Rustam Iranian School is a large and thriving supplementary school in the London Borough of Barnet. It was established in 1981 and has 300 children attending. The school is open each Saturday between 11.30 – 5pm. The main aim of the school is to provide Persian language courses to second generation Iranian children. The school was established as parents felt their children were starting to lose contact with their mother-tongue and culture. Parents also found it increasingly difficult to communicate with their children due to the language barrier.
Rustam Iranian School is a registered exam centre with OCR. In total, they have 35 adults working in the school. The 22 teachers are all qualified teachers in Iran and they also have classroom assistants, a librarian, administrative personnel as well as parent helpers. The staff are well looked after and 2 whole day staff conferences take place each year. In addition, staff meetings are held fortnightly, which also include training opportunities for staff.
The Iranian curriculum is followed until year 9, although it has been adapted to suit the British system, and it is reviewed regularly. Traditional teaching methods are used such as didactic approaches, tutorials and practical lessons.
They rent premises from Christ College and have access to 22 classrooms, the computer lab, the library and the assembly hall. At the time of the Saturday visit, the school was full of children taking part in lessons and parents socialising while waiting for their children to finish their lessons.
Building confidence and self-esteem
Shahla Taheri White, the Headteacher and the founder of the school, is passionate as she speaks about the school. She feels that the pupils and students attending the school benefit from raised confidence and self-esteem gained from learning about their culture and roots. Learning Persian also helps the children keep in touch with grandparents, family and friends in Iran.
Currently, 22 students are enrolled in the GCSE 1st year class and 19 students enrolled in the GCSE 2nd year class. The Persian GCSE accreditation helps children get in to university and it also opens up career options both in England and Iran. In addition, more than 20 students are studying Persian at AS and A2 level. Two specialist teachers are engaged to support these two groups. The students’ level of success is high, with 80% achieving a grade A and very few receiving a B or C, which is quite remarkable as many of the students were born in the UK and the whole of their literacy in Persian is achieved through studying at the supplementary school.
Computer lab and library
The school has their own computer lab and library. The computer lab was established over 5 years ago through various annual fundraising events. Students from early years get the chance to use computers to interact with various multimedia software and practise their language by listening to words and phrases in Persian as well as visual recognition of Persian letters. The computer lab makes the learning more visual and fun. Children can also use the Internet for project work, and seeing and being able to write text in Persian helps children with their language learning. Most of the software is bought from Iran and America.
The library consists of about 700 Persian books and videos and is run by the librarian. It is very popular among students and parents, but there is a need to increase the volume of books.
Student progress and achievement is carefully monitored on a termly basis. Students, teachers and parents all get involved in the process. Each class has 2 parent/teacher meetings per term, where the child also participates to discuss progress and/or issues. Moreover, parents receive written reports from the teachers on a regular basis regarding the child’s progress. All reports go via the head teacher. In these reports, the children get the opportunity to give their views and set their own personal goals and are thus engaged in their own learning process. Parents are also given the opportunity to write an evaluation of the child’s progress.
Celebrating pupil achievement
Successes are celebrated fortnightly at various assemblies. The primary and secondary school are divided into 2 sectors, which mean that each sector celebrates monthly. GCSE results are also celebrated where students, teachers and parents get together to celebrate, and specially invited speakers give speeches to the students. Previous speakers have included prominent authors, the Head of OCR, and former successful Rustam children who may now work as doctors or lawyers.
The school operates an open door policy. Parents are engaged in their children’s learning and many come along on Saturdays to meet up with other parents. The school has a very active PTA which helps with raising funds to support extracurricular activities. Parents are involved in the sport, music and club activities as well as cultural activities, such as the celebration of Iranian New Year. One parent is also a trained counsellor and has started group counselling sessions on Saturdays, where parents discuss teenage issues. This person can also be called in to help if any of the children are experiencing problems. Finally, the PTA helped to facilitate the recent publication of the school’s very own Year 1 textbooks.
About the School
Rustam Iranian School
- SCHOOL TYPE
- c/o Christ College, East End Road, East Finchley N2 0SE
- TELEPHONE NUMBER
- 020 8361 9251
- E-MAIL ADDRESS
- shahlawhite [at] aol [dot] com
- CONTACT PERSON
- Shahla Taheri, Headteacher
- Persian GCSE, AS and A2 results 2007: A*- C: 100%