GEMS Metropole School discusses the importance of how the Active Schools initiative can boost student engagement, a love of learning, and academic success.
8 August 2022| Last updated on 9 August 2022
Much has been said about the immense impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s wellbeing and academic achievement. It’s been three years since the pandemic began, and the effect on schools and their students across the globe is clear, as children struggle with mental health challenges and lost instructional time (Brown Centre Chalkboard, 2022).
At GEMS Metropole School – Motor City, however, staff have been proactively working to reduce anxiety and improve wellbeing among students through a variety of leadership opportunities.
GEMS Metropole School’s ‘Active School’ for students in Years 7 to 9 ensures learners are active within the school and their community. The important correlation between being active and student attainment is widely accepted and documented. The National Library of Medicine states that increased physical activity can improve academic outcomes and that cognitive function related to attention and memory is enhanced by physical activity. With this in mind, GEMS Metropole School has adapted its Active School curriculum to include additional PE lessons, because more exposure to physical activity supports students in later life, particularly following the challenges of the pandemic.
Student health is at the heart of GEMS Metropole School and keeping students healthy has been instrumental in creating the Active School philosophy. With an estimated childhood obesity rate of 17.3% in the UAE, compared to 13.3% in the UK, it is now more important than ever for schools in the Emirates to examine ways to help reduce obesity (Khaleej Times, 2022). One method is to challenge the widespread sedentary lifestyle and incorporate more opportunities for movement.
At GEMS Metropole School, the Sports Leaders UK qualification is offered to all Active School students, giving them an opportunity to gain an accreditation during a bespoke leadership lesson within their weekly timetable. During this time, students experience lessons which enable them to develop skills around leadership, including teamwork, collaboration, and confidence-building. Over 25% of Active School students are selected into the school’s 17 different Mustangs sports squads – and the number of squads continues to grow every year.
Year 8 GEMS Metropole School student Ananya Viswanath says, “The Active School enables [me] to reach beyond what I can do in school. It has helped me improve in my favourite sport, netball, as well as help my wellbeing.”
GEMS Metropole School offers a range of sporting facilities, including a CrossFit centre, state-of-the-art gym, and martial arts area.
Nav Iqbal, the Principal and CEO of GEMS Metropole School, agrees: “Being active helps build confidence., Body dysmorphia is a serious concern for many teens, and as a school we are focusing on health and wellbeing, building confidence in our students and nurturing their interests and talents.”
In the Active School, students are encouraged to explore leadership through performing arts, with a variety of disciplines offered, all designed to build students’ confidence and teamwork. The Active School provides a stimulating and purposeful extra-curricular programme, which inspires students to expand their skillset and develop new talents.
Students aspire to perform, be it on the field or on the stage, and the performing arts subjects are brought to life through school performances, extra-curricular activities, school trips to Dubai Opera House, and an international school trip to New York. As a result, students are able to place their learning into context, providing them with something real to aim for.
Students embrace the arts in the Active School; they love to perform and showcase their passion and talent.
GEMS Metropole School’s Director of Performing Arts, Mr. Andrew Sullivan, says: “The performing arts provision throughout the Active School is designed to support the fundamental key skills which give our future leaders a platform to grow. Students learn to embody the key attributes required to become the change-makers of tomorrow within our global industries.”
Students are further encouraged to be active through their involvement in the community; volunteering and project work is an integral part of the Active School. It is thought that around 95% of students who volunteer are motivated by wanting to improve situations and help others.
They aim to make a difference to their local community, as well as develop new skills (NCVO, 2016). The positive effect of volunteering on students’ physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment they gain from volunteering (Herzog, Franks, Markus, & Holmberg, 1998).
The school’s recent international school trip to Kenya, for example, gave students an opportunity to help build a school in a remote part of the country. Closer to home, students have the chance to volunteer on projects to protect the environment, participating in beach clean-ups and experiencing an Eco-Venture overnight stay in Umm Al Quwain.
Building strong partnerships with schools in other countries is also key to unlocking student activity; GEMS Metropole School’s relationship with a school in Ghana (Project Connecting Global Classrooms) has enabled student leaders in Year 9 to be actively involved in sharing and developing educational initiatives around the globe. Such additional opportunities allow students to form new friendships, transfer their skills, and explore fresh ways of learning.
Students on the June 2022 international school trip to Kenya, where they were responsible for helping build a school for local children.
Students at GEMS Metropole School are active with their voice and actions, making positive change for the future. The Active School encourages students to embrace experiences beyond the classroom, where movement is incorporated throughout the day.
GEMS Metropole’s Prep School ensures students are active through performance, project work, volunteering and sport.
The school recognises and encourages students to express and showcase their talent, as well as encourage participation in sports, events, projects, and performance. To reflect its importance and value, Active School students are awarded scholarships for their flair and ambition. They are expected to be active in thought, movement, and through leadership. Students leave the Active School with energy, confidence, improved self-efficacy, expanded friendship groups, and having experienced a new world of learning.
To join GEMS Metropole’s Active School or to arrange a school tour, visit: https://www.gemsmetropoleschool-dubai.com/en/Admissions/School-Tours