At a glance
Nothing says, 'Sharjah,' more than the Blue Souq, the traffic and of course- Sharjah English School (SES).
This well loved not-for-profit school is actually older than both the souq and the traffic woes and remains to this day, the top choice for those seeking a UK curriculum school in the Northern Emirates.
However, it should be noted, while many Sharjah schools are significantly more affordable than their Dubai counterparts, SES is not, (fees are on a par with Dubai's not-for-profit schools), yet its the school's small size, warm community feel and consistently good British Schools Overseas (BSO) reports which add up to some pretty lengthy waiting lists.
The story so far...
Originally opening in 1974, the school was launched by a group of British companies trying to get a home style education for their children. However, it took until September 2005, to obtain the new huge plot on Meliha Road and construction of the Secondary section began. The all-new SES now caters for students in FS1 through to Year 13, and has increased capacity from two classes per Year to three.
A' Level students at SES number between 40 and 50. Provision at this stage (Key Stage 5) is said to be responsive to the needs of individual students.
Students can choose from 16 subjects at A' Level and there are four possible routes they can take, culminating in 3, 4 or 5 A-levels, with the possibility of completing A2 Mathematics in Year 12.
What are the stats?
Sharjah English School is still small in terms of student size and prides itself on its small school feel. According to the school's website the student population currently stands at approximately 600 students with 339 pupils in primary and 225 in Secondary (source: BSME). At present 45 nationalities are represented with British students the single largest population demographic.
The school has a respectable teacher to student ratio of 1:23. The maximum classroom size at secondary level is said to be 22 students.
As a smaller school, SES claims "an intimate knowledge" of its students, with policies and strategies in place for "intervention and support when students are falling behind.
"There are also policies for pushing gifted and talented children, and opportunities for accelerated learning."
The school follows an England and Wales based curriculum starting with an Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum for KG levels, up to A' Levels for its post 16 students with GCSEs and AS Levels inbetween.
Unsurprisingly the school is one of the most popular for its demographic in Sharjah, and its new location, in University City, strategically places it within distance of Sharjah, Ajman, Mirdiff and certainly parts of Dubai accessed easily by the Emirates Road (611).
The school enjoys an excellent reputation, which makes entry a challenge. The school operates a waiting list, with Mrs. Mesaa Ajina at [email protected] as your first port of call.
The school's Web site notes priority may be given in the application procedures to UK passport holders, families of sponsoring companies, or children with siblings already in the school.
A British Education
The "Britishness" of the school is picked up in the BSO report which states: "the appearance, nature and ethos of the school are recognisably British. An original founding imperative was to provide an education based on UK principles, procedures and a curriculum that would permit children to join or re-join the UK education system without disadvantage at any stage."
The school celebrates special events in the UK, for example the Royal Wedding, Remembrance Day and the London Olympics. This is an important consideration for UK parents wanting their child to maintain a cultural link with their home country. It would be as important information for non-UK students to be aware that British traditions are important to the school.
How well do students do?
Qualifications and exam types include: A' Level, AS Level, GCSE, SATS, K1 NCT, K2 NCT.
The school has a 90% GCSE pass rate (grades A* to C) compared to the UK figure of 69.8%, and an 86% pass rate for A' Level (Grades A* to C) compared to a UK average of 76%. It says it has a 100% graduation rate of its A' Level students to tertiary study.
Where to next?
The UK is said to be the primary location for higher education, but the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Canada, as well as local universities also take a share of Sharjah English School's students.
What do the inspectors say?
SES is inspected by the Sharjah Education Zone (SEZ) every three years. The most recent report (2014) rated the school Highly Effective in every indicator.
The report highlighted, "teachers constantly sought to develop and refine their teaching, always taking account of students' individual needs in terms of curriculum and teaching approaches. They worked collaboratively which helped to accelerate good practice. Shared leadership was well established. Against international standards, attainment was excellent. Students were confident learners with high aspirations for their futures. The Governing Body supported the school well and had recently introduced performance management arrangements for the Principal."
According to the British Schools Overseas (BSO) report quality of teaching and learning across the board is excellent. "Students enjoy their lessons. Across all phases, nearly all students are engaged and focused. Students were overwhelmingly positive about their learning." The BSME meanwhile says teaching is above its acceptable standards.
What are the facilities?
The school facilities are in general new and very good and of note must be the enormous school campus which allows for rugby, football and cricket pitches with real grass, a running track and grandstand plus acres of mature landscaped grounds.
There's also a theatre, music rooms, swimming pool and indoor sports hall, dance studio and campus WiFi.
How well does the school communicate with parents?
Parents receive regular informative written reports and consultation meetings with teachers. Two full reports and five interim reports are sent home each year. Parents value the regular and informative parent-teacher meetings to discuss individual student achievements. These are well attended in both primary (99%) and secondary (80%). Parents feel they have good access to prompt and professional dialogue with teachers regarding their child’s development.
The school's leadership in both the BSO and the BSME reports is widely praised.
What are the fees?
Fees for the school mirror other top end England and Wales based curriculum schools, with a range of between 30,000 plus for FS to approximately AED 60,000 (plus) for sixth form (A' Levels). WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has requested the latest fee structure - not yet provided.
All applicants are tested, and there is a non-refundable fee of AED 400 for the testing and Ministry of Education registration process.
This fee is payable whether the child is eventually offered a place or not.
On offer of a place a non-refundable fee of AED 5,000 is paid to confirm acceptance. This fee can be refunded /utilised in part payment of the final term’s fees, provided that all financial obligations to the school have been met, and parents have given a term’s written notification of the intention to withdraw.
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