International School of London (ISL) - Qatar

ISL Qatar

ISL Qatar prides itself as the only school in Qatar that offers a Mother Tongue Language Programme integrated in the mainstream curriculum. This programme gives a chance to nurture and support a continuous development of students identities in the context of an international education.

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The institution is a member of ISL Group that has a tradition of over 45 years of outstanding educational achievement.

ISL Qatar

The school is authorized by the IB Organization as an IB World School and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It is a member of the Council of International Schools, British Schools in the Middle East and Association for the Advancement of International Education.

ISL Qatar

In March 2020, it was announced by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) that all schools in Qatar will be closed due to the raise of COVID-19 cases in the country. Our Leadership Team foresaw this directive and had been working with the Technology Department on a strategy on how to transition the school from face-to-face to virtual environment —ensuring that our students would not have any gaps to their learning. Microsoft Teams was introduced as our online learning platform opening the opportunity for ISL Qatar to collaborate closely with Microsoft. SeeSaw, though being used for the past five years by our Primary School, saw its peak as parents learned how to actively participate in their child’s classes. In only two days the ISL Qatar Virtual School was up and running.

ISL Qatar ISL Qatar

As the people around the world started to isolate themselves in their homes, spend more time in front of portable digital devices, and lose physical contact from their friends and family, the concern for decline in socio-emotional and physical well-being heightened. Members of our community started to introduce initiatives that the students and their families, staff, and teachers can participate in to help boost their morale and to promote the sense of togetherness.
From Boredom to Creativity, a project introduced by the Performing Arts Department, featured our students expressing themselves through singing, playing various instruments, composing music, and dancing. Parents did not miss this opportunity to bond with our students by performing duets and shaking to the latest beats.

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The Physical and Health Education (PHE) Department focused their attention on maintaining the physical fitness of our community through their Let’s Keep Moving ISL Qatar initiative. Our teachers and coaches set daily challenges like ‘Crab-walk Tuesdays’ and ‘Tippy Toes Thursdays’ that can be done in their homes and encourage the students to think of creative ways to exercise. Our Grade 8 students even held their first virtual Olympics where everyone gained admiration from the community for their commitment to their well-being.

COVID-19 also brought together ISL Qatar and ISL London to partake in different projects that promote how our diverse multi-cultural and multi-lingual community collaborate to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. This gave birth to the Be A Hero. Stay At Home. campaign, where our students from 6 continents delivered the message on how to become a modern-day superhero by staying home to keep everyone safe in their Mother-Tongue languages, and to the ISL Talk Show.

The Talk Show provided the international community the real-time scenario of the impact of the pandemic towards learning, how our students practise resilience, and how our organisation is well-equipped to aid our students, families, teachers, and staff in their transition to their new lives; may this mean transferring from a new country, learning a new language, or adapting to the new normal. For those who had the privilege of being a guest on the show, they saw the true value of community engagement through sharing their stories and their participation being the highlight of their academic year.

However, the ISL Qatar Community would argue that the true superstar project was the ‘Uptown Funk’ video where everyone—humans and pets—groove to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.

The academic year 2019-2020 was concluded through the successful celebration of the first ever Virtual Graduation and the release of our first digital interactive yearbook. It truly was a year of collaboration, innovation, resilience, and many firsts.

In August, the MOEHE had announced that schools will reopen; only allowing a certain percentage of the student body on campus. Safety measures were immediately put in place, learning spaces were redesigned to eliminate the feeling of being physically limited, and strategies were proposed to maintain the quality of learning of our students when they are in school and at home.

This year’s student and staff orientations proved that ISL Qatar overcame the challenges given by the pandemic by holding these events 100% online but still emitting the warm and welcoming atmosphere that our school is famous for. Parents were able to visit various virtual rooms on Microsoft Teams to get the information about programmes that we offer like the Mother-Tongue Language Programme, Week Without Walls and Swimming Classes. Our new students were also able to meet their peers and get to know their Student Council members and how they play a key role to their transition to their new school life.

It is without a doubt that the reopening of our doors signalled a change in the dynamic of the life at school and with that change posed new problems. But, as expected from our innovative and resilient community, coming up with creative solutions is considered a routine activity. With only a minimum number of the students allowed on campus and teachers are stranded in different parts of the globe, the Blended Learning Module was introduced. Depending on their grade level, students were required to come in to school either 2, 3, or 4 times a week and continue their learning at home asynchronously or synchronously.

Asynchronous Learning Model is commonly used around the world specially in online university programmes but at ISL Qatar, it is utilised by lower Primary; having acknowledge that students need the help of their parents who have varying schedules. While the upper Primary and Secondary students operate under Synchronous Learning Model where a teacher—situated in a classroom adjacent to another room with a similar capacity supervised by a cover teacher—synchronously hold a lecture for these two classes in addition to students at home. This was made possible by a simple combination of a web camera, a projector, Microsoft Teams, and a lot of patience from the teachers and students.

As the restrictions brought COVID-19 were slowly being lifted, more and more students are allowed on campus. Keeping in mind that the classrooms are only limited to accommodate no more than 15 students at a time, our Leadership Team with the help of the activated outdoor spaces and setup ‘Classrooms Without Walls’ for our students to enjoy nature after a long confinement and providing a safer area for group learning. Even the Rooftop Garden Team, a student-led initiative where they transformed a dormant area to a produce-generating garden, volunteered to build a reading area.

To generalise, the COVID-19 Pandemic failed in discouraging our community to halt all activities but charged it with positive energy. It gave the opportunity to exhibit our passion for life and learning and recognise ISL Qatar as joyous and caring community that operates around the culture of collaboration; utilising our ingenuity, creativity and technology irrespective of the challenges that we may face.

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