United Arab Emirates / Sharjah / Al Rahmaniyah / Al Resalah American International School

Al Resalah American International School Review

Al Resalah American International School Sharjah (RAIS), part of the Athena Education Group, caters for students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. Established in 2015, RAIS looks to offer a quality American curriculum underpinned by Islamic and Emirati values.
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
No rating
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Status
Open
Opening year
2015
School year
Aug to Jul
Principal
Mr Mohannad Al Jayousi
Owner
Athena Education
Community
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Al Resalah American International School

Al Resalah American International School Review

School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
No rating
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Status
Open
Opening year
2015
School year
Aug to Jul
Principal
Mr Mohannad Al Jayousi
Owner
Athena Education
Community
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Al Resalah American International School Sharjah (RAIS), part of the Athena Education Group, caters for students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. Established in 2015, RAIS looks to offer a quality American curriculum underpinned by Islamic and Emirati values.

The story so far . . .

Al Resalah American International School Sharjah (RAIS) opened in 2015 in Al Rahmaniya, joining three other established Athena Education schools in the Sharjah Emirate (Al Zuhour Private School, Al Wahda Private School, and Al Resalah International School of Science). As part of the Athena Education Group, RAIS seeks to encourage the joy of learning in a cultivating and stress-free environment, where students are encouraged to ask questions and challenge ideas while simultaneously developing their individual talents:

Al Resalah American School is a diverse educational institution that is committed to offering true learning that encourages students to grow into independent individuals who add value to society. Our students are motivated to learn through playing and real experience.

As a group, Athena Education is built on an extensive list of Founding Values, including: treat children as children; learning should be free of stress; examination is for the teachers and not for the children; allow teachers the freedom to innovate; and allow children to connect with the larger society (to name but a few). Ian McNiff, Group Director of Schools for Athena Education, illustrates for parents the values that will filter down into every Athena school, influencing their aims, environment, and community:

With our values of social grace in mind, our commitment towards quality education ensures that each individual student becomes an independent, innovative, socially conscious, creative and confident individual. We want to work in close partnership with the community to ensure that all students have choices and make a positive contribution to their school, family, the local community, UAE and the world at large.

Summing up Athena Education, Founder and Executive Chairman of Athena Education V.N.P. Raj explains that “true learning can only happen through holistic development of the child. Children should have a goal to become creative and be inspired to make something impactful with the resources available to them”. He especially emphasises the value of resilience, as innovation cannot occur without risks, but also highlights the need for children to “cultivate the social values of caring, sharing, and having faith in themselves and others”.

The Athena Education Group also operates five other schools in the Emirate of Dubai: Al Sadiq Islamic English School, Grammar School, Oaktree Primary School, American International School, and International Academic School.

RAIS’s particular vision centres on producing independent, confident learners, who not only achieve beyond curriculum, national, and international standards, but who are tolerant of differences and proud of their cultures and religions. In order to achieve this goal, RAIS’s Mission details how the school can support and influence its students from their earliest schooling days until graduation and beyond:

Our Mission: To uphold and fulfill trust of providing our students with a unique educational experience, inspiring a passion for seeking knowledge, and challenging students to reach and maximize their academic and social potentials. The foundation of our mission is built upon ensuring that our curriculum is developmentally appropriate, student-centered, resource plentiful, and reflective. As a result, our students will be equipped with the necessary skills and guidance to assume their role as productive citizens in the local and global community.

In RAIS’s own opinion, their school offers impressive benefits such as a strong Special Educational Needs department, partnerships with high-performing universities, and highly qualified teachers. And no one champions the school more than its principal, Mr. Mohannad Al Jayousi, who describes RAIS students as independent, creative, and confident learners. As well as being a school that provides a safe and enjoyable learning environment, Mr. Al Jayousi explains that RAIS consistently reviews its curriculum, standards, and plans, to ensure that they are following the most recent practices and innovations in education, meeting all regulations, and addressing the future needs of students.

Something that will particularly appeal to many UAE parents is the school’s strong sense of identity, implementing an American curriculum while still paying due attention to Islamic and Emirati values and culture:

We are all committed to fulfil the vision of the UAE and achieve the goals of the UAE National Agenda. Although we follow the American Curriculum, the Arabic language, Islamic Education and the Emirati values and culture receive great attention from all staff and leadership members in the school.

Meanwhile, another key highlight is the school’s collaborative arrangements with universities, to aid students in a seamless transition out of high school and into higher education (although it should be noted that the school website gives no details as to what these collaborations actually entail or offer students). RAIS currently operates partnerships with universities such as Heriot Watt, the American University in Dubai, the American University of Sharjah, Skyline University College, Aldar University College, City University College of Ajman, and the Creative Media Institute.

The school day at RAIS starts at 8am for all Grades. Grades 1 to 5 finish at 12.30pm, while Grades 6 to 12 finish at 1.30pm. Currently, as a result of Covid-19, Tuesdays are running as on online day each week.

What about the Curriculum?

RAIS follows an American curriculum based on the Common Core Standards, as well as the UAE-prescribed Ministry of Education (MOE) curriculum. In the school’s own words, the curriculum “is designed to help each student become a confident, successful leader and to help him or her integrate into the RAIS social community and the community at large” – to do so, the curriculum scope and sequence is therefore content-focused and adaptive.

The American curriculum is popular around the world because of its practical application and ease of understanding, a result of its Common Core Standards. These Standards aim to successfully prepare students for both university education and future careers, by clearly defining the knowledge and skills students should gain throughout their K-12 education. To ensure students achieve their desired schooling outcomes, these Standards are aligned with university and career expectations, are informed by other top performing countries, and are based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills.

In order to align itself with these standards, RAIS has created its own Outcomes, which detail what students should have learned by the end of three different schooling stages. Each set of Outcomes builds on what has been previously achieved, as well as adding new goals:

KG TO GRADE 1 OUTCOMES

  • Be able to distinguish right from wrong
  • Have the moral integrity and courage to stand up for what is right
  • Know their strengths and areas for growth
  • Be able to cooperate, share, and care for others
  • Have a lively curiosity about things
  • Be able to think for and express themselves confidently
  • Take pride in their work
  • Have healthy habits
  • Have an awareness of the arts
  • Know and love UAE
  • Be accepted into other international schools


GRADE 2 TO GRADE 6 OUTCOMES

  • Have moral integrity
  • Believe in their abilities and be able to adapt to change
  • Be able to work in teams and show empathy for others
  • Be creative and have an inquiring mind
  • Be able to appreciate diverse views and communicate effectively
  • Take responsibility for their own learning
  • Enjoy physical activities and appreciate the arts
  • Believe in the UAE and understand what matters to the UAE
  • Be accepted into other international schools


GRADE 7 TO GRADE 12 OUTCOMES

  • Have the moral courage to stand up for what is right
  • Be resilient in the face of adversity
  • Be able to collaborate across cultures and be socially responsible
  • Be innovative and enterprising
  • Be able to think critically and communicate persuasively
  • Be purposeful in the pursuit of excellence
  • Pursue a healthy lifestyle and have an appreciation for aesthetics
  • Be proud to be part of the UAE and understand the UAE in relation to the world
  • Be accepted into international universities/colleges

The journey to achieve these outcomes starts in Kindergarten, where students take a play-based approach to learning and are exposed to both English and Arabic. These years focus on the core subjects of Mathematics, English, and Science, to introduce students to the school environment and begin to build their foundational knowledge. In addition, children engage with Islam from the outset, learning about the Prophet Mohammad’s wisdom and history.

Once students move into the Elementary School, which covers Grades 1 to 5, the curriculum focuses on student progress, independence, and building knowledge in each content area. More subjects are added to the timetable, including Art, ICT, and PE, as well as MOE-required classes such as Arabic Language, Islamic Studies, Social Studies, and Quran. Even as learning becomes more structured and formal, teachers provide a nurturing experience rooted in developmentally appropriate education, based on students’ individual needs; the classroom teams develop and adapt instructional plans on a regular basis, in order to meet the diverse learning styles of students.

Children then move on to RAIS’s Middle School, which covers Grades 6 to 8. The program in the Middle School is all about fostering skill development and greater independence, building up the foundation necessary for effective functioning in high school and the larger community:

Critical thinking and problem solving skill development are integral components of how the curriculum is executed. Hands-on projects and team building assignments are designed with the purpose of making studies relevant to students and connected to the world around them.

Additionally, students are encouraged to develop effective leadership and negotiation skills when working on projects with peers. They continue with the same subjects from the Elementary School, but delve into them at greater depth and consider them in more complexity.

Finally, students enter the RAIS High School, which covers Grades 9 to 12. The curriculum at this stage builds upon prior skill and content from the Elementary and Middle Schools, remaining firmly rooted in the Common Core Standards and the College Readiness Standards. Teachers continue to use differentiated instructional approaches for each student, based on their learning style, strengths, and areas that need support – as a result, expectations for achievement are high:

A hallmark of our program is the early recognition, and consistent re-evaluation of student strengths and interests as a way of engaging students in high level curricular study. Students are challenged to pursue learning in creative ways, and to actively collaborate, communicate and cooperate with classmates and teachers.

To graduate from RAIS, students must complete a minimum of 21 academic credits in the core subjects of English, Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, Physical Education, and ICT – to complete the credits, students must score at least 60% in each subject. They must also complete all MOE requirements in Arabic and Islamic Studies, and sit any required standardised tests, such as the SATs, IELTS, and TOEFL.

In addition to the core subjects, students will also have the chance to take a number of different electives as well. While the subjects available may vary each year, past and current subjects have included English; Mathematics; General Science; Physics; Chemistry; Biology; Physical Education; UAE Social Studies; UAE Government; Moral Education; Islamic; Arabic; Accounting; Business; Economics; ICT; Marketing; Robotics; Journalism; Creative Writing; Introduction to Art; Introduction to Programming; and Health and Nutrition. 

While the focus at RAIS certainly seems to be on academics, the school does not neglect the extra-curricular activities that help students develop in a well-rounded manner. Current available extra-curriculars include Quran Club, Philanthropy Club, Environmental Club, Art Club, Arabic Calligraphy, Robotics Club, English Literacy Club (which includes Theatre, Newsletters, and Film Club), Speech and Debate, Sports Clubs, and Chess Club. Students can also take on leadership positions by running for the Student Council, and the whole school comes together to celebrate cultural and charity events such as World Food Day, Breast Cancer Awareness, National Day, and Eid.

What about Inclusion?

RAIS singles out its Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Department as one of the school’s key strengths, and Athena Education as a group has a detailed Inclusion Policy for all of its schools. At RAIS, inclusion is led by Ahmed Mohsen, the Head of Wellbeing, who is responsible for implementing Athena’s vision of becoming a truly inclusive group which values quality learning for all students in a sustainable, healthy, and safe education environment:

At Athena Inclusion we believe that barriers to learning should be addressed, accommodated or removed for those who experience them, in a caring and supportive environment. We believe that Emirati pupils should be recognised and valued in line with the UAE National Agenda.

The central tenets of the RAIS Inclusion Policy state that all students should be able to access the mainstream curriculum through the medium of English, and that high quality teaching (differentiated for individual students) is the first step in response to SEND requirements. RAIS provides support for students with any of the following needs: behavioural, social, or emotional; sensory (such as visual or hearing impairments); physical disabilities; medical conditions or health-related disabilities; speech and language disorders; or communication and interaction.

All teachers at the school are considered to be SEND teachers at a basic level, and work alongside the Inclusion Department, specialist teachers, parents, and students to draw up cross-curricular targets which aim to support the individual in need. They also outline proposed strategies for learning, as well as identifying and supporting students who need extra time for internal and external examinations.

Finally, teachers and members of the Inclusion Department are also responsible for appropriately supporting and challenging students who meet the Gifted and Talented criteria:

Many of our students display exceptional gifts & talents and to ensure that they reach their full potential it is important to nurture cognitive abilities at a high academic standard and to promote development of physical or creative excellence.

At RAIS, identification of Gifted and Talented students is based not on achievement but on ability. This is because the school recognises that some children may underachieve due to a variety of reasons such as peer pressure, behavioural issues, special educational needs, or being reluctant learners. Consequently, staff are expected to be aware of this and look for hidden talents, using both qualitative and quantitative information.

There are three primary teaching approaches to ensure that RAIS is meeting the needs of Gifted and Talented students: Accelerated, Enrichment, and Extension (the Athena group focuses particularly on Enrichment and Extension as its two main strategies):

  1. Accelerated – consists of enabling pupils to access work which would typically be for older pupils. This can occur through moving pupils up a year or through simply giving them work which would usually be given to older pupils.
  2. Enrichment – consists of broadening a pupil’s education. This can consist of enabling a pupil to study aspects of a topic that there would not normally be time to study or adding extra subjects to the curriculum.
  3. Extension – occurs when pupils are encouraged to develop more sophisticated thinking and reasoning skills.

The school website provides parents with direct contact details for the Wellbeing Leaders. The detailed Inclusion Policy is available in both English and Arabic on the website as well, which covers not only the school’s SEND provisions, but also offers detailed explanations of the school’s responsibilities, how teachers should approach pastoral care roles, and language and advice for both teachers and parents who are speaking to children about safeguarding issues.

For parents who wish to find out more about Athena Education Group’s SEND provisions, they can sign up to the Athena Parent Inclusion Portal and monthly newsletter. The Athena Inclusion community is made up of inclusion practitioners, parents, students, teachers, and leaders who are “dedicated to fully understanding our students to ensure that we provide for their needs in a wholistic and effective manner through professional growth and development in shared practice and consistent upskilling”.

All of the Athena schools welcome applications from ‘students of determination’ (as SEND students are commonly known) and those with specific learning difficulties. While it is advised that applicants and existing students should declare any known disabilities or specific learning difficulties at the earliest opportunity, this is not a barrier to enrolment, but rather a way to ensure that they are recognised and provided with all of the possible entitlements and support available. 

What about Academic Achievement?

As is common with many schools in the UAE, RAIS has not made its examination results available to the public. 

What the Inspectors Say

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 (DLE), implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), RAIS’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Partially Developed.

Inspectors commended RAIS on ensuring that students “attend and actively participate in online lessons where they experience a variety of teaching methodologies which enable them to connect with their peers and their teachers in meaningful ways”. Teachers were further praised for covering essential content in all key subjects, routinely sharing learning outcomes with both parents and students, and providing them with regular feedback about their work using school rubrics. Finally, inspectors were satisfied that the school’s planning was being regularly reviewed, that necessary modifications were being made, and that a detailed contingency plan was in place for future scenarios to meet the different needs of students.

However, the report also gave a number of suggested areas for development. Firstly, inspectors suggested that RAIS ensure that all students were fully aware of online safety issues and knew who to contact in the event of concerns about cyber safety. They also suggested that the school ensure students’ ability to access distance learning and that the development of their ICT skills was equal across all grades. The evaluation then went on to propose a wider range of in-class learning activities, and noted that teachers should ensure students could manage their workloads appropriately. Finally, the report suggested that RAIS invest time in further facilitation of parent support networks, “to ensure clarity of roles and to address their concerns”, and that school leadership develop the provision of training and resources to teachers “to support their planning and delivery 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.

What about Facilities?

The RAIS campus occupies a number of large, sandy coloured buildings; being only a little over five years old, the school facilities are new and unworn (the spacious school lobby is especially impressive). The classrooms and corridors are bright and colourful, decorated with student work and teaching aids. Students have individual desks and access to interactive whiteboards in each classroom. There is also a shaded outdoor field for gatherings and sports. 

The Buzz

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com currently has no reviews available for RAIS.

If you are a parent, teacher, or senior student at RAIS, please share your experience with other potential members of your school community by taking part in our survey.

For parents who wish to get involved in their child’s education, there are detailed weekly plans available on the school website, which outline things like what classes students are taking and what topics are being covered. Parents can also use these plans to see what work is being completed during class and what is expected to be done at home, as well as any assessments, projects, or related extra-curricular activities taking place.

RAIS uses Class Dojo to connect teachers with students and parents outside of school. This online system allows teachers, parents, and students to showcase work, share photos and videos, and ultimately “build amazing classroom communities”. Parents can also review the Athena Online Learning Guidance, which provides detailed information on distance learning and how to support and engage their children with online lessons.

What about Fees?

Grades

New Fees 2021-22

KG1

14,527

KG2

14,527

Gr.1

18,485

Gr.2

18,485

Gr.3

18,887

Gr.4

20,665

Gr.5

20,665

Gr.6

21,001

Gr.7

22,155

Gr.8

24,135

Gr.9

24,135

Gr.10

25,325

Gr.11

27,825

Gr.12

28,870

Parents must pay an AED 500 registration fee for each child; the school website does not provide details of what exactly is included in the tuition fees and what must be purchased additionally eg. stationery or uniform. However, it is confirmed that RAIS runs a bus service for Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain. These fees are paid separately and vary depending on distance:

  • Sharjah: AED 4,000 yearly or AED 400 monthly
  • Ajman: AED 4,500 yearly or AED 450 monthly
  • Umm Al Quwain: AED 5,000 yearly or AED 500 monthly

RAIS offers a number of different discounts that parents can take advantage of. For example, a sibling discount is available for tuition fees, where parents can claim a 3% discount on their second child and a 5% discount from their third child onwards. Military/police personnel, medical personnel, and new admissions to Pre-KG, KG1, and KG2 are all eligible for a 3% discount. Finally, parents who complete the full payment of fees before 31 August can claim a 3% discount; parents who complete the full payment before 31 July (or before the end of the month from the date of admission in the case of mid-term admissions) can claim a 3% discount.

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