21st Century Academy closed in August 2015. It had been a highly popular school for the emirate's Filipino community in terms of numbers, but not necessarily in sentiment if judged by Parent's Opinion.
21st Century Academy Abu Dhabi closed in August 2015, with days to go before the start of the 2015/16 academic year.
According to newspaper reports, parents of children at the Filipino school lost thousands of dirhams in tuition fees after ADEC removed the school’s owner for "being uncooperative with the education regulator".
Some 2,055 pupils at 21st Century Private Academy had paid fees.
The school was run by the American Companies Management Group, or ACMG, which owns Al Dana Nurseries in Abu Dhabi. Its chairman, Sultan Al Hosani, had worked for Abu Dhabi Education Council in the School and Institute Licensing Department.
21st Century Academy (formally known as Abu Dhabi Philippine School) is a K-10 school founded in 2010. The school is currently rated C-6, which means it is a "satisfactory" school, in need of "serious improvement" according to ADEC's ratings guideline.
While the school is relatively new, it did not open in a new purpose built building. It is presently occupying premises some 30 years old, and in need of renovation. The school itself is home to a not insubstantial 1,800 students, aged 3 to 16 years of age. Almost all students are Filipinos and predominantly Christian - unsurprising as this is a Philippines curriculum school. Students study three languages, Arabic, Filipino and English. Note: A K-12 curriculum has been added this year which will see students progress to Grade 12.
Despite its rating this is a school with some of the right ingredients. Students’ are said to have a positive attitude to learning, personal development is good, as is student attendance and the overall ethos within the school community. Relationships in the school are also said to be very good.
However, to progress, 21st Century academy needs to bring its buildings into this century, most notably the current accommodation for Kindergarten (KG) classes, address the level of challenge in all lessons, tackle health and safety issues, assess and improve upon the quality of resources for learning, especially in ICT, have systems in place to offer differentiated support for more able students and those who require more support, and improve upon the quality of students’ 21st century skills.
Academically, standards at the school are mixed. In Filipino progress exceeds national expectations, standards in English and mathematics are close to best international standards. Attainment in science, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and social studies are below age‐related expectations. Attainment is very unsatisfactory in Islamic studies and poor in Arabic. Students’ attainment in art, music and physical education are satisfactory.
Where students do not make at least satisfactory progress it is primarily because tasks set for them in lessons do not meet their needs or abilities. There are few opportunities for independent learning and the level of challenge in lessons is often low. Teaching itself is variable across the school. Note, however, that 83% of students move onto the next phase of education in the Philippines or elsewhere. This exceeds the national average of 77% of high school graduates in the Philippines itself.
With such low student tuition fees (see below) it is perhaps unsurprising this is a school that struggles with the materials required for learning. According to ADEC: "There are major shortages of resources across the curriculum which impacts on students’ learning. Many teachers supply their own resources and use them effectively to support students’ learning, particularly in KG." Kudos to the teachers, but this is far from an ideal state of affairs.
Tuition fees are pretty much the most affordable we have seen, ranging from AED 4000 to AED 6400. Given the purchasing power of the school's demographic these fees may be necessary, but will make running the school a serious challenge for its senior leadership team.
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