Al Nahda National School for Boys is a Grade 4 to Grade 12 school located in Abu Dhabi. Younger children from KG-Grade 3 are co-located in the mixed gender Primary School located at the Girls' School campus. The school was established in September 1983 and offers the UK curriculum from Grade 4 and an additional US curriculum option from Grade 9.
The story so far...
Al Nahda National Schools is a private school group on Abu Dhabi Island, founded in 1983 by Emirati businessman and entrepreneur Saeed Al-Junaibi. Unusually, the school offers both the British (Cambridge-based) curriculum from KG to Grade 12 and the American (Virginia State Common Core) curriculum from Grade 9, with students choosing which to follow for their school leaving qualifications.
The school states that its Vision is "Everyone engages, everyone reflects, everyone learns".
The school's Mission Statement is: "Al Nahda National Schools are committed to engaging students to connect their knowledge and understanding to develop the whole learner. We value diversity and model acceptance of all cultures within the school, UAE, and international communities of the world".
The school is divided into three campuses: a Boys' campus (for boys in grade 4 and above), a Girls' campus (for girls Grade 7 and above), and a Primary campus (for all children below Grade 4, and Girls up to Grade 6). Information related to the younger Boys' campus is on the Al Nahda School for Girls website.
In total Al Nahda National Schools educates approximately 6,500 students across the three campuses. The Boys' campus has some 2,500 students. Some 30% of students are Emirati, followed by Jordanian (16%), Egyptian (15%) and Syrian (9%). Approximately 1% of students have SEND requirements - the ADEK inspection report for 2018 notes that "The protection, care, guidance and support of students is good. Students with special educational needs (SEN) and those who are gifted and talented(G&T) are accurately identified".
The school does not provide much information about staffing. The majority of staff appear to be from Arab countries, but the Director of the Girls' campus, Cassandra Dyson, Principal of the Girls' campus, Sandra Zaher and Principal of the Boys' campus, Kevin Brown, appear to have rather more Anglican backgrounds.
In total, the Boys School employs some 150 teachers. With a staff turnover rate of 11%, it would seem that teachers are happy with their employment - the UAE average in international schools is around 20-22%. The staff:student ratio of 1:17 is a reasonable level to ensure that students receive individual attention as necessary.
What about the curriculum?
As mentioned in our introduction, unusually, Al Nahda Schools offer a dual curriculum with students following a common UK curriculum programme until Grade 8. At this point, on entry to Grade 9, students choose between the UK curriculum based IGCSE programme, followed by AS and A Level in Grades 11 and 12, or a US curriculum, based on the Virginia State Common Core Standards, leading to a US High School Diploma.
The school states that "the academic courses are designed to expose all students to a wide range of creative, social, scientific and athletic experiences. These would not only help them to discover their own unknown strengths and develop new ones, but also lead them to appreciate the diverse skills and talents of their peers".
The school is accredited by the Council of International Schools, the European Council of International Schools, NEASC - the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (with whom the US High School Diploma is accredited), the Cambridge International Examinations Board and Edexcel Board (for accreditation of the UK curriculum and through whom the IGCSE, GCSE and AS/A Level examinations are conducted). The school is also a test centre for SAT (the US pre-college entry examinations), and TOEFL and IELTS (both offering English-language testing for College entry).
Al Nahda National Schools says that it believes in the necessity of offering a curriculum that disciplines and encourages the intellectual growth of students in order to prepare them to pursue higher studies. "Our academic program emphasizes a broad [board sic] foundation and in depth knowledge in various areas including Languages, Mathematics, Sciences, Humanities, Information Technology, Islamic Studies, Physical Education, Music and Art. Languages include Arabic, English, Urdu and French".
Students following the UK curriculum sit for Advanced Level at the end of Grade 12 in a maximum of four subjects. The selection of AS and A Level subjects is made on the basis of performance at IGCSE.
For the IGCSE exams, compulsory subjects are English, Mathematics, and UAE Ministry of Education curriculum Arabic and Islamic Studies for Grades 9 and 10. The students may then choose from a range of other subjects including English Literature, Computer Studies, Information Technology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Accounting, Business Studies, Sociology, Arabic, French, Urdu, and Art and Design.
All students also sit the common exam for Arabic and Islamic Studies (for Arabs and Non-Arabs) held by the Ministry of Education at the end of Grade 12 to equalize their High School Diploma with the UAE official Secondary Certificate (Thaniwiyah).
The US curriculum programme is designed to provide students with a broad, but solid educational foundation. In addition to Arabic and Islamic Studies, other subjects include English, Mathematics, Computer Studies, Sciences, Sociology, French, Psychology, and Art and Design, which are taught in English up to Grade 12.
High School students graduate after a satisfactory completion of the course of the chosen High School curriculum. In addition, students are required to pass the TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 61 and SAT1 Mathematics with a minimum score of 400. Similar to the students following the UK curriculum, US curriculum students also sit for the common exam for Arabic & Islamic Studies for Arabs and Non Arabs held by the Ministry of Education at the end of Grade 12. This is a prerequisite to equalize their High School Diploma with the UAE official Secondary Certificate (Thaniwiyah).
Little information is provided in regard to Extra-curricular or co-curricular activities.
What about Academic Achievement?
The 2018 ADEK inspection report notes that students participated in a range of international tests and examinations and found that the Programme for International Students’ Assessments (PISA) mock results for 2018 were above Abu Dhabi national averages for students studying the British curriculum. For those studying the American curriculum, students were above average in Mathematics and Science, but below in reading.
According to ADEK, 2017 International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) results showed good attainment in Arabic, weak in English and very good attainment in Mathematics and Science. Attainment was weak in Mathematics and Science at Advanced Subsidiary (AS) levels. Students studying Advanced (A) levels attained good results in Mathematics and Chemistry, very good in Biology, but weak results in Physics.
Unfortunately, Al Nahda National Schools does not publish the examination results of its students.
What about facilities?
According to ADEK, the school is well resourced and includes a range of specialist facilities including science and IT laboratories, music and art rooms.
What the inspectors say
The 2018 ADEK inspection took place in May 2018 and Al Nahda National School for Boys was again rated Good. All six key performance standards - Students' Achievement, Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills, Teaching and Assessment, Curriculum, the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and Leadership and Management achieved a Good rating.
Although the overall rating was unchanged from the previous inspection in 2016, inspectors found that Senior leaders had made improvements and had sustained good standards overall. Students’ achievement had been raised in social studies, English and non-core subjects which were rated Good overall. The curriculum had been reviewed and streamlined, ensuring work is well matched to most students’ learning needs and age. SEN and Gifted and Talented students are now accurately identified, with assessment procedures more effective and able to provide reliable information about students’ achievements, although data is still not systemically bench-marked by all leaders. Most teachers ensured that lessons promote group work as well as independent learning, although lessons still did not effectively promote students’ critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation skills in lessons. Despite these shortcomings, overall, inspectors agreed that the progress made in raising and sustaining good standards demonstrated that leaders have good capacity to further improve the school.
The strengths of the school were identified as:
Areas for improvement were found to include the requirement to:
Al Nahda School for Boys is clearly a school that is steadily improving, offering a solid academic option for students who are diverse in their abilities and requirements, with curricula that offer progression to universities in both the UAE and overseas. This is done at a moderate fee range; something that the school's founder was determined to ensure.
Fees range from AED 18,100 in Grade 4 to AED 23,900 for the US curriculum and AED 26,800 for students following the UK curriculum in Grade 12. Additional costs include Books which range from AED 910 to AED 2,080. This is a low to medium fee range, based on ADEK's assessment.
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