Al Rowad International School offers both US and UK curricula to a cohort of approximately 5,500 students.
Al Rowad International School – AIS - (also referred to as Arrowad) was founded in 1999 to provided quality international education while enabling students to hold on to core Islamic values. Islam is taught (using books issued by the Ministry of Education), as well as the international curricula. The school offers classes from KG (KG1 to KG3 for students 2 years and 9 months + and rising) to Grade 12.
The founder of AIS is Mr. Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Khalaf, an educationalist who previously worked in the Saudi Ministry of Education, attaining the position of Assistant Director General for Educational Affairs. He made numerous contributions to the national education system.
The school offers predominantly the US curriculum, but with an option for students to elect to take UK curriculum-based IGCSE and A Levels from Grade 9. It is accredited by the US College Board, and Cognia (previously Advanced) one of the main Schools and Colleges associations in the USA, ensuring that the High School Diploma that is offered, is recognised and accepted both in the USA and internationally. AIS is also recognised by the British Council in Saudi Arabia and by the Cambridge International Exam Board (CIE) for the UK curriculum-based course and examinations.
AIS’s Vision is “To be one of the leading international Islamic schools in the world.”
Its Mission is “To continuously improve the educational environment through understanding and acting on the needs and expectations of our school community. To implement advanced teaching methods and technology as well as established good practices, all of which are essential tools that enhance students’ performance. To realize the maximum potential of each student, AIS is not only dedicated to develop academic achievement, but also to nurture physical development, social skills and Islamic values.”
The school lists its Values, stating that:
"We at AIS believe in Cultural diversity and global awareness, a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment, an advanced learning environment that enhances students’ critical thinking, a school that encourages moral and academic development of each student, partnership between school administration, teachers, parents, students and community, and each student’s uniqueness, right to learn and potential."
Al Rowad International School currently has approximately 5,400 students from 58 different nationalities of whom approximately half are Saudi nationals. It is said to be known for its diversity with students using their first languages to communicate outside the classrooms. Student are required to use English as a means of communication in lessons. All administrative and teaching staff speak English in addition to another language fluently – the school policy does not include the employment of native English-speaking teachers, although it does appear to employ a small number of native speakers in senior academic supervisory roles.
With an average class size of 22, and a maximum of 25, AIS employs approximately 600 teachers and has a teacher:student ratio 1:14. The school operates separate male and female campuses.
The school is led by Faruq Al Hara who took over the Superintendent position in September 2019. Mr. Al Hara joined AIS in 2013, with a Master degree in English Language and Literature from Nagpur University.
Al-Rowad International School (AIS), offers both American and British curricula. The school has adopted the US Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and Maths and Next Generation Science Standards. Full details of the curriculum at each stage can be found here.
AIS uses a credit system to award students with credits from a range of general education courses. These courses include a range of topics, such as Algebra I and II, Geometry I and II, Calculus, English Literature, English Language, ICT, French, Arabic, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, World History, KSA History and P.E. Students are prepared for pre-College and College entry through SAT tests. Those who follow the US curriculum to Grade 12 and achieve sufficient credits leave the school with an accredited US High School Diploma.
For those students who choose to follow the UK-based IGCSE from Grade 9, a range of subjects are offered including Maths, English as First and second Language, Arabic as first and Second language, Business, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Accounting, ICT, and Computer Studies among others. After completing the IGCSE courses in Grade 10, students can study up to 4 Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced level (A Level) courses offered at the school. AS and A level students choose between two streams, either the Art or Science stream. The Art stream offers a variety of subjects such as: English, Maths, Economics, Accounting, Applied ICT and Business Studies, while the Science stream includes Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
All Al-Rowad students have compulsory subjects in whichever curriculum they choose, including Qur’an, Islamic Studies in Arabic (ISA), Islamic Studies in English (ISE) and KSA History.
Students are expected to go beyond textbooks to study complex topics, which are based on real-world issues. This is accomplished by analysing information from multiple sources including the internet and interviews with experts. There is a focus on Project-based classwork which AIS says is more demanding than traditional book-based instruction. Students utilise original documents and data, mastering principles covered in traditional courses, in addition to learning them in more meaningful ways. Projects can last for weeks; multiple projects can cover the entire course material. Student work is presented to audiences that do not only include the teacher and fellow students, but also parents and community groups.
For students in Grades 3 to 11, extra support classes are provided for English, mathematics, science and Arabic (AS level) on Saturday mornings. There is no English as an Additional Language tuition during the normal school day and students are fundamentally expected to develop their fluency on joining the school.
AIS offers a limited range of extra-curricular activities, primarily focused on sports including football, swimming, karate, archery, basketball, table tennis and handball. Scouts are also offered and there is a Club for Charitable Causes, and a Volunteer Club though volunteering for this appears in part to be a route by which corrective action is taken against students for infringements of school rules and behaviours .
Al Rowad International School does not publish its examination results for IGCSE or A Levels; nor does it publish a High School profile which would indicate student success at SAT or College Board examinations. It is therefore not possible to determine the level of student achievement.
The school does say that during their final years at the school, students receive support through the Higher Education and International Universities Applications Program, providing an extensive program of support for university applications including Medical, Engineering and other fields. As a part of the career advisory program, the school also arranges University Fairs, where delegates from leading universities from the UK, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Europe and the Gulf visit the school to give specialist, up-to-date information to students.
During AIS students' time at the school, a continuous assessment model is followed whereby they are evaluated continuously throughout the academic year, using MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing for Grades 2 to 12 in reading, language usage, mathematics, and science, and MAP for Primary Grades (MPG) for students in KG to Grade 2. Parents receive a report card twice each semester which reflects the student’s achievements.
AIS prepares students for SAT I and SAT II. The program starts at the beginning of Grade 9 and ends in Grade 12. Students are registered by the school at the end of Grade 11 for SAT I, and at the end of Grade 12 for SAT II. AIS is recognised as one of the registered centres for SAT testing, which makes the applying process easier for local students. The school is a fully certified Exam centre for the University of Cambridge international Examinations.
AIS offers two adjacent campuses for Boys and Girls accommodating students from KG to Grade 12. There are 300 classrooms that can take 6,000 students, 8 science laboratories that are equipped with the latest technology, 12 Networked Computer Labs (ICT) suites, 4 libraries, and a clinic with a certified pediatrician at all times.
Sporting facilities include a soccer field, basketball, tennis, swimming pool, and 2 gymnasiums. Students of all ages are encouraged to participate in these activities and invite their siblings to join.
Offering a combination of the two most popular curricula in Saudi Arabia - and those which would appeal to international students as well as Saudi nationals, provides parents and students with an opportunity to decide which direction they wish to pursue for tertiary education quite late in the education process and without the requirement for a change of school.
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Tuition fees at Al Rowad International School are affordable in comparison with many other schools in the city. They start at 20,800 SAR for students in KG1 to KG3 (pre-KG to KG2), rising to 22,300 SAR for Grades 1 to 3, 24,300 SAR for Grades 4 to 6, 26,800 SAR for students in Grades 7 to 9 and 29,800 SAR for Grades 10 to 12. The fees are exclusive of value-added tax (VAT).
AIS provides an optional package that includes all the required books for a fee of 950 SAR, exclusive of the 15% VAT.
Admission to the AIS is competitive with an Entry evaluation for students in English, Maths and Science. The school offers flexible admission throughout the academic year.
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