Hartland International School is a UK curriculum school slated to open in September 2015. The state of the art school will be located in the Sobha Hartland area of Dubai, just 3 km from the Burj Khalifa and within the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City. With plans to integrate academic rigor, interactive learning and enrichment activities into the curriculum, the new school promises to deliver well-rounded education to its pupils. We caught up with the Principal of Hartland International School, Dr Paul Silverwood, to find out more about his vision for the school, his views on student discipline and ideas on how to create an effective classroom.
1. Dr Paul Silverwood, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in the UK and studied at Cambridge and Manchester Universities, before holding a number of leadership roles in the UK independent schools’ sector.
Most recently, I was Headmaster of a high performing boarding and day school in York, but joined Hartland International School as Founding Principal in July 2014, after an extremely successful tenure as Head Master at Queen Margaret’s, one of England’s premier independent (private) schools. I love classical music, dance, a variety of sports and current affairs.
2. How did you get into this profession and what motivates you?
I’ve always been passionate about learning in all its forms as it is a life-long motivator for me. From an early age I had always enjoyed facilitating others’ understanding and this progressed into wanting to open minds to new ideas, I also love the processes of enquiry, investigation and asking questions which are all key elements of education. Whilst at university and even after graduation, the most enjoyable parts of my day were training others and discussing their work and aspirations, and so it was a natural step to decide to train as a teacher.
3. What is your view of the quality of education being offered by schools in Dubai?
It’s great to see that education is a key priority in Dubai, and it is clear that schools are seeking to raise standards of student attainment and staff development. Schools in Dubai have a clear advantage to learn from best practices around the world as they attract students and teachers from all continents, so the result should be the highest quality of education in a variety of forms.
4. As the Principal of Hartland International School, are there any goals that you would want to reach in your school?
I am looking to establish a community school with a reputation for educating happy and fulfilled learners through a fully embedded personalised learning approach, through which every child is fully supported and challenged. We are going to have a tutorial system at the heart of our education, which enables students to set targets and also keeps parents connected through high quality communication. This is in addition to high academic standards which open doors for our students into the world’s top universities, and also emphasises the growth and strength of character of our students who are confident, courteous and compassionate.
Our goal is to enable our students to become excellent decision makers and problem solvers; learners converted into leaders.
5. With many diverse cultures and expat communities in Dubai, how does a British Curriculum better prepare students to be global citizens?
The British Curriculum better prepares students to be global citizens in many ways: it is a route to equality of opportunity for all, giving students a value of diversity and interdependence. The curriculum also allows students to better understand conflict resolution and human rights and also enables them to contribute to a productive economy.
The framework enables schools to enhance the core curriculum with additional programmes of study, such as language learning and the creative and performing arts as well as adapting to the local environment and traditions.
6. How would you describe an effective classroom? What teaching techniques have you found to be most effective?
An effective classroom is one which encourages students to engage more in all learning activities and ask questions at all time. Some of the ways we encourage having an effective classroom stem from a few beliefs we have:
- I believe that having a variety of learning models and activities stimulates different learning styles and challenges which allows students to think of solutions for themselves. I also believe in experiential learning and allowing children to find out things through trial and error, critical analysis, discussion and improvement provides a better learning experience for students.
- Using both indoor and outdoor areas for educational purposes also helps stimulate thinking skills and enables students to approach complex ideas from multiple angles and discuss new ideas through the eyes of others.
- It is also important to have a personalised teaching approach for children, which is what we will be focusing on at Hartland International School and what will differentiate us from different schools.
- Our teachers will act as students’ role models to help them learn and develop. Our aim will be to provide students with quality feedback rather than just judges
7. What is your idea of student discipline and what discipline procedures have you planned for your school?
First and foremost, students must feel a part of the school and have a sense of belonging, and should be taught to develop strong relationships with other students and staff. Older students have to be role models for younger students to develop a sense of responsibility. Overall, our aim is to of course have a healthy environment which encourages good behaviour.
8. What kind of support does your school offer for children with special needs / learning difficulties?
First of all, during assessment, we identify the students with special needs and have an open discussion with parents and other SEN Specialists. We will have a programme that will be shared with teachers and monitored regularly to be evaluated on its effectiveness. Our teachers will be trained on how to educate students with special needs, and will maintain exceptional listening skills and a warm, welcoming and flexible approach to oversee this important aspect of school provision.
9. How important do you think is parental involvement in children’s education?
Education is a shared responsibility: which includes the child, school and home so involvement of parents is essential, as the triangle must be perfectly balanced for the child to make the best progress. We will update parents on a regular basis, so that they are aware of their children’s progress and to also build an open and trusted relationship between parents and teachers. Both teachers and parents are responsible for ensuring that the student takes ownership of the learning.
10. How does Hartland International School intend to establish positive relations with the parents and the community at large?
Our main priority is quality of education and ensuring there is regular communication between parents and teachers. Parents will receive weekly reports from their child’s Tutor and half-termly opportunities to attend a parent-teacher-student conference.
They will also be invited to information days where they can review how the curriculum is being implemented and to find out about the school’s plans for the future. We encourage parents’ involvement in social and charity events to help celebrate their children’s achievements and be a part of special dates in the school diary.
Additionally, Hartland International School is the first building being constructed in the new Sobha-Hartland district and will be a focal point of cultural, sporting and learning activities; sharing its name with the community and we hope it will help give the district an association with education and learning.
11. Before we conclude, what is your vision for the school and what would you like to see this school achieve over the next 10 years?
We will deliver our promise to have a personalized approach for educating children, for them to become confident and take responsibility in their learning.
We want to develop a new educational model which might influence other new schools and prepare students for the future through the acquisition of academic qualifications and life skills. We will also aim to promote language learning, sharing of cultural diversity and include a full and complementary enrichment programme for all students for students to have all their mental and physical requirements fulfilled, all within the school day.
We also want to help change the trend of students leaving Dubai before completing secondary education, by providing a world class education, progression to the IB and A Levels and support for Higher Education applications. This will be achieved by having excellent professional development for teachers through coaching, training and becoming a centre for collaboration and lifelong learning.
If you’d like to meet Dr Paul Silverwood personally and find out more about Hartland International School, make sure you book a place for their ‘Meet the Principal’ event, which will take place at the Arabian Ranches Golf Club at 9.30 am on 31st January 2015. For more information, please visit http://www.hartlandinternational.com.