At a glance
Abu Dhabi International School (AIS) is a private, coeducational school licensed by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education. Its primary school is rated B4 by ADEC, the Abu Dhabi inspection regulator, which signifies a "satisfactory and improving" school. The secondary school is rated one notch higher, at A3, which denotes a "Good" school.
We believe Abu Dhabi International is the only school in the UAE currently to offer a US curriculum (based on the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards), a UK based curriculum (offering GCS and GCSEs) and the IB Diploma Programme. What is almost as surprising is that it does very well in these exams - more on this below.
The school has recently opened a new campus (September 2015) in Mohamed Bin Zayed City. For new students attending the new campus fees are between 50% and 75% more expensive, although existing students are (currently) protected from the increase. The new campus will not have been inspected yet. Suffice to say it is likely to be suffering from teething pains with new processes bedding down. Its students will however have access to more, and more modern facilities.
All this from fairly humble beginnings. The school was established in 1992 as a kindergarten. Today the school consists of approximately 3600 students from 70 different nationalities, and takes students up to high school graduation.
Strengths of the primary include students’ well‐developed speaking and listening skills in English and Arabic; very high quality personal skills; strong classroom relationships supported by a range of highly effective behaviour management strategies; successful inclusion of students with special educational needs (SEN); well‐focused and supportive leadership teams and a commitment and drive towards continuous improvement.
The primary does have areas to work on however. Of note, is the need to improve pupils' English and Arabic writing skills across the curriculum, to give greater allocation and access to information and communications technology, to improve the use of assessment and progress data to inform skills‐oriented lesson planning and to identify next steps in learning for the full range of ability levels and to focus on the curriculum to deliver higher order thinking skills, particularly for high achievers. The KG curriculum also needs to build independence and enable children to make guided choices.
At secondary the school is notable for its high achievement in external examinations by students in Grades 10 to 12
At IGCSE 69% of its students scored A* and A in five or more subjects, with 100% scoring A* and A in Physics and more than 80% scoring A* and A in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and English. At GCE (AS – Level), 50% of its students scored triple A in Mathematics and two Sciences, with 92% scoring A in Mathematics. At GCE (A – Level): 42% of its students scored three A* or A in Mathematics and two Sciences, with more than 80% scoring A* and A in Mathematics and Arabic. These are grades worth shouting about.
At IB, the average diploma points awarded to AIS students was a very credible 34 (the world average is 29.81). This puts it near the top of the class for UAE based schools.
Elsewhere AIS secondary shares many of the strengths of its junior school, and is noted for its "well‐developed skills in English and Arabic", high quality personal skills of its students, strong classroom relationships supported by a range of highly effective behaviour management strategies, a clear vision for the curriculum, and core subjects that have a well‐structured framework, the successful inclusion of students with special educational needs, well‐focused and supportive leadership teams who, together with teachers, students and parents, embrace the school’s vision, commitment and drive towards continuous improvements.
Unusually, 5% of places are reserved for students with special needs and learning difficulties. According to the school, "over the years, we have gained a reputation for successfully dealing with a variety of learning difficulties and disabilities through a well-structured Special Education department." This is noted in its inspection reports.
Class sizes are set at a maximum of 25 students per class across all grades with English is the primary language of instruction. Arabic is offered to both native and foreign speakers, and French is offered from Grade 5.
As noted AIS provides a US program, a UK program and the International Baccalaureate Programme. The school prepares high school students to pass external examinations and assessments which include ACT, AP, A-levels, IGCSE, TOEFL, and SAT & SAT Subjects Tests, IB Diploma Programme, and other achievement tests.
The American curriculum is offered from Kindergarten to Grade 12, the British program from Grade 9 to 12, and the IB Diploma Programme in Grades 11 and 12. Upon completion of Grade 8, students either continue in the American curriculum or select the British curriculum. Upon completion of Grade 10, students enrolled in the American program may choose to apply to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
Students who choose the British curriculum will work towards the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) at the end of Grade 10, and continue with the Advanced Subsidiary (‘AS’) Level and the Advanced (‘A’) Level General Certificates of Education in Grades 11 and 12.
SAT and SAT Subject Tests are available to all students looking to enter a US university.
The academic year runs from September to June and is divided into two terms. The main school holidays are winter break (mid-December to early January), Spring break (late March to mid-April) and a summer break (late June to early September).
AIS offers a variety of extra-curricular activities, including: badminton, basketball, soccer, table tennis, volleyball, arts and crafts and a little eccentrically, book making.
Fees as noted depend on the campus. At the Abu Dhabi campus, fees are in the value to mid-range. At the MBZ campus, fees are firmly mid-range.
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