The newest Aldar UK curriculum Primary and Secondary school located at al Mamoura opened in 2016 and has grown rapidly. With a little over 1,100 students, the school is already very much a functioning, active environment.
The story so far
Al Mamoura Academy Abu Dhabi's impressive launch student numbers are in large part due to the transfer of the former Al Mushrif Primary from its shared location Al Bateen school. Almost 500 students moved from the old school to the new, and the students numbers have now more than doubled to 1,155 as of February 2019.
The school states that its Vision is to create “An innovative learning community, where we nurture our learners through Collaboration, Leadership and Creativity.”
This is the first Aldar school that offers a co-educational experience to children in primary and a Girls-only secondary school. 70% of students are Emirati, followed by Jordanian, and British children ranging each between 5 and 3% of the school population. Approximately, 25% of children are within the FS section (just over 300), whilst the majority are in the Primary section - 700 - and the balance in the Secondary school. A small number of students of determination are supported by the school. The ADEK report noted that 'Students with special educational needs receive comprehensive support and guidance, but higher achieving students are not consistently challenged in lessons'.
With the new students has come an increase in staffing numbers with 120 teachers (almost double that of two years ago) and 66 teaching assistants. This gives a teacher to student ratio of 1:10 - very much on the low side, which should ensure individualised teaching for students. Staff turnover, at 14%, is well below the average 20-22% found in international curriculum schools in the UAE.
What about the curriculum?
The school is currently open from Foundation to year 12 and follows the national curriculum for England and Wales. The school offers IGCSE and GCSE for years 10 and 11, to be followed by A level. IGCSE subjects include a wider range of options - Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computer Science, Design Technology - Graphics, Resistant Technology and Textiles, Drama, English, English Literature, French, Geography, History, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Core Physical Education, Physics and Spanish.
AS and A Level subjects include Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Drama, Economics, English, English Literature, French, Further Maths, Geography, History, Mathematics, Music, Psychology, Physical Education, Physics, Sociology and Spanish.
It will be interesting to see how many students continue with their studies to A Level, given that local students will be able to obtain equivalency for university entry in the UAE at the end of Year 12.
The school has changed its original plan to offer a combination of A Levels and the IB Diploma programme - similar to the arrangement which previously existed at Al Bateen Academy, with whom the original Al Mushrif school shared its premises. The staff include specialists in music, art, design technology, home economics, computer aided design and business studies.
What about academic achievement?
Al Mamoura Academy celebrated the achievements of its first cohort of IGCSE exams with a total pass rate of 97%, with 75% of students achieving five 9-5/A*-B Grades. Among those completing their IGCSE studies, 33% of students achieved 9-7 grades (A*/A), while 52% of students achieved 9-6 grades (A*/B). Overall, the academy’s entire cohort of students performed strongly in the subjects of English, with the vast majority achieving a 9-5 grade, in History where 100% of students achieved a 9-7 grade, and in Science with 100% of students achieving 9-6.
Several Year 10 students at Al Mamoura Academy were also entered for English early, with 100% students achieving a grade of 4 or higher. The top performing subjects were English, Science, History and Arabic.
What about facilities?
Al Mamoura School's design is based on one that was developed for an ADEK school in Al Ain, but has been adapted to create a separate section with a very large open indoor space for Foundation Stage children to enable them to take place in a wide range of free play activities supervised by teachers.
The design of the building means that Primary aged children (both boys and girls) are located on the ground floor, whilst the Secondary girls-only section, is located on the upper floor. A wide range of specialist facilities are available for the Secondary students, including the usual range of Science and IT labs.
Find out more about the facilities of the school from our Experience visit.
Spacious outdoor areas cater to both Primary and Secondary children, and a wide range of Sports facilities are also available, including indoor swimming pools and sports halls.
What about Academic achievement?
It is too soon to say how Al Mamoura's students will fare in their public (IGCSE) exams; the first group of students will sit these in June 2019. However, in March 2018, Aldar Academies signed an agreement with education organisation Kumon (Kumon Institute of Education, ltd) to pilot its well-known Maths programme, in collaboration with JODCO (Japan Oil Development Co). The trial will be led by Al Mamoura Academy. Following a successful pilot, Aldar Academies intend to roll the Maths programme out across its other five primary schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. With Aldar Academies taking responsibility for student development and Kumon supplying the pioneering methodology, JODCO’s role will be to support the implementation of the programme within schools. It seems that Al Mamoura is very much expected to lead the way in terms of curriculum development.
What the inspectors say
The first ADEK inspection for Al Mamoura took place in April 2017 when students ranged from FS1 to Year 9. The school was rated Good overall, with Very Good ratings in students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, the protection, care, guidance and support of students and the leadership and management of the school.
The second inspection took place in the 2018-19 academic year when the school again received the Good rating. This is something of a surprise to us at WhichSchooAdvisor.com - in general, Aldar Academies are rated at least Very Good and we would have expected to see similar progression at Al Mamoura.
It is immediately evident from the inspection report that a significant issue at the academy has been that of change of leadership. The introduction to the report notes that "The principal joined the school at the start of the academic year in 2018. Leadership has not been stable, with 3 principals over the last 2 years". It is a commonly held view that leadership of a school is absolutely crucial to its performance, and clearly, the instability at Al Mamoura has had an impact.
On a positive note, however, the inspection report also notes that "Leaders provide very clear strategic direction and there is a high priority for raising standards of students’ achievement from the low attainment of students in most subjects on entry to the school. Students’ achievement is now good in most subjects, and very good overall in the KG in English. Teachers provide a range of motivating and engaging activities with appropriate support and challenge to ensure the different learning needs of most groups are being met.
Students’ achievement in almost all subjects is now good except in science where it is acceptable. Students’ achievement has improved in Arabic First Language, and Arabic Second Language, with improved attainment in Islamic education and social studies.
Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills was again rated Very Good. Inspectors noted that "Students’ highly positive relationships, respectful attitudes and very good behaviour support their learning very well. Students’ appreciation of the values and heritage of UAE, and other world cultures are strong, and they apply these to their own lives. However, students’ social responsibility and contribution to the community are less well developed.
The third key performance standard of Teaching and Assessment was again rated Good. Teachers were found to have good subject knowledge. They plan and use resources well to raise students’ achievement, and to stimulate their interest in learning. Teachers also provide motivating and differentiated activities that foster students’ enjoyment of learning. However, planned activities do not consistently challenge students to think and solve problems independently.
In terms of the Curriculum, this was also rated Good. The inspectors found that well-planned curricular links enable students to transfer their skills across subjects. Good systems are in place to ensure a smooth transition between phases. However, insufficient teaching time is available in science to allow all students to achieve their potential.
Invariably, Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum are the two key performance standards that directly impact Student Achievement - in this case, all three are rated Good. Improvement in Teaching and Assessment will therefore have a direct impact on Student Achievement and will remain the core focus for the school.
The ratings for the remaining two performance standards - the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and Leadership and Management - were both again rated Very Good.
Importantly, the new leadership of the school has established a clear strategic direction with a focus on raising achievement and ensuring that parents, students and staff are clear about their responsibilities. The inspection team noted that "The school’s strategic focus on developing students’ basic skills and knowledge is having a positive impact on students’ achievement in most subjects where it is now good."
Overall, the ADEK inspection report found that the strengths of Al Mamoura Academy were:
In terms of priorities of improvement, Al Mamoura should:
If you would like to read the full ADEK inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to get a more complete understanding of the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
It seems evident that after a somewhat unsettled start from a leadership standpoint, and whilst the school was developing at a rapid pace, Al Mamoura Academy has taken some time to find its feet. Our initial expectations were that the Academy would quickly become a high-performing school, in line with the other Aldar Academies. It seems now from the most recent inspection report that Al Mamoura is finally on track.
We have received very limited responses to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey. If you are a parent, teacher or student at Al Mamoura Academy, please do share your opinions with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey here.
What about the fees?
Fees (adjudged High to Very High by ADEK) for the Academy range from AED 50,210 for FS2 to Year 6, to AED 70,400 for Years 12 and 13.
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