Category: Shaping Students’ Futures
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 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 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.