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A British curriculum for international schools

"Discovery Education Espresso makes teaching and lesson planning more effective and the children absolutely love it. For me, Espresso’s accessibility is key.”

Brighton College, Al Ain, is a highly successful international school in Al Ain, a large city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Providing a world class education for pupils aged 3 – 18, the school welcomes children from many different countries and follows a British-style curriculum.

Teachers at Brighton College, Al Ain, use Discovery Education Espresso to support teaching and learning across Key Stages 1 and 2. Head of Year 5 Rowena McArthur explains how the platform brings learning to life, while meeting the needs of pupils and teachers in a truly international school.

Brighton College Al Ain opened in 2013. We’re an international school and we teach a British curriculum. Our pupils come from all over the world: including the UK, North America, New Zealand, India, France and South Africa. We also teach many local Emirate children, therefore the majority of our pupils have English as an additional language.

I’ve used Discovery Education Espresso for many years and was delighted to discover that Brighton College used it when I joined in 2015. The school chose Espresso because it supports the teaching of a British curriculum. Espresso’s resources are carefully matched and aligned to the National Curriculum, which is particularly important for our non-British teachers. Like many international schools, we’ve produced our own bespoke curriculum based on the National Curriculum, with Espresso supporting us along the way which is fantastic.

Espresso’s digital aspect was a key factor in Brighton College choosing the platform. The school wanted a digital resource that could support our delivery of the British curriculum across every subject in every year group.

One of the great things about Espresso is that it can be accessed at home. We can ask the children to log in and practice different skills and activities to strengthen their learning, particularly in English and Maths. It’s easy for the children to log in remotely. They are already familiar with the platform and parents can get involved too. As distance learning becomes necessary, we’ll be encouraging our pupils to access Espresso from home.

Many of our pupils speak English as an additional language. Espresso helps us to accelerate their learning, while continuing to meet the needs of our higher ability and English speaking children. For our younger pupils, the phonics modules are fabulous. The short video clips bring language to life, introducing different sounds and the skills of blending and segmenting. The children enjoy coming up to the board and taking part in the activities. We love the fact that it’s interactive and so do they. It’s accessible regardless of language proficiency.

We don’t have SATS tests in Abu Dhabi, but we try to embed grammar across everything we do. We teach the SPAG element of SATS in a contextualised way and Espresso helps us to make it real and meaningful, providing a visual representation of each concept. For our older pupils, and particularly those who speak English as an additional language, Espresso’s punctuation and grammar resources are very helpful. The animated videos make sense of different rules e.g. correct positioning for full stops and speech marks. We embed this learning using Espresso’s KS2 English resources. The comprehension activities and video transcripts help children to put their new language skills into action.

Espresso’s differentiated resources make it easy to teach Maths. It’s one of my go-to lesson resources, and I make sure it’s readily available for every lesson – I simply click on the link to access a video or activity when I need it. I often use Espresso to teach Maths to small groups of children at the board. We can pause the animated calculations, for example in multiplication, to see exactly how each step works. The linked video clips tie in nicely and the visual aspect really helps children clearly understand the concepts. It’s especially powerful for children who speak English as an additional language.

We use Discovery Education Espresso to consolidate learning, particularly after science investigations. This term my Year 5 class have been learning about outer space. We organised an outdoor lesson, using different sized spheres to work out the relative distances between the Earth, Sun and Moon. We came back into class and watched Espresso’s video clips on the planets, and the children later used these when presenting their own research on night and day. The videos were a key part of the lesson because they helped make the link between our practical investigations and what happens in space. Espresso put this learning into context.

We use Espresso’s science videos as starting points for our investigations, or to deepen learning. Last term we were investigating forces. The children made paper helicopters using paper clips as a variable to weigh them down. They dropped the helicopters from a height and used their tablets to take video clips, and record how many seconds they took to fall. We then went back into class and watched the Espresso videos on air resistance. The videos helped the children to understand the concepts of air resistance and gravity. They were also prompted to look at their results, and apply these to different situations e.g. knowing how gravity affected a paper helicopter, how might this apply to a parachute?

Discovery Education Espresso makes teaching and lesson planning more effective and the children absolutely love it. For me, Espresso’s accessibility is key. I love the fact that I can find the resources I need very quickly and simply embed these into my planning and lesson resources. It makes my job as a teacher easier. Our pupils love the variety of exciting resources and they know that its accessible. The videos enable children to access learning and understand concepts regardless of their language ability. In an international school this is very important. In summary, Discovery Education Espresso is fantastic. There isn’t really a day goes by that it isn’t used as part of my teaching.

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