x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

New curriculum is a solution to low performance concerns

Madaras Al Ghad programme has begun to yield better results, say teachers and parents.

DUBAI // At the Umm Roman Bint Amer School in Sharjah the teachers aren't bothered about completing the lesson plan, as long as the pupils achieve their targets by the end of the year.

The school, which follows the Madares Al Ghad (Mag) or Schools of the Future programme initiated in selected government schools, has moved away from a traditional teaching style and introduced new ways to boost the children's skills - especially in language acquisition.

Layan Abdullah Sabbagh, a team leader at the school, said they did not go by the book. "It's a standards-based curriculum rather than a textbook-based one.

"So it does not rely on the number of pages the students have to mug up for an examination but rather looks at the four language skills they need to achieve to communicate.

"We have an intensive writing programme where we incorporate editing articles, using the senses to prompt them to think before they write and keeping a booklet where they collect all their drafts before they end up with the final copy."

According to the National Assessment Programme results, pupils' writing, spelling and reading skills need improvement.

Ms Sabbagh said she would be interested in comparing her school's results with others to measure the success of Mag.

"I want to see if our students are achieving higher than those who attend the other public schools, because the very reason Mag was implemented was to improve their skills.

"If they have not scored higher then there would be a need to change it."

Musa Mohammed, whose son is at a public school in Ras al Khaimah, said the standardised tests were a good initiative.

"I hope this will not be just another report but that we can work with the school to improve his grades."

Alan Egbert, Middle East manager of the Australian Council for Educational Research, said they held workshops with the education zones and schools to enable them to interpret the data and create student-specific courses.

"These goal-setting workshops were conducted prior to the release of the reports with the zone heads, supervisors and teachers so that they can use the data more effectively."