Why School Culture Starts In The Classroom
Building a positive school culture is important, and should be right at the top of your to-do list. A school’s culture can affect everyone, from students and teachers to other staff members – and even the wider community. Not only does it improve students’ learning, but it improves morale throughout the school. If you want to create a positive school culture, it starts in the classroom.
Why school culture matters
School culture is essential for any place of learning looking to create an environment in which students feel safe, respected and valued. This way, students develop a sense of belonging, and form better relationships with their peers as well as their teachers. If everyone works together to support each other’s growth and well-being, then this fosters a sense of community. Students who are valued are more likely to be engaged in their learning, and more motivated to succeed, which in turn leads to better academic outcomes, and improves students’ chances of success after graduating. Thanks to a positive school culture, students are often high-achievers, and have a much lower chance of dropping out of education.
This can also benefit teachers and staff – if they feel appreciated and supported, they’re more likely to be motivated and passionate about their work, which will lead to higher job satisfaction for staff and lower rates of burnout. Ultimately, it helps to create a more productive and fulfilling environment for everyone involved in the education process. However, you can’t just instantly create a positive school culture – it takes time and hard work, and the best place to start is in the classroom. By making it as safe and welcoming as possible for students in their classroom, teachers can lay the foundations for a positive culture elsewhere. If done right, a feeling of belonging will soon permeate the entire school.
How can teachers encourage this?
There are many ways in which teachers can establish a positive culture in their classroom, and these don’t just revolve around making students feel welcome. Teachers should also strive to promote learning, collaboration, and mutual respect among all of their students. A positive culture helps students to connect not just with their teacher and each other, but with their education, too.
By encouraging collaboration and teamwork among their students, either through projects or other group activities, teachers foster a sense of community. If teachers celebrate their students’ successes, no matter if they’re big or small – this builds up confidence among their students. At the same time, though, they should promote a growth mindset, encouraging their students to see mistakes as opportunities for learning – this encourages students to be more resilient and willing to take risks. Simple techniques like asking students more questions enable teachers to build positive relationships with students, or having a weekly check-in with them creates a sense of structure. All of these techniques – and others implemented in every classroom help improve the experience for both students and teachers.
Our school culture
At all of the Aldenham Education Group’s schools, we aspire to create a safe and welcome atmosphere for every one of our students. As well as supporting our students in every way, we encourage a sense of community. It’s not just our students’ educational achievements that are important to us, but their sense of wellbeing, and the positive culture in our classrooms is how we achieve that. At Aldenham UK, an Independent Schools Inspectorate report stated that, ‘A very strong sense of community exists and pupils show kindness to each other.’
Outside of the classroom, we host concerts and drama performances – these, along with sports clubs and teams to create a sense of community at our schools. We even continued to foster this community spirit over the course of the pandemic. As well as ensuring our students kept on learning with online teaching, we ensured that tutor groups still had regular video conference meetings to catch up with their teachers and classmates. We also hosted online extracurricular activities for the students, including virtual trips and competitions.
A positive school culture helps in all kinds of ways, from motivating children to improving their mental wellbeing, and giving them a strong sense of community. It allows schools to create a safe, supportive environment, and in the classroom, teachers are able to establish expectations for their students, build relationships, and encourage collaboration. At Aldenham, this culture exists both in and out of the classroom, and by doing this, we’ve worked to create a more productive and inclusive learning environment for all. Find out more about how we’ve expanded our culture to the wider community on our website – and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Can Too Much Screen Time Affect Students?
From watching Netflix or YouTube and playing games to talking to friends and learning online, much of children’s lives revolve around screens. Students’ screen time is on the rise around the world, and parents and teachers alike are worried about the effect that screens could have on children’s education. But is it always such a bad thing?
The rise in screen time
Last year, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that the average amount of time children spent staring at screens during the pandemic had risen by 52%. Whereas the average child had an approximate screen time of 162 minutes a day, during the pandemic that number had risen to 246 minutes. During the pandemic, our schools were required to move online, which posed challenges, but we were still able to offer our students the high-quality education they’d come to expect. We weren’t only teaching online, but organising competitions and running virtual field trips. These days, with the Covid-19 pandemic largely behind us, that figure will likely fall. However, since technology is now an integral part of all of our lives, screens have gone on to become a daily companion for students.
The benefits of students’ screen time
When you ask yourself if too much time in front of a device or screen is a bad thing for children, the only real answer is that it’s complicated. While excessive usage of screens could have a negative impact, how children are using them can determine how much of an impact they can have – after all, not all screen time is created equal. In a 2019 study, Australian researchers identified five different categories of how we can interact with screens – social, passive, interactive, educational, and other. Passive screen use, such as watching TV or scrolling through social media, can be detrimental to a child’s development – it can affect their creativity and lead to social development problems, making it difficult for them to interact with their peers.
On the other hand, active screen time – such as educational programs and interactive learning – can be far more beneficial to students than passively consuming content. This can provide numerous benefits for students – interactive screens can be more engaging, helping students to retain information better and understand their material. Technology like screens can also encourage collaboration among students, through online discussions and shared documents, which can develop teamwork and communication skills. Screens and technology can provide students with access to a wealth of resources that they may not have otherwise, including online libraries, virtual museums, and educational videos. In a world that’s becoming increasingly reliant on technology, students using screens for educational purposes are able to develop important digital skills that will be valuable in their future careers. We take a forward-thinking approach at Aldenham Education Group, in order to prepare our students as best as we can for life after school.
How technology can be used in schools
One of the key benefits of technology and screens in education is their interactivity, which can help make students more engaged. For example, interactive screens in classrooms can be used to create an immersive learning experience that encourages participation and collaboration. By working together on projects, students can share ideas and receive immediate feedback, all of which can enhance the learning process. At our network of Aldenham schools, we always use cutting-edge technology, including interactive screens in classrooms. Our latest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, is also home to a Learning Resource Centre, where students can make use of computers and a 3D printer – we always embrace modern technology, especially when it can enhance the learning of our pupils. In ICT lessons, meanwhile, students work together on projects, teaming up and even sharing devices, to ensure they’re not in their own world, glued to a screen. When it comes to learning, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and we encourage our students to collaborate and communicate.
It is crucial, however, to ensure screens are always used responsibly, both at home and at school. It’s important for parents and teachers alike to set boundaries and establish rules around students’ screen time, in order to ensure that children aren’t spending too much time in front of them. Additionally, providing students with access to a balanced mix of activities, such as outdoor play, creative pursuits, and social interaction, can help mitigate the potentially negative effects of spending too much time in the virtual world. All of our schools offer students a range of extracurricular activities, from sports to the performing arts. We have a strong sporting tradition at our schools, and our students take part in sailing, golf, football, cricket, and more. When it comes to the performing arts, meanwhile, students can take to the stage or help out behind the scenes, and make use of a purpose-built theatre. All of these activities help students to get away from screens and work and play with others.
Too much of anything can be a bad thing. While there are benefits to students using screens, and they can be a valuable tool, it’s important to ensure screens are used in a responsible and productive way. At all of Aldenham Education Group’s schools, we work hard to find the right balance that benefits our pupils’ development – find out how we add value to our pupils’ education through our all-round education.
How Students’ Surroundings Can Affect Their Learning
We often think of learning as a process that takes place entirely in our own heads. However, research has shown that a child’s learning can be significantly impacted by their physical surroundings – this includes both their home environment and the classroom. Learning is a continuous process, after all, and a healthy learning environment can make education more effortless and more accessible.
The environment’s impact
A child’s learning can be affected by a variety of factors. For example, a noisy or chaotic learning environment can make it difficult for them to concentrate on their studies. At home, for example, if they don’t have a designated space in which to study or do their homework, then they’ll find themselves struggling to focus. On the other hand, a well-lit, quiet and organised area can make it easier for them to concentrate, learn, and retain information. This is just as true in the classroom as it is at home. Students need to be able to focus on their work during lessons, and a well-designed and well-maintained classroom can help to promote a more positive learning environment, and leave students feeling more engaged and more focused.
It’s also worth noting that a student’s learning environment isn’t just the physical space around them. It can also include their cultural and social environment – if a child is from a background that’s different to the school’s dominant culture, then they may end up feeling excluded or marginalised. This can, in turn, impact their ability to learn. At Aldenham Education Group, we have schools in the UK and around the world – we opened our latest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia in 2022. Our international network of schools are integrated closely, to promote links and cooperation across cultures and countries. At the same time, the Aldenham Prep Riyadh curriculum has been carefully tailored to fit with the local culture and traditions – subjects such as Arabic and Islamic Studies ensure that we’re offering our students the best all-round education.
What schools can do
Over the years, many studies have shown the importance of surroundings when it comes to learning, and shown a strong correlation between classroom environmental changes and academic success. In 2015, the University of Salford published a study looking at the impact of different classroom designs. The researchers studied 153 different classrooms in 27 diverse primary schools, looking at everything from air quality to the colours of rooms. They found that a ‘well-designed’ classroom could boost learning significantly – differences in classroom surroundings were responsible for 16% of the variation in students’ learning progress. Even lighting can affect how well students are learning – a study published earlier this year showed that low levels of lighting could improve students’ neurophysiological activity, as well as their memory skills.
One way in which schools can offer their students the support they need is by providing them with adaptive learning spaces. These spaces – which can be found throughout schools – are more flexible than the more rigid learning environment in traditional classrooms – allow students to be more comfortable and engage more with their learning. From comfortable chairs and beanbags for them to read, or desks and nooks where they can be more creative and hands-on, these spaces can give students more freedom to choose how they learn. After all, every student learns differently, and they need different surroundings in which to do so. While some are visual learners who can benefit from seeing their teacher in front of the whiteboard, others benefit more from hands-on learning, or others may learn better from sitting with a book in a quiet reading space.
Aldenham’s learning spaces
At all of our schools, we’ve worked to ensure that our students have the surroundings they need to get the most out of their time with us. For example, we’ve worked closely with the team of educational specialists at KidzInk Design. They’ve created educational spaces for schools around the world, and we partnered with them when designing Aldenham Prep Riyadh. As well as creating classrooms that can accommodate every student’s unique pace and style, they designed other facilities – including our canteen, a Wellbeing Room, and a Learning Resource Centre – that all support our students’ learning needs. The central atrium of the school, for example, offers a range of learning environments and spaces for students to play and learn, including bookshelves and a play area.
While Aldenham in the UK has existed on the same site since it was founded in 1597, delivering 425 years of academic excellence, we’re always looking to the future. We’re constantly updating our facilities in order to engage our students and improve their performance. Our sports facilities, for example, include a full-size sports hall and a dance studio, while the purpose-built theatre is well-equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology. It’s not just the school buildings that can stimulate and engage our students, though. Engaging and connecting with nature can make children more motivated to learn, and our UK schools are surrounded by acres of countryside. Although just 13 miles away from London, it’s set in over 110 acres of Hertfordshire countryside, giving our students the space to play, take part in sports, or just relax.
A child’s surroundings can have a significant impact on their learning. While a supportive, well-designed and positive environment can promote better mental health and increase a child’s ability to learn, a more chaotic learning environment can be a major barrier to their success. As educators, it is important to consider the space in which a child is learning and take steps to ensure it’s conducive to their success, which is what we aim to do at every one of our Aldenham schools. From flexible classrooms to comfortable spaces, we ensure they have everything they need – find out more about Aldenham’s facilities here.
Going Green – Is Your School Doing Enough To Teach Sustainability?
It’s clear that we’re already facing the consequences of climate change – from rising sea levels to extreme weather events. If we’re going to tackle it effectively, then schools have a vital role to play. By teaching environmental awareness in schools, we can help students make choices that will lead to a more sustainable future. Sustainability is more important than ever – but is your school doing enough?
Why teaching sustainability is so important
Last year, a survey by EdWeek gave a stark insight into how climate change was already beginning to affect schools. Out of 960 teachers, principals, and district leaders surveyed in the US, 25% said that climate change was impacting their school or district, while an additional 18% said that while they hadn’t yet been affected by climate change, they believed it was an imminent threat. 44% of those surveyed said that they’d either had to cancel lessons or close the school and switch to remote learning because of severe weather. The survey also revealed that most schools hadn’t taken any action over the past five years to prepare for climate change – mainly because of a perception that the effects of climate change won’t impact them.
Climate change is already having an effect on children’s education around the world. School buildings are being destroyed by extreme weather events like storms, floods, and cyclones – in 2019, Cyclone Idai destroyed 3,400 classrooms in Mozambique – or children’s schooling is being interrupted by droughts and heatwaves. As climate change worsens, we’ll likely see more extreme weather all over the world. Clearly, teaching sustainability is becoming more and more important. By teaching students about the causes of climate change and what they can do to combat it, we can encourage them to take action – both individually and collectively. This way we can help to make a difference now, before it’s too late, and change the planet for the better.
The benefits of teaching sustainability
By teaching your students about sustainability, you can help to set an example for future generations. Sustainability is a team effort, and everyone from teachers and students to the school leadership team and even parents needs to play a part. Focusing on sustainability, and teaching students about the importance of it, can help you and your school to become more eco-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint. In the future, making greener choices can benefit everyone, leading to a healthier population, more employment opportunities, and a more sustainable future.
There are more benefits to teaching sustainability, too – other than the overall benefit of protecting the environment. Schools and teachers that take the time to educate their students on the importance of sustainability encourages those students to become global citizens. Educating them on issues like climate change allows them to better understand their place in their world, and impress upon them values like empathy and open-mindedness. This way, you can look to the future and help set them up for life after they’ve graduated – something we believe is imperative at Aldenham Education Group, as we try to prepare our pupils for a fast-changing modern world.
How to incorporate it into your curriculum
Teaching sustainability involves more than just learning facts about the environment. If today’s students are going to be able to make some kind of change, they need a whole new sustainable mindset. This is where schools can make a difference, by impressing students with more environmentally-friendly behaviours and skills and encouraging them to fully engage with the fight against climate change. When teaching students about the harmful effects of climate change, it’s important that solutions are built into lesson plans. For example, in a lesson about the greenhouse gas emissions from cars, teachers should also mention ways of reducing traffic, such as cycling or taking public transport. Students won’t be left feeling anxious about the future if they learn ways to be more proactive and eco-friendly.
There’s no need for schools to completely overhaul their curriculums when teaching sustainability. It can be done in small ways, like using interactive digital whiteboards in classrooms – which we’ve installed in our latest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh. Not only are these more engaging for pupils, but they can drastically reduce the amount of paper worksheets that are printed and thrown out each year. Schools can also set up eco-friendly schemes to motivate students to be more sustainable when not in the classroom – such as encouraging them to recycle more, or installing a school garden where students can care for plants and grow their own fruit and vegetables. Investing in renewable energy – by installing solar panels, for example – could help your school to be greener and to save money at the same time.
How schools could be more sustainable
It’s important for schools to take action both in and out of the classroom – to educate their students on being eco-friendly while reducing their environmental impact at the same time. At Aldenham Education Group, that’s exactly what we’ve started to do, throughout our network of international schools. Our students – at all of our schools – have many opportunities to learn about nature and how to care for it, whether it’s learning about animals in the Zoolab or simply appreciating the greenery that surrounds Aldenham UK. At Aldenham Prep, our students learn about and celebrate Earth Day each year. Throughout the rest of the school year, the students elect ‘Eco Warriors,’ who meet up once a week to discuss environmental issues.
In 2021, we opened a new building at Aldenham Prep, replacing a 1920s building that was no longer fit for purpose. The new building includes modern facilities and cutting-edge sustainable features, including natural ventilation and heat recovery units – designed to minimise energy consumption. In 2019, we also invested in an eco-friendly ‘Garbage Guzzler’ to reduce the amount of food wastage. Aldenham UK was the first school in the UK to use this technology, which uses bacteria to break down food, cardboard and paper packaging, and turn them into a product that can be used as either a soil improver or biomass fuel. Andy Williams, the Head of Aldenham Senior School, explained, “Reducing our wastage this way, on site, enables us to not only service our grounds more efficiently but also allows us to reduce vehicle movements that are associated with recycling.”
It’s important to get children to learn about the natural world and to connect with it – if we’re going to protect the environment for future generations, we need to start now. Even the smallest of steps could help to make a change and have a positive impact. At Aldenham, it’s important for us to strive for a better future – and help our students and the planet as much as we can. As well as providing them with an all-round education, we aim to give them the skills they need to change the world. Aldenham UK is surrounded by acres of leafy countryside, which helps to impress on our students how important the environment is – take a virtual tour of the site to see what we mean, and make sure to explore the rest of the website to find out more.
Why Self-Learning Could Be The Key To Success
Although it’s not a brand new learning method, self-learning is a growing trend in schools around the world, and could be the best way to give your pupils a more meaningful learning experience.
The Benefits of Self-learning
Self-learning (or self-directed learning) is, as the name implies, a form of learning that the pupil directs themself, rather than following the leadership of someone else – like a teacher. Instead, the teacher is more of a guide, encouraging and supporting their pupils and putting more of a focus on educational freedom. Giving students more agency over what they’re learning – and how they go about learning it – can help to create more engagement, and give students more motivation. Teachers have long understood that the biggest hurdle they face is getting their pupils more engaged with the learning material. Students who are more engaged aren’t only more interested in lessons – they’re more likely to enjoy themselves and view learning in a positive light, and more likely to continue with further education once they’ve graduated.
The Benefits of Online Learning
One of the biggest benefits of self-learning is flexibility, and online learning can offer both students and teachers more freedom. With online learning, students can choose when and where they learn, and continue with their studies outside of school hours. Online learning has grown significantly in recent years, well before COVID-19 – although the pandemic obviously accelerated the demand for it. In 2019, it was predicted that the online education market would reach $350 billion (£286 billion) by 2025, although that figure is likely higher now. Of course, the pandemic meant that pupils at Aldenham Education Group had to stay at home. Fortunately, our state-of-the-art technology meant that we were still able to provide our pupils with the same high-quality education that they’d come to expect – only online, with the virtual AldeHome. As well as lessons, we were even able to offer online extracurricular activities, and encourage students to go on virtual school trips to museums or theatres.
The pandemic drastically changed the way schools operated, forcing them to turn to online tools to ensure children were still learning – whilst simultaneously expediting change and innovation in the industry. Even now, as many schools around the world have opened up again and returned to offline teaching, there’s been a rise in demand for online learning at schools and universities around the world. In September 2022, the iCademy Middle East in Dubai reported a 25% increase in students opting for online learning over the past year. In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, a report on online learning in the country revealed that it had given students valuable skills in digital literacy, independent learning, and teamwork. At our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, we aim to impart these skills to our pupils, with cutting-edge technology throughout the school – in both classrooms and our Learning Resource Centre.
Why Children Should Learn At Their Own Pace
Both self-learning and online learning can help children to learn at their own pace. By giving them the space they need to set their own educational goals, schools can help students to succeed and reduce the pressure that students may put on themselves to achieve the best grades. As well as encouraging students to continue learning throughout their lives, self-learning can also improve confidence and empowerment in students. At each of our Aldenham schools, we understand there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to education.
All of our pupils have individual needs, and we want to ensure everyone flourishes. We offer our pupils various learning approaches, in order to ensure they can both participate in and enjoy their lessons. At Aldenham Education Group, we believe in a holistic approach to education, meaning we give our pupils the opportunities to keep on learning outside of the boundaries of the curriculum. In ICT lessons, for example, our pupils work together, collaborating and coming up with ideas, and learning how to work as part of a team. We also offer them extra-curricular activities from sports to music and drama, instilling a lifelong love of these activities in our pupils, and unlocking skills like self-confidence and teamwork.
Self-learning can give pupils the freedom to learn at their own pace, and make them excited to learn. By tailoring pupils’ education to their specific needs, teachers can help their pupils to realise and exceed their potential, which is something we aspire to do at every one of our Aldenham schools. To find out more about our commitment to helping our pupils achieve success – in their education and their careers – get in touch with us today.
Why STEAM Learning Is So Important
You might have already heard of STEM, which is a relatively new educational approach that combines science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in order to set up pupils for success in later life. There’s a new approach, however – STEAM – and this combines all of the above with the creative arts. While STEM learning is important, more and more schools are turning to STEAM learning because of the valuable skills it can impart.
What is STEAM?
When it comes to education, STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Not only does it teach pupils to use scientific and problem-solving skills, but the inclusion of arts encourages them to think creatively at the same time. The STEM approach to education was first introduced back in 2001, while researcher Georgette Yakman developed the STEAM framework in 2006. While it’s newer, it’s clearly gathering steam, and more and more schools are implementing it. By studying STEM subjects, pupils can learn valuable life skills – after all, these subjects permeate every aspect of our daily lives. STEAM learning, however, integrates these with more artistic subjects.
That doesn’t just include the creative arts, like art, dance, drama, and music, but other arts-based disciplines like languages, social studies, and humanities. The biggest difference between STEM and STEAM (apart from the number of subjects) is in their approach to learning. STEM focuses on teaching pupils the hard scientific or mathematical skills they’ll need to solve problems. STEAM, on the other hand, gives children a more well-rounded education and encourages them to think more creatively, and to think outside the box by experimenting more. At Aldenham Education Group, our schools in the UK and abroad have all the facilities to offer our pupils the best possible education, in both science and the arts. Our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, for example has a Science and Technology classroom with all the equipment needed to conduct experiments, as well as a cutting-edge Music Room, and a Learning Resource Centre where pupils can get creative with a 3D printer, a high-tech VR system, and video production software. In the UK, meanwhile, our pupils have access to the latest modern technology designed to enhance their learning – at Aldenham School, they can make use of a fully-equipped recording studio, a brain scanner in the Psychology classroom, a 3D printer, and even learn how to write software in their Computer Science classes.
Putting the A in STEAM
STEAM learning aims to infuse artistic skills into the more scientific subjects. The benefits of this include encouraging creativity and developing more problem-solving skills. This teaching approach can improve critical thinking, as pupils have access to skills and toolsets from both artistic and scientific subjects. STEAM learning combines different subject areas in a way that traditional teaching approaches hasn’t – instead, different subjects are segmented and separated. The success of STEAM learning has been supported by studies, including this American study from 2016, which found that pupils who had received just nine hours of STEAM learning made improvements in their science lessons, compared to pupils on a STEM-only curriculum.
STEAM learning can also help to improve pupils’ communication and encourage them to collaborate on projects or tasks. The performing arts, like dance and drama, can improve communication skills and encourage pupils to express themselves. They can inspire pupils to be more well-rounded individuals, and is something we encourage at our schools. Drama is just one of the many co-curricular and extracurricular activities we offer at Aldenham, along with other performing arts like music. Through drama, we aim to guide our pupils to be better communicators and explore their imagination, while music can teach important skills like time management and discipline. At Aldenham School, we offer our pupils state-of-the-art facilities – they all have the opportunity to take to the stage and perform in our purpose-built theatre, or even work backstage as lighting or sound technicians.
How STEAM Can Set Pupils Up For Life
As well as imparting valuable life skills, the subjects included in STEAM learning can help prepare pupils for further education, and give them marketable skills they can use in their careers once they leave college or university. In fact, a STEAM education can prove to be far more valuable than a STEM education – a study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that pupils who’d attended a school with a STEAM curriculum were 21% more likely to attend college when compared to others who lacked an arts education. By offering pupils a more well-rounded education, it gives them a better chance at getting into universities. The institutions are looking for students with a more versatile knowledge base rather than being skilled at just one subject, which is why we at Aldenham believe in offering our pupils an all-round education, and encouraging them to grow up to be both well-balanced and self-motivated.
A STEAM education can give pupils better job prospects. There’s a growing demand for people with STEM or STEAM skills – the US Bureau of Labor has predicted that STEM occupations will grow by around 8% by 2029. Even if they don’t end up going on to work in a STEAM-related field, they can still put the skills they’ve learned to good use – this learning framework can benefit them in both their personal and professional lives. At every one of our Aldenham schools, we believe in looking to the future to set our pupils up for success, and regularly train our staff in new teaching methods designed to help our pupils as best we can.
Although it’s impossible to say for sure what jobs will be available to our pupils in the future, a STEAM education is one of the best ways of preparing them for life after they graduate. It can give them the knowledge and skills they need to think outside the box, both creatively and critically. A STEAM education can empower pupils and give them invaluable skills. To find out more about our academic programme, and how we cater to our pupils’ individual needs, take a look at the Aldenham UK website.
The Steps To Take When Looking To Acquire A School
Acquiring a school may make good strategic sense, but it’s still a big investment, and at times can prove to be a long and complicated process. Here at Aldenham Education Group, we have years of experience in running and opening new schools, both in the UK and abroad – in September 2022, we opened Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Whether you’re looking to acquire your first school, or adding to a network of them, there are some vital steps that you should keep in mind in order to avoid some of the most common challenges.
When it comes to deals such as this, confidentiality is paramount – the importance of it can’t be overstated. Selling a school can be a time-consuming process, and it’s best to keep everything under wraps to minimise the disruption to pupils, staff, and the parents of pupils as much as possible. There’s always the chance the sale might not go through, so you should ensure that information is only shared with people on a need-to-know basis, such as governors, members of the school board, headteachers or other key staff. If possible, the parties involved should sign a non-disclosure agreement, in order to prevent any acquisition deals from being leaked. Once the terms of the sale or acquisition have been agreed upon, then the school and the buyer can make an announcement to parents and answer any pressing questions people may have.
Do Your Due Diligence
If you’re looking to acquire a school, you’ll want to make sure that you carry out due diligence. You’ll want to make sure that you’re making an informed decision, and that you’re aware of all of the school’s assets, any issues it may have, and any issues that might arise in the near future. While you’re doing your due diligence, a complete valuation of the school is advised, as it ensures you can stay on top of your costs and avoid paying more than is necessary. If you think that due diligence could take a long time, you should make sure to factor it into your timeline.
Typically, the school buildings will be the biggest assets, so you should undertake surveys on them to address any maintenance issues or repairs that need to be made. The school should disclose these up front if there are any, but if they don’t, they could slow down proceedings. It’s a two-way process, of course – the school will also be doing its due diligence on you, so you should make sure there’s nothing that the school might be concerned about.
Keep All Information to Hand
Keeping track of all the important information can ensure the sale goes ahead – something that both the school and the buyer should be mindful of. Before you acquire a school, you’ll need to look over three years’ worth of the school’s financial information, as well as accurate data on debtors, budgets, safeguarding, contracts, and more. By prioritising the receival of all of this information from the school, and keeping it to hand, you can make sure you aren’t blindsided by any new information that comes to light. Since all of our schools are owner-operated, at AEG we’re always hands-on throughout the process of acquiring a new school, especially when analysing and vetting their details – we’re able to make decisions quickly and effectively.
Make Sure You Have Planning Permissions
If you’ve been looking to acquire a school, you may have already made plans to make modifications, to build extensions, or even to build new school buildings. You should make sure to check that the school is registered under the correct planning use class, and that you’ve obtained all of the proper planning permissions. This is especially important if the school’s in a different country. It’s vital that you have the correct planning permissions. Any setback could leave you behind schedule, and cost you both time and money – if you miss out on the beginning of the school year, you’d have to wait weeks or possibly months until you could open your doors to welcome pupils.
Acquiring a new school is an enormous undertaking, as you might expect, but if you keep in mind all of the above points, you can alleviate some of the pressure, and make the process easier for everyone involved. If you want to find out more about some of the schools that we’ve acquired, and how we maintain our hands-on approach to operations, no matter where in the world they are, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
The Importance Of Extracurricular Activities
Any activity that isn’t required for school credit can be classed as extracurricular, from sports and hobbies to online courses after school hours or even helping out in the local community. Although these typically fall outside of the realm of a typical school curriculum, these activities are just as important as school subjects. Extracurricular activities help pupils learn about themselves and their interests, giving them a chance to pick up new talents or provide value to others. They’re also an essential part of a child’s development, both during and after their school career.
Improving Academic Performance
Although they mainly take place outside of the classroom, extracurricular activities can also help pupils to improve their academic performance. At Aldenham Education Group (AEG) we like to offer our pupils an all-round education, and extracurricular activities are a major part of that education as they give pupils a chance to carry on learning outside of the classroom. When engaging in interesting or creative activities, a child is more likely to be stimulated, and they’re more likely to bring that enthusiasm back to their academic studies. While activities like sports help improve pupils’ physical health, they’ve also been shown to improve their mental health – a 2020 study found that pupils who participated in extracurricular activities were less likely to feel anxious or depressed, and thus more likely to perform well at school.
Teaching Them New Skills
A pupil’s education shouldn’t only take place in the classroom – they might not get the chance to learn new skills or develop undiscovered talents. Whether it’s a sport like badminton or curling, or an artistic endeavour like knitting or pottery, extracurricular activities give pupils the chance to try out new skills and discover where their talents and interests might lie. Our schools have a prestigious sporting history, offering our pupils activities including football, hockey, netball, cricket, sailing, rounders, and more. Our pupils also get involved in the arts, with drama productions and music lessons in state-of-the-art facilities. All sports and hobbies offer pupils a chance to learn something new that could help them later in life – chess teaches them how to plan ahead, learning a new language teaches them about the wider world, and music helps them develop movement and coordination skills.
Boosting Children’s Confidence
Extracurricular activities help pupils to discover their passions, which in turn helps them to strengthen their sense of self. Children learn to define themselves outside the classroom, which in turn leads to higher self esteem and boosts their confidence. By dedicating time and effort to perfecting a skill or a talent, children are more likely to see an improvement, and when that happens, they’ll feel more motivated to continue trying. This motivation sees them challenging themselves to meet milestones, whether that’s playing a new song on the piano or mastering a gymnastics move, and they take this willingness to learn new skills into the classroom. At AEG, we encourage this – our pupils in the UK often take part in schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which sees them earning certifications for skills such as hiking, orienteering, cooking, and even volunteering their time to help others.
Improving Their Social Skills
Whilst some children struggle to form friendships, taking part in extracurricular classes and activities gives them a chance to meet other children with similar interests. The activities and classes on offer at AEG schools instil a sense of camaraderie amongst our pupils, giving them fond memories and long-lasting friendships. By working and playing more with other pupils the same age, children learn to pick up social skills that will help them later in life.
A paper published by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies showed that extracurricular activities helped pupils develop important skills such as showing empathy towards others. By meeting other children who they might not otherwise have encountered, they’re able to expand their worldview. At our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, which opened in Saudi Arabia this September (and we plan to open more soon across the Middle East), local traditions and values are embraced to encourage our pupils to learn more about other cultures. Extracurricular activities allow children to feel more of a sense of belonging as they connect with their fellow pupils or teammates, which in turn can make them feel more welcome at school and more willing to engage in the classroom. Team sports help with this, as they emphasise the importance of teamwork, and encourage pupils to work together more.
Setting Them Up For Later Life
As well as teaching them valuable life skills, such as sporting talent, knowing a foreign language, or knowing how to play an instrument, having participated in a wide range of extracurricular activities reflects well on a pupil. Universities, for example, look for extracurricular activities on applications, and those that show a range of skills and interests make a pupil stand out from the crowd. Sports, creative activities, and those that show leadership skills, are some of the most sought after. Even after university, extracurricular activities still come in useful, as they can be included on their CVs when they’re applying for graduate roles. At AEG, one of our main goals is to prepare our pupils for life after school, as best as we can. As well as offering an all-round education, we also encourage our pupils to take up the extracurricular activities that will benefit them the most.
Extracurricular activities have a positive impact on our pupils’ development – not only do they help our pupils both academically and socially, they also set them up for successes in later life. From sports and music to art and drama, they all help children to find new skills and boost their confidence. To find out more about the kinds of extracurricular activities that we offer at our schools, visit the Aldenham School or the Aldenham Prep Riyadh websites.
The Education Trends To Watch Out For In 2023
Schools have been transformed over the last few years, thanks to education trends such as the rise of online learning. Technology – and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – has had a huge impact on the education sector in recent years, and things don’t look to be slowing down in 2023, with new trends looking to make teaching more adaptable and accessible for both teachers and students.
One of the biggest education trends that you can expect to see more schools adopting over the next twelve months is nano learning. This teaching method is designed to make complex subjects more engaging and interesting for students, by breaking them up into lessons that are short, simple, and more ‘bite-size.’ The rise of Snapchat and TikTok has shown that people want information delivered to them clearly and concisely. Nano learning aims to do that in the classroom by using different types of media including videos, images, animations, and interactive games.
With nano learning, teachers can break up topics or themes into much more manageable modules, to prevent students’ minds from wandering. Research has shown that our working memory, where we process new information, is very limited, making it difficult for students to retain new information. Nano learning keeps attention levels high, increases retention of information, and improves productivity. The short and quick lessons involved in nano learning can last from around two to 10 minutes, and make it easier for teachers to work out which students may be struggling to grasp a particular topic. If they are, they can tackle the subject in a different lesson and tailor it more towards the students, perhaps using flash cards or a quiz.
AR and VR Technology
Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and it won’t be long before we see them used more often in schools. In fact, according to a report by Market Research Future, the AR and VR in education market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.2% between 2022 and 2027. Using VR, students could travel to different places – or even different times, like Ancient Egypt – without ever leaving the classroom, or even visit a virtual classroom without leaving home. The immersive nature of this technology means it can be integrated into every subject, and help students to focus more and understand subjects more easily.
Some EdTech companies have already turned to VR and AR tech, with headsets and AR overlays. According to a study by Lenovo, 54% of teachers and 41% of parents want an increased usage of virtual and augmented reality solutions in the classroom. Another study, by the National Training Laboratory, found that VR technology could help students retain information by 75%, compared to just 10% without the technology. At all of Aldenham Education Group’s schools, we embrace modern technology wherever we can. Our newest school in Saudi Arabia, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, is equipped with state-of-the-art features – not only do the classrooms feature interactive teaching walls, the learning resource centre houses a 3D printer, computers with video production software, and a high-tech VR system for students to unleash their creativity.
You can expect schools and teachers alike to start utilising learning analytics more. These can help education providers to get a better picture of how well their students are learning and progressing, making it easier for them to work out how to best tailor their strategies and learning plans. Many businesses and industries are benefiting from harnessing the power of big data, and the education sector is no exception.
With more learning software and online tools on offer, schools now have access to far more information on their students’ education than they once had. Just a few years ago, they would have had information on students’ progress from reports, assignments, and exams. Nowadays, however, schools can also get more real-time data on how students are learning, so teachers are able to adjust their lessons as the term progresses. If students use online tools such as quizzes and videos, teachers will be able to have access to information including how long the students used the tools, how many tasks they worked on, and whether they answered questions correctly or incorrectly. Teachers can then monitor students’ engagement and analyse their behaviour, and then use this data to tailor their lessons based on what they know works well.
Skills-based and Holistic Learning
It’s not all about technology, though – another of the biggest education trends to watch out for is schools placing more of an emphasis on skills-based and holistic learning. The focus of education has changed in recent years, and today’s schools aren’t looking to concentrate just on their students’ academic performance, but on equipping them with the skills to succeed in life and become well-rounded members of society. Skills-based learning is all about bridging the skills gap and teaching students to develop skills rather than just acquire knowledge. By engaging students more and teaching them to do things for themselves, teachers can encourage creativity and help them to think outside the box. At Aldenham’s schools, we want to prepare our students for their future careers, and offer a wide range of skills-based lessons including music and the performing arts. We also offer extracurricular activities, and Aldenham has a long sporting tradition – our students take part in football, hockey, cricket, sailing, and more, and often compete against other schools.
Holistic learning, meanwhile, emphasises a student’s overall wellbeing. While their intellectual learning is important, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing all play a vital role in children’s development – and by supporting their wellbeing, schools can help students grow up to be more motivated, more resilient, and more confident. While both of these strategies are considered a modern trend, Aldenham’s unique all-round approach to our curriculum is a combination of both, and something we’ve been doing for 425 years. We believe our students’ academic and pastoral needs are inseparable, and take care to support their mental health. We also provide the highest standards of education to nurture their talents, whatever they might be – academic, creative, or even sporting. At all of our schools, we encourage our students to flourish – they are at the heart of what we do. We believe one of the aims of any educational institution should be to prepare students for their future, and it’s what we strive to do at Aldenham.
These trends highlight how far education has come, and how much it can still change – some of them could transform the way that schools operate. At our Aldenham schools, even though we boast centuries of tradition and history, we’re still focused on the future. We’re always looking for new ways to best serve our students, whether that’s with cutting-edge technology and tools or the best strategies to equip children for life after Aldenham. Head to the Aldenham UK website to find out more about our forward-thinking ethos, and how we aim to add value to all of our students’ education.
The Future Of Teaching
The world of education is always evolving, and the future of teaching is an exciting topic for discussion. Schools are already vastly different to how they were just a few years ago. Educators have to constantly adapt, whether that’s by adding new subjects or topics to the curriculum, or by taking the time to focus more on pupils’ mental health. Technology is helping to transform our daily lives, and it’s doing the same to education, so we’ve taken a closer look at what the future of teaching could look like in just a few years.
There’s been a rise in the number of pupils learning online over the past few years, and not just because of the recent global pandemic. Even before COVID-19, companies were investing in virtual classrooms and online learning technology – in fact, the market is expected to be worth $350 billion by 2025 (£293 billion). Developers are already working on classrooms in the metaverse, seeing it as the future of teaching. While that might seem like companies latching on to what they hope might be the next big thing, the metaverse could have huge benefits for pupils. In a couple of years, as metaverse technology advances, pupils will be able to visit 3D, immersive universes and explore virtual worlds, or even travel back in time.
They’ll be able to do all this without setting foot outside the classroom – or even without leaving their house. The pandemic showed that pupils don’t always have to be in the classroom to learn. Some schools faced challenges with online learning during lockdown, but that doesn’t mean that this technology causes more problems than it solves. In fact, these issues can be blamed on the fact that these schools lacked the proper technology and infrastructure to teach online effectively. Others were forced to make the leap to this teaching method without warning or preparation, causing disruption to both teachers and students. There are countless benefits to virtual classrooms, though. For a start, they’re more accessible and flexible – pupils can learn from anywhere. This would be particularly useful for pupils who live in remote or rural areas, and would give them access to the same education as other children living in big cities.
The Gamification Of Learning
Another technological innovation that could revolutionise the future of teaching is game-based learning. Essentially, game-based learning is an education method that uses the principles of games to engage with pupils and improve their learning. Studies have shown that the use of video games can help pupils with attention disorders, and they can also enhance pupils’ development, with benefits including enhancing their memory as well as their hand-eye coordination. A recent survey of teachers, by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, showed that 55% of teachers already used video games in the classroom at least once a week – and 47% of these teachers say the pupils who benefit the most are the low-performing pupils.
Pupils who learn in this way are more engaged with their learning, and more likely to keep on learning outside of the classroom – and even after they’ve left school. Depending on the games, pupils can pick up skills that could be valuable later in life, from how to read maps or use logic to solve problems to how to use a computer and even the basics of coding or programming. As technology advances, and more classrooms begin to use computers or tablets in the classroom, more pupils will be able to see these benefits.
The Future Of AEG
Both virtual classrooms and game-based learning have the potential to help pupils immensely. More importantly, though, they can both teach children to not see learning as a chore. By getting their pupils more engaged in their education – whether that’s through virtual reality school trips or playing games – teachers set them up for later life, and that’s something that we at AEG aspire to do. We’ve always seen learning as a lifetime endeavour, and something that doesn’t just stop as soon as pupils graduate from school – we aim to support our children as much as we can and steer them on the right path, whatever their talents might be.
Aldenham was founded in 1597, and even though AEG has centuries of timeless tradition and experience, we’ve always looked to the future of teaching whenever and wherever we can. At Aldenham School in the UK, for example, our purpose-built theatre was built to the highest standards, with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment that our pupils can learn how to use. By putting on high-quality plays and performances while they’re at school, our pupils learn valuable creative skills and boost their confidence at the same time, while also picking up technical skills that they can take with them into their future careers. Our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, opened last year with cutting-edge facilities throughout the building – in the Learning Resource Centre, pupils can make use of a 3D printer, and get creative with a VR system and video production software. We pride ourselves on embracing modern technology and investing in the latest EdTech, or educational technology, to provide our pupils with the best opportunities.
While we don’t know for certain what the schools of the future will look like, one thing we can be sure of is that they’ll make the most of the latest technologies. New innovations like the metaverse and online learning tech have the potential to revolutionise the way subjects are taught in schools. At our Aldenham schools, our facilities are constantly upgraded in order to ensure we’re offering our pupils the best start in life. To find out more about our ethos, and how we’re always looking forward to the future, head to the Aldenham UK website.