MiSK Schools was originally established in 2016 and aims to offer a new model of international education for Saudi students - the school is not open to students of other nationalities.
Part of the MiSK Foundation, established by HRH Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in 2011, MiSK Schools (as a single school) opened in 2016. The school aims to offer an international education, designed, implemented and taught by international and local experts, specifically to meet the needs of Saudi Arabia's future leaders of society.
The MiSK Foundation focuses on the youth of Saudi Arabia —and how new methods of fostering talent, nurturing potential, and enabling innovation can open fresh opportunities in the arts and sciences.
The school is currently open from pre-KG to Grade 10, opening Grades 11 and 12 "in subsequent years". Described as “9 schools in 1”, the school is made up of the mixed-gender KG section and gender-separated Girls’ or Boys’ Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Middle and Senior sections - a total of 9.
The overall development of the school (which is open to Saudi nationals only) is led by Dr. Steffen Sommer in his role as Director General. Dr. Sommer is a German national, a gifted linguist who has taught and held leadership positions at leading international schools, including Rugby School in the UK, The British School of the Netherlands, The British School of Paris, and latterly at highly regarded Doha College. He is also Vice-Chairman of Council of British International Schools (COBIS).
Introducing the school, Dr. Sommer explains “As a beacon of academic excellence in the very heart of Riyadh, MiSK Schools are here to realise our Founder’s vision: to educate the future leaders of society – globally-minded enterprising learners, advanced performers, and accomplished leaders”.
The school vision is “to engage and empower students to chart their own unique paths in serving and leading society by becoming creative innovators.”
Its mission is “to enable each and every one of our students to reach their fullest potential and achieve at the highest levels. We do this through:
- A learning environment that fosters innovation and inspires creativity.
- Personalized learning pathways tailored to the needs, aspirations and talents of each student.
- Real-world experiential learning that helps our students to learn through an extensive range of project- and field-based experiences, enabling them to understand the relevance of their learning to the world beyond the classroom.
- Holistic development of each student, encompassing their spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional and physical lives.”
In addition to Dr. Sommer at the helm of the school development, recent additional senior leadership appointments include Senior Principal, Jeremy Newton, who joined MiSK from Kings College School Madrid. Rebecca Layton-Short has been appointed the Principal of Upper Primary to Senior School Girls, (joining the school from her previous position as Head of Primary at British International School Riyadh). Paul McConnell has been appointed as Principal of Upper Primary to Senior School Boys, joining from Eaton House School Singapore where he briefly held the position of Head of Secondary, following four years as Head of Secondary at Nord Anglia Education.
The school total employee number is currently approximately 190. Details of current student numbers are not available, but the school expects to grow to 1,000, and will move to a new campus in 2023 to accommodate this growth.
We understand that class sizes are a maximum of 15 students and that the teacher to student ratio is a very low 1:4. Students from KG to Grade 6 have Homeroom Teachers who are responsible for providing the majority of core subject teaching (supported by specialist for subjects such as Music, Technology and sports), together with the social, emotional and academic wellbeing of each of their students. From Grade 7, students are allocated class Tutors who have the same responsibilities aimed to ensure that they have a whole child perspective at all times. They are the first point of contact for parents.
The school says that its teaching and learning methodology is inquiry-based, “modelled on global best practice and grounded in real world scenarios.”
The school is accredited with UK-curriculum based Cambridge International Education. However, there had been suggestion that the way in which the content would be delivered was via the IB PYP program, though this is not clearly stated in the school's current information.
The curriculum is still under development as the school grows to offer the final two years of education. MiSK says that “following extensive research and analysis, we have commenced on a ground-breaking journey to evolve a bespoke MiSK Curriculum, designed to meet our specific needs and aspirations while also securing accreditation from universities worldwide.”
At the core of the curriculum, students are expected to develop their writing skills, develop numeracy, and to learn about art, technology and science. They will do this by tackling complex problems that require innovative solutions.
As part of the curriculum development process, the school recently announced that that will become the first High Performance Learning (HPL) school in Saudi Arabia, and the first in the world to fully adapt HPL to Arabic.
Using evidence from neuroscience and psychology, HPL is a research-based approach to teaching and learning designed to deliver high performance for all students.
Working with the Founder and Chair of HPL, Professor Deborah Eyre, MiSK Schools has tailored the framework to meet the specific needs of its students and community. The resulting bilingual Misk Schools High Performance Learning (MSHPL) model is a customised, systematic approach to building the skills for success in education and in life.
DG Dr Sommer is a Fellow of HPL and has first-hand experience of implementing the approach at Doha College, which, in 2018, became the first school to be accredited as an HPL World Class School. Senior Principal, Jeremy Newton, led the HPL implementation at King’s College School La Moreleja in Madrid, the first school in Spain to become accredited as an HPL World Class School in 2020 and will oversee the implementation.
In addition to the academic program, the school will also deliver a Wellbeing program following the Vision 2030 agenda – which highlights the importance of developing children’s character.
It states: “We intend to embed positive moral beliefs in our children’s characters from an early age by reshaping our academic and educational system. Schools, working with families, will reinforce the fabric of society by providing students with the compassion, knowledge, and behaviors necessary for resilient and independent characters to emerge. The focus will be on the fundamental values of initiative, persistence and leadership, as well as social skills, cultural knowledge and self-awareness.”
The Misk Moral Code sits at the heart of the school Wellbeing Program and is the foundation for how students are guided and nurtured into healthy adult living.
Students are expected to be empathetic, to take ownership, to be respectful and resilient, to have acceptance and adaptability, to love to learn and to be successful.
In support of their Wellbeing, students are helped to develop their social and emotional skills through a number of ‘Wellbeing Windows’ - a number of touch points throughout the school day where students will come into contact with teachers and students, where they will be touched by elements of the MiSK Morals.
These moments include Morning Parade (a whole school gathering), Homeroom Teacher or Form Tutor contact (daily interaction at the start and end of the day), Lunch Time (where teachers will join students to support them both in terms of social behaviour and nutritional experiences), Weekly Assemblies (with areas of specific moral or social focus) and the CCAP (Co-curricular After School program).
As a means of supporting students’ personal development, they will belong to one of three MiSK Houses – Safa, Marwa or Arafa. Students can earn House Points for role modelling good moral behavior, as well as through a range of House competitions.
The House system (originally established in Boarding schools) also works well in day schools, giving students a sense of identity, promoting opportunities for teamwork, leadership, relationship development and personal responsibility.
Students’ health and wellbeing is viewed as a critical part of how their overall academic performance is supported.
MiSK aims to apply a holistic approach to learning that is cognizant of many aspects of students’ development, including healthy patterns for positive living, balanced physical exercise, clear routines, regular sleep patterns, and regulated screen-time, all of which are emphasized as part of regular daily and weekly interactions with students.
Essential healthcare services are provided within the school campus through a team of full time, medically trained professionals (Doctor, Nurse and Nurse Assistant). An onsite nutritionist works with the catering partner to create menus that provide well balanced snacks and lunches. Teaching staff join students for lunch each day, encouraging children to try different sorts of food, effectively educating their palate and ensuring they understand what a healthy diet looks like.
The co-curricular afternoon school program is also designed to encourage student participation in activities that they can enjoy whilst at the same time developing their skills.
Students can participate in a range of activities focused around Sports (including specialist training opportunities), Arts, Technology (including Robotics and AI), Engineering, Languages, Culture and Heritage, Music and Leadership.
The school also encourages students to embrace a year-round education by stepping out of their usual environment and exploring the world beyond their borders through its Summer Academy where students have the opportunity to be involved in new experiences and activities both in Saudi Arabia and internationally. Previous destinations have included the Swiss Alps, Barcelona and London.
MiSK Schools is currently based in the central location of Al Khuzama.
To support planned future growth to over 1,000 children, in summer 2023 the school will move to a state of the art, purpose-built 21-hectare campus situated in Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Non Profit City – a brand new district of Riyadh that is designed to become a centre for innovation, education, culture and youth leadership.
The new campus is designed to offer a wide range of facilities to support learning and discovery. The 110,000m2 of buildings are eco-friendly and digitally connected. Kindergarten (incorporating Pre-Kindergarten) is followed by Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Middle and Senior Schools which are segregated, with mirrored facilities for boys and girls.
Each school features academic classrooms, a library, art and design studios, science and food technology labs, Arabic culture hubs, IT suite and music room. Each also has a kitchen in support of the school’s “farm to table” initiative.
As students mature, the specification of facilities becomes more sophisticated. In STEM, the older students have access to specialized, multidisciplinary workshops for coding and robotics, as well as mechanical, electrical, systems and control engineering (mechatronics).
In culture and the arts, there are filmmaking and digital editing suites, as well as two black box theaters together with audio-visual production hubs and lighting rigs, while the culinary arts are supported by a Master Chef-style kitchen.
Whole school facilities include three auditoriums (the largest of which can seat up to 850) and an exhibition gallery for cultural showcases. A total of 29 Summer Olympic sports are catered for, together with e-Sports. Included are specialist academies for golf, go-karting, and equestrian activities. In addition to 25m and 50m Olympic swimming pools, there is a learn to swim pool, a sports hall with 12 multi-purpose courts, gymnastics hall, two FIFA standard synthetic grass pitches and two 400m Olympic athletics tracks. There are numerous outdoor and indoor areas for low impact exercise, all set in a landscaped environment planted with over 1,000 trees.
Given the backing of the MiSK Foundation and its Patron, it is clear that MiSK schools is designed to cater to the education and development of the next generation of leaders in Saudi Arabia. At first sight, therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the school will solely be open to an elite among Saudi families. However, the application process is an open one. All families are invited to apply.
It will be interesting to see how broad-based applicants may be and whether the school will be able to develop students as future leaders of Saudi society who are not necessarily already on the radar.
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Fees range from 85,000 SAR per school year for PreKG and KG, rising to 105,000 SAR per school year for Grades 1-5 and 125,000 SAR per school year for Grades 6 to 10. There is an application fee of 10,000 SAR which is deductible from the tuition payment on acceptance, or refundable, should a student not be offered a place.
The application process is rigorous, with parents required to provide copies of all previous school reports for applications to Grade 1 and above, and, if available for PreK and KG applicants; a letter of recommendation from the student’s current school teacher, and a letter of recommendation from current school’s principal/ head/ counselor. Personal interviews then take place as the next stage of the application process.
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