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How ABQ Sohar International School builds eight essential skills
May 28, 2019

ABQ Sohar International School in Oman have been working with us for several years. They serve students from 3 to 16 years old, and are keen to develop them into well-rounded, imaginative people.

The school’s belief is that an injection of entrepreneurial skills and spirit is required to shift young people’s mindset from ‘a dependence and expectation of government jobs being available after graduation’ to one of innovation, exploration and start-ups.

Director of Enterprise Divan Koch manages skills education at ABQ Sohar, and selected our unique programme to build the essential skills for success – as well as to incubate ideas development among their students so they are ultimately prepared to contribute positively to the local community and economy.

How do they implement the Skills Builder principles?

1. Keep it simple

ABQ Sohar’s focus on skills education isn’t just about a lesson here and there; rather it is a core part of the school’s overall strategy, reinforcing the expectation that any student completing education at ABQ Sohar will emerge well-equipped and with a superior enterprising and enquiring mindset.

Their programme is built around the Skills Builder Framework, which breaks down each essential skill into fifteen tangible, teachable and measurable steps. Using a common language in this way and referencing it consistently helps to keep everyone on the same page, providing a solid foundation for building these skills explicitly.

2. Start young, keep going

ABQ Sohar believes that academic subjects alone won’t set every child up for success in life. They believe that a focus on these essential transferable skills from the earliest primary years both unlocks learning in the classroom and prepares students to be truly successful in their generation. Furthermore, it’s crucial that these skills be developed alongside the regular curriculum.

The school has chosen a creative, hands-on approach to teaching these skills. From the moment they join the school, junior and senior students across year groups are actively involved in skill development, while teachers facilitate and guide students to build them more effectively.

3. Measure it

The programme ABQ Sohar have developed pays close attention to individual needs, giving each child the freedom to build up each skill at their own pace. Staff keep a close eye on individual students’ progress, using the Skills Builder Framework to structure their assessment. They then use those insights to tailor their teaching to the needs of their class.

Staff have also used the short activity videos available on the Skills Builder Hub to help gauge students’ level of skill development. Using these videos at the start of the year has proved a great ice breaker tool, helping students to interact and make new friends.

After the completion of their most recent programme, ABQ Sohar asked the teachers for some details about the skills where they felt their students had shown the most improvement, the results of which fed into their long-term curriculum plans.

4. Focus tightly

ABQ Sohar have also committed to focused skills education by initiating a new Enterprise Hour into the weekly timetable every Wednesday. During these lessons, students throughout the school tackle multi-session classroom Projects, complete with student work booklets and printable resources for each lesson. The school incorporates this into their semester motto and vision as well: the weekly assembly message and topics for all subjects are centred around the Project theme.

To launch the programme, all classes began by thinking about how to demonstrate effective Teamwork and Leadership skills – before embarking on their first 10-week Project (see below for more details).

5. Keep practising

ABQ Sohar have recently shifted to a more personalised teaching strategy, focusing mainly on essential skill development alongside academic achievement. Lessons throughout all learning areas are student-centred, and structured around skill-based learning and discovery.

Every week the focus skills are highlighted and the teachers try to build and incorporate those skills into their lesson plans. Students are asked to use Problem Solving, Creativity, Teamwork and Leadership skills in other lessons and can do so effectively due to the school’s consistent focus on skill development.

With the support of our programme, developing the eight essential skills has become central to the school’s ethos, resulting in an even more effective learning environment during classes.

6. Bring it to life

In their first 10-week Project, students worked to raise awareness of ‘green’ issues in their school. They did this by developing Teamwork and Problem Solving skills through a series of lessons. Initially, they learned about the environment and what it means to be eco-friendly. As time progressed, they took charge of an environmental issue and used their Aiming High skills to set and implement targets for improvement.

After doing research on the issue, students found that the school does not have a recycling plant and schools in Oman do not generally recycle. This became the environmental issue that teams chose to address. Students got in touch with Omar from WM Waste Management Company, who became involved and offered to donate recycling bins and his services.

The final outcome of this project was ABQ Sohar becoming the only school in their city to recycle. Working through this project and the process of making real change happen was a fantastic experience for all involved, and a brilliant way to bring the skills developed in the classroom to life in a tangible way.

What’s been the impact of the Skills Builder approach?

‘This project did not just raise awareness with our students, but impacted the whole community. We didn’t see this coming! After a week or two of running this Going Green campaign, we received messages from parents giving advice and assistance to help our school and community recycle.’ - Teacher
‘This project was very beneficial for our teaching staff. The programme has developed our staff’s teaching style, especially around project-based learning, and enriched our teachers to be more effective in their other subjects.’ – Divan Koch, Director of Enterprise
‘After analysing our children from lesson one to lesson ten, I saw rapid growth in the children's Presenting, Leadership and Problem Solving Skills… not only did the children benefit from project-based work, but our teachers were equipped to perform better.’ - Divan Koch, Director of Enterprise

How do they plan to expand their work in future?

In the future, ABQ Sohar will be launching regular Challenge Days, which engage a year group or the whole school in an enterprising competition that also achieves clear learning objectives.

In addition, the school has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Zubair SEC, a small enterprise centre. ABQ Sohar are also planning to invite guest speakers from the local business community to come and share their insight into what it takes to start a business, speaking about the risks and challenges they have experienced.

Finally, the school is launching Business Pathways, a work experience programme aimed at senior students. This will consistent of 3-5 days per year where students will develop the eight essential skills they will needed to achieve success in the working world - including guest speakers and sessions about writing a CV and how to prepare for an interview.

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