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28 April 2016

Message from the Principal

Definitions are interesting and important.
For example, one would want one’s relationship with loved ones to be “complex” not “complicated”.
The distinction when put in those terms is not overly subtle even though the words themselves seem similar at first glance.
The same importance is placed on some quite technical terms in school inspections and feedback as well as in other important areas of school life such as what defines “bullying”.
Matthew Farthing was here for much of this week along with our Deputy Director of Education Inderjit Dehal. Mr. Dehal has been a UK schools inspector and advisor for many years and they are both sharp, experienced, and astute school inspectors.
They came away from a three day inspection with fulsome praise (especially, I should note, for the behavior and character of our pupils) and a number of recommendations. Essentially they said that our school was “good with many outstanding elements”. This is a technical schools definition and essentially means “sort out this bit and that bit and you’ll be outstanding”. I tend to agree with them. For your interest the bits that we need to sort out are around documentation. This was an internal inspection so not one for wider publication though when written up we will of course release it so you can read it for yourselves.
Personally I think we have plenty to be getting on with but I’m always delighted when people come to our school and are amazed by our pupils. They very much deserve the praise, ours is a lovely school.
Which leads me to the bullying definition problem which was prompted not by incidents in our schools but ones in other schools I have been asked to look at. I should stress though that no school is immune and we keep this matter very much in our sights at all times.
Bullying is defined temporally, it is a pattern over time and destroys lives.
It used to be said in the hopeful days of the 70s that bullies lacked self-confidence and were in some sense misunderstood souls. This was later proven to be rubbish of course with the vast majority of bullying carried about by a mixture of young children simply not being really aware of what they were doing, or in older students, “alpha males” and “queen bees”.
On the other hand arguments and fallings out are part of life, and learning how to deal with them is a life skill. It might be saying “sorry” when one is wrong. It might be learning to look at one’s own actions or control one’s own temper. Boys and girls react differently in this regard but the lessons are the same for both. This is not bullying and the distinction is important.
For schools the problem with bullying are manifold but it is a foolish school indeed that chooses to shy away from the definition.
Parents have in some cases learned that using the word “bullying” can result in what they believe is just deserts for the perpetrator of a perceived wrong to their child. This is in fact not always helpful. A simple argument over a single day or two is not bullying and the children should be taught and helped to overcome their disagreement or falling out without labelling either as a “bully” which automatically raised the temperature of the situation.
On the other hand schools which choose to ignore, or are afraid to address, real bullying are risking the immediate and long term happiness of an individual child. The effects of genuine bullying are lasting and long term. The ways in which bullying is handled are diverse and have to be fit for purpose and I would like to talk more about this next week as this is a topic that is both important and complex.
Mike Embley

Message from the Head of Primary

Dear Parents,
It was a real pleasure to have Matthew Farthing and Inderjit Dehal with us for the first three days of the week, looking at all aspects of the school. They were visiting to help us celebrate its successes and to plan our next steps. Although they were of course impressed by eye-catching facilities and the warm welcome extended to our parents, overall the thing that impressed them the most were our students.
They were right. Our students (your children) are indeed amazing individuals who come together at NAS Dubai to form an even greater whole.
I’ve been in and out of classrooms a lot this week, observing lessons. I’m looking at the quality of teaching, but more importantly at the learning of the students. As Head of Primary I already have high expectations of both, yet I continue to be impressed by the level of achievement taking place. Yesterday, I watched a Year 4 maths lesson where the challenge activities extended children’s knowledge into Year 6 work. This morning I observed a Year 6 maths lesson where the students were actively engaged in a problem solving activity involving mathematical knowledge and skills more usually covered in Year 8 in the UK. Yet that group was not even quite the ‘top’ set in Year 6. In fact the vast majority of our Year 6 students work at a mathematical level far in advance of the ‘expected’ National Curriculum level in the UK. This means our primary pupils have had the best possible preparation for continuing academic success at secondary school.  Our secondary school is already very strong (I speak as the parent of a secondary student as well as a primary teacher). As a highly selective school, our secondary teachers get to work with pupils of impressive academic ability on a daily basis. When paired with outstanding teaching and a personalized approach towards every student, then every secondary student at NAS Dubai achieves the best possible academic outcomes. Some of my current primary students will be ready to embark on a GCSE programme of study as early as Year 8, which is a very exciting prospect. As the current Year 6 prepares to graduate through into Year 7 (my own son being among them) I am thrilled that the academic needs of such high flying children will continue to be met (and exceeded) by our own secondary school.
As educational problems go, how best to move high achievers on to even greater attainment is a nice problem to have! During his visit, Matthew mentioned to myself and Liam that the best school leaders tend to suffer from ‘continual dissatisfaction’ – the wish to always do better, to strive for continual improvement. With the very strong, ‘joined up’ approach that we have here at NAS between the primary and secondary school, all of our teachers are well placed to tackle the ‘problem’ of high achievement. Having been amazed by them all over again this week, I am sure that it’s your children who will play the biggest part in showing us how to meet their learning needs in the future.
Have a lovely weekend!
Elizabeth Lamb
Message from the Head of Secondary

I often get asked as an ex PE teacher what my thoughts are on sport in education.  Sport as you will know is a passion of mine, whether it is going for a jog, playing and watching football or out there coaching.  The intrinsic high that you feel after any form of physical activity makes it a rewarding experience.  More importantly though, are the health benefits students gain from sport.
One of the regular questions in a GCSE PE Exam paper asks students (for 1 point) to state the meaning of health.  The answer is a state of social, physical and mental well-being.  I fundamentally think this is one of the core functions of a school.  Obviously this includes aspects such as a strong pastoral system, teaching and learning activities, healthy eating, just to name a few.  A PE department does not just compliment these elements of a school but drives it.
This leads me to the other question I am asked.  Do I believe in sport for all or sport for the elite?  In a school context when we have 1200 students, we must first of all have a sport for all agenda.  PE departments must find activities that students enjoy and that encourages them to access fitness based activity independently.  A school must also encourage a level of competition, as students must learn to win or lose.  Athletics days, swimming galas and house activities allow for a maximum participation and a sport for all mentality while encouraging healthy competition.
Then what about the question of sport for the elite?  I believe that schools must offer competition between schools to allow our strongest participants to perform and compete against students of an even level.  One of my frustrations in PE within the UK is how it is left to schools to develop these students, when in reality we need coaches focused on the skills specific to the activity.  We as PE teachers excel in individual sports, have a breadth of knowledge about others but cannot offer the depth of skills that trained coaches have to make the level of impact needed.  That is why schools must link closer with outside coaching companies. 
In Dubai there is a vast range of activities on offer and we are lucky that many coaching teams provide free CCAs or support us during curriculum time at NAS Dubai.  I am blown away by the commitment of parents here to support the development of their child’s excellence and this is the real key to ensuring a child's rapid development, as it takes hours and hours of commitment to succeed in sport.
With that, I wish you a restful weekend, I am committed to a 10K this weekend with friends and then sit back and watch Tottenham desperately try to win the premier league.

Liam Cullinan
Bugsy Malone Performances
@ NAS Dubai

Don't forget to reserve your tickets through the Eventbrite invite emailed to you this week.

This Razzle Dazzle Extravaganza promises to be another spectacular show by our NAS Dubai students.

For any questions please email

    NAS News Bites   

How would you like to visit Dubai, Australia and New Zealand all in one day? Not possible I hear you say? Well Year 5 can prove you wrong on that! Suitably dressed in board shorts, grass skirts and cork hats, the pupils took to the skies aboard NAS Airways for an exciting adventure.

The day started with a fantastic didgeridoo talk and demonstration from Alex Van Den Tweel (Luka’s father 5A). This proved to be too noisy for Mr Barret who ordered us to take the pupils to Australia…and who are we to disagree! When we were safely on board with our seatbelts fastened and our trays in the upright position, we prepared for take-off! Pupils enjoyed a pleasant and turbulent free flight with their flight crew (AKA...the teachers) at their beck and call. In-flight entertainment included clips all about Australia and New Zealand and a very special performance of Kylie’s classic, ‘I should be so Lucky’ by the Cabin crew (most passengers chose to put their earphones in at this point). Once landed in Australia pupils were raring to visit the Steve Irwin Zoo, where they all had a photo taken with some of the weird and wonderful animals found in Australia. Thankfully the pupils knew how to be ‘Croc-safe’ and any fatalities with the crocodile were avoided! We then boarded the flight once more to fly on to our final destination of New Zealand, where children received a traditional Maori welcome.
As a very special island activity once ‘on location’ the children were invited to take part in a Bush Tucker trial, where they could sample, if they wished, various types of bush tucker food. Pupils were treated to fish eyes, witchetty grubs, blended maggots, crocodile tongue and some fish spawn, before finally washing it all down with a delightful cocktail of snake blood!

Thankfully Brent Belmontes (Adriano’s father 5A),  had very kindly prepared some traditional Caribbean food for all the children to eat. This was very much appreciated by the children (and the hungry Cabin crew) and went down a lot easier than the items from the bush tucker trial!

The Year 5 Team

    Upcoming Events    

Sunday May 1

  • Year 2 Pirate Dress Up Day
Monday May 2
  • Bugsy Malone Performance 6pm-7:30pm
Tuesday May 3
  • Bugsy Malone Performance 6pm-7:30pm
Wednesday May 4
  • EYFS Open Morning for Prospective Parents 8am-10am
  • Year 6 Wadi Adventure Trip 8:30am-3:30pm
  • Lunchtime Music Concert 12:45pm-1:05pm
Thursday May 5
  • School Closed for Israa & Miraaj

   Parent Community  

Chatter Box Cafe

Sanibona! Dumela! Sawubona! Warmest greetings!

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us at Chatterbox Cafe this morning to celebrate a remarkable day in the history of our beloved country.  Freedom Day marks the birth of a country, a nation, a people united! It’s the promise of a better life for all and the opportunity to forgive, but not forget the past.

The lovely SA moms who helped arrange this are truly a reflection of our dynamic culture, always ready to jump in and lend a hand.  We are proud to be known as the new South Africa, the Rainbow Nation - with a population of almost 53 million and 11 official languages, we are exactly that.  We are a colourful nation that aspires to live in harmony despite our differences (of beliefs / cultures / upbringing).  Being able to celebrate this day with so many families from different walks of life here at NAS is just fantastic because that is what it is all about. We strive to bring positivity and upliftment to those around us. A huge part of any South African celebration is of course the food and we hope you enjoyed sampling some of traditional boerewors rolls (beef sausage on bread rolls), melktert (sweet milk custard tart), biltong (strips of beef which is marinated in vinegar & spices then air-dried), rooibos tee (our famous rooibos herbal tea which was served a refreshing ice tea with pomegranate), etc. We tried to incorporate elements of home such as the traditional African decor and even plant life (those aloes we had on display grow in the wild and are very common all over the country).  We also had our National flower (the protea) and National flag on display and of course, couldn’t resist the rugby memorabilia too.  We are a bright, loud, happy nation and it was such a joy for us to share this with you all - thank you for popping in.

In the words of Nelson Mandela : “Everyone can rise about their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do"

Tasha Allen - Mum of Dylan (Year 2) and Aiden (Nursery) for Chatter Box Cafe

Parents' Association

We’re super excited to welcome you tomorrow at The Montgomerie at 8pm and finally see the gorgeous dresses and sharp suits we’ve been hearing about all week.  We do suggest however that you go with your special dancing shoes as from the amount of song requests roaring in you’ll definitely be needing them.  For those of you that are wishing you had reserved your invite, don’t miss out  - email the PA and we’ll do our best to fit  in any last minute additions.

Of course all of this wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous generosity of our sponsors allowing our evening to have both a silent auction and raffle.  To the many wonderful parents, and the companies that they represent in the lists below, we are extremely grateful for your extraordinary support and kindness. 

We would like to thank: 

   Sports News  

Sunday May 1

  • U9 Boys Cricket vs WEK @ NAS Dubai 3pm-4pm
  • U12A Rounders vs Repton B (Away) 3pm-5pm
  • U12B Rounders vs WSO (Away) 3pm-5pm
  • U11 Boys & Girls Basketball vs VHP (Away) 3pm-4:30pm
  • U12 Boys Basketball vs EIS Jumeirah (Away) 3pm-4pm

Monday May 2
  • U11 Boys Cricket vs WEK (Away) 3pm-4pm
  • U9 & U11 Girls Basketball vs GEMS JPS 2:25pm-4pm
  • U12 Girls Basketball vs Safa Community School (Away) 3pm-4:30pm

Tuesday May 3
  • U15 Boys Cricket vs DBS (Away) 3pm -6pm
  • U14A Rounders vs HIS @ NAS Dubai 3pm-4:30pm
  • U14B Rounders vs Latifa School (Away) 3pm-5pm
Wednesday May 4
  • U15 Boys Cricket vs EIS Meadows @ NAS Dubai 3pm-5pm

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Nord Anglia International School Dubai |Hessa Street |Al Barsha 3 South
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