United Arab Emirates / Abu Dhabi / Abu Dhabi City / Abu Dhabi Grammar School

Abu Dhabi Grammar School Review

Despite its British sounding name, Abu Dhabi Grammar School offers the Canadian curriculum to students from KG to Grade 12. It is located in the Tourist Club area of Abu Dhabi Island.
At a glance
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
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Availability 2020/21
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Annual fee average
AED 31,500
Annual fees
AED 20,000 - 40,000
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1994
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Annmarie MacInnes
Main teacher nationality
Canadian
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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Abu Dhabi Grammar School
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2020/21
radio_button_unchecked No data
Annual fee average
AED 31,500
Annual fees
AED 20,000 - 40,000
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1994
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Annmarie MacInnes
Main teacher nationality
Canadian
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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First Published:
Saturday 30 June, 2012

Updated:
Thursday 25 April, 2019

Despite its British sounding name, Abu Dhabi Grammar School offers the Canadian curriculum to students from KG to Grade 12. It is located in the Tourist Club area of Abu Dhabi Island.

The story so far...

Abu Dhabi Grammar School (AGS) was established in 1994, and is open to students from KG to Grade 12. AGS adheres to the Nova Scotia schools programme.  In the 2016 ADEK inspection report, the school was rated as Acceptable and improved its rating to Good in 2018.

The school is attended by over 1,100 students from over 50 different nationalities. The largest nationality groups are Jordanian (19%), Egyptian (13%) and Syrian (11%) with some 5% Emirati.  Students are divided up into Elementary (KG to Grade 6), Junior High (Grade 7 to Grade 9) and Senior High (Grade 10 to Grade 12).  The Elementary school represents just over 50% of the student body, with a further 30% in the Junior High (Middle) school and just under 20% in the Senior High School.

Students are taught by some 77 teachers, supported by approximately 11 teaching assistants. The teacher:student ratio is 1:14 - a relatively low ratio that should ensure adequate individual support and curriculum adaptation for students.

The academic year runs from September to June and is divided into two semesters. The main school holidays are: Winter break (mid-December to early January), Spring break (late March to early April), Summer break (late June to early September).

What about the curriculum?

The Canadian curriculum is highly regarded by the OECD (Organisation of Economic Development) which rates it among the top 7 in the world, and by PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) which rated it fifth in the world for performance by 15 year olds in English, Maths and Science.

AGS follows the Nova Scotia Canadian curriculum which is accredited by the province of Nova Scotia in Canada.  Students who meet the requirements of the Nova Scotia Department of Education graduate with the Nova Scotia High School Diploma. The program is taught in English and students must meet the same graduation requirements as students in Nova Scotia public schools. Transcripts are produced by the Department of Education in Nova Scotia from marks securely stored on an online student information system. This Nova Scotia diploma will afford students the opportunity to enter post secondary studies at prestigious universities and colleges anywhere in the world.

Abu Dhabi Grammar School (Canada) has elementary classes from KGII to Grade 6. Elementary classes are taught English Language Arts (listening, talking, reading, viewing, writing and other ways of representing), Social Studies, Mathematics, and Science by qualified teachers. Visual arts is integrated across the curriculum. Specialist teachers teach Arabic Language, Islamic Studies, Physical Education and French Language. French is a compulsory program from Grade 4 to Grade 9. Junior high classes run from Grade 7 to Grade 9. Junior High students are taught: English Language Arts, French Language, Physical Education, Mathematics, Arabic Language, Technology Education, Integrated Science, Islamic Studies, Social Studies, and Music and Art.

A Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma is awarded to students High School students who have successfully obtained a minimum number of 18 credits. Compulsory subjects include Language, Communication, and Expression; Fine Arts including art, dance, drama, or music;  Science, Mathematics, and Technology with options including Business Technology, Communications Technology,  Computer Programming,  Construction Technology, Construction Trades, Design, Electrotechnologies, Energy, Power, and Transportation and Exploring Technology.  More Arts focused subjects include Film and Video Production, Multimedia, Food Technology, Food Preparation and Service and Textile Production.

Further more practically focused courses include Housing and Design, Manufacturing Trades, Production Technology, Skilled Trades, Textile Technology and Transportation Trades.  The Personal Development and Society subjects include Physical Education, Dance, Fitness Leadership, Physically Active Living, Yoga, and Physical Education Leadership.   More conventional Humanities subjects include Canadian history (including options of African Canadian Studies, Canadian History/Histoire du Canada, Études acadiennes, Gaelic Studies,  and Mi’kmaw Studies, whilst Global Studies include options of Global Geography, Advanced Global Geography, Global History, and Advanced Global History. 

There is no question that this one of the most wide-ranging curricula that we have found in the UAE.

In addition to the academic subjects, the school also has a strong focus on physical activities and arts options. The Athletic department is the main health division in the school devoted to enhance the mental and physical well being of the students. The school believes that playing sports or engaging in extracurricular activities play an important part in student's character/personality development, enabling students to develop management skills, negotiation skills, communication skills, convincing skills, conflict management and confidence.

Extra-curricular activities include a wide range of sports activities for both boys and girls, including Ballet, Basketball, Dance, Football, Kick-boxing, Rugby, and Touch Rugby, Running, and Yoga.  Arts activities include Drama and Dance, Pop Dance and Music and Movement, to Art Club, Arts and Crafts, How to Draw and Cartoon Drawing, to Yearbook production.  There are also a wide range of more academically focused clubs for Public Speaking, Islamic Studies, Maths, Spanish, Chess, STEM, I-pad, and an Eco Club.  Most interests are catered for.

What about academic achievement?

According to the 2017-18 ADEK report, most students meet the expected academic standards with a large majority exceeding this, particularly in grades 1 to 6. In Arabic, results are exceptionally high in the MOE examination. By grade 12, almost all students pass the Canadian Leaving certificate, enabling them to move onto university or to their chosen profession. However, given the school is selective on intake, there has been the sense it should be outperforming those benchmarks and this concern remains in the latest report. 

What about the facilities?

In 2008 Abu Dhabi Grammar School opened new premises, and further upgraded its facilities in 2010 to include a new gymnasium, 25 meter pool, cafeteria and a high school section with 10 classrooms, science lab, dance studio, music room, computer lab and library. Facilities are described as "adequate",  but the current report notes that staff are frustrated by the need for further development of the cramped site. 

Students are offered a range of sports activities, including: Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Field hockey, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Netball, Swimming and Table tennis.

What the inspectors say

There is no question that AGS has made significant strides in improvement over the past years, having moved from Weak to Acceptable to Good over a period of three inspection rounds.  

The latest report for 2017-18 found much that is positive in the school, rating five of the six key performance standards as Good, and the sixth - the protection, care, guidance and support of students - as Very Good.

Inspectors found the strengths of the school to be:

  • The improved curriculum, resulting in better achievement in English and more consistency in students’ progress in mathematics and science.
  • The very positive attitudes, work ethic and behaviour of students.
  • The way the school cares, supports and safeguards students in their personal and academic achievements 

In terms of Student Achievement, most measures for the Arabic-based subjects were rated Acceptable.  For the English-language core subjects of English, Maths and Science, the vast majority of measures were Good, although KG Maths and Science were rated Acceptable. 

Inspectors commented that "Students’ learning skills are good and they are often very highly involved and motivated. Most know how to improve, take pride in their learning and can easily work independently or in groups. Through cross-curricular themes they can see how one subject interlocks with others. Students’extensive and very confident use of different technologies develop good critical thinking and problem-solving skills".

Students' personal development is a particular strength of the school with this rated as Very Good across all sections.  The inspection team noted that "Students’personal and social development is good overall with an outstanding attitude to learning,combining effectively with an exceptionally high work ethic. Students develop as self-reliant and independent learners, demonstrated by very good behaviour. Strong and constructive relationships are embedded".

Teaching and Assessment was also found to be Good across the school, though it was not as strong in the Arabic-speaking faculty.  Similarly, the curriculum was also rated Good across the school although the inspectors found that "The curriculum meets the needs of most students but is less effective in challenging the more able" and more notably "Less consistency is seen in the Arabic medium subjects particularly in the High phase".

The overall quality of the Leadership and Management of the school was found to be Good, with good capacity to maintain the process of improvement - a fundamental requirement and good news for the school and its students.  The inspection team agreed that "The principal and senior leaders provide a clear vision, middle leaders have appropriate roles and morale is high. Senior leaders do not, however, hold all teachers sufficiently to account for the progress of students over time. Consequently, achievement in the Arabic subjects is not progressing at the same rate as in English subjects".

Specific recommendations for improvement by the inspection team were the need to:

  • Improve the accountability of teachers for the progress of their students over time, and ensure students’ achievement in Islamic education and Arabic is improved by: identifying and eliminating the weaknesses in teaching and learning; providing professional development in teaching pedagogy and practice; [and] analysing the effectiveness of training and its impact on teacher practice and student achievement.
  • Increase the achievement of higher attaining students, enabling them to achieve their full potential by: analysing data to determine those who are achieving, or are likely to achieve, above, or well above expected standard; ensuring they are given challenging extended or alternative learning activities in lessons; [and] revisiting student performance data to identify the impact improved practice has had on student achievement.

The school competes with American based curricula in general in Abu Dhabi, and more specifically another Canadian curriculum based school, the Canadian International School, which follows an Alberta based programme. Given the increasing number of new schools (including the Abu Dhabi Grammar School branch, now renamed Maple Wood School), the Grammar School will need to continue to work hard to keep its popularity.  All the signs are that it has every intention of doing so.

Tuition fees for the school are mid-range, starting at AED 21,400 for KG2, rising to AED 45,100 for Grade 12. There is an additional fee for books, starting at AED 1,300 for KG, rising to AED 3,300 by Grade 10. There is also a transportation fee of AED 2,900, if utilised.

More information on tuition fees, and availability of places, can be found under the fees tab.

 

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Comments
7 Archived Comments
Khairunnisa Baharum
Archived 10th Jan 2016, 16:07

May I know what is the current email address for this school?
I did sent email to both address stated on their website but all been rejected due to domain name not found.
Thank You

Lyn Soppelsa
Archived 13th Jan 2016, 14:26

Hi Khairunnisa,

I have been provided with the Principal's email by the school. It is as follows: amac97@hotmail.com.

Khairunnisa Baharum
Archived 17th Jan 2016, 17:49

Thank you very much Lyn.I really appreciate it.

Joanna Nowik
Archived 29th Dec 2015, 15:15

Hello,
My daughter has been attending to AGS for the past 3 years, started with KG2. The school has amazing teachers who touch the minds and hearts of kids in such a memorable way. I cannot stop recommending AGS whenever I speak with other parents about education in Abu Dhabi.

The curriculum of Nova Scotia in AGS is supported with fantastic relationships between kids and teachers, which makes learning so much easier.

AGS is not JUST a school, it's a place where kids WANT to go to learn, it's their second home.

Mayssoun
Archived 26th May 2015, 10:18

Hi there,

I worked at the school since the day it was founded.

As a response to the above article - to formulate a more neutral opinion - check the results on the parent surveys. you can get these results through ADEC's website.

A BIG Thank you to all the parents and students out there who have contributed to the growth of AGS and consolidating its name among the population in the UAE, Nova Scotia and among the universities in Canada.

Ehem - 'we do not compete' with any school - we want to make a difference in our students' lives as per say our moto 'Together ... We make a difference' (since 1994).

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Archived 26th May 2015, 10:57

Thank you Mayssoun for your well balanced response.

By competing we merely mean that all parents will do their due diligence, and assess the various options that fit their criteria. There will inevitably be more than one school on a parent's list. While AGS may not compete itself, it will be competing with other schools for the affections of prospective parents.

Faouzi kemmous
Archived 26th May 2015, 08:59

Hello,
I volunteer at the school and I have two children who go there, too.
I was present at the time of the last inspection. I witnessed several encounters such as parents walking up to different members of staff and asking them not to allow the inspectors to go into the classrooms. The inspectors were grumpy and did not smile and this made their children uncomfortable.
There was also the time when some parents were intimidated by the inspectors because their speech was cut-off if it were in favour of the school. They were more interested in 'dirt'.

There were other major concerns such as comparing the Canadian curriculum with the British.
This made me feel uncomfortable because I hold a Canadian citizenship and my girls went to school in Nova Scotia. We were very comfortable with the system seeing how my daughters' attitudes changed and shaped their perceptions of things.
I had every right to bring my daughters to AGS because it has the same curriculum and is Accredited by the same Department of Education of Nova Scotia.
I felt intimidated and hurt that these inspectors stabbed our curriculum in this manner given the fact that ADEC itself is not clear on what it asks the schools to do.
Please bear in mind that you have reported a one-sided story without addressing the issue with the school itself.
You say the school has to defend its popularity and now that I am still volunteering there , people come and fight with administration to take their children. I have been approached by a few and I have nothing to do with it.
Don't you think you ought to wonder about the conflicts between what the public sees and what this discriminating report says?

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