ABU DHABI // Pupils in the capital's public high schools are getting extra English lessons to prepare them for university in a pilot programme, which is part of the New School Model brought in by Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) .
The model's biggest changes have so far related to kindergarten and primary school teaching. But as part of an immediate action plan to bolster the language skills of students preparing for tertiary education, the council decided to make changes to the curriculum of older pupils too.
More than 580 licensed, native English-speaking teachers began assisting state school pupils in grades 11 and 12 from last year as part of a pilot scheme ahead of the New School Model's (NSM) full implementation from this academic year, which began in September.
Vincent Ferrandino, an adviser at Adec, said: "The [NSM] will be rolled out over a period of time but we knew some students won't benefit from this because of where they happen to be in the education cycle. We wanted to be sure that the students at the secondary level have some additional support to prepare for the proficiency assessments."
The NSM focuses on bilingual teaching and modern learning methods, with the aim of preparing pupils to compete at an international level.
UAE nationals who want to continue their education at federal universities have to take the Common Educational Proficiency Assessment, which tests their English language skills. Students who underperform in this assessment must take foundation programmes before they can move on to degree courses. Last year, more than 90 per cent of students entering federal universities were placed in these remedial classes.
Abdallah Mohammed, a Grade 12 science pupil at the Hamza Bin Abdel Muttalib School in Bani Yas, said his English classes were taught by teachers from the US and Canada. "We have more English classes now, and that has helped me improve," Abdallah said.
Abdallah said he wanted to take up aeronautical engineering and had to improve his International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores to get into a good university abroad. "Now, the teaching has improved, but if the school can give extra sessions after school it will help me more," he said.