Exceeding expectations with Alps analysis and Connect Interactive at Jumeirah College
By Simon O’Connor, Principal, Jumeirah College
Jumeirah College was established in 1999 and now has over 1120 students from over 60 nationalities running from Year 7 to 13. All students follow the National Curriculum for England, which prepares them for GCSE, AS and A Levels examinations, and ultimately acceptance to some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the UK, US and around the world. The subjects we offer at GCSE and A Level are the widest available locally.
In terms of Inspection, Jumeirah College has been rated as Outstanding by the Dubai Schools Inspection Board every year since 2010. The school has also received recognition internationally having been shortlisted for award by both TES and British International Schools Awards. The school is an active member of both COBIS and BSME. Jumeirah College forms part of the GEMS portfolio of schools.
The benefit of Alps in an international setting
I arrived as Principal of Jumeirah College in 2013, having worked in the UK prior to this. I had been using Alps very successfully in an outstanding school, so knew the impact it could have. However, the context of an international school is very different. One of the significant differences is the lack of available data. In the UK I was used to RaiseOnline, Key Stage 2 baselining and others to inform teacher’s planning and delivery. These are not available on the international scene.
Alps provides clear, and challenging, targets and easily identifies the achievement and progress of students. Target setting at all levels is both straight forward and transparent – and so enables meaningful interventions.
Using Alps to smash expectations
The mission statement of Jumeirah College is:
“A vibrant learning community, nurturing happy, confident and accomplished students who, through a commitment to academic and personal excellence, progress beyond limits.”
Fundamental to this is a belief that expectations can be one of the biggest limitations on a student’s achievement. As a result, we work hard to reinforce a culture that is not only aspirational – but refuses to recognise a ceiling to a student’s potential. Again, Alps provides a very helpful tool in this. Using the Alps methodology, all students receive a minimum target grade – whilst this should not be lowered, once a student is comfortably working at the required level, further challenge can be introduced to raise the target. This interactive element has proved very important in raising aspiration.
Alps and High Performance Learning
Jumeirah College is working towards accreditation with the High Performance Learning ‘World Class School’ programme. HPL is the brainchild of Professor Deborah Eyre and is a research-based philosophy that states all students have the potential to be high performing and not limited by ability. The framework is teaching and learning based, which aims to grow and develop cognitive skills. Schools should strive to continuously improve, and the decision should be made to utilise this framework to give structure to the maintenance of a growth mindset. A fundamental principle of HPL is a mindset shift which recognises that all students have the potential to achieve at the highest levels. This is consistent with the aspirational focus of Alps which provides an infrastructure behind this intention.
Alps Connect Interactive
The recent introduction of Alps Connect Connective has furthered the effective use of Alps. With the move to an online system, Alps data and reports can be generated instantly at any time of the year – giving constant diagnosis of anticipated results. The new online process is incredibly user friendly and also allows ‘What if’ analysis to ensure any interventions are focused on the correct students. Having introduced this to staff they are now using the software across the year – even to reflect scores in individual tests. Whilst it remains too early to assess the impact of this in overall exams, Connect Interactive has undoubtedly enabled teachers to have an even closer focus on individual students.
Alps cannot be credited with all the success of the improvements to results in Jumeirah College – the hard work, dedication and outstanding teaching throughout the school being the driving force. However, the ability to analyse results forensically, set challenging targets and ensure interventions are focused has unquestionably had an impact. Over the last four years the school has maintained a T score of 2, with a 1 in 2017. Over that time more than 75% of students have achieved or exceeded their target grades. Both Psychology and Business Studies have achieved Alps scores of 1, with most departments achieving 2 or 3. At AS the school has achieved a T score ranking of 1 for the last three years, with an overall provider ranking of 2. Over 80% of all AS levels have achieved or exceeded target.
These are simple measures, but they mean that Jumeirah College students have achieved qualifications which have enabled them to progress to many of the top universities in the world. Over the last few years these have included Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, Caltech, Toronto and Monash.