Parental involvement plays a crucial role in a child’s education – in fact, numerous studies have shown that schools with high rates of engagement from students’ parents tend to be more successful than their peers. When parents are actively participating in their children’s educational journey, it leads to improved student engagement, behaviour, academic success, and confidence. Despite this, however, and despite the desire of many parents to be more involved, many schools struggle to engage them effectively.
The power of parent engagement
To boost engagement with parents, schools need to prioritise effective communication. By establishing regular and meaningful communication channels – and including everyone from parents and teachers to administrators, specialists, after school club leaders and coaches – schools can bridge the gap between home and school, and foster strong partnerships. One approach is to personalise messages that cater to individual parents’ needs and concerns. Tailoring communication this way allows parents to feel acknowledged and understood, and strengthens their connection with the school.
Increasing the frequency of communication is another valuable strategy. While traditional methods such as newsletters, emails, and parent-teacher conferences are important, schools can explore additional avenues to engage parents. Utilising social media platforms can give parents and families real-time updates on school activities, students’ achievements, and any important announcements. While a tweet or an Instagram might not take as long to write as a newsletter, they can reach a far larger audience in a fraction of the time, and offer a chance for parents, students, and teachers to connect. This approach ensures parents stay connected and informed about their child’s school life without being bombarded by messages.
Aldenham schools - an exemplary model
At Aldenham Education Group (AEG), our network of international schools understand the significance of parent engagement. At Aldenham schools, parents and grandparents alike are considered an integral part of the school community. They actively participate in events such as parents’ evenings, concerts, and drama productions. AEG recognises that good communication with parents is vital to any school’s success, and all of our schools – from Aldenham in the UK to Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia – employ various means to achieve this goal.
Our schools’ commitment to communication is demonstrated through weekly newsletters, informative blogs, social media updates, and regular open evenings. Through these channels, we’re able to provide students’ parents and families with regular updates, give them insights into their child’s progress, and even offer opportunities to connect with the school staff. By working to create an inclusive environment in this way, Aldenham schools have fostered a sense of partnership and collaboration between staff, students, parents, and the wider community.
The power of community
Beyond communication, schools should also strive to recognise the importance of building a strong sense of community. Part of AEG’s core mission – and one of our key aims – is to foster good relationships and partnerships among staff, pupils, parents, and the wider community. This reflects our commitment to inclusivity and collaboration, and helps our students’ parents to feel more included. After all, when parents feel connected to the school and the broader community, they are more likely to actively engage in their child’s education.
By involving parents in school activities, such as volunteering opportunities, parent-led workshops, or collaborative initiatives, schools can create a supportive community where parents feel valued and respected. Even former pupils – Old Aldenhamians such as Baroness Karren Brady and the golfer Matt Wallace – donate their time, expertise and money to help current pupils and give them the best education possible. This sense of belonging encourages parents to play an active role in their child’s education, ultimately benefiting the overall educational experience. This community feeling can instil positive memories in our pupils and shape them for their lives after Aldenham.
Parent engagement is a vital component of a child’s educational journey, and schools must prioritise strategies that can boost involvement. By fostering effective communication channels, personalising messages, and actively involving parents in school life, schools can enhance the engagement and success of their students. Aldenham Education Group’s schools value parent engagement and appreciate the importance of communication, community and collaboration – head to the Aldenham UK website to learn more.
In the realm of education, sports play an invaluable role in fostering development among students. Beyond the realm of physical fitness and competitive spirit, sports have a multitude of benefits that extend to academic performance, mental well-being and character building, and social skills. At Aldenham education group, we understand how crucial school sports are, and how they contribute to shaping well-rounded individuals.
Why sports are so important
A recent study carried out by the Youth Sport Trust revealed that fewer than half of all children in England (47.2%) were active for the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) recommended 60 minutes per day. Around the world, meanwhile, more than a third of students (37%) don’t exercise at school, according to Cambridge International – their recent Global Education Census found that 28% of male students and 41% of female students said that they didn’t take part in school sports. It’s vital that these figures improve, though, because it’s important children are active – and that sports are a vital part of the curriculum.
By encouraging students to engage in school sports from an early age, schools can promote a healthier lifestyle. Regular participation in sports helps children to develop strong bones, muscles and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, it decreases the likelihood of health-related issues like obesity and diabetes. Schools that foster an active lifestyle can instil healthy habits in their students – habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Students who engage in sports are more likely to continue leading an active lifestyle as adults, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving their overall well-being. Not only do they ensure children stay fit and healthy, but they have a range of benefits that aren’t so obvious at first glance.
Sports’ impact on academics
Contrary to the popular notion that school sports detract from academic pursuits, studies have shown that students who participate in sports often excel academically. While some students can struggle in the classroom, they can often excel at certain sports – and regular physical activity could give them the help they need in the classroom. A study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee, for example, found that intensive exercise boosted students’ performance in subjects like English, maths and science. Engaging in physical activities improves blood circulation, leading to increased oxygen flow to the brain, which in turn can enhance cognitive function. Sports and physical exercise have been linked to improved focus, concentration, and mental clarity, which can lead to enhanced academic performance. Additionally, taking part in team sports can also teach students essential skills such as discipline, time management, and goal-setting that can positively influence students’ academic performance.
How sports can teach life skills
Engaging in sports can teach students valuable life skills, and prepare them for life after school. School sports can teach students the values of perseverance, resilience, determination, and discipline, all of which are fertile ground for character development. Students who regularly play sports will learn how to set goals, work towards them, and overcome obstacles along the way. Sports also foster leadership qualities – as well as learning how to be a part of a team and foster relationships, team captains learn how to work as part of a team, make important decisions, and lead by example. The benefits of school sports also extend far beyond their school years. Character-building experiences – on the field or on the pitch – translate into skills that are essential for success in further education and after graduation. Essential skills like discipline, time management, and goal-setting are all sought after by employers.
The effect of sports on mental health
Over the years, studies have shown that school sports can have a significant positive impact on mental health. Playing sports – and engaging in other physical activities – can trigger the release of endorphins, otherwise known as ‘feel-good’ hormones. These endorphins can reduce negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression, all while boosting students’ mood and their overall wellbeing. In a survey in 2021, even children agreed about the beneficial effects that sports can have on their physical and mental health – around two-thirds of young children aged 6-8 recognised that being active was important for their future lives. School sports also give students an outlet to relieve any academic-related stress, and teach them how to channel their emotions in a more constructive manner. Playing sports can teach students about the highs and lows of life – sometimes they’ll win games, and other times they’ll lose. By losing games, students can learn how to overcome disappointment, as well as how to channel any negative feelings in a more healthy way.
Sports at Aldenham
School sports have been a part of life at Aldenham for centuries – AEG’s schools have a long and prestigious sporting history. Aldenham School in the UK, for example, was founded in 1597, and is home to one of the world’s earliest football clubs. The students at all of our schools – from Aldenham in the UK to Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia – are all encouraged to take part in sports, whether that’s in PE lessons, sports days, or extracurricular activities. As well as representing their school in team sports like cricket, netball and football, our students also often perform at a high level in golf and tennis tournaments. Earlier this year, Aldenham’s U14s football team won the Herts County Cup, beating every other team in the county, and Aldenham also offers Sports Scholarships to students who’ve performed particularly well. A number of our alumni have also gone on to excel in sports, including the golfer Matt Wallace and the football Charlie Patino – after graduating a few years ago, he’s already played for both Arsenal and Blackpool FC.
Sports serve as a platform for students to interact and build meaningful relationships with their peers. Whether it’s playing on the same team, competing against each other, or supporting one another, school sports foster camaraderie and team spirit. Sports events and competitions bring together the entire school community, strengthening the bond between students, teachers, and parents – which is what we do at AEG, at all of our schools. Not only do we encourage our students to play sports and represent their school, but we encourage the students who aren’t playing to show up and support their peers whenever they play.
The incorporation of sports in schools is crucial for students’ holistic development. School sports do more than improve physical fitness, after all – there are plenty of long-term benefits, from mental wellbeing to improving social skills. By fostering a culture of sports in all of our schools, we’ve provided our students with a more positive environment and given them the support they need to unlock their talents and hone their sporting skills. To find out more about sports at Aldenham schools, visit the Aldenham School or the Aldenham Prep Riyadh websites.
Education is meant to prepare students for their future lives. However, some traditional education systems can fall short in this regard, with schools choosing to focus primarily on academic skills rather than the more practical skills and knowledge that can help set students up for success in life after graduation. Today’s schools must make a concerted effort to prepare their students for success and teach them valuable life skills.
Why are life skills so important?
While academic achievement and success in exams are important, they’re not the be-all and end-all. Schools shouldn’t be placing so much emphasis on developing academics and the acquisition of knowledge, as these don’t always translate well in later life. Some of the world’s most successful CEOs agree – according to Ginni Rometty, IBM’s first female CEO, “Getting a job at today’s IBM does not always require a college degree. What matters most is relevant skills.” Many of today’s students can leave school with a deep understanding of their subjects but end up struggling to apply this knowledge to real-world situations.
Experts at the World Economic Forum have said that education is an inclusive and lifelong experience, and three critical skills – problem-solving, collaboration and adaptability – could help students to be better prepared for their future. Schools need to provide students with the tools and life skills they’ll need to succeed, instead of merely memorising facts and statistics.
The most important skills
The World Health Organisation has defined life skills as, “A group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathise with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and responsible manner.” Problem-solving, collaboration and adaptability can all help students beyond the classroom. Practical life skills like financial literacy, time management, and problem-solving are all often overlooked in traditional education systems, but are essential for success in the real world. By teaching students these skills, schools can help to ensure that they are better equipped to handle the challenges and opportunities that come their way. These skills also encourage students to be more engaged with their learning. If they’re made aware that these tools will help them throughout their lives, then students will likely feel more motivated to pay attention, and try harder to hone these life skills.
Some life skills are especially valuable, as they can improve students’ mental wellbeing. Mental health issues in children are on the rise. An NHS report last year revealed that the number of children aged 7-16 with a probable mental health disorder had risen from 12.1% to 18% between 2017 and 2022 – while for children aged 17-19, the number had risen from 10.1% to 25.7%. Teaching students about mental health can help them to understand who they are and what their place in the world is – and encourage them to be more confident. Now, more than ever, students also need to be learning about self-esteem and the dangers of social media – as well as how to handle stress, which is possibly one of the most important life skills.
Preparing students for their future
As well as encouraging students to discover themselves and look after their own mental health, it’s also important to develop their sense of purpose and direction and teach them more practical skills. Schools should strive to offer their students guidance and support – by helping them to identify their strengths and passions, teachers can help students develop a plan to achieve their goals. This way, there’s less chance of students being left feeling directionless – and they’ll be better prepared for the challenges that will come their way after graduating. Life skills such as teamwork, leadership, and critical thinking are all highly valued by employers. By equipping students with these tools, schools can help them become more employable, setting them up for life after university, and preparing them for the job market.
These days, with technology an integral part of our everyday life, it’s increasingly important that students are able to master digital skills – from how to search on the internet to the basics of cybersecurity. At Aldenham Education Group, we use an array of digital resources like tablets and interactive e-books to improve our students’ digital literacy. Equipping students with these and more advanced abilities like coding and graphic design can help students to stand out from the crowd. Saudi Arabia, where we opened Aldenham Prep Riyadh last year, currently ranks first in both technical and vocational education, giving students the tools they need to improve their employment prospects. At AEG, we’re working to impart life skills like these to every one of our students – at all of our schools and ensure they can land top jobs.
What we’re doing
Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it would be opening up a new academy to support the digital economy and train people in how to succeed in the digital world. This is just one of the many educational opportunities available in the region for our students, and is one reason why we chose to open our first international school in Riyadh. With the facilities available at Aldenham Prep Riyadh – and all of our schools – we’re teaching our students lifelong skills. Through extracurricular activities like sports clubs and drama, they can learn how to be part of a team, how to lead a team, and explore their creative side at the same time. Our first school opened its doors in 1597, and is one of the oldest schools in the world. Despite the centuries of history and tradition, however, we’re not stuck in the past, and have in fact always looked to the future at AEG. Whether we’re training our staff in the latest teaching methods or embracing modern technology wherever possible, we’re preparing our students for life after school, and giving them the life skills they need to cope with a world that doesn’t yet exist.
Schools need to make a concerted effort to set their students up for success in the future, by focusing on practical and interpersonal skills. Giving students the tools they need to succeed in the wider world can create a fulfilled generation of young people who are equipped to make a positive impact on the world, and we’re proud to play a part in this at AEG. We ensure our students can handle all the challenges and opportunities that come their way – find out more about the skills and values we aim to impart.
Over the past few years, the Middle East has emerged as a hub for international schools. A growing number of expats and affluent locals have opted for an international education for their children. The region has seen a surge in the number of international schools, which offer a variety of curriculums, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, and American, among others. A world-class education has emerged as a top priority for the region, and more schools and universities are set to open up in the near future.
The influx of international schools
The demand for international education has increased in the Middle East due to the region’s large expatriate population. The region has become a hub for international businesses and investment, with multinational companies setting up offices in cities such as Dubai and Riyadh. This has led to an influx of expats, who have brought their families along with them. These families often prefer to enrol their children in international schools to ensure continuity in their education and avoid any disruption caused by frequent relocations. Additionally, the Middle East is home to a significant number of wealthy locals who value a global education for their children. Not only can this kind of education provide students with opportunities to learn new skills, but it can also help them to prepare for further study or careers in the global arena. More and more parents in the Middle East are looking to enrol their children at schools that offer an international curriculum, and offer them a more well-rounded education.
The two countries in the region with the most international students are the UAE, with 596 schools, and Saudi Arabia, with 240 schools. According to ISC Research, though, that number’s expected to grow – 42 new international schools are expected to open across the GCC region in 2023 and 2024. One of the biggest reasons for the rise of international schools is that an international education can help students to get into some of the world’s most highly-regarded universities. As ISC Research has observed – “The teaching and learning approach, exit examinations and leaving certificates offered by international schools are commonly accepted by the majority of the world’s higher education institutions including the highest ranked universities, as well as most multinational companies.”
What are the benefits of an international education?
Getting into university, however, isn’t the only reason parents prefer international schools. The three most widespread curriculums are the British curriculum, the American Schools System and the International Baccalaureate. A British education is what we offer at Aldenham Education Group – at both our schools in the UK and Aldenham Prep Riyadh. One of the most well-respected education systems in the world, the British education system is globally recognised and taught in more than 160 countries. A British curriculum ensures that if students relocate and move to another country, their education will be recognised there, and they can easily pick up where they left off.
It can also offer students a more well-rounded education. The British curriculum teaches students how to be more independent and think for themselves. A focus on extracurricular and co-curricular activities can teach students valuable critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as how to work as part of a team. Attending an international British school can also give students a chance to immerse themselves in the English language from an early age. The English language, after all, is spoken across the globe, with an estimated 1.5 billion fluent speakers, and both employers and universities consider it to be a highly favourable skill. At the same time, international schools give students a chance to meet and interact with students and teachers from different cultures and countries, and learn new languages – at our schools, for example, our students can learn Arabic, Spanish, and French.
The importance of creating global citizens
Immersing students in a multicultural environment is one of the biggest benefits of international schools. By giving them the best learning opportunities and opening their eyes to new perspectives, an international education can equip them with the skills they need to be global citizens. International schools offer students the opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions, promoting cross-cultural understanding and tolerance. Students in these schools are exposed to different languages and beliefs, preparing them for life after graduation in today’s globalised world. This exposure to different cultures also prepares students for a diverse workforce, where cross-cultural communication and understanding are essential skills. Global citizens understand their place in the world, and have the power to interact with other cultures and nationalities – and most importantly, make a real change. It’s important that we ensure today’s students have the knowledge, skills, and values they need to create a better future.
How AEG is playing a part
By opening Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in 2022, AEG has helped to bring world-class education to Saudi Arabia. The school was the third to open its doors in Riyadh as part of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City’s International Schools Attraction Programme, but is also the first branch of an independent school in the region – it’s both owner-operated and truly integrated with our other schools. Aldenham School, in the UK, is one of the oldest schools in the country. Founded in 1597, all of our other schools benefit from centuries of tradition and academic excellence, and we’ve been able to bring an authentic British educational experience to our international students.
Before settling on Riyadh as the site of our international school, AEG conducted a detailed market study and survey. The decision to open was a result of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment’s Regional Headquarters program, which supported firms opening in the region. Last year, there was a case study conducted on AEG by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment, and the school was included in Invest Saudi’s Investment Highlights report for Q3 2022. Aldenham Prep Riyadh was in fact showcased as one of the country’s greatest recent success stories. AEG is helping the country to transform into a global centre of industry and trade, and is setting an example for other schools to follow – in fact, the number of international schools in the region is set to grow. As Shahram Hashemi, one of AEG’s Managing Partners, has explained, we are “working to open a number of schools across the Kingdom as we anticipate demand continuing to rise drastically.”
Not only can international schools teach students valuable lifelong skills, they can also set them up for success in later life. It’s no surprise that, given the choice, parents are sending their students to international schools – especially in the Middle East. At AEG, we’re always looking to the future, and aiming to ensure our students are prepared for life after school. An international education is one of the best ways of achieving this – learn more about our curriculum.