This week the opening of The Aquila School has started to feel imminent – and I have no doubt that the coming weeks will fly by – we are so excited about welcoming the very first Aquila children. The opening now seems close as we have moved into a part of the building, so we can showcase to families what we have to offer and the quality of the build structure and fittings. I believe that this is unique for a new school opening in Dubai – we are no longer asking families to sign up for a school they have not seen – they can experience first-hand what our school will be like. There is even the chance to win a helicopter flight over Dubai – come along to meet us to find out how!

This brings me onto the subject of children visiting schools for what is sometimes known as an assessment.

Many families who come to meet us say they are worried about the assessment process. They tell us of experiences where children as young as three are subject to taking formal exams and being ‘interrogated’ in a formal interview.

At The Aquila School we will not be taking this approach. When we meet children, we want to be sure that we can meet their needs – but we do this in an informal stress- free way. Depending on the age or developmental stage of the children we talk to them about their interests and learning – let them take part in some play date activities and for older children we ask them to do some mental maths and some writing. These simple activities in a relaxed environment allow children to show their very best. As a school – we will be tracking the progress using assessment for learning – which means that teachers will look carefully at what children have learnt today to plan what they need to learn tomorrow. Just as we do not feel a formal entrance test is appropriate in deciding whether a child can start school – we do not feel that a formal test is an appropriate way to assess learning in a primary school. I think this may need further exploration in a future blog!