First schools in the UAE gain access to innovative leadership and teacher training programmes delivered by Cognita and University College London

Participants from Cognita schools in Asia and the Middle East at the first Senior Leader Enquiry Programme meeting in Singapore (1)
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Three UAE schools – Horizon English School, Ranches Primary School and RGS Guildford Dubai – have been selected for cutting-edge leadership and teacher training programmes developed by Cognita and University College London (UCL)’s IOE, Faculty of Education and Society, ranked top for education for the last 10 years in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. They are the first schools in the UAE to take part in the programmes, which help teachers and school leaders develop tailor-made solutions to their students’ and staff’s unique needs and contexts. The programmes also offer an opportunity for staff to learn from one another, forging stronger links with their global colleagues.

Ian Wallace, Director of Education for Cognita Middle East, said: “These programmes form part of Cognita’s longstanding belief in the power of purposeful research to improve the educational experience and outcomes for our students. With so much rapid change in the education landscape, it’s crucial that we develop evidence-based solutions to keep our learners thriving.

“The diversity of Cognita schools is one our great strengths, enabling us to learn from one another, benefiting our school leaders, teachers, and students. At the same time, each of our schools operates within a specific context. That is why we are so grateful and proud to be partnering with the world-leading faculty at UCL on tailored research for each participating school.”

Nick Hart, Principal of Horizon English School in Dubai, said: This programme is an incredible opportunity for our teachers and school leaders to be at the forefront of evidence informed teaching and school leadership. The collaborative inquiry with UCL and also with colleagues back in school give this programme huge potential to delve into the challenges and opportunities in our school.  We believe in looking beyond the horizon to ensure our children flourish and this programme can take our work to the next level.”

Greg Ross, Associate Professor at UCL, said: “It can be a challenge to know how to best apply messages from research in the busy reality of a school. Participants on the programmes we have developed with Cognita become researchers into their own practice and into their distinctive school contexts. They are supported in leading innovations based on robust evidence, both from research and from data they gather in their schools.

“This approach helps teachers and leaders make good decisions about how to best serve the students in their care. We are proud of our long-term partnership with Cognita and have been impressed on both our programmes by the commitment to continuous learning and improvement from Cognita teachers and leaders.

Horizon English School and RGS Guildford Dubai are taking part in the Senior Leader Enquiry Programme, which helps teams of 2-3 school leaders develop their leadership in areas such as professional learning and pedagogy.

At the start of the programme, participants set out questions around their own leadership development priorities and the priority needs in their schools. With the help of UCL researchers, they explore innovative solutions, which they will test out within their schools. They assess their progress in a series of online and face-to-face tutorials and workshops led by UCL. This allows them to refine their solutions. By the time the programme concludes in June 2025, they will have developed evidence-based leadership tools tailored to their school based on robust global evidence.

Teachers from Ranches Primary School have joined the Team Fellowship Programme, and will work with UCL experts to explore a specific area of practice linked to student learning.

Throughout the nine-month programme, the teachers will attend three tutorials with a member of UCL faculty. They will then produce a short video and written document to evidence their learning and to share with others. At the end of the programme, in June 2024, they will lead a professional learning session in their own school. Previous cohorts have looked into how feedback could encourage greater self-reflection and independence in students, for example.

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