IPSEF Middle East Conference Programme

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IPSEF Middle East 2018

21 & 22 September: InterContinental Dubai Festival City
23 September: School Visits

Conference Programme

Download / view the IPSEF Middle East 2018 conference programme

Day One: Friday 21st September

Registration 7.30 - 8.30am

Conference Chair: Jonathan Hughes-D’Aeth, Former Headmaster of Repton School Dubai & Former CEO of Evolvence Knowledge Investments

8.30 The benefits of mindfulness with a guided meditation session

Ashley Green, Year 1 Teacher and Well-being Coordinator, JESS School

9.00 Insights on the UAE K-12 Education Landscape

Middle East’s private K-12 sector has presented tremendous prospects for growth in the last two decades. Ashwin Assomull, Partner at L.E.K. Consulting’s Global Education Practice will highlight key trends from the firm’s recent report on the booming private K-12 education market. The session will also cover ways in which operators and investors can quickly capitalize on the opportunities in this region.

Ashwin Assomull, Managing Director, L.E.K. Consulting

9.20 Is there future potential for school development in the Middle East?

Nalini Cook from ISC Research will highlight enrolment and development challenges within the international schools market in the Middle East right now and she’ll take a look at the future for new development in the region; are more schools possible and if so what and where?
Nalini Cook, Head of Research for the Middle East, ISC Research

9.40 Marketing the #FutureSchool. Will your school still be relevant in a crowded market!

Our lives are 24/7, connected, and open up new channels every day in which to consume marketing. How can your school adapt & stand-out? The world has exponentially changed. The way we communicate, share, learn, collaborate, consume, has all changed. The technology we use IS going to evolve. Our behaviour IS going to change. Our kids will be doing jobs that do not exist! Are you transforming your school marketing to cater for this rapid change?

Founder of Interactive Schools, Simon Noakes aka ‘The #DigitalJedi’ presents a vision for the Future of School Marketing. Simon’s dynamic delivery will both challenge and inspire, whilst at the same time offering effective strategies which can be implemented straight away to give your school the edge.
Simon will look into his crystal ball and look at how emerging trends in technology, environment, big data and human behaviour will impact individuals, society, your schools and wider education. Myths will be busted, new technologies showcased, and advice shared on how every school can prepare themselves, as well as market themselves better to future generations of digital natives effectively.
Simon Noakes, Founder & CEO, Interactive Schools

10.00 The USP of a Private National School

GEMS Al Barsha National School for Boys is aiming to provide an outstanding global education but maintaining a celebration of the culture and language of the UAE. The future for Emirati boys is changing; instead of the assumption of a job for life in Government, economic pressures means there is an active encouragement to go into private business and be more independent of the state in the future. This presentation sets out how we are setting up a school that gives Emirati boys the positive skills and attitudes with pathways into both work and higher education.
Jonathan Dey, Principal & CEO, GEMS Al Barsha National School for Boys

10.20 Refreshment break & exhibition visits

Learning Environment Sessions:
10.45 Educating the Future of Construction - the role of schools and industry in a digital revolution

One trillion dollar industry looking for bright young things might surprise you - the modern digital construction industry needs dynamic STEAM talent, and particularly those who are creative, critical thinkers and team players.

Skills and knowledge can go hand in hand and with the support of industry and academic partners, Alison Watson MBE introduces Design Engineer Construct! - a groundbreaking opportunity that is educating the Future of Construction.

Alison Watson, Chief Executive, Class of Your Own

11.05 Smart learning and innovation environments for the future

A novel learning environment design with case studies as proof-of-concept
The presentation will discuss the key principles of designing pedagogy-driven learning and innovation environments in the light of the latest practical solutions introduced in modern Finnish schools.
The presentation explores how students can have an active role as designers of their own learning environments, and how learning environment solutions can enhance positive interaction and engagement within a community.

Elise Tarvainen, Director, Learning, Isku Interior Oy

11.25 Fit for purpose school panel session

A ‘fit for purpose’ school opens an interesting discussion on what that actually means - from building design and operation to provision of a modern curriculum that excites and engages both teachers and learners - and everything in between.

  • Led by: Alison Watson, Chief Executive, Class of Your Own
  • Tim Shelton, Associate Director – Head of Project Controls, Arcadis International Ltd. – includes 10 min talk
  • Elise Tarvainen, Director, Learning, Isku Interior Oy

11.50 The Value of Value Added

Value added measures offer a more sophisticated and fair way to benchmark and compare schools than simply looking at exam results. By taking into account the different starting points of each student we can evaluate how much of that attainment would have happened anyway and how much is down to the quality of teaching delivered by the school.

James Neill and Matthew Savage will explain how the measure works and how the information can be put to work as part of school self-improvement analysis and planning.

James Neill, International Director, GL Education
Matthew Savage, Principal, International Community School, Amman, Jordan

12.20 Lunch & Networking in the Exhibition Area

1.30 VAT in the Education Sector

Following the recent introduction of VAT in the UAE, education institutions have to now consider the impact on their activities, financials and systems. Although some clarity has been provided in the VAT Law and through guidance from the FTA, many questions still arise. In this session, we will cover some of the basics of VAT for the education sector that will need to be considered, practical issues and case studies on what we have seen through the work with some of PwC’s clients.

Daniel Shaw, Business Development Director Tax and Legal, PwC

Anisa Kanji, Manager, Indirect Taxes, PwC

2.00 The A Team

I love it when a plan comes together” are the words of The A Team leader Hannibal Smith. Why were so many of Hannibal’s plan so successful? He surrounded himself with the perfect team to get the job done. Opening a new school is a large undertaking that requires the right people in right places in order for the School to succeed. What do you need to look for when assembling the team for your new school project?

Andrew Prosser, Principal, Dubai Heights Academy


2.20 Moving education forward: quality and affordability

RAKEZ Academic Zone engages with reputable schools to offer affordable and quality education in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The Zone is providing the support and logistics services to encourage schools to offer cost-effective approach. This will provide the support to families and encourage the youth to continue their education for the greater benefit.

Taner Topcu, Director of Academic Zone, RAKEZ

2.40 HMC and international schools – building bridges

As a school leader who has run a state comprehensive, a state grammar and a leading HMC independent school, Reigate Grammar School, Shaun has now taken on the Chairmanship of HMC. Reigate Grammar School has also embarked an international schools programme starting with 5 schools in China. This presentation will share some thoughts on priorities and about maintaining a bridge between international schools and leading UK independent education.

Shaun Fenton, Headmaster, Reigate Grammar School & Chairman of HMC (Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference)

3.00 Refreshment break & exhibition visits

3.30 How technology is reinventing the classroom – and allowing us to teach Future Skills online

The traditional classroom can offer students so much more than the content of a lesson. It is where students learn social dynamics and interaction and have the chance to explore norms and form personas.

But can technology replicate this experience online in a meaningful way?

EtonX’s experience of developing its cutting edge virtual classroom shows that with the right technology and pedagogy, not only can virtual classrooms offer online all that is good about learning in groups, it can even enhance the experience. For example, virtual classrooms allow students to communicate across international borders and collaborate with students from other cultures. In a virtual classroom, there is no ‘back row’ and students can easily interact with every other student and their tutor.

We will demonstrate the advantages of using the virtual classroom to deliver Future Skills training, taking the distinctive 21st century skills from the world-renowned Eton College education – confidence, social skills, entrepreneurial spirit - and turning these into online courses that teenagers all over the world can access and benefit from.

Ben Hanneford-Smith, Head of Business Development, EtonX

3.50 How to achieve truly personalised learning for all student abilities

  • Using adaptive technology to create an accurate personalised learning path for every student
  • Managing personalised learning in a diverse classroom
  • Linking personalised learning to assessment data

Derek Devine, International Business Development Manager, Edmentum

4.10 Why Entrepreneurship must be taught at schools?

A talk on the famous Junior MBA programme that has transformed the lives of primary school children that have been a part of it. The talk will focus on examples of young entrepreneurs across the world and what an entrepreneurship curriculum at the primary school level should look like.
Navin Valrani, CEO, Arcadia Education

4.30-5.00 Good Governance Panel Session

  • Led by: Dr. Helen Wright, Associate, LSC Education
  • Shaun Fenton, Headmaster, Reigate Grammar School & Chairman of HMC from Sept.
  • Tarek Alami, Regional Director – Middle East, North Africa and India, Education Development Trust
  • Chinmay Jhaveri, Senior Manager, LEK Consulting
  • Tim Richardson, Principal, Raffles International School

5.00 Closing remarks

  • Jonathan Hughes-D’Aeth, Former Headmaster of Repton School Dubai & Former CEO of Evolvence Knowledge Investments

Day Two: Saturday 22nd September

7.45-8.45 Registration

8.00-8.30 Business Breakfast meeting by ISC Research – panel session on:

Future international school development needs for the Middle East with a focus on specialist provision and the demand for inclusion, wellbeing and professional capital.

  • Introduced by Nalini Cook, Head of Research for the Middle East, ISC Research
  • With: Charles Grayhurst, Founding Principal, The Arbor School
  • And: Iwan Lloyd, Head of Education, Shamal Group Ltd.


Conference Chair: Jonathan Hughes-D’Aeth, Former Headmaster of Repton School Dubai & Former CEO of Evolvence Knowledge Investments

8.45 Well-being practices and the benefits for staff and children

Ashley Green, Year 1 Teacher & Well-being Coordinator, JESS School

9.05 Keynote Talk

Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)

9.25 Early Years Education Going Global

The rate and pace of growth via acquisition and consolidation of ‘for-profit’ nursery businesses has notably gained pace during recent years. Courteney Donaldson MRICS, Managing Director Christie & Co, looks at some of the key drivers which are fuelling the international expansion appetites of trade buyers and investors alike.

Touching on notable recent Global acquisitions and investments, Courteney examines the opportunities, challenges and indeed risks that can be faced when investing in nursery businesses, either ‘at home’ or ‘abroad’.

Courteney Donaldson, Managing Director Childcare & Education, Christie & Co

9.45 Working in Partnership - sharing best practice between schools and nurseries

There is an imbalance between the level of knowledge, skills and resources that are found in most schools compared to small independent nurseries. Schools have a higher level of resources and more qualified staff with enabling environments that are well planned to stimulate young children’s learning.

This talk will call for better links between schools and nurseries to share best practice, supporting the continuing professional development of nursery practitioners, ultimately benefiting children and their families and the schools they will attend.

Sarah Rogers, CEO, EYES & QuEST Direct

10.05 Supporting school leadership in an International context

This session will provide a tour de force through the principles of school leadership that have an evidence-based impact on learning, teaching and realising the vision for a new school. Alongside this, the session will conclude by exploring the importance of establishing and monitoring quality across a group of schools under the same governance in one age phase, Early Years. Recent experiences, challenges and successes will be shared and the importance of leadership of learning will be discussed.

The content is research-based and takes a practical perspective on the key issues.

Dr Ahmed Hussain, Senior Director of Academics, Huili Institute of Learning, Wellington Colleges China

Fiona Carter, Director of Academics (Early Years), Huili Institute of Learning, Wellington Colleges China

10.35 Trends in Early Childhood Education

The talk will provide a holistic overview of interventions in early childhood education and development. Starting with an introduction on early childhood as a critical developmental stage, the talk will trace the evolution of interventions globally from childhood education to whole-child development. It will include a discussion on key levers for healthy early childhood development, the role of various stakeholders and cross-sectoral governmental strategies. The talk will conclude with a view on expected future trends of early childhood development.

Maya El Hachem, Principal, Boston Consulting Group

10.55 Early Years panel discussion with:

Courteney Donaldson, Managing Director Childcare & Education, Christie & Co

Sarah Rogers, CEO, EYES & QuEST Direct

Fiona Carter, Director of Academics (Early Years), Huili Institute of Learning, Wellington College China

Maya El Hachem, Principal, Boston Consulting Group

11.10 Refreshment break and exhibition visits

11.30 Wellbeing, its importance for school leaders and impact on the school

Wellbeing is a frequently discussed topic and typically associated with student and teacher wellbeing. But what about the wellbeing of the school leaders? School leadership work under an everchanging education model, with directives, instructions and information coming from various bodies, they are expected to be resilient, efficient and effective. How effective are our leaders under such pressure and are there any measures of their wellbeing. Teaching is seen as one of the most stressful jobs out there, school leaders care greatly about their children and their staff, but the pressure upon them can often leave them feeling isolated and highly stressed. There is a risk of mental illness linked to stress and school leadership may show early symptoms of this, does their wellbeing matter and how do we know.
Zen Kahn, CEO, Education 1st Recruitment and Zen Professional Development

11.50 Staff Well-being and Staff Retention / Happiness @ work

Staff retention is simply the ability to keep your top talent within the organization using different approaches that increase their satisfaction at the school. High turnover is a costly affair that disrupts operations and can result in decreased staff performance. Most schools have no proper staff retention strategies and the most commonly used strategy involves financial incentives.

Najiha Syeda, Head of Counselling Department- School Psychologist, Dwight School Dubai

12.10 Leadership in a truly inclusive school: opportunities and challenges

Schools in the UAE serve an increasingly complex community of students with increasing demands and expectations from parents and regulatory bodies on meeting their needs. Creating an inclusive school requires strong leadership at all levels so that the culture, practice and processes a school develops secures excellent provision and outcomes for all students. Eileen Barnes-Vachell from Gabbitas will explore some key strategies leaders can deploy to establish and sustain both an inclusive ethos and practice.

Eileen Barnes Vachell, Lead Advisor, Gabbitas Education

New School:
12.30 The Importance of Eco-Ethical Education

The presentation seeks to provide an overview as to the global necessity of providing young people with an education that goes beyond traditional exam orientated norms, and focuses upon the global challenge of the future. Climate change, habitat loss, and resource challenges, along with their associated socio-economic and political consequences, are but a few of the urgent issues that on children will need to address. An eco-ethical education is therefore a key fact in educational planning for many schools

Charles Grayhurst, Founding Principal, The Arbor School

12.50 The importance of performing arts in schools: happiness, confidence and leadership

At a time when curriculum needs and expectations are changing globally, there is much discussion about the skills that young people will need for the future.The STEM agenda remains at the forefront of thinking, and the life skills of Critical Thinking, Agility and Adaptability are just some of the key capacities that experts have identified.

There has therefore never been a more pertinent time to consider how we might deliver these skills in a way that boosts not only happiness and confidence but also enhances leadership skills for the future. The place of the arts and the performing arts in our curriculums is under question as we squeeze time out for perceived “more important” subjects.This presentation will demonstrate not only why we should retain these subjects, but indeed whey they could be crucial to the overall development and success for generations of young people.

Fiona Cottam, Principal, Hartland International School
Lynsay Ansell, Head of Drama, Hartland International School

1.15-2.00 Lunch & exhibition visits

2.00 How to capture the best Leaders in the world – and keep them

Fascinating insights from brand new global research conducted by LSC Education into how international school leaders identify, research and evaluate leadership job opportunities. This session will explore the key learnings from recent detailed and deep research into several hundred leadership placements across the world. It will be invaluable for future leaders, Governors and School Boards, for the common purpose of creating and sustaining outstanding schools.

Dr. Helen Wright, Associate, LSC Education

2.20-3.00 Top 5 things investors should know about employing staff in the UAE

This session will explore the top 5 immigration and employment rules that UAE employers should be aware of, highlighting the key factors which differentiate the UAE labour market. In addition to exploring the legal aspects of each topic, the session will include practical commentary from a HR manager with extensive experience in education HR issues in the UAE.

Panel Session with:

  • Rebecca Ford, Partner & Co-Head of MENA Employment Practice, Clyde & Co
  • Samantha Ellaby, Senior Associate, Clyde & Co
  • Rowan Bell, Head of Human Resources, Taaleem

3.00-4.00 Teachers Permit update and discussion

Dr. Naji will speak about the updates on the Teacher Permit System in Dubai – an initiative to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in Dubai in line with the National Agenda 2021 and the Dubai Plan 2021. He will also talk about how the Teacher Permit System will ensure that teachers demonstrate standardised professional competence that align with the aspirations of Dubai to be a hub of quality education.

Dr. Naji AlMahdi, Chief of Qualifications & Awards in Dubai and Member of Vocational Education & Training Awards Council (VETAC), NQA, UAE

4.00-4.10 Closing conference summary from Jonathan Hughes-D’Aeth and tea

Saturday 22nd September in a separate room

GL Education Masterclass

Digging Deeper with CAT4 Data - A Masterclass with Matthew Savage

Running in parallel with the IPSEF Middle East conference on Saturday 22 September, this half-day masterclass is led by global CAT4 expert, Matthew Savage (pioneer of #themonalisaeffect).

It will offer you the chance to:

  • examine some of the actual CAT4 data from your school
  • explore the different flags which can help you dig deeper into the data (e.g. Verbal Deficit, Maths Car etc)
  • identify students and groups of students in need of additional interventions and support
  • consider strategies which might better ensure the impact of the data on individual students, cohorts and, indeed, the whole school

This master class is for confident and competent CAT4 users that hold a leadership role within your school. Places are limited to 12 delegates per session to ensure a fully interactive session.

This masterclass is running in conjunction with the IPSEF Middle East conference however there is an additional fee to attend it.

Find out more and book by clicking here for the AM Session and PM Session

Day Three: School visits on Sunday 23rd September


GEMS Founders School – Al Mizhar (GFM) is a brand-new co-ed school conveniently located in the heart of Dubai offering an affordable international curriculum. GFM, the latest school to join the GEMS Education network, opened in September 2018 with more than 1,576 new students. We offer our students the National Curriculum for England with a variety of traditional and vocational pathways ensuring success for all, delivered by excellent professional teaching staff. At GEMS Founders School, Al Mizhar we aim to develop inquisitive, compassionate and successful learners who are confident and fully prepared to make a positive difference to our ever-changing world. We will ensure that our students understand, apply and contribute to the world through computational thinking which encourages creativity, collaboration and leadership as well as the creation of robotic and technological solutions to real life problems.


Dubai Heights Academy is a British Curriculum school that provides students with excellent opportunities and support to develop academically, socially and emotionally. A place where students feel secure, significant and valued in a progressive, modern and engaging environment.

With enriching academic and co-curricular programmes and state-of-the-art technology, we aim to empower young, inquisitive minds, nurture positive thinking and foster independent learners with life skills to innovate and problem solve. With open parent dialogue and community partnerships, we instil in each student the value of working hard to achieve goals, accepting challenges enthusiastically and applying their knowledge in their daily lives and future careers.


At Hartland International School, we combine a unique blend of academic challenge, enrichment opportunities and pastoral support to target excellence and create a values-based community of teachers, children and parents. This rich combination, we call “The Hartland Way”, the bedrock of our strong values-driven education.

We naturally strive for academic excellence in a well-disciplined, friendly and supportive community of over 60 nationalities which encourages all to succeed. We strongly believe that if children feel happy and secure they will flourish and grow as individuals. ,Our students are confident, friendly, happy, well-motivated and lively in their outlook and in their approach to all that they do. They also display a strong sense of pride in their school, from the very youngest in Foundation Stage to those in the growing secondary section of the school. In the drive for excellence, we are determined in our commitment to harness each child’s curiosity, using real life examples in our teaching and interactions, to ensure that all make exceptional progress. Through the eyes of the child, the world comes alive through this enquiry based learning approach. Learning in our school transcends individual subjects and are confident that our passion for and commitment to learning instils the highest aspirations for all in our school community.