Some of Saudi Arabia’s most promising teachers are developing their skills in a unique WA program.
Designed to help experienced teachers refine their English skills and learn new approaches to teaching methodology, the 28-week training course is being delivered by UWA’s Graduate School of Education together with Phoenix Academy, a private training institution.
Participants in the program arrived in April, and have been taking part in intensive English classes, seminars on the Australian education system and a 10-week school immersion in public and private schools across Perth.
UWA Graduate School of Education lecturers have delivered presentations on topics including pedagogy in Australian schools, assessment in Australian schools, and school culture and practice. Meanwhile, Phoenix Academy lecturers have delivered intensive English classes and additional lectures.
Phoenix Academy Principal Ms Robynne Walsh said the Saudi Arabian teachers were enjoying the ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to live and study in another country.
“During their school immersion phase in Term 3, the participants have been amazed at how motivated children are to learn in Western Australian classrooms and how participatory they are in their lessons,” Ms Walsh said.
“They have noticed that the student centeredness of our teaching system is one aspect that they wish to take back with them to Saudi Arabia.”
Ms Walsh notes that the program has also boosted the WA economy and brought increased cultural awareness into Perth classrooms.
“Many of the 49 participants brought their families with them to Perth, providing a boost to the local economy,” Ms Walsh said.
“Additionally, the 20 WA immersion schools that have hosted the Saudi teachers have all reported that their teachers and children have learned many new things about life in the Middle East and have benefitted from the sharing of cross cultural new knowledge and professional sharing of ideas.”
The joint UWA-Phoenix Academy program was one of three successful Australian bids to deliver The Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion program for the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia. In total, around forty versions of the program are operating around the world.
With the Saudi Arabian participants due to graduate in October, UWA’s Graduate School of Education and Phoenix Academy are now working on further collaborations to deliver professional training for teachers around the world.