As part of Shamal’s drive to help young people gain the very best education and to better understand the mindset of today’s school children, we offer an internship opportunity at our Abu Dhabi head office. Each year, a student from a local school joins our team to learn more about the world of business. We sat down with our latest intern to ask a few questions and to get her thoughts on what she believes schools of the future should offer.
Welcome to Shamal. We hope you enjoy your time over the next few days as part of our team. What’s your name and how old are you?
My name is Sienna and I am 14 years old.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I moved to Abu Dhabi around four years ago, currently studying at a British International School in Abu Dhabi. The reason I moved to Abu Dhabi was not only to be closer to my family but to gain a better education from going to an independent school, having previously been at a state, mainstream school. Myself and my sister wanted a new experience and a change in lifestyle and that’s exactly what we got. I have got to experience something not many people my age, from my home in Kent, England would have been able to. I aspire to do well, and I enjoy new challenges.
In your opinion, what makes a school great?
From my experience at my current school and my previous schools, I have noticed that being at school you get to meet a lot of new people and learn about the different lifestyles of living in an international country, which is extremely interesting. However, I think the best thing about school is the opportunities that are freely given to you and the paths you can explore from the new things learnt on a day-to-day basis.
What are the three things you looked for when visiting a prospective school?
I think that when visiting a new school and looking at what I would like to get from my time in education, I looked for a comfortable, friendly environment to be part of as a community. I looked for a good education system, along with the opportunities that the school offered and facilities that were available to me. It was important to see how the schools were equipped for each of the students. For instance, I like sport and playing netball but that is not my focus of interest or study, so therefore I wanted to understand what they could offer to me as a whole.
What do you think is missing in schools today?
Schools today have a focus on their look from the environment, and people’s perception of the school, as well as the competition and expectation of reaching the grades. There should be a focus on specific knowledge and education of each child and improvement of skills, along with their future, not only the progress of the school.
What sporting facilities would you like to see at your current school?
My school currently only focuses on the main basic school sports such as netball, football and volleyball, focusing on one each term. However, from learning these specific three sports four years in a row I would like them to offer a wider range of sporting opportunities to try and take up as hobbies, maybe some that are more individual and singularly improved.
If you could add three features/facilities to the design of a new school, what would they be and why?
My school is a growing school where the facilities are very new and high-tech, so it is difficult to point out what I think could be added to a new school. A feature I believe could be good is some sort of help service that we can access at any time to help us with our work and understanding. It is helpful going to your teacher during school hours, yet sometimes outside of school hours, teachers are not contactable. Having another teacher, rather than a subject teacher to explain in a different way might help with better understanding.
What skills are you hoping to gain from school?
I would like to gain a larger understanding of independence, along with valuable life skills such as a basic knowledge of day-to-day things not usually learned in school, for instance, loans, investments and different opportunities that are available in the future. Also, in school we are expected to know what we want to be when we are older, we’re not offered information about the availability of new opportunities and open concepts. I would like to gain more information about the wider range of job opportunities available.
How do you think what you learn in school will apply to the world of work?
I believe most importantly the skills I learn will add value in the future, both in my job and life experiences, because we not only learn by being independent but also through collaboration and teamwork. Having had the amazing experience working at Shamal I have learnt many new interesting things about your growing, efficient company. It has shown me that not only do you as an individual play a very important role in the company through your own work, but overall everyone’s work is put together to make the company grow. This is helpful to know as each company is operating for a different reason in line with their own values that are incorporated into the company, which is important to learn whilst incorporating new activities at school. Therefore, the jobs I would like to consider after school can depend on the skills I have and how I interpret those skills into them.
What do you most hope to take away from your school years?
I hope after my school years I am able to decide on my focus of interest and have had the opportunity to explore new options and ideas. I hope to build a set of useful values for my future.
What do you want to do when you leave school?
When I have finished my education, I would like to go into some form of law, whether that be family law or working with a company. But overall, I am open to new ideas and opportunities now as I would like to keep my options open. Having learnt many new things when working with Shamal, I’ve discovered lots of new interesting job options.
What are your aspirations in life?
I do not have one focus or aspiration in life, however, when I am older, I would like to know that I have worked my hardest, trying my best to be kind and make others happy. I hope that if I do work within the field of law that I have helped others, particularly families and made an overall positive impact on others.
What do you think defines a 21st Century education?
The 21st Century is a world of growth and new technology, which is then incorporated into other day-to-day life activities, businesses and schools. The schools then combine normal activities with these new ideas to invent and suggest new ways of learning that could be better and more efficient for students. I believe that 21st Century education is about the growth of new technology that can be interpreted in new ways of learning.
What do you think the school of the future will offer?
I hope and believe that schools in the future will offer and introduce a wider range of opportunities for students, based on basic day-to-day knowledge. By this, I mean opening the students up to different ideas and careers, as I wish I understood all the different types of jobs that are available nowadays, as there are new opportunities arising every day.
Sienna interned at Shamal in February 2019. If you are interested in applying for our internship programme, please contact our HR Manager, Jemma Lewis, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants must be between 14 and 18 years old, and currently an enrolled pupil at a school within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
We were delighted to attend and speak at the International and Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) conference in Dubai last week. A fantastic event discussing the key trends and topics in education today. Our Head of Education, Iwan Lloyd, spoke as part of the ISC Research panel, discussing the opportunities and challenges facing the International market.