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The Week Ahead 2016037

10 Oct 2016

I hope you’ve had a wonderful break and I’m pleased to welcome you back to Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai. By the time this week’s Week Ahead is published, I will be in the beautiful Emirate of Dubai meeting inspirational leaders in early years’ education. My visit to Dubai is three-fold; I have the privilege of meeting Lisa Irwin, Director of Music Monkeys to discuss her phenomenal music programme, developed specifically for the very youngest learner. Music Monkeys support learning throughout many early years’ settings in Abu Dhabi and I’m thrilled that Lisa has agreed to meet me to discuss the success of the programme. I am also delighted to be visiting Sue Carpenter, Principal at Dubai British Foundation once again to undertake a ‘deep-dive’ in to her music curriculum and I am honoured to be meeting Zahra Hamirani, CEO of the Blossom Nursery group. Zahra’s settings (six currently) are multi-award winning; Zahra’s passion for sustainability runs through every aspect of her philosophy, vision and practice. Sustainability and environmental impact are evident in her policies and strategy throughout the design and fabric of the buildings and into learning spaces and the early years’ practice of her team, culminating in the learning opportunities for the children. The setting at Dubai Academic City is also bilingual, so there will be lots to see and discuss during my visit. Dubai British Foundation has a very well established ‘Singing for Learning’ curriculum which is credited with supporting the children to acquire language at a phenomenal pace. Sue spent time prior to the opening of the setting designing the curriculum, calling on her wealth of experience in the field of education to ensure that her vision became a reality. I first visited Dubai British Foundation in November 2015 and was overwhelmed by the confidence of the children, the range of songs in their repertoire (in both English and Arabic) and the enthusiastic involvement of the teaching teams. Hearing children sing together is an uplifting experience; when you add in the opportunity to see children arrange themselves in preparation for singing, respect their peers with their positive behaviour and then demonstrate choice in the songs they sing, it becomes something tangible – a goose bump moment (for me, I not only had goose bumps, I had a silent tear of overwhelming joy roll down my cheek). It was following my first meeting with Sue that I returned to Shanghai with my vision clear; when we opened in March 2016, music would become a part of who we are, it would run through the very DNA of the Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai Early Years’ experience. From that very moment, the idea of bringing Learning Through Song to our setting was born. The outcome of incorporating singing every day in to the setting was evident very early on; our 100 Days of Friendship event demonstrated significant language acquisition in Chinese and English for all pupils. Furthermore, it afforded the pupils an opportunity to show how confident they had grown, how much they enjoyed ‘performing’ and how there was no embarrassment, nor apprehension at singing in public. For the parents, it deepened their trust in us, validating the choice they had made for their child’s early years’ education. For Iain Henderson (Assistant Head & Director of Coaching), our visiting colleague from Wellington College, UK, it strengthened our shared commitment to a holistic education for all Wellington College pupils. For the academic team, it epitomised our shared vision, reinforcing why we do what we do. Moreover, it gave us all goose bumps. Upcoming events: Wednesday 12th October Parent Information Session: Language Acquisition with Simon Ruscoe-Price (Director of Language, Wellington College China) and Jane Williams (Curriculum Co-ordinator, Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai) Wednesday 19th & Thursday 20th October EdFest – Wellington College Bilingual Shanghai Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd October EdFest – Wellington College International Shanghai