The Top Schools Award for Most Innovative School in the United Arab Emirates. Top Schools Awards 2023 Nomination and Entry Forms.
Below is the official entry form for the Top Schools Award for Most Innovative School in the United Arab Emirates. This Award celebrates and represents those schools operating at the cutting edge of education in two respects. First, we celebrate schools in which a culture of creativity and innovation is a founding pillar of how the school defines and implements an outstanding education for students, one in which the practice and skills of problem-solving and exploring knowledge by students, critically and creatively, can be seen across every aspect of school life. Second, we celebrate those schools that carry forward that philosophy into its own structural way of delivering education through demonstrable change and innovation; schools that can show that they continually evolve to innovate in, and deliver, better outcomes for students. The most outstanding schools demonstrate innovation in both areas. These schools inspire a culture in which students innovate – and the schools themselves innovate.
In many ways, understanding what innovation means in practice to children is to compare innovation to its nemesis – learning by rote in ring-fenced, discrete subject areas. At risk of simplification, traditionally, in many schools, education was seen as a mechanism for teaching children facts in different subjects that did not talk with each other. Success was measured in the ability of students to regurgitate those facts in discrete examinations. Prioritising innovation in education is a completely different way of understanding the purpose of schools and the abilities of students. It means seeing facts in one subject as only the most basic building blocks of learning. Real education blossoms from critically questioning those “facts” and using those now critically assessed facts, in conjunction with the critically assessed facts from other subjects, as blocks to solve problems or build knowledge into new areas. Learning becomes an activity of engineering and re-engineering the world and our understanding of it – and an activity a million miles away from seeing the world as something fixed and already determined. Academically, schools become engines of concept creation. Technically and vocationally, schools become engines producing material things that solve problems rather than recreating them. Thinking, not memorising, creating, not repeating. Of course, it’s a balance. We do not encourage passengers to fly planes. However, in the most innovative schools, the point is that they are inspired to want to… and are given every opportunity to do so safely, even rebuilding the plane if required.
In the most outstanding schools, this culture of innovation can be seen in the way that the school itself evolves. It must ‘walk the walk’ – and we see this on our visits in a myriad of ways. This year we have seen some of our most outstanding schools innovate in the ways that technical subjects are taught and showcased in school by building hubs within the corridors in which students engage in learning at the centre of school life rather than being separated off in classrooms. We have seen schools investing in CNC machines that would not be out of place in the working hubs of industry. We have seen schools building new Centres focused on Science, or other creative hubs of their curriculum. We have seen schools bringing automotive engineering to life in schools by moving beyond reading how to build cars to actually building cars in schools. We have seen schools investing in making the ideas and solutions of students on paper, real. We have seen schools that have changed horses midstream – ripping up the rulebook of how things were done to do them differently, often at great cost culturally, not only financially, because that is what children needed. We walk into these schools and find students working in clusters solving problems, not sitting in rows staring at whiteboards. We find students in these schools exploring concepts that they have created, not reiterating facts that they have been told. These, and through countless other ways, the most outstanding schools in the UAE are proving themselves beacons for innovation on a global scale, and every day. These are schools we can, and should, celebrate.
This Award then recognises schools that place innovation centre stage in what they seek to achieve from an outstanding education for every child – because they recognise that it is only from this, that education can be successful for every child in ways that matter beyond numbers, ticking boxes and standing-still.
Traditional education is no longer anywhere, anywhere, near enough. 21st century industry wants thinkers, disruptors and creators. It knows that machines will eventually do the mundane. Our children will lose any battle with a computer that can speak with an authority on facts that makes even those with a photographic memory look amateur. There will be few jobs in the future working on production lines, metaphorical or otherwise. There will, in distinction, be a countless number of future roles in innovation, creativity, strategy – and in those areas that are, and will likely always be, a dead zone for even the most advanced conceivable AI; the caring industries, those requiring emotional engagement, the Arts, entrepreneurship, those that depend on our humanity…..
In this award then, we are looking for a school that sets the region alight with the quality of its innovation, and commitment to inspiring innovation, across every aspect of school life. It will be a school hugely ambitious for the creative capacity of every one of its students and one that celebrates mistakes and errors – because these are the proof that education, real education, is actually taking place. It will be a school that is loved by its students, parents, teachers, school leaders and owners alike because it believes in the capacity of the individual student to make a difference, be the difference, create the difference.
Given our focus on excellence in STEAM this year, we are particularly focused on schools that powerfully play to the strengths of the Arts in STEM – one that celebrates the way that subject areas relate together to inspire innovation and creativity in solving problems defined by both students and society more broadly. We are looking for schools that don’t place children in boxes but celebrate all parts of the curriculum.
For this Award then, we are looking for schools that builds to all these strengths. We are looking for schools that celebrate their contribution to education in the UAE as one driven through the lens of innovation.
This will be a school that sparkles with imagination and ambition in the way it teaches children to think outside of boxes – and then goes on to invest in the tools to bring ideas to life. It will be a school that is a hub of, and for, innovation – both by students – but also by its educators, owners and school leadership in the way that it ensures that that hub evolves and does not stand-still, moving in time with the current and future needs of students.
The Top Schools Award for Most Innovative School in the United Arab Emirates – schools please download the official application form here.
For Parents, Governors, Teachers and Students
Parents, teachers, governors and students – we want to hear from you! If you believe that your school is one filled to the rooftops with innovation, imagination, experimentation and an awe-inspiring culture of creativity, please contact us with your answer to the following. “I would like to nominate X school [name of school] as the most innovative school in the UAE because …. ” Please email us at [email protected]. You can write as little or as much as you wish, and please include photographs if possible. Please do your best to bring to life for us the impact of innovation at your school on you and/or children in your email and what innovation in a school school means, in practice, to you.
The Top Schools Awards 2023-24
This year, the Top Schools Awards are celebrating outstanding achievement in our schools with a particular focus on how schools inspire children by linking all subject areas to bring the extraordinary wonders of the Arts, creativity, imagination – and freedom to experiment and innovate, into all areas of the curriculum including, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
We believe, passionately, that the Arts are absolutely fundamental to delivering an outstanding, and happy, education for every child, one focused on the whole child and the gifts all children have to change the world for the better and make the difference – every day, and in the future. The Arts bring STEM to life.
Rocket Girl – the Arts and Sciences, together, brought to life
In November 2023, members of the TSA Space and Rocket programme completed first phase testing of the ImaginationTM powered Jet Pack specially manufactured for this year’s STEAM focused Awards. We visited a number of the region’s most outstanding schools. We are particularly grateful for the assistance of the extraordinary and accredited Rocket Pilot, Space Girl and aspiring young engineer Lola from South View School in Dubai(pictured) for her considerable, and quite, totally, awesome, bravery and kindness in completing rocket pack inaugural flight testing.
Without her, and those many other children we visited across the UAE, none of this would have been possible. They made us… believe.
For schools seeking further information on The Top Schools Awards 2023 – 2024, please contact [email protected]
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