King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity
World Class Arena led the development of a supplementary curriculum, textbooks, assessments and tests. The case study below describes these textbooks and assessments in more detail, as well as the provision of teacher training, Moodle teacher communities, and support for school leaders.
Mawhiba is an educational charity in Saudi Arabia. Mawhiba provides learning opportunities for the country's students as well as seeking to develop the capacity of schools to meet the needs of the most able students. Mawhiba provides supplemental learning experiences for students, including in-school provision, national and international competitions and out-of-school activities. The Mawhiba programme also includes a national talent-search element, designed to identify students with exceptional potential from across the country, providing financial support to enable those students and their families to join the Mawhiba group of schools.
Mawhiba was looking to improve the teaching, curriculum and achievement of top-performing students aged 9-15 in around 50 selected schools in Saudi Arabia, aligning these to international best practice in provision for the most able students. The learning resources needed to supplement the existing curriculum and textbooks used in these schools, as mandated by the Ministry of Education, not to replace them. Mawhiba required that the resources should be designed as an 'enrichment curriculum' and should be capable of being delivered with the time and other constraints of primary and secondary schools.
The content of the learning resources needed to reflect international best practice in education, as well as reflecting local culture and history. It was established that the main element of these resources should be organised as traditional textbooks, which were to be supplemented by computer-based resources. It was required that the materials should be provided in Arabic and English language versions.
It was further required that teachers should be trained in the use of the learning resources.
Mawhiba required a means of measuring the extent to which the resources and associated teaching improved students' standards of achievement. Mawhiba wanted these standards to reflect global standards.
World Class Arena Limited (WCAL) supported Mawhiba by designing an Advanced Supplementary Curriculum (ASC), with learning resources, headteacher and teacher training, ongoing assessments for schools and an annual assessment of student progress.
The educational design and development of these resources was based upon a curriculum map, developed by Mawhiba with advice and input from WCAL. This focused on the overall curriculum aims of creating future leaders, developing learners of distinction and fostering the growth of entrepreneurs. The classroom resources were based on developing and growing students' values, attitudes and attributes; skills; knowledge and understanding. The emphasis was placed on the first of these - values, attitudes and attributes.
The curriculum map (see above) places these principles within an overall framework, covering all aspects of students' learning and experience in a Mawhiba school. The framework owes much to the earlier curriculum thinking led by Mick Waters at QCA in England.
The curriculum resources were developed as textbooks, in order to (i) be familiar to students and teachers (ii) to directly supplement existing textbooks used by schools. The activities were designed to be challenging, extending students' thinking skills and meeting the outcomes described in the ASC framework. WCAL assembled teams of experts in gifted education and authors of lessons in order to create these resources for Mawhiba.
A central component of all WCAL's designs was to ensure the lessons reflect Saudi culture and heritage. To achieve this we included local experts in our teams, including a team to review all Arabic translations, ensuring the linguistic and cultural suitability of lessons and textbooks.
Alongside this core textbook resource, WCAL's solution included a programme of teacher training and support for school development. This was to include training and coaching at school leadership level, as well as training to support subject knowledge and pedagogical understanding in relation to achieving the high level educational aims as set out in the Curriculum Map.
In order to assess the effectiveness of these interventions, WCAL's solution included regular student assessment. Alongside classroom assessment, WCAL identified the need for an initial baseline assessment, supported by regular annual assessments of student learning.
WCAL created a team of experts in gifted education, content development, pedagogy and assessment. There was also a team to oversee parallel development of Arabic versions of resources.
Creation of Textbooks
WCAL led the development of a Mawhiba textbook series designed to supplement and enrich the existing state-mandated school textbooks. WCAL's responsibilities included authoring, designing, trialling and publishing the textbooks. WCAL developed and published textbooks for mathematics, science, English and ICT for students from grade 4 upwards. For Grade 10, separate science resources were created for Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The textbooks for mathematics, ICT and science were published in English and Arabic language versions. These textbooks were trailed and reviewed by teachers in Saudi Arabia.
Accompanying each textbook, WCAL provided a Teacher Guide, providing structured lesson planning, preparing, pedagogical and assessment guidance. This included specific suggestions for assessing student's understanding and progress, alongside frameworks that described the overall teaching aims (in terms of values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and understanding) in great depth.
WCAL also provided both online and face-to-face training. On-line training was developed using a Moodle platform, with leading teachers from Mawhiba schools serving as subject and pedagogical leaders. Face-to-face training was provided by WCAL staff and subject experts – this was delivered through training events in Saudi Arabia and through school-based audits.
The textbook series included end-of-module assessments.
To accompany the learning resources, WCAL provided annual student assessments. The purpose of these assessments was to measure the progress made by students against the standards underpinning the Mawhiba supplementary curriculum design. These tests were designed, printed administered, marked and analysed by WCAL. Responses were graded by teams employed, trained and supervised by WCAL. WCAL collated results and provided school-level analyses to Mawhiba.