Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
07 June, 2024

Professional learning: It's been transformational for me

Professional learning: It's been transformational for me - Nord Anglia Education Professional learning

We continue our exploration of how colleagues are helping to foster a culture of professional learning, with insights from Yasir Abrar, a Deputy Head Teacher at Nord Anglia International School Dubai.



Can you tell us about your career with Nord Anglia Education?

I joined NAS Dubai back in 2016 when the school was only two years old as a teacher of science. I then led the science department for four years, after which I transitioned into Assistant Headteacher for two years, and now I’m proud to be the Deputy Head with the remit of learning and teaching, continuous professional development (CPD), digital strategy, and ensuring the school meets the UAE national agenda requirements. My role also allows me to work with the primary school as I line manage Arabic for native students and Islamic education across all phases of the school, which is a government requirement.


So, what does good professional learning look like to you?

Good professional learning really needs to resonate with colleagues so that it’s tied to their personal interests, bears in mind the real-life experiences of working in a school, whilst also feeding into their professional and school improvement plans and priorities. Opportunities for feedback are also so important because we want all colleagues to feel heard and have input into their own learning.

How has professional learning at Nord Anglia influenced your teaching practice?

It’s been transformative for me. I was lucky enough to join the Middle Leaders Programme in 2016 as well as the King’s College London Executive Master’s Degree from 2020-2022. My thesis was on CPD! I specifically explored the link between teachers’ self-efficacy and how experience shapes motivation.

Professional learning has also taken me outside of my school. I’ve connected with others taking the master’s programme to help them balance the two years of study with their full-time role, while also helping colleagues as far away as Peru on their digital strategy such as using popular tech like the FireFly app.


What other professional learning avenues are you pursuing these days?

Service to others is what I’m focusing on right now. If I'm able to help other leaders grow in their roles, that’s a new level of learning for me as well. For example, I’ve loved being a mentor for a few of my colleagues in the Senior Leadership and Middle Leadership programmes.

Staying up to date with educational research is another important way for us to become the best teachers possible. It’s a skill I explored while studying for the MA and, in our current digital age of mass information, it’s so crucial to know how to analyse the research we have available and understand the impact it can have on our students.

Another thought that’s influenced me is how much growth comes from being in classrooms with other colleagues. It may be a cliche but sometimes seeing other teachers in their element really makes for the best learning, especially where you can follow up with them and share insights directly. I just love seeing that twinkle in teachers’ eyes when they talk about how they’re inspiring their students when given the opportunity to share best practice.


What trends within the education space are you keeping an eye on?

I’m always interested to see what pedagogical research is most relevant, which is why we’ve worked with Tom Sherrington’s WalkThrus at length. These are easy to grasp, evidence-based teaching strategies, and are used across multiple phases of our school.

Everybody's got an eye on technology, specifically AI. When ChatGPT was starting to really come onto people's radars last year, we had a group of 15 colleagues run an action research project for four weeks, exploring different platforms and the value they could have in the classroom. That culminated in a carousel of different AI tools our colleagues could trial in their subject areas. We were ahead of the curve in terms of offering such bespoke CPD and even included sixth form students in the process to get their feedback—they loved being part of it!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given that’s really impacted how you approach your learning and development?

I love the Dylan Wiliam quote about how it’s important to create a culture of improvement for students and for ourselves. We should always look to learn and grow, never seeing ourselves as a finished article. This belief is one that I always try to diffuse into my students as they go on to have wider life experiences and take steps to become the leaders of tomorrow.


“If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve,

not because they are not good enough but because they can be better,

there is no limit to what we can achieve.”

– Dylan William, educationalist