At a glance
Some 69 nationalities are represented within a student body pretty evenly split between girls and boys who are educated separately from Grade 4. Despite the diversity in nationality, there are no non-Muslim students currently attending The International School of Creative Science. This is not because of any restrictions made by ISCS itself - just a reflection of the ethos of the school, and who that naturally attracts.
That ethos is one of "East meets West" says the school, with a curriculum largely from the UK, and behaviours rooted in Islamic values. The school offers a "character building program" designed to foster morals and sound ethics. ISCS also offers Quran memorization, a "unique subject that enables our students to have better memory power and recalling skills". The school also organises Umrah for its secondary school students.
The school currently employs 244 teachers, recruited from all over the world. The school says it has "staff that have been with the school for over 10 years, many whose tenure is about five years or over, and a lot more who have just completed two years.
This says ISCS represents a "good blend of experience as it’s a valuable source of time-tested best practices alongside the latest educational strategies and ideas". That seems to be backed up by the school's inspection. ISCS has been rated "Highly effective with distinction" by the education authority.
In terms of curricula students work towards IGCSE at KS4 (age 16), and A Level at KS5 (aged 18). The UAE MOE curriculum is used for Arabic, Islamic and Social studies.
While the school has not yet published any results, it claims these will be above average. The vast majority of students remain in the Middle East for Further Education and University studies and are not therefore required to stay for grade 13 and A Level although the option is available. Popular choices within the UAE are the American University of Sharjah, University of Sharjah and United Arab Emirates University. The school says it has students that have been accepted into Aeronautical Engineering at Emirates Aviation and into Dentistry at RAK Medical and Health Sciences University.
The school is academically selective, particularly for students entering the Secondary School who are assessed in English, Maths and Arabic prior to acceptance. Admission testing is based very much on behaviour in addition to the assessment test. There is support for children with Additional learning needs (including English and Arabic as Additional Languages for non-native speakers) and this is an area which is being given further focus with the establishment of a SEN department and the appointment of a SEN Coordinator for the start of the 2016/17 academic year.
With 20 children per class in KG1 and a maximum of 24 in KG2, a purpose-built KG section is provided with light, bright and colourful classrooms, an enormous indoor play space where children can run around during break times when the weather is warmer and all the usual resources.
The school is continuing to expand. It is currently in the process of adding another building which will enable the expansion in the Secondary School and create additional space for Primary. A separate new gymnasium and second 25 metre swimming pool are also under construction. The buildings are almost identical in design and provide an exact mirror for both the Girls’ and Boys’ sections. There are some shared facilities, including the multi-purpose hall and swimming pool, but almost other facilities (aside from libraries and laboratories), including the canteen, are separated by gender.
The International School of Creative Science makes significant use of interactive Promethean White Boards which are found in every classroom and as a result the supplier has recognised them as a School of Excellence. As with all UK curriculum schools, the focus is on learning through play in the early years and the set-up of the classrooms allows free flow movement, so that children can participate in the activities that appeal to them.
As children move into the main Primary Section of the school, so there is a greater emphasis on structured learning and the school focuses on an Applied learning approach, whereby children gain practical experience though use of laboratories and specialist rooms.
Although these sections could be independent schools, there is no sense that the schools are overcrowded; quite the reverse. Classrooms are busy, corridors are colourful and though students do move around in large groups, but there is no sense that the school is overwhelming in size, since students remain within their own dedicated building other than for sports activities.
Parents are made aware early on that the choice of ISCS does bring certain additional obligations; not least the additional workload for Grades 12 and 13 where students not only are expected to undertake the rigorous A Level curriculum, but also spend considerable time on Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies. The school day is a long one by comparison with many schools, with classes starting at 7 am and not finishing until 2.20 pm.
Extra-curricular and homework then need to be added to this day.
With a student body of this size, there is also an enormous staff involved; over 500 in total with as many nationalities as the student body. Teachers feel part of the decision making process at the school (many have children who attend) and there is a very strong emphasis on Professional Development and training. There is a strong working relationship between staff of both the Boys’ and Girls’ sections to ensure that teaching is parallel; this includes boys taking part in Food Technology lessons for instance and girls have equal opportunities to participate in more traditionally male lessons.
Based on past results, the enthusiasm of staff and the obvious support of parents, it seems that demand for the Creative Science schools is for the time being assured. Its unique blend of an internationally recognised UK national curriculum, together with the UAE mandated Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies and the specific focus on Koran memorisation, clearly appeals to many Muslim families, a natural and thriving target market in the UAE.
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