Headteacher’s Newsletter 21st Nov 2019

Good Afternoon VES Parents

This week was a first for me, especially as someone from Northern England, with the school being shut for rain! I know that events such as this can be inconvenient for families, and on this occasion it was especially disappointing on Wednesday for our grade 5 students who had a fun, activity, trip to Bounce in Dubai planned, and on Thursday for our FS Choir who had a concert planned in Ajman. However, I am sure we can all agree that although we may have been able to arrive at school in relative safety, the deterioration through the day on Wednesday would have placed many students in danger. The widespread flooding in the Al Azra area meant that on Thursday we would have had no chance of getting staff and students to school safely. During Thursday morning the municipality did an amazing job pumping the water away in over 20 huge trucks. For our school it has meant some mopping up in the sports hall and in the FS1 conservatory, but rest assured school will open on Sunday and you will see there has been no damage done and all work and resources and classrooms have stayed in perfect condition. I’d like to pay tribute here to all of the admin and support staff who have been available around the clock during this time to post messages, field phone calls and contact municipality departments. Without this support, we would have found a very difficult situation could have been much worse.

On our return today, we should have had the odd socks competition at the end of anti-bullying week. This also coincided with Wednesday being the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. After the first article establishes what is considered to be a child, then the second gets to the heart of the matter…

“You should not be discriminated against for any reason, including your race, colour, sex, language, religion, opinion, origin, social or economic status, disability, birth, or any other quality of your parents or guardians.”

This is a pertinent message for anti-bullying week and also the UAE Year of Tolerance. At VES we fiercely protect the rights to individuality our huge variety of students deserve. This is why, when we strive for uniformity in appearance the rest of the year – children, globally, take a day to encourage and acknowledge the concept of difference and diversity by all looking splendid in mismatching and colourful socks…….. it was such a shame the weather intervened this year.

Next week in school our examinations start in earnest. Please allow me to remind all students and parents that attendance is compulsory during the examination period. I was having an interesting conversation with a student about revision on one of my class visits this week, as he was reading through his notes for revision. Reading through notes is an ineffective way to revise. The English system is based around the application and manipulation of learnt knowledge, understanding and skills. This requires students to engage in active revision strategies such as making summaries and practicing past paper and sample questions, especially for older students. In the new year we will be reviewing our revision advice and exam preparation for students to ensure they are all well skilled in what is required.

Next Thursday, the 28th November, the school will commemorate Martyr’s Day and also celebrate National Day. Although this may have a sense of a troublesome dichotomy, it feels right to commemorate the sacrifice of those who have paid the ultimate price to establish and protect the nation – and then celebrate what their devotion has given. In reception we will have a book of commemoration open for people to sign. For the day itself there are, of course, no exams. For break-time, students will go to their form rooms to have a, small, moment of conviviality by bringing items for a communal buffet. Students will be invited to wear national dress or clothes in the colour of the national flag. I am informed that in previous years some students have come in jeans or shorts, but this is forbidden. Also, previously, some have arrived in clothing that has not been appropriate for school; please regulate the outfits of students and remind them that part of the day will be commemorate Martyr’s Day, so a respectful approach is required. We will all then be able to enjoy a well deserved long weekend as school will reopen on Wednesday 4th December.

Have a lovely, restful, weekend.

Keith Sykes