Al Mawahib British Private School is a Cambridge International curriculum school that combines a British curriculum with an Islamic Education. Al Mawahib is currently open for FS1 to Year 9, with plans to open Years 10 and 11 and to offer IGCSEs.
Founded in 2004 and located in the Halwan area of Sharjah, Al Mawahib aims to provide an inclusive education that fosters students’ confidence, self-discipline, and creativity. The school seeks to develop talented students with the help of dedicated staff and committed management, in order to set them on a course for life-long, self-motivated learning, and success in the global 21st century.
Al Mawahib presents its key aims on the school’s website as to:
So, why should parents and their children choose Al Mawahib? Well, according to the school, students will benefit from:
A particular priority of the school is the implanting of growth mindsets, in which students “are trained to enjoy challenges, embrace their mistakes as part of the learning process, value the importance of effort, respond carefully to feedback and take inspiration from others”. The school states that growth mindsets develop when students learn collaboratively, take on challenges and risks, make new connections with design thinking, make mistakes and learn from them, and persevere until the succeed.
The school’s Chairman, Omar Taher Al Hammadi, believes that “any society requires the experience in educating and nurturing the younger generation to a good upbringing in order for them to advance”. To this end, Al Mawahib is dedicated to building close relationships with parents and the wider community, so that they can help students to cultivate values of tolerance and respect for all races and cultures.
“The core of [the] Al Mawahib experience is positive communication and collaborative relationships.”
The school’s principal, Aisha Ansari, echoes these hopes for her students in her own welcome message:
“We strongly support student wellbeing and promote a school environment that permits individuals to thrive as they work towards achieving their personal best in all they attempt . . . They mature into enterprising young people with highly developed analytical, communication and discerning skills during their journey with the school, ready to take their place as future leaders, who are result oriented and mindful of others in every manner.”
At the fore of this effort are the school’s teachers, who are described as “dedicated professionals” who provide opportunities to learn in innovative and creative ways; as well as being supportive and compassionate, the school also notes that its staff is ethnically diverse.
“They take great pride in providing a safe and secure learning environment and are committed to establishing a school atmosphere that allows students to flourish and grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially.”
Although the school website doesn’t give any exact numbers, it states that teacher-student ratios are small, to ensure individual attention and support to each student, with an emphasis on well-being, developing leaderships, and identifying the innate potential within each child.
In line with the school’s core values of Empathy, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, and Tolerance, this approach promotes the idea that every child matters. This seems especially important at a school that seems to push for academic excellence:
“We set challenging personal targets to ensure that every student achieves the highest possible academic standards to prepare them for successful careers and future happiness.”
Some parents may worry that such high standards for students could ultimately do more harm than good, but Al Mawahib believes that this approach allows each student to “develop a true sense of self-worth which will enable them succeed and help them to be tolerant, empathetic contributors to the world and society”.
Pastoral care at Al Mawahib seems to be another big area of focus, with emphasis on social skills, personal health, and emotional support:
“We create a safe and welcoming environment where students and staff are respected and valued. All students have the right to speak freely and voice their values and beliefs. They are encouraged to respect each other’s values and support each other. They have the right to be supported to meet their emotional, and social needs as well as their educational needs.”
Al Mawahib is a Cambridge assessment and examination school. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) programme is used for FS1 and FS2, and is followed by the Cambridge Primary programme for Years 1 to 6. Students in Years 7 to 9 follow the Cambridge Secondary programme, with plans to offer IGCSEs in Years 10 and 11 – although no specific timeline for this development has been confirmed. The school also uses the Ministry of Education syllabus for Arabic, Islamic Education, UAE Social Studies, and Moral Education throughout all year groups.
In Al Mawahib’s own words, the Cambridge curriculum allows the school to:
“ensure students acquire 21st century skills and applying these skills meaningfully . . . Modern teaching strategies and technologies and innovative student engagement practices ensure that students are challenged to think critically, analyses [sic] and process information to problem solve effectively. They are trained to readily face the next challenges of the real world, well equipped with the necessary skills set.”
Beginning with the early years, children in the Foundation Stage learn through first-hand experience and structured play activities. The EYFS curriculum identifies the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that children should acquire in seven key areas of learning: Communication and Language; Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World; Physical Development; Personal, Social, and Emotional Development; and Expressive Arts and Design.
The EYFS curriculum also focuses on enabling students to develop their fine and gross motor skills, acquire independence, and amplify their social skills through play. In addition, Al Mawahib’s approach to provide a caring, supportive atmosphere creates “a calm, intensive experience for the child”. By providing a safe space in which to learn and develop, Al Mawahib aims for every child to develop their social and collaborative skills, to be independent and confident, and to foster a progressive, enthusiastic approach to learning.
Following on from EYFS, Al Mawahib follows the Cambridge Primary programme, which focuses on developing skills and knowledge in Mathematics, English, and Science. This programme is based around learning objectives for these three key subjects, but also introduces new subjects and extra-curricular opportunities to support well-round development.
Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), for example, begins to involve children in their learning process, and to explore different cultures and backgrounds. It’s at this stage that Arabic, Islamic Education, UAE Social Studies, Humanities, Art, Physical Education, Moral Education, and ICT are introduced; English focuses on Literacy and Language, while Mathematics and Science begin to look at application in real life.
Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6) introduces students to more independent and investigative activities, to support the development of cognitive skills. As well as embedded reading practices, problem-solving, and enquiry-based learning, Key Stage 2 encourages children to develop more holistically, through community service, field trips, and leadership opportunities.
Key Stage 3 (Years 7 to 9) aims to produce “compassionate global citizens who are creative, vibrant and ready to make a difference wherever [sic] they interact”. It’s at this point that their education focuses not just on their personal achievement, but how they may contribute more widely and thrive beyond school:
“Value based education in an animated and motivating environment ensures that students are well prepared for their academic endeavours as well as the future challenges of higher education.”
At this stage, students take Arabic, Islamic Education, English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities, Art, PE, ICT, and Moral Education, and at the end of Year 9 are guided in choosing their IGCSE subjects. However, Al Mawahib does not currently have an operating Year 10 or 11, and has published no further news as to when it may open.
The school website does not offer a list of extra-curricular clubs, but does mention that such activities, along with other community activities, are available to “promote a culture of mutual respect and collaboration in and outside school”. The school website provides a detailed guide to packed lunches, with rules around what foods should or shouldn’t be provided i.e. a ban on sweets, crisps etc., and mentions that throughout their time at school, students experience “a variety of physical activities such as rhythmic, aerobics, games, athletics, and outdoor activities”. It certainly seems that Al Mawahib’s expectations are high, and focus on developing balanced, well-rounded individuals, who can excel in all areas of life.
Al Mawahib offers very little information about SEN (Special Educational Needs) provision on its website.
There is one mention of gifted and talented programmes, but beyond a short recording of a classroom, there are no further details given on these. The only other mention of extra provision is in relation to the initial interview, which is part of the process for admission to the school. It is said that this interview is “designed to confirm that Al Mawahib has the expertise, skills, and capacity to meet the identified needs of each student”.
It seems that any parents seeking SEN support will need to have one-on-one discussions with the school, to find out what its team can provide.
Like most schools in Sharjah, there is no public record of academic achievement from Al Mawahib.
The only mention of student achievement on the school’s website is a short video of a student receiving an International Recognition Award, with honors in Arabic at the Middle East level, as part of the International Exam for non-Arabic speakers.
Unlike schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah schools have not participated in regulatory inspections on a regular basis; while there were a few instances of inspections being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, schools did not generally publish the outcomes. With the initiation of SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority), the intention is that schools will be inspected using the common framework already in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, SPEA has decided to seek a collaborative approach with the schools for this process, and although we understand that initial inspections did take place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, results of these inspections have not been published.
As a result of the pandemic, Sharjah schools have participated in Distance Learning Evaluations, implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), Al Mawahib’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Partially Developed.
Inspectors noted that “attendance and participation in lessons is encouraged which generally supports continued learning in key subjects. Students have access to online and off-line learning activities and resources to enable them to continue with their learning at home”. They were also confident that students were “provided with clear learning outcomes and teachers deliver the essential subject content within live lessons. Students receive regular feedback and teachers provide flexibilities with the submission of assignments and homework to take account of home circumstances”.
However, there were a number of areas that inspectors felt needed development.
Firstly, inspectors felt that the school needed to provide more guidelines for students for how to stay safe online, and provide further support for students’ IT skills; this was a particular concern for primary students, who inspectors felt may be missing out on equality of access to distance learning provisions.
Inspectors also stated the need for a greater variety of learning approaches to support students’ wellbeing. It was felt the school needed to do more to enable students to connect with the peers and friends, and also provide a better balance of learning approaches, such as planned time away from screen-based learning, physical activities, and breaks.
The review further suggested that Al Mawahib provide parents with more information as well, so that they could understand their role in supporting learning and where to access parental support networks if needed.
Finally, the review asked that the school think more in terms of long-term planning, going beyond just the current year and putting plans in place for the continuation of distance learning.
If you would like to read the full inspection report – which we strongly advise you to do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings – you will find it here.
Despite the plain white exterior walls, Al Mawahib is “equipped with state-of-the-art leisure facilities and sport equipment”, as well as “the latest educational technology and laboratory devices developed in all sections using the latest advancement in today’s world”.
Al Mawahib describes its campus as having a homelike quality, to create a relaxed, focused atmosphere. Indoor classrooms are designed with open shelves for activities, so that things of interest are always at hand to inspire students. Outdoors, the school offers a developed playground with manipulatives, tricycles, and gardens.
Facilities at Al Mawahib include: ICT labs; interactive writing boards in classrooms; fully equipped science labs; school library and media centre; play areas including covered sand pits and a shaded courtyard; a specially designed play area for EYFS students, with climbing frames and slides; and a multipurpose auditorium.
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Fees at Al Mawahib range from AED 13,520 for FS1 and FS2 up to AED 19,920 for Years 9. These totals include the cost of books (between AED 1,000 and AED 1,500, depending on year group) and uniform (AED 420 for all years).
There is also an extra discount available for memorising the Holy Quran. Students can qualify for a 1% to 5% discount, depending on how much of the Quran they have memorised.
Fees are paid in four instalments throughout the year and there is a non-refundable registration fee of AED 500. A 5% discount is also available on full cash payments.
Al Mawahib is a selective school, with assessments for new students. Early Years students undergo an assessment of social skills, motor skills, and cognitive skills, followed by a meeting with the parents. Students applying for Years 1 to 9 are required to pass entrance exams in English and Mathematics, and are then invited to attend an interview with the respective Supervisor, to determine their abilities to deal with the demands of the Cambridge curriculum.
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