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Issue 23 – The Spirit of Inclusion and Unity

Last Thursday saw the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The Special Olympics promotes positive social change and empowerment for People of Determination with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport. Over 7,000 athletes from more than 170 countries have been taking part in a range of sports, but the event is more than merely a sporting competition. The Special Olympics is geared to raise awareness, educate and encourage tolerance in the community about people with intellectual disabilities. This is in line with His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s declaration that 2019 would be the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.

In excess of 40,000 spectators witnessed the Opening Ceremony and we were delighted that students from DESSC were invited to sing as part of a 500 strong choir to welcome the athletes to the games. They shared the limelight at the opening ceremony with world-renowned musicians such as Avril Lavigne and Paul Oakenfold. We would like to congratulate all the students from DESS and DESC who took part in this wonderful event.

Whilst I was reading an article about the Special Olympics, I heard it described as “The Spirit of Inclusion and Unity”. This made me think about the values that we hold dear at DESC. We have always prided ourselves on being a fully inclusive school, embracing a range of different students and providing opportunities for them all to excel.

This is highlighted by the diverse range of events that I have had the pleasure to support in the last few weeks here at DESC. I thoroughly enjoyed our annual Performing Arts extravaganza last Tuesday, 135 of our students from all age groups taking part in what was a spectacular performance of The Wizard of Oz. Huge congratulations to everyone who was involved in making this such a wonderful production providing three amazing performances over the week.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of the sportsmen and women, as over 100 students took part in the DASSA Football Cup Finals held at the Sevens Stadium and you can read all about this in this week’s newsletter.  Well done to all the students that took part in the football, both in the earlier rounds and in the finals and to Mr Barratt and his coaching staff.

Recently, the EPQ Presentation Evening consisted of 34 students presenting their projects to members of the public. This year approximately 300 parents, students and teachers attended the evening, eager to listen to the innovative work that students have undertaken in the Sixth Form. The EPQ allows students to choose any topic that they wish to explore as long as they can demonstrate genuine academic research has taken place. Many students are now choosing to engage in their own exciting primary research, conducting experiments, collating the data from surveys and writing to academic experts around the world. These are precisely the skills that are prized by employers and universities alike; critical thinking, independence and resilience which are frequently found in job descriptions and prospectuses.

As ever, the presentations this year were eclectic and multi-disciplinary. Significantly, the Artefact option of the EPQ which allows students to build an object based on their research is becoming increasingly popular in the College. One of the highlights of the evening was the go-kart that was designed, built and tested by Haani Farhad Tharak Rahman in Year 13. Haani spent a year working on this machine picking up computer aided design, electrical knowledge and welding skills on the way. As his presentation demonstrated it was an arduous journey and one that took him far from the familiar academic path. In the end, however, he succeeded in his mission – the go-kart smoothly drove around the Sixth Form car park and all the hardship was forgotten.

An experience such as this reminds us that those who believe that education is confined to the classroom are making a mistake. As the philosopher and educator John Dewey states “All genuine learning comes through experience”. Schools need to build in opportunities that take students from text books to practical tasks which allow them to “own their learning”.

The World Scholar’s Cup is another opportunity for students to learn beyond the classroom. This competition requires students to read numerous articles across multiple disciplines. Once again, it involves a huge degree of independence; there is no formal teaching, so students are encouraged to form study groups and deliver student-centred lectures. On Tuesday afternoons, the DESC World Scholar’s Cup Club is a hive of activity with students taking the lead on academically challenging areas of study. Students compile study guides, quizzes and mind-maps all collaboratively and frequently with the skillful use of technology.  You can read more about how we fared at the Regional Round for the World Scholar’s Cup in this week’s newsletter.

As always, the past few weeks have highlighted the inclusivity and unity that is prevalent at DESC. Whether our students excel academically, on the sports field or on the stage, we provide an enormous array of opportunities and platforms. Our priority is to create well rounded students ready for the next stages of their lives.

Finally, as we approach the Spring break, the next few months are a pivotal period for all of our Year 11, 12 and 13 students. It is imperative that they prepare thoroughly for their examinations this summer. The count-down clock is ticking.  For Year 11 and 13 students there are only 25 more teaching days until Study Leave. They must make the most of every lesson!

Have a lovely weekend.

Roger Hancock

Assistant Headteacher

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