Special report from HPL associate director Jeremy Reynolds
Our GEMS HPL schools, which began in September 2017, are now one term into their Award journey and making very good progress. The schools are Jumeirah College, Jumeirah Primary School, Royal Dubai School and Wellington International School, four of the highest performing and most visionary of the GEMS schools in Dubai and their individual variety and character is a great strength and feeds into a clearly emerging and mutually supportive group identity. As is a common approach to the HPL Award, each school is implementing things in a different way and with the first term of strategic planning and organisational setup behind them, the four GEMS schools have very exciting plans for the rest of this academic year. Currently completing my first monitoring visit to Dubai, including a group meeting plus visits to each individual Award school, it is brilliant to report back on what has been achieved and is being planned.
HPL has been launched with staff at Jumeirah Primary School and the Award has been received enthusiastically, with the school absolutely in the right position to embrace all that is involved. There is an emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning and seeking to achieve highly - e.g. with the school-wide phrase used in classrooms "Do it, use it own it"; other changes include an end to grouping by ability in Maths. The school is looking at how the HPL language of learning can tie into what is already in use and there is an understanding of how HPL will develop new areas and deepen existing ones. There is interest in how the ACP and VAA progression levels can help here and parents have been been made aware of the school's Award journey.
Rachel from Jumeirah Primary talks about how they have begun to implement HPL throughout the school.
Meeting with Jumeirah College's HPL Steering Group yielded a very interesting and productive discussion on how this group of staff could lead the way in the early stages of the school's adoption of HPL and ideas were given on how best to launch into the 'play and practice' strategy with ACPs and VAAs. Tracking the effectiveness and impact of HPL was very much in focus and one member of staff at the school has developed an interesting online approach for doing this that could well have wider applications.
GEMS Royal Dubai School, a primary school in a very different part of Dubai, with a larger Emirati pupil population of 18%, is again in exactly the right space for HPL, with their total emphasis on the quality of pupil learning. We were able to plan a very useful way in which the competencies and skills developed through HPL will tie in with the school's widely adopted 'Learning Wave' approach. At RDS, some very eloquent pupils were able to articulate the spirit, if not yet the language, of HPL!
My school visits concluded at Wellington International School, where lessons observed showed how much fertile ground there is for HPL to take root and the working group assembled is very enthusiastic and raring to get fully underway; the school also has planned an innovative HPL mentoring project involving Year 8 students in developing their understanding of specific ACPs in their lessons. The school intends to 'walk the walk' with HPL and both primary and secondary are united in embracing all aspects of their Award journey.
In their different approaches, albeit with many similarities, the four GEMS schools are fully engaged on their HPL Award journeys and everything augurs so well for the next stages. Already, we are seeing the possibilities of this group being the trailblazers for hopefully other GEMS schools taking on HPL in the near future and it is a fantastic group of schools to be working with.