Al Rowad British Private School (APBS) is a British curriculum school currently offering places from KG1/FS2 to Grade 9/Year 10. Al Rowad opened its secondary school in August 2020.
Located in the Al Azra area of Sharjah, Al Rowad British Private School (APBS) aims to provide “a safe and supportive environment in which students can develop academically, socially, spiritually, emotionally and physically into global citizens who can face the challenges of the future”.
Although Al Rowad currently runs from FS2 to Year 10, the school has confirmed plans to add additional year groups in the coming years (although no exact dates or timelines have been given). However, regardless of a student’s age, Al Rowad looks to help all pupils develop:
Al Rowad cites its core values as Honesty, Trust, Integrity, Empathy, Transparency, Quality, and Wellbeing, and seeks to integrate these into every part of the school environment. In the school’s own words:
“Al Rowad is a school of opportunities; a place where children are challenged to become their best, to discover new talents and interests and to develop a global outlook, within a safe and nurturing community”.
The school’s website certainly makes clear the aims and approaches of the school, both for students and for the staff who educate them. Al Rowad states that its mission is to provide:
At the head of this endeavour is principal Mr. Philip Larkin, who recently joined the school in 2021.
Most important to the school is that students “are allowed to grow and mature in a safe, creative and holistic environment that is constantly changing to meet their needs”.
In order to facilitate this, Al Rowad is home to “experienced international educators”, who strive to encourage children’s national curiosity and love of learning, taking great care to support each child’s social and emotional growth. Al Rowad sees its approach to education as providing “vibrant student-centred environments where inquiry-based approaches are balanced with direct teaching”.
At the heart of this are the six key learning skills, which the school believes are the key to becoming a good learner: being focused; being brave; working together and supporting each other; being good at solving problems; being reflective; taking pride in the work produced.
Al Rowad uses the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and follows the National Curriculum for England. Although no information has been provided yet about the curriculum post-Year 10, we would expect the school to offer international GCSE and AS/A-Levels, in line with most other UK curriculum schools in the UAE.
The National Curriculum for England is a popular curriculum with a global perspective, and the school believes that a “successful curriculum is the key to any child’s accelerated learning and progress. In addition, it enhances the children’s enjoyment and valuing of education. It leads to the child’s independent ability as a life-long learner and encourage participation in further and higher education”.
Principal Lana Koyi explains that her staff “endeavor to provide each student with a curriculum which both challenges and inspires them to reach their individual potential . . . We aim to provide a curriculum through which children look forward to coming to school every day and go home telling of their experiences and learning”.
At the heart of the EYFS curriculum is “learning that will build their confidence, introduce them to new experiences and give them the freedom to grow into socially prepared young people”. Teachers deliver a play-based curriculum to students in order to help them “develop a positive attitude towards themselves, their peers and the school”.
The EYFS and UK curriculum focuses on the study of the core subjects (English, Maths, and Science) throughout Early Years and primary sections, to strongly develop foundational skills that prepare students for learning in all content areas. For example, the school newsletter shows FS2 students engaged in tasks like drawing and building, while students in Years 2 to 5 continue this alongside basic science experiments and dress-up days. By the upper primary years and the start of secondary, students are taking on more challenging, but still fun, activities like using lab equipment and trying their hand at cooking.
In their study of Language Arts, teachers believe that students should learn not only the basics of the alphabet and phonology, but learn “to comprehend and analyze what they are reading”. By instructing students in context as well as skills, students are enabled in developing their language skills through drawing, dictation, and writing in order to express opinions, relate events, or provide information. Similarly, speaking practice goes beyond the basics and instructs students in the use of academic language, so they can thrive in their study at any grade level.
It’s clear that Al Rowad isn’t just focused on ticking boxes – this is a school that wants its students to learn real-world, applicable skills.
While the core subjects certainly form the basis of learning, together with the Ministry of Education requirements of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies, Al Rowad also supplements these with a range of subjects which include French, Art, Music, ICT and Physical Education. While there are no details yet of what kind of optional subjects will be available throughout the secondary school, we can guess that these subjects will continue to be offered, perhaps alongside a few others as well.
Al Rowad rounds out in-class learning with a series of annual events and school activities (although the website doesn’t give a list of extra-curricular clubs available). Recent events have included the celebration of National Day, UAE Flag Day, Anti-Bullying Day, World Children’s Day, and Yellow Day (which is a celebration of happiness and joy). School trips seem to be a frequent inclusion based on pictures on the school website, but no specific details are given.
Students also have the chance to show off their skills in more academic settings as well, such as taking part in the Best Reader Competition, the Best Handwriting Competition, and the Spelling Bee Competition.
Al Rowad is a selective school, with entrance exams for FS2 to Year 6; details of the exam requirements are available on the school website, and online interviews are also a part of the process.
The school does not give a detailed guide to its Inclusion policy, but does mention provisions for students who may need extra support.
The heart of this is their use of the PASS (Pupil Attitudes to Self and School) assessment:
“This is the only psychometric assessment specifically designed to spot attitudinal or emotional issues in children before they impact on school performance. PASS takes just 20 minutes to complete and acts as an effective early warning system so that we can intervene and support pupils.”
As part of standard assessments, Al Rowad uses PTE, PTM, PTS (Progress Tests in English, Maths, and Science), and these can help in identifying those in need of extra help, as well as those who are particularly able.
Like many schools in Sharjah, there’s no current record of academic achievement at Al Rowad. However, the website does offer some insight into their assessment practices, and mentions that “formalized testing and assessment will form part of our secondary school”, details of which are to be published in the coming year.
It’s positive to see that the school’s approach to assessing achievement focuses on modern but proven techniques; as the school’s website explains:
“As a modern, forward looking school that subscribes to the latest pedagogical practices, the more traditional approach to summative testing is not a model used here. We assess periodically using a variety of testing media including paper-based tests, projects, presentations and discussions”.
The school’s website mentions a number of “external, standardized evaluations” that it uses to track achievement. These include CAT4 (Cognitive Ability Test version 4); PTE, PTM, PTS (Progress Tests in English, Maths, and Science); and PASS (Pupil Attitudes to Self and School).
The outcomes and content of these evaluations and assessments are shared with parents through information sessions, reports, and parent teacher meetings.
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 Rowad’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Developed.
Inspector’s commended pastoral care at Al Rowad, noting that:
“The students’ learning behaviour, particularly their respectful relationships with their teachers supports their learning. Students have safe and secure access to on-line learning resources and know how to stay safe when online and who to contact if necessary. Appropriate focus is given to developing students’ wellbeing and physical needs.”
Inspectors also noted that learning objectives were “communicated clearly to the students and their parents” and that the curriculum had been appropriately modified to ensure that essential content was delivered and adaptations could be made where necessary.
Finally, the inspectors deemed Al Roward’s future planning as “detailed and thorough”, as well as “based in sound analyses of the outcome of effective monitoring and evaluation strategies”. They felt that the school’s leaders had developed good procedures to ensure that both staff and parents were clear about their roles and responsibilities in the promotion of student learning.
The report did also offer some areas for development.
For example, the report suggested that the school look into further development on the range of planned teaching approaches, “so that students experience a wider range of learning opportunities, for example group discussions, that engage all students more actively in their learning during on-line classes”. They also flagged the need for further support in students’ IT skills, to ensure that everyone could access their learning equally well.
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.
While Al Rowad’s website does not give any information on the school’s facilities, it does offer an extensive gallery of pictures across its pages. This isn’t necessarily a flashy school, with its plain white exterior, but the primary classes look bright, colourful, and decorated with student work. Students also look to have access to lab equipment, an outdoor field, a stage, and a soft play area.
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Tuition fees for Al Rowad start at AED 12,200 for FS2 to Year 1, and then rise to AED 14,500 for Years 2 to 4. Fees for Years 5 to 7 rise again, to AED 16,900, and Years 8 to 10 currently cost AED 19,200. As the upper secondary years have not yet been opened, no fees have been disclosed.
Tuition fees are inclusive of uniform (AED 400) and books (which range from AED 800 to AED 1,800 depending on the year group). There is an application fee of AED 500, which is non-refundable (although if the school offers the student a place, it will be deducted from the total tuition fees).
Bus fees are not included as part of the tuition fees. Services run both one-way (AED 2,000) and two-way (AED 3,500) for Sharjah and Ajman.
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