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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Learning Journey at Repton

At Repton Dubai, we encourage the children to take the lead in their learning. In Maths lessons, rather than ask ‘what is the answer?’, we instead ask, ‘how do you know that is the answer?’ and ‘can you prove it?’. Proving and justifying an answer requires a much deeper understanding of the concept and a much wider explanation; it requires the children to use their reasoning skills. To aid this, we need to draw upon an important element from our toolkits – manipulatives.

Manipulatives provide our children with a way of constructing physical, concrete models of abstract Maths ideas, allowing a deeper understanding through exploration and investigation. For us as teachers, they are a vital tool when illustrating concepts. Manipulatives include resources such as Dienes blocks, place value counters, cubes, numicon, Cuisenaire rods, number lines or fractions strips, to name just a few. Dienes blocks allow children to explore and understand the value of numbers, particularly the powers of ten. Once understood, this concept can be applied to multiplying and dividing by 10, 100 and 1000, and to a real-life context – converting measures. Place value counters enable a deeper understanding of exchanging and regrouping in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Cuisenaire rods and fraction strips are the foundations of understanding fractions and provide the base for developing an understanding of the bar model method. Numicon allows the children to discover connections and relationships between numbers. In short, manipulatives allow children to discover Maths for themselves.

Now a core part of Maths lessons across the school from EYFS through to Year 6 is incorporating the use of manipulatives into learning, which means our lessons are becoming more and more hands-on and practical. Through this, the children are also making connections and links between concepts themselves, creating a web of Mathematical knowledge in their minds. These connections can then extend beyond the subject of Maths, into the realms of Science, Technology, Engineering and Computing.

Through the use of manipulatives, we are providing our children with the means to discover the world for themselves, make sense of it, and apply their knowledge far and wide. As the saying goes, ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ – it truly is exciting to witness the beginning of a journey of discovery here at Repton.

Victoria Willars
Head of Maths – Repton Dubai


The Benefits of Personal Study in the Senior School

Personal study, homework, flipped learning, or self-study; whatever name we choose for it, can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on a student’s attainment and progress… if we get it right. Get it wrong, and it can negatively impact a student’s well-being and overall engagement toward learning.

Research informs us that if teachers set high-quality personal study, it can boost students’ progress by up to 5 months (Education Endowment Foundation and Professor John Hattie).

5 Months’ Progress…what could this mean?

Consider a Senior School student as an example. Over a school career, this amount of additional progress can add up and have a significant impact on results when it comes to public examination at GCSE and A-Level.

The major caveat to this research and data rests on the quality and amount of personal study set by schools.

Any task that a teacher assigns needs to have a purpose at the core. Personal study should centre around applying and refining newly learned knowledge, checking for full understanding, and implementing newly acquired skills independently at home.

When tackling a challenging piece of personal study, parents naturally want to support their child in trying to achieve a perfect piece of work. This desire to assist comes from a good place, but it is far more important for children to complete their work independently. Allowing this degree of autonomy provides teachers an opportunity to address any genuine areas for development and to clear up misconceptions when work is marked and feedback is provided.

To promote independent study at home, parents can provide structured study time within a quiet area, away from distractions. Parent involvement in personal study is encouraged but within the boundaries of asking questions about the work your child is completing, rather than support in answering the questions. Being inquisitive and showing an active interest in their studies will help to promote positive conversations about personal study. Asking questions enables students to practice recall and retrieval which helps to further develop their understanding and consolidate learning. Answering questions can also help children realise where they need some more help, guidance, or practice.

Some questions that you could ask your child are:

  • Can you teach me about what you are learning?
  • Can you explain to me how you came to that answer?
  • Can you show me how you did that?

My advice is little and often. Thirty to sixty minutes each evening should be sufficient for completing personal study each night. Any more than this may create feelings of resentment and could leave your child feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

We also need to be mindful that our children need time to be children. We must allow them time to enjoy hobbies and other interests, keep them active and ensure they are getting the required amount of sleep. If we can strike this balance then we are helping to provide the best ecosystem for our children to thrive, learn and be successful.

Benefits of Reading at Home

One highlight of our recent Languages Week was the buzz surrounding the book fair. Our students were excited to visit the stalls and many purchases were made. So why did this please so many staff? In the words of Clark and Rumbold, “reading for pleasure serves both educational purposes as well as personal development.” The importance of reading is something we therefore cannot stress enough as a school.

The correlation between a student who reads for pleasure and their academic success has been proven in many studies. It is argued that students who are more literate can access the curriculum with ease, in comparison to those who struggle, having more opportunity to succeed academically. There are many ways we promote reading and celebrate our students’ reading accomplishments at Fry campus: the Repton Readers Cup; regular Accelerated Reader quizzes; certificates and book vouchers for our AR ‘Word Millionaires;’ Book Club ECA’s; and of course, through the novels, poems, plays, and non-fiction texts featured on our English curriculum and in other subjects.

The atrium at Fry campus features the slogan: “today a reader, tomorrow a leader” and every time our students walk under this, it should inspire them to read. As we promote reading for pleasure within school, you may wonder how you can encourage your child to read for pleasure outside of school – here are some top tips:

  • Create a family book club – select a novel and read it at the same time. You can then discuss characters, plot, themes, and new words together. Discussion is key to the development of comprehension skills.
  • Visit Abu Dhabi’s Children Library, where your child can “enter a world of imagination…explore books and engage in library activities that encourage your child’s creativity.” Entry is free, so why not try it?

    Library website & information

  • Set a challenge for your child to reach their ‘Word Millionaire’ milestone through Accelerated Reader. Ask them about their progress toward reaching this goal.
  • If your child is not a fan of novels, instead encourage them to read a range of non-fiction texts, such as newspapers, magazines (e.g., National Geographic) and autobiographies. These would also enrich their global perspective, not just their vocabulary.
  • Set a reading routine and ask questions. Schedule a daily 20-minute reading slot, where the household drops everything to read. This should then be followed by questions and discussion e.g., “what happened in your chapter?” “what do you think about the character’s reaction?’’ “what do you think might happen next?” Acting as a reading role model might inspire your child to read more. It is also a wonderful way to reduce their screen time and help them relax.
  • Need recommendations? Visit the ‘School Reading List’ website, where books are recommended based on Key Stage, academic year group and age: The School Reading List website

Happy Reading!

Building Resilience- perhaps the most important lesson of all

Caring deeply for our children, we want to arm them with a toolkit of skills that will prepare them for a fulfilled life ahead. We look to provide a language-rich environment through stories and songs, understand the importance of rapid times tables retrieval as a foundation in Math, and fill our children’s schedules with various ECAs and hobbies to develop skillsets beyond the walls of the classroom. While these will stand our young people in good stead to take on the world, there is one skill that is arguably far more important that tends to get overlooked, that of resilience. We hate to see our children hurt, lose, or fail, and it breaks our hearts (often more than theirs) but by rushing to the rescue to protect them, are we preventing them from developing much-needed grit?

Resilience is an active process, and nobody is just born with it. It’s not an endpoint but rather an intricate map of connections in the brain that dictate how an individual can handle stress. These connections can be actively strengthened: through experiences, behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Therefore, resilience as a skill can be very much learned.

So how can we facilitate this vital learning? Let’s consider the development of resilience as a two-way street of social navigation and negotiation. It has to be an interplay between children learning to navigate new experiences and adults learning to negotiate ways to expose a child to these challenges, from a distance, and within healthy risk parameters.

How might this look?

  • Let your child feel what it’s like to lose: 

Research often tells us that adopting an ‘everyone’s a winner approach’ is really in nobody’s best interest. Those that came last but still got a medal feel they don’t deserve it, and those that won feel their efforts are not recognized. Celebrate all participation, of course, but coming to terms with not always winning is a crucial life skill that is hard to accept if it’s first experienced in adulthood. Quick fails lead to fast recovery, so think little and often. If chess is too much of an investment to practice losing, perhaps a short game of Connect 4 would be better.

  • Facilitate independence: 

Choose age-appropriate tasks that challenge your child. Although it can be painstakingly frustrating to watch your nursery child put on their socks, to watch your junior child stack the dishwasher in a seemingly obscure fashion, or your teenager overcooks the simple dinner, we must learn to press pause. Try to resist adult intervention and allow for the learnings that these marvelous mistakes bring. By finishing that tricky task for them, we send a message that their efforts are not worthy and that challenging themselves is pointless- why bother when someone more experienced is going to swoop in and fix it? The complex process of learning requires confusion and problem-solving and encouraging our children to feel comfortable in this sometimes-uncomfortable space is an invaluable skill.

  • Engineer opportunities for your child to fail: 

In a time of relatively easy living, perhaps we need to actively expose our children to trickier situations. Encourage independence by showing that you expect them to take on responsibilities. For example, insist that they organize their belongings. Yes, they may well forget their swimming goggles but rather than coming to the rescue, let them swim without- chances are they’ll be in the bag next week! If your child loses multiple items, perhaps they can pay for the replacement to help them to learn the value of caring for their property. Whilst these learnings can be tough at the moment, showing that you believe in them can help armor our children with the emotional buoyancy needed to pick themselves back up again, a non-negotiable for becoming a capable adult.

  • Let them know that you love them unconditionally: 

This will give them a solid foundation to come back to when the world starts to feel wobbly. Eventually, they will learn that they can provide this solid foundation for themselves. A big part of resilience building is building your child’s belief in themselves- it’s the best thing they’ll ever believe in.

Jon Hughes

Assistant Head Senior School

The Importance of Mathematical Literacy

We can all agree that every student needs strong literacy skills to succeed both in school and in life. The ability to read, write, speak and listen effectively are all key aspects of essential communication.

The importance of mathematical literacy, also known as numeracy, is no different. It is much more than just understanding and using the specific terminology used in maths classes. It is the ability to problem-solve, the ability to apply logic and reason in order to analyse and explain. It is the ability to use numbers, information or data to help solve real-world problems.

By developing numeracy, students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the world we live in. They are able to budget, to strategise, to estimate and to predict many real-world situations through an embedded understanding of how fundamental mathematics works.

How can we help at home?

There are ways in which we can aid the development of numeracy outside of the classroom. The following examples are just some of the ways in which we can encourage our children to use numeracy in real-world situations:

  1. Money
    • Estimating costs when shopping.
    • Browsing catalogues and working to a budget.
    • Looking at utility bills and understanding how they are calculated.
  2. Time
    • Looking at travel timetables and planning trips.
    • Using world clocks and understanding time zones.
  3. Ratio and Proportion
    • Using recipes, and adjusting the quantity of ingredients for varying numbers of people.
  4. Patterns and Probability
    • Looking at weather reports worldwide. Looking for trends and patterns in weather.
    • Looking at past data, and using probability terminology to predict the weather.

Mathematics is everywhere, and by exposing our children to numeracy regularly, we will help foster a familiarity and confidence in our children with the numerical world around us.

The Importance of Curriculum Enhancements in a Child’s Education

Our last article listed 7 research based benefits of Curriculum Enhancement. We have explained them in detail below:

Boosting academic performance

The inclusion of societies into our extra-curricular programme means children can delve deeper into the academic subjects of English, Maths, Science and Humanities. Societies give students the opportunity to learn what they want in a way that brings these subjects to life. Students will have the opportunity to take charge, choosing to look at topics that interest them most. They may pose a question that they would like to answer, with support and direction from teachers. In doing so, they will be able to gain a deeper understanding of their chosen topic through research, projects, real life situations or models. This in turn gives knowledge and extends their confidence in these subjects.

Exposing them to new topics

After school programmes are a fantastic way for children to explore different subjects or skills that are not covered within the curriculum. If a child finds something they develop a passion for, whether it be playing chess or learning a musical instrument, this can help build confidence and self-esteem.

Improving social skills

Whether they are attending with existing friends, or building new friendships, extra-curricular activities nurture children’s social skills. When children attend trips or camps they have to rely on their peers for support and encouragement. They have opportunities to develop empathy, communication and team work skills- skills that will benefit them in their future education and occupations.

Creating happier and healthier children

As working days get longer for parents, these extra activities provided by schools can be a safe place for children to both continue to develop and grow, whilst allowing them to work off their excess energy, relax their minds, or to blow away any stress from the day without the need of televisions.

Developing decision-making skills

After school activities allow children to find out what their strengths are. Children are given an opportunity to decide what they do and do not enjoy spending their time doing. This can create an element of self-awareness. It is therefore important to have discussions and really listen to your child about what clubs and activities they want to take part in.

Giving confidence

Taking part in new activities with new people in an organised and productive environment helps to develop independence. Finding direction and purpose within a group or team can build confidence in children – this does not have to be a sports team, it can be as part of a choir, drama or study group.

The confidence a child can develop from going on an overnight camp or an international trip can stay with them into adulthood. School trips can help students develop a sense of autonomy. For many children going on a full camp experience when they are staying overnight, some for the first time, it can often create a sense of anxiety in the lead up especially with younger primary aged students however, as they climb back on the bus by the end of the camp, students often return home with a new sense of accomplishment and independence. As well as having built up resilience after overcoming their fears. The more children explore new situations and surroundings the more they will understand their own character.

Creating friendships with like-minded children

Extra-curricular activities can be a great place for meeting like-minded people and developing friendships with children who share the same passions. It is also a way of pupils mixing with children from other classes and year groups, widening their friendship groups.

What do Curriculum Enhancements look like in Term 3 during the Distance Learning Programme?

With Curriculum Enhancements being of such importance to our children, we continued to offer these as part of our distant learning programme. The children have been able to take part in virtual music recitals and talent shows, competitions in languages, sport, poetry and art to stretch and inspire them.

Children have continued to share their learning and acting skill through class assemblies shared with the school community, and our senior leadership continue to celebrate successes of children through virtual ‘Achievement Assemblies’ where children are recognised for all their hard work and awarded their house point badges. We have had a fantastic response to all the online curriculum enhancements.

Curriculum Enhancements Opportunities for the future

Term 3 has proven that our flexible and innovative approach to providing opportunities to enrich the curriculum and stimulate students has been extremely successful. Hence, we look forward to building on these successes and offering an even richer variety of Curriculum Enhancement opportunities to our students next academic year and beyond.

Top 10 Healthy Eating Tips

Building and maintaining healthy habits is essential for wellbeing throughout these unprecedented times.

Healthy habits ensure that you and your family are eating healthily, getting enough sleep, exercising daily, relaxing and hydrating.

Marie Al-Nasrawi, Deputy Head, Repton Abu Dhabi has compiled 10 Healthy Eating Tips to support you in your efforts at home.

1. Parents control what foods are available:
You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. All children pester their parents for less nutritious foods. However, you as an adult should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Children won’t go hungry. They’ll eat what’s available in the cupboard and fridge at home.
2. From the foods you offer, allow your child to choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all:
Schedule regular meal and snack times. From the selections you offer, let them choose what to eat and how much of it they want. This may seem like a little too much freedom. But if you follow step 1, your kids will be choosing only from the foods you buy and serve.
3. Start them young:
Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food a few different times for a child to accept it. Don’t force a child to eat, but offer a few bites. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.
4. Quit the “clean-plate club”:
Let kids stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn’t help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.
5. Drink calories count:
Fizzy drinks and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for children. Juice is fine when it’s 100%, but should be limited — 4 to 6 ounces a day is enough for younger children.
6. Rewrite the menu: 
When ordering food, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering a starter for them to try.
7. Food is not love:
Find better ways to say “I love you.” Offer hugs, praise, and attention instead of food treats.
8. Limit TV and Screen time:
When you do, you’ll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on screen time also reduced their percentage of body fat. Limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together.
9. Put sweet treats in their place:
Occasional sweets are fine, but don’t turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, children naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.
10. Be a role model:
Your children will do as you do so eat healthily yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.

How much sleep does my child need?

“Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health”

Sleep is an essential part of everyone’s routine and an indispensable part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and even depression.

How much sleep does my child need?

Children of different ages require different amounts of sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) produced a ’Consensus Statement‘ in 2016 regarding recommended amount of sleep for paediatric populations. The figures below gives an indication of the amount of sleep your child requires on a regular basis to promote optimal health:

  • Children 3 to 5 years – 10-13 hours of sleep, including naps
  • Children 6 to 12 years – 9-12 hours of sleep
  • Teenagers 13 to 18 years – 8-10 hours of sleep

The lead-up and routine around your child’s bedtime is referred to as their ’sleep hygiene’. Having good sleep hygiene can help your child both to settle to sleep and to stay asleep, and there are several things that parents can do to aid this. Watch this space for our next piece on sleep hygiene.