Al Mawakeb School is a private, K-12 school (3 to 18 years of age) located in Al Garhoud, Dubai. The school is one of three campuses located in Dubai (the others are based in Barsha and Al Khawaneej) managed by Academia Management Solution International (AMSI).
Al Mawakeb School Garhoud school was established in 1979 and is the oldest of three schools all bearing the same name. The Al Barsha school was the second to be established, and was joined by the newest, at Al Khawaneej, in 2018. The Garhoud school currently has approximately 2,600 students from a range of backgrounds and nationalities, but just over one in seven come from local Emirati families. The school has students from some 60 nationalities, the majority of whom are from Arab countries.
Students are supported by some 157 teachers and 5 teaching assistants, the majority of whom are Lebanese nationals. This provides a staff:student ratio of 1:18 - around the average for many more affordable international schools in Dubai, but one which can place considerable demands on staff. Staff turnover in 2019, at 24%, is on the higher side of average, and means that the school is having to replace 1 in four teachers - a not entirely positive sign in terms of stability at the school. The Principal has been in post since 2014.
According to the school's website, the Mision of Al Mawakeb School Garhoud is "In a complex and rapidly changing world, we will steadfastly provide an excellent education in a caring and respectful environment dedicated to the wellbeing and happiness of all students."
Its Vision includes the following statement "We are committed to developing [students'] 21st century skills and building students to become well-rounded, goal-driven and holistic individuals who are advocates of multiculturalism and are capable of solving global, local, and environmental issues. We will challenge students to take personal responsibility for their own learning and to apply their learning to a diverse and changing world."
The school follows a US curriculum which is structured to integrate the school core values, the UAE curricula (Arabic, Islamic Education, Social Studies, & Moral Education), as well as Islamic values and the UAE culture into the American curriculum. Science, Mathematics, and English curricula are based on Next Generation Science Standards, and Massachusetts State Standards for Maths and English Standards and while other other subjects.
For Middle and High School students, the curriculum delivery is supported with various learning resources including exposure to STEM labs and 3D printing. The lab is equipped with tools and technologies needed for students to answer complex questions, investigate global issues, and develop solutions for challenges and real world problems by integrating four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. However, despite these facilities, the KHDA inspection raises concerns about the level of support that the facilities offer.
Interestingly, the school teaches a mixed curriculum with students learning English, French and Arabic within kindergarten, whilst students in Grades 10 to 12 study a modified US curriculum (equivalent to a US grade 12 Diploma). The school's programme (with three languages from KG to Grade 12) enables the students to develop their language skills and reading literacy from an early age, as French is emphasised in KG and a strong foundation is laid, whilst from Grades 1 to 12, the curriculum is delivered in English as the language of instruction. Students receive differentiated Arabic and French lessons across the school.
The school (as now required for all previously unaccredited US curriculum schools in Dubai) is a member of NEASC (New England Association of School and Colleges) accreditation - a means by which it is ensured that schools are genuinely delivering an accepted and quality-controlled US programme and that their High School Diploma is recognised by colleges and universities both within the USA and internationally.
Previously, some subjects were omitted from the core curriculum, particularly arts, music and physical education. It seems that the school endeavours to incorporate these and other activities through its range of extra-curricular clubs and activities which include Scouts, Student Council, Drama, Folklore, Art, Varsity Sports, Broadcast Station, Piano, Computer Club, Photography Club, Commité de Français, The Science Club, The Math Club, Astronomy Club, Earth Calling Out (Environment Club), Robotics, The Business Club and The Humanitarian Club among others.
The school extends its sports activities to varsity teams for girls and boys including basketball, volleyball, track and field, table tennis and football. All clubs are under direct staff supervision and guidance by staff and teachers and generally take place after school hours.
The school offers Advance Placement courses for students seeking to enter university in the USA and assesses students' abilities through standardised MAP testing.
The school profile provides details of university destinations for its students, many of which are in the US, USA, Canada and across the Middle East.
Located in the busy Garhoud area of Dubai, facilities at Al Mawakeb include a library, science and computer labs, a STEM lab, art workshops and a school clinic. However, the most recent KHDA report notes that "the library, the science laboratories and the learning technology resources do not sufficiently support students’ research and inquiry-based learning." In addition, classrooms are also deemed to be "not conducive to personalised learning."
The school is located on a large, green site in single storey and low-rise buildings with extensive outdoor areas. The school also is a recognized SAT exam centre for students who wish to enter college.
The school was rated Good for the sixth year in a row in the 2019-20 KHDA inspection round which took place just prior to the Covid 19 pandemic. An ongoing achievement of the same overall rating suggests a school that whilst clearly implementing incremental improvements - the inspection process is more rigorous each year - is not making the step change needed to really elevate its performance (and more importantly, those of its students) to the next level of achievement.
What is however evident is that the Senior section of the school is improving more rapidly than the KG, Elementary and Middle school sections. The majority of ratings for Student achievement in the Senior school for English, Maths and Science are Very Good and the rating for the Personal and Social Development and Innovation Skills for both Middle and High school students is Outstanding - a rare achievement. However, until Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum standards are raised above Good where they currently stand, it is difficult to see how Student achievement - and the overall school rating - can reach the next level.
Strengths of the school were identified as:
The KHDA inspection team produced a comprehensive list of recommendations to be implemented by the school including the need to:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received very limited feedback to its Parent Survey. The small number who have responded are generally satisfied, rating the school 3.6/5 - or a positivity rating of 72%. However, this is too small a sample to be representative of the whole school.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Al Mawakeb School Al Garhoud, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community and complete our Survey here.
Some 985 students completed the KHDA's pre-inspection survey. Most students had a very positive sense of well-being and optimism, although roughly one third experienced worries at times. Most felt connected to adults at the school, and to friends, and felt a sense of belonging. Most felt positively about their academic pursuits. Students valued their friendships highly.
206 parents also completed the pre-inspection survey of whom 86 declared themselves satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. Most parents were satisfied with the school, with the teachers and with their children’s learning. Some questioned whether or not the school offered good value for money. Almost one fifth stated that parents’ views were not heard as well as they would like them to be. While parents had virtually no concerns for safety or inclusion, a significant minority felt that they ddi not have enough access to appropriate information. Nearly three quarters of parents said that they were not involved in school activities more than once or twice a year.
Al Mawakeb Garhoud is a Good school that the majority of teachers, parents and students clearly like and trust. On its journey to school improvement, however, there are clearly issues to be addressed. After six years as a Good school, the challenge will be for the leadership to raise the quality of teaching and its impact on student outcomes to move up to the next level. Progress is being made, but it is at a steady rather than fast pace. It may be some time before the school is able to reach the next level, assuming that its owner and staff are willing to invest the time, money and energy required to do so.
Fees at the school are in the low to mid-range, but hide some substantial additional non-optional costs. Tuition fees in KG are AED 14,540, but with the addition of books, uniforms and extra-curricular activities, the total fees are over AED 21,000. By grade 12, where tuition fees are a very reasonable AED 23,570, the addition of non-optional costs of approx. AED 18,000 raises the total to over AED 43,000.
Al Mawakeb School Al Garhoud is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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