The KAUST School is a unique organisation set up specifically to support the community of the KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) located in Thuwal in the Western Province, just over 100km north of Jeddah.
The KAUST School (TKS) was set up in 2010 to provide an international educational option to children of the faculty, staff and post-graduates students, together with a limited number of business partners and service providers, of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Admission is only open to members of the KAUST community.
TKS describes itself as “is an internationally minded and globally mobile school that supports the thriving university community of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology”.
The KAUST School Vision states that it “aspires to be a courageously bold leader in education, pursuing excellence, inspiring discovery and positively impacting humanity.” Its Mission states “Together we ignite curiosity, inspire creativity, and investigate solutions. Within a nurturing environment, we empower learners to skillfully and confidently leverage opportunities to thrive and contribute in a complex world.”
The school has been specifically designed for an international student body. TKS follows the International Baccalaureate continuum - a curriculum chosen by the school “that is the most respected and widely followed academic program in the international school world and well suited to international students.” This ensures that when students leave, they will be able to adapt to their next step anywhere in the world.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly to those not familiar with KAUST, the international community of the university and therefore of the school is wide-ranging. In the current, 2022-23 academic year as at October 2022, TKS has 1,782 students from 73 countries who attend the school. Unlike most international schools in Saudi, international students make up the majority (approximately 70%), and there is a fairly even split between male and female students.
The KG alone has 430 students of 75 nationalities, whilst the Primary and Lower senior school (from Grades 1 to 8) has over 1,000 students, whilst the Senior school, from Grades 9 to 12 has 315 students of 40 nationalities. There are 60 students in the current Grade 12 who will graduate this year.
From 2024, to ensure better focus, the Senior School will be separated in to Middle School (from Grades 6 to 8) and High School from Grades 9 to 12, each with a separate Principal. The school’s Annual report for 2021-22 and its Strategic Plan for 2020-23 are well worth reading! They incorporate detailed information and plans for the development of the school.
TKS is accredited by the International Baccalaureate Organisation, the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA) and the Council for International School (CIS) ensuring that graduates' diplomas are recognised by universities globally.
The school is led by Dr. Michelle Remington, a US citizen, who joined the school in 2019. She is supported by an international team of school leaders, including Tiffany Hill, the KG Principal (also from the USA), Primary Principal Jeff Woodcock from Canada and David Tigchelaar, Secondary Principal, who was born in Kenya and completed his education in the Netherlands.
The number of students per class is decidedly on the low side compared with many international schools which average 25 students per class for the most part. At TKS, there are a maximum of 15 students in the KG classes, 18 students in Elementary and 20 students in the High School classes.
The school provides little information about its teachers but says that it strives to help students develop in a holistic, balanced way and therefore seeks to employ teachers who can understand the needs of their students on all levels – cognitive, social and emotional. Teachers are experienced professionals who really know their content areas and have a solid grasp of pedagogical best practice. “They are also flexible, collaborative innovators who are enthusiastic about their work and about their students.” Based on the number of students and class sizes, we estimate that the school employs approximately 100 teachers.
TKS offers the International Baccalaureate continuum involving its three programs – the Primary Years Program (PYP) for students from Grades 1 to 5, the Middle Years Program (MYP) for Grades 6 to 10 and the Diploma Program for those in Grades 11 and 12. Students with ‘intensive learning needs’ are able to take a modified version of the IB Diploma (we assume this is the IBDP Courses program which requires a lower number of subjects). Students in the KG section follow the Early Years version of the PYP using the child-led Reggio Emilia approach to learning.
The IB programs provide requirements in terms of overall subject content and teaching methodology, but do not prescribe set resources until the IBDP stage. This allows schools to choose their own resources as the basis of content for the delivery of the programs.
As part of the school’s strategic review in 2021, TKS adopted the content of the US Department of Education’s AERO (American Curriculum Reaches Out) curriculum for English Language, Math and World Language, the Next Generation Science Standards for Science, Engineering and Design, the Australian ACARA standards for Physical Education and Health, and the US-based C3 Framework for Social Studies, and the National Core Arts Standards for Art, Music and Drama. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will also be embedded within the content of the curriculum.
In line with the IB methodology, students use an inquiry-based approach to a range of core subjects, following cross-curricular Units of Enquiry in the PYP, before moving onto a more traditional, but still inquiry-based, subject-based approach for the MYP and Diploma Program.
In line with its multi-cultural focus, students also study a range of international languages including English, French, Arabic and Spanish. Fine Arts, Performing Arts, Social Studies, Science and Technology also have a place at the heart of the curriculum, with a range of new subjects introduced such as Robotics System Design, Media Production and Communication, and Engineering and Innovation.
TKS students benefit from the state-of-the-art resources of the University as well having access to University events such as the Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) and Science Fairs. In 2021, the school also introduced an Internship Program, giving High School students the opportunity to gain real-world work experience.
There is a particular focus on the school’s Co-curricular program which offers many activities that promote the development of well-rounded students who are prepared for life beyond school. TKS wants its students to be healthy in the long term, confident with technology, understand the importance of individual and collective expression and be responsible global citizens.
The co-curricular program areas are organised across Health & Wellness, Creativity, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Life Skills, Leadership & Service and include activities such as sports, coding, Model United Nations (MUN), school productions, student led activities, and Duke of Edinburgh International Award among others. KG students have access to 17 programs, Elementary students to 119 and Secondary students to 144!
WhichSchoolAdvisor was somewhat surprised to see that The KAUST School does not appear to include its academic results for the IB Diploma Program in either its School Profile or High School Profile.
This is somewhat disappointing. As a school that appears to be taking a leading approach to the delivery of a world class curriculum in a highly multi-cultural environment, we would hope that this important data should be shared for parents and students who are placing their faith in The KAUST School to facilitate students in achieving world class results.
TKS appears to be at the forefront of providing support for students with additional learning needs.
The school has recently expanded the provision it offers for students with additional needs, offering a three tier approach which includes additional support and program modifications in small groups both within and outside the class room for Tier 2 students, and more intensive support for Tier 3 students which may include a reduced school day or altered timetable. All teachers and learning support assistants are receiving professional development and provision for speech and language therapy has been expanded.
The school is also addressing the needs of students with Gifts and Talents through additional challenge and enrichment offering additional programs, online courses and acceleration as appropriate.
This level of broad-based support for students with additional learning needs is something that is sorely missing in most schools that we have reviewed in KSA and one that we applaud.
TKS is located on a purpose built campus at the heart of the KAUST community. The Garden campus houses both Elementary and Secondary schools and offers technology equipped classrooms, libraries, science labs, a Design Technology hub, activity rooms, specialist rooms for Art, Music, Arabic and Islamic Studies, two theaters, two indoor gymnasiums, outdoor tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pool and a soccer pitch.
A new building is currently under construction will accommodate mainly Senior Secondary students (High School from Grades 9 to 12) from the 2024 academic year.
The KAUST School is clearly impressive in terms of its current delivery and its future plans.
Whilst the school might have been tempted to rest on its laurels, given healthy enrollment numbers and the direct support of the university, we were impressed to see the degree of obvious effort and detail that has gone into the shaping of its future strategic plans.
It is evident that the standard of the school is an important factor for families potentially interested in an association with the university, with whom it clearly has a symbiotic relationship. In our view TKS is one of the few genuinely international schools in KSA at the present time, offering a strong academic program designed to support a genuinely international community, and with a clear focus on improving its provision further.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at The KAUST School, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community and complete our Survey.
Tuition fees are definitely within the higher tier range for international schools in KSA.
Fees are priced in US Dollars and attract 15% VAT in addition to the following amounts: Admission Fee $1,400, KG1 annual fees $11,067, KG2 and KG3 annual fees $14,608, Grades 1 to 5 annual fees $17,523, and Grades 6 to 12 annual fees $22,133. Tuition fees translate to between 41,612 SAR in KG1 to 83,330 SAR for Grades 6 to 12.
In addition there is a monthly fee for IT and Materials of $160 per month from KG1 to Grade 5 and $225 per month from Grades 6 to 12.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information