United Arab Emirates / Abu Dhabi / Al Falah / Ajyal International School Al Falah

Ajyal International School Al Falah Review

Ajyal International School Al Falah is the second school opened by the Bin Omeir Group, a construction group based in Abu Dhabi. The sister school is located in Mohammed bin Zayed City and offers a UK curriculum. Both schools are rated Good by ADEK.
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2021/22
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Annual fee average
AED 30,500
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
2016
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs. Antoinette Brown
Owner
The Bin Omeir Education LLC
Community
Main teacher nationality
A mix of nationalities
Main student nationality
Emirati
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Ajyal International School Al Falah
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2021/22
radio_button_unchecked No data
Annual fee average
AED 30,500
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
2016
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs. Antoinette Brown
Owner
The Bin Omeir Education LLC
Community
Main teacher nationality
A mix of nationalities
Main student nationality
Emirati
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Ajyal International School Al Falah is the second school opened by the Bin Omeir Group, a construction group based in Abu Dhabi. The sister school is located in Mohammed bin Zayed City and offers a UK curriculum. Both schools are rated Good by ADEK.

The story so far...

Located in a newer housing area on the northern outskirts of Abu Dhabi, Ajyal International School Al Falah is the second school to be built and operated by Bin Omeir Education LLC, a construction company by background.  Whilst the Al Falah school offers a US curriculum, Ajyal International School Mohammed bin Zayed City (MBZ), opened two years prior and offers the UK curriculum.  Both schools have been rated Good by ADEK's inspection teams in their latest inspections.

In unusually detailed Vision and Mission statements, Ajyal Al Falah (AAF) sets out its aspirations and intentions. 

The vision of Ajyal International School - Al Falah is to contribute to the development of human capital in Abu Dhabi by providing affordable, high-quality education resulting in outstanding individual progress and attainment.  Ajyal International School - Al Falah serves the community by offering a high-quality 21st-century learning experience that educates and informs students, providing the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with its next generation of inventors, creators, physicists, chemists, engineers, and scholars.

According to the school, its Mission provides a sense of purpose to the organization as it seeks to make an impact in its own community. This encompasses the following goals:

  • To be a learning-centred educational institution.
  • To provide world-class, international education opportunities to Emirati and expatriate students that meet international standards whilst, at the same time, are cognisant of the local culture, values and traditions.
  • To provide the UAE with the next generation of STEM practitioners.
  • To provide the UAE with well-qualified, global citizens, equipped with 21st century skills and ready to make a positive contribution to a modern knowledge economy.
  • To develop national identity, fostering and establishing national loyalty towards the UAE among all students.
  • To provide the UAE with citizens who embrace rapid economic development and internationalization but who also recognise the value in celebrating, understanding and valuing Emirati history, culture and values.
  • To develop global citizens who value Arabic language, Islamic education and the history, culture and traditions of the UAE.

On opening in 2016, the school had approximately 350 students.  This number grew rapidly in the intervening years, and at the time of the last ADEK inspection in 2018-19, the school population was 1,230.  The school is now open from pre-KG to Grade 9, and will open Grade 10 in September 2020.  The majority of students attending the school are from local Emirati families - some 89%.  There are also smaller numbers of students from Yemen (3%), Jordan (2%) and the US (1%).  Approximately 1% of students have been identified with additional learning needs.  

Students are supported by some 92 teachers and 38 teaching assistants providing a teacher:student ratio of 1:13 - a relatively low number that should afford sufficient individual attention.  Staff turnover, at 28% in the 2017-18 academic year, is clearly a concern.  No school wants to have to replace over a quarter of its staff on an annual basis. 

As is the norm with any new school, student numbers are heavily weighted towards the KG (45%) and Elementary (46%) sections.  The natural development of the Middle School (Grades 6-8) and High School (adding Grade 10 in September 2020) means that senior students are likely to benefit from still lower teacher:student ratios. In September 2018, new student numbers increased by 37% spread across all grades.  This is a significant challenge for any leadership team and staff to manage.

What about the curriculum?

Ajyal Al Falah offers a US curriculum based on the Common Core.  This is something of a mis-nomer, since the Common Core only applies to English Language Arts and Mathematics.  There is no US wide curriculum for other subjects; usually individual US states will adapt the Common Core standards and add their own requirements for other subjects.  

In the first ADEK inspection report during the school's first year of operation, inspectors specifically addressed this issue, noting that "Being a new school, there has been a conscious decision not to align with any specific U.S. state, at the present time, to focus on basic learning standards. As a result,there is a direct pathway from standards, skills and assessment rubrics to report cards to inform parents of their children’s progress. Links between the content of different subjects are a common feature of planning and implementation and a key element of the school’s learning policy. The school’s innovative modification of the curriculum is most evident in the initiative to support students with weak English language competency."

The fact that the school has chosen not to align itself to a particular State curriculum is unusual, and likely to have to be addressed at some future point, in order to ensure full accreditation that will allow recognition of the High School Diploma that the school will likely issue to students completing their education in Grade 11 or 12.

On entry to school, most children in KG and students in Grade 1 have little or no English. Students in other grades arrive with many different educational experiences. Almost all students throughout the school are learning in their second language and as a result the school specifically seeks to provide support in English, Arabic, French and German.

The KG curriculum is a mixture of the UK-based Early Years Foundation Stage practices and common core curriculum standards, including the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, circle time, PE and ICT, with art and music integrated into the learning in other subjects. The core subjects in the Elementary phase are supplemented by PE, ICT, library studies, Art, Arabic language, French Language, Social Studies, Music, and Physical Education. Library and computer technology skills are taught by specialists and students get an opportunity to utilise iPad technology to enhance lessons within their homerooms.

Middle School students follow the core courses of English, Maths and Science, as well as Arabic language, French and German languages, History, Technology, Music, Visual and Performing Arts, and Physical Education courses. The Middle School offers a wide variety of after-school activities and clubs. Students are involved in exploratory opportunities such as Robotics.

Student achievement is monitored using standardised tests (MAPS) to measure progress against targets set in each subject. The school will also participate in international benchmarking tests such as TIMMS, Perls and PISA.

AAF says that it is committed to ensuring that student learning is "long-lasting and meaningful rather than superficial and based primarily on rote memorisation."  AAF therefore utilises the Significant Learning Model (SLM) of education.  The school also offers three specialist areas that are integrated into the curriculum, providing students with early exposure to the fields of engineering and technology, medicine and health professions, and The Arabian Gulf and globalization, in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision.

What about the facilities?

Little information has been published about the facilities of the school.  The building is new and modern, and given its ownership, we would expect it to be of high quality.  This assumption is reinforced by comments made by the ADEK inspection team during the 2018-19 inspection when they noted that "The school premises, equipment and resources are excellent in supporting the educational needs of all students, including those with special educational needs (SEN) and early years children. The premises are of the highest quality, with extensive facilities." 

What the inspectors say

Ajyal International School Al Falah has been rated Good twice since its opening by the ADEK inspection teams.  The achievement of a Good rating at the first inspection in the first year of opening set the bar high.  With student numbers so much larger, and with the school open through to its Middle Section, it was a very different place when the second inspection took place in 2018-19.  

The inspection team was largely positive about AAF on its second inspection, noting that Leaders had addressed the key recommendations of the last inspection report. In Islamic education, there had been improvement in attainment in the Elementary school section, and achievement had improved significantly in Arabic in KG. Arabic achievement in the Elementary school remained acceptable, but was weak in the recently formed Middle school section.

Significant progress had been achieved in teaching, in providing a consistent approach to planning activities matched to students’ learning needs. Opportunities across the curriculum for students to develop their problem-solving skills had improved. The introduction of a literacy programme in KG1 to Grade 4 had had a major impact across the school with students gaining confidence in their understanding and use of English to fully access the curriculum.

One concern that had not seen improvement was in relation to attendance.  Inspectors noted that although the school has procedures for following up on absences and rewards for good attendance, there was no visible impact on improving attendance.  This will be an issue that the school and parents will be expected to address.

As far as strengths were concerned, the inspectors noted:

  • Improvement in teaching leading to improved progress in English.
  • The impact of school leaders’ introduction of English literacy programmes throughout the school.
  • The positive, caring and warm relationships between all members of the school community and parents.
  • The safe and stimulating learning environment provided by the high-quality premises and facilities.
  • The school’s promotion of and students’ appreciation of Emirati culture and UAE society.

Areas of improvement were identified as:

  • Achievement in Arabic in the middle phase by:
    • the use of more student-centered learning strategies;
    • improving students’ writing skills;
    • improving students speaking, reading and grammar skills in the middle phase.
  • Teachers’ promotion of higher-level thinking skills to meet the needs of all groups of students, especially the most able by:
    • planning regular targeted activities in all subjects that provide all students with opportunities to develop their higher-level thinking skills;
    • fine tuning the differentiated learning activities to provide even greater challenge for the most able students.
  • The further development of clearly measurable and accountable goals for teachers and leaders in order to raise all students’ achievement by:
    • initiating goal setting as an integral component of the school’s performance management system;
    • ensuring all goals are aligned to the improvement of students’ achievement levels;
    • linking goals to improving the school’s outcomes in respect of benchmark requirements.
  • The impact of the school’s procedures in improving attendance by:
    • reviewing all procedures to check their impact on improving attendance;
    • involving all stakeholders, staff, students and parents, in developing new ideas and initiatives to improve attendance.

It is clear that the team at Ajyal International School Al Falah have been very successful in adapting their teaching and curriculum to meet the specific needs of their students, who are learning in an English-language based curriculum that is essentially 'foreign' to the vast majority of them.  We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com will be interested to see how the school develops as it grows further to include its High School students and a broader curriculum. With it current fee levels, the school will no doubt be pushing itself hard to achieve a Very Good rating to justify fees that are on the higher end of the scale.

If you would like to read the full ADEK inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do, so that you can understand the reasons behind the ratings, you will find it here.

Unfortunately, ADEK does not include any formal feedback from parents, students or staff.  However, the report notes that parents are actively involved in the life of the school and are represented on the Board of Governors. Communication between the school and parents is apparently strong, but, as noted earlier, has not yet been able to address the issue of poorer than expected attendance by students.  There is no doubt that this is a cultural issue that will take time to improve.

If you are a parent, teacher or student at Ajyal International School Al Falah, please share your opinions with other potential members of your community by completing our school survey here.

What about the fees?

Fees are in the medium to high range on ADEK's scale, ranging from AED 20,580 in Pre-KG, KG1 and KG2, and rising to AED 41,560 for Grade 10. Book fees range from AED 2,300 in KG to AED 4,400 in Grade 10.  Fees for Grades 11 and 12 which will open successively in 2021 and 2022 are currently set at AED 41,160 with additional book fees of AED 4,950.  

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