elements of Al Salam’s shift to increased effective formative assessment. Highly effective parental partnerships have also formed this triangulation of stakeholder engagement.

Al Salam continues to embrace innovation and has a clear future focus to ensure all its stakeholders are not disadvantaged on the wrong side of the digital divide to support this exciting journey.

As one of the few ‘Google for Education Reference Schools’ in the UAE and an ‘Acer Innovative School’ as awarded recently in Brussels by EuropeSchoolsNet, Al Salam built on this by implementing Classroom Monitor in August 2017, using the impressive online markbooks in the platform to map out the UAE Ministry of Education Curriculum, the Cambridge International primary curriculum and the GCSE and A level curriculum objectives.

Before adopting Classroom Monitor, the assessment system was biased towards summative assessments and formal reporting at the end of the academic term. Spreadsheets were used to collect data, such as informal evaluations and test marks for the students. These spreadsheets were created with a rubric scoring guide to evaluate the students’ performance. A report based on the cumulative scores were given to parents at the end of every term. Response to data internally was often in hindsight, with a term’s retrospective analysis. This was, by default, historic and could be considered lacking impact as the curriculum progress had been ongoing.

The deployment journey took several carefully crafted stages of strategic deployment in the first term of 2017-18 to ensure that the whole curricula from EYFS, Primary through to Secondary and A level was mapped out in Classroom Monitor.

The majority of the school’s framework is the Cambridge International primary curriculum. One of the many strengths of Classroom Monitor is the availability of the lesson objectives to be online in the cloud. This has enabled flexible working for staff and supported the teachers planning to modify the curriculum and evaluate students with learning difficulties.

Following this, the assessment cycle was adapted to ensure all the UAE statutory requirements were met. The Cambridge curricula expectations were aligned to ensure full delivery for Checkpoint External assessments in Years 6 and 9. Our results show that students have been above the world average in all three core subjects, English, Maths and Science, which is even more remarkable given a near 100% EAL (English as an additional language) cohort.

Classroom Monitor has significantly aided this outstanding achievement. For teachers, the interface and the adaptability are two of its strongest features. It allows quick and direct access for teachers to track and monitor individual students’ progress. This has enabled timely intervention to ensure no student is left underachieving. Consequently, the achievement of curriculum objectives is met or exceeded in almost all instances.

In addition, the ability to upload evidence of learning by way of a digital note, photo or video has also been a very powerful tool for teachers and support staff in the classroom.

Middle Leadership have been able to carry out benchmark analysis and view individual students or cohorts achievement from previous years. This is especially useful for external audits such as school Inspections. It clearly shows attainment and progress over time, over a Key Stage and even from Primary to Secondary transition.

For Senior Leaders, it has shifted the dialogue towards progress during line management. Cohort analysis allows accountability to be clarified. It enables focused discussions on achievement by cohort such as gender, SEND, EAL, to name but three.

The main impact on Al Salam School is the centralisation of data systems, its flexibility of any time, anywhere assessment. This has resulted in a broadened scope of formative assessment. From a reporting aspect, individual student assessment summaries are sent monthly to parents providing a suitable format of students’ achievement and ensuring an ongoing dialogue of progress of learning is always at the heart of a student’s achievement.

From the depth and breadth of its use, Al Salam certainly recommends Classroom Monitor.

Al Salam intends to be supporting future curriculum development in embedding UAE curricula and other frameworks, working closely with Classroom Monitor.