American Gulf School Sharjah is a relatively new school that is currently in the process of becoming the first full IB curriculum school in Sharjah.
American Gulf School (AGS) opened in August 2021. The school is based in the Al Rahmaniya/Shaghrafah 4 area of Sharjah and is currently open from pre-KG to Grade 10; Senior School grades will follow as the school grows. Since opening, the school has achieved accreditation through US-based Cognia, ensuring recognition in the USA and internationally – and is in the process of being authorized for all four International Baccalaureate Programmes due to be completed in the 2023-24 academic year.
The school motto is 'Aspire, Grow, Succeed'
Its Vision states "We aim to create an environment where everyone aspires to build a peaceful world, to grow through intercultural understanding and respect, and to succeed in the 21st century."
And the school Mission is to provide a "Safe and friendly environment, innovative 21st century curriculum, promote design thinking skills, nurturing academic excellence, fun engaging lessons."
In Autumn 2022, the school announced the appointment of a new Principal - highly regarded Mr. James Lynch, who has been Principal of two International Baccalaureate programme-based schools in Dubai - Ambassador International Academy (which uses the UK-curriculum for content, and the IB programmes for its delivery), and Dubai International Academy Al Barsha, where he was the Founding Principal of what is an all-through IB World School.
Mr. Lynch is supported in his leadership team by Mr. Adam Fitzgerald and Ms. Olivia Mottram. Mr. Fitzgerald, Head of Secondary, previously of Dar Al Marefa Private school and Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, has extensive knowledge of the IB programmes, representing the UAE IB Association at national level and serves as an IB inspector globally. Ms. Mottram, Head of Primary, previously of Universal American School and Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, has wide-ranging IB school experience of early years, primary education and special educational needs. Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills was the first UAE school to be accredited as an IB World School in the UAE by the International Baccalaureate Organisation .
With such an experienced and highly qualified team on board, it would seem the the owners of AGS are showing full commitment to the plans to offer an IB-based curriculum - a key differentiating factor for the school is its aim to become an IB continuum school in the Emirate of Sharjah that offers all four programmes.
And it seems that parents in Sharjah are responding positively to the changes at American Gulf School, with well over 200 students from a range of 20 different nationalities (including local families), with average class sizes of no more than 20 students in KG and 24 in other grades.
Whilst it is almost always the case in a new school, student numbers are more concentrated in the KG and Primary grades, AGS has also attracted students across the Middle and Lower High School grades. As a newer school, and with classes in every grade, students also benefit from a much lower teacher:student ratio of just 1:3 - meaning they receive a very high level of individual attention.
Teachers come from a broad range of nationalities and are all native speakers. The school is currently recruiting further highly trained IB experienced teachers to support its growth.
The school currently offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme. American Gulf School will also pursue authorization for the IB Diploma and IB Career-related programmes to become an IB World School, offering all four programmes as an IB continuum school.
The key areas of focus in terms of the curriculum delivery are English, Maths, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths),and Arabic and Islamic Studies. The school offers an Interventional programme for English, Maths, Science and Arabic, with literacy specialists in both English and Arabic to support literacy across the school free of charge.
As the school grows its Senior grades, so the introduction of the IB Career-related and Diploma programmes will take place. Students will have the opportunity to learn French as an additional language.
The curriculum is project-based and student-centered. This approach encourages, requires, and builds critical thinking, driven by inquiry combined with both knowledge and comprehensive skills. The methodology allows learners to make authentic connections between different theories and to be able to apply this knowledge in unfamiliar real-life situations.
At a time when changes in the work place are occurring exponentially, and the jobs of the future can not be identified, the ability to investigate and apply knowledge, and to develop new skills, is vital for future employment.
To further future-proof students' skills, the school has linked up with UK based 8BillionIdeas to run entrepreneurship sessions with the students, along with a strong personalized careers advice programme which will be offered to all secondary school students by the leadership team.
The focus of learning at AGS is not solely on the academic. A range of extra-curricular options including academic, sports, creative arts and STEAM activities are offered three afternoons per week, including a Robotics club (which attracts a fee).
Student wellbeing is also a focus with a wellbeing programme and support through the school counsellor already in place.
Although a relatively low number of students have SEN requirements (less than 3% of the total, AGS offers an extensive SEN programme with a strong specialist team of five led by a Head of SEND. A specialized SEN office with facilities to support students and fully equipped SEN rooms are available.
Approximately 5% of students have been identified with Gifts and Talents, but a significant 30% of students are English Language Learners (ELL) who are supported through the school's interventional programme.
Should a student require specific one to one support, parents are required to source a Learning Support Assistant. The school makes no additional charges for its SEN support other than if external specialist reports are required, where parents are responsible for any costs.
Students at AGS participate in standardized testing including MAP (Measure of Academic Progress), TIMMS and PISA. These tests are designed to enable teachers to measure the level of progress and attainment of each student and to personalize their teaching and support as needed. Teachers provide Academic Reports bi-termly, one progress report and one full report, and parents are able to discuss their child's progress at Parent-Teacher meetings which are conducted once per term.
The school states that it occupies a brand new, world-class campus, with facilities that include but are not limited to a Sciences labs, three STEAM/Robotics labs, two libraries with digital and print books, one resources center for KG, two special resources rooms, visual and performing (Drama/Music) arts rooms, a recently renovated ballet studio, a media studio for audio and visual productions, design cafe, one indoor soft play area in the KG, state of the art playgrounds, and a multipurpose PE and sports complex.
The school is expanding its cafeteria to adjust to its growing numbers and improving its sports facilities on a regular basis.
The team at American Gulf School states that it is "excited to offer a full IB continuum, being the first and only school in Sharjah to do so - setting itself apart from others."
Over the next period, the focus of AGS will be on "continuing to grow and establish ourselves as the premier and only IB school in Sharjah giving every student the opportunity for success in life through various pathways."
AGS tells us that parents receive weekly communication from the school on curriculum and updates and that it regularly offers parents opportunities to participate in workshops and feedback sessions for parents.
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There has been significant growth in the number of schools both in the UAE and internationally offering the International Baccalaureate programmes, which are among the most highly recognised by universities and employers globally.
With 5,600 schools worldwide in 159 countries educating 1,95 million students (as at February 2023), American Gulf School is opening the doors to students in Sharjah to participate in what is probably the most highly regarded pre-university education programme worldwide. It also joins over 55 schools offering one or more of the IB programmes in the UAE, of whom 20 now offer the full IB continuum.
Whilst not unique in the emirate in offering one or more of the International Baccalaureate programmes, the decision to offer all four makes American Gulf School a trail-blazer - and one that we would expect other Sharjah schools to follow.
It is very evident from the investment, not only in buildings and resources, but particularly in such highly experienced and highly-regarded leadership, that the owners of American Gulf School have clear determination for their school to offer a high quality education that sets new standards in the emirate.
Tuition Fees, which incorporate a 30% discount on the SPEA approved fees for 2023-24, start at AED 25,058 for pre-KG, rising to AED 45,148 for Grade 9. Fees for Grade 12 will be AED 52,988.
American Gulf School Sharjah 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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