Opened in 2016, The American School of Creative Science, Al Barsha, aims to nurture students towards "academic excellence with strong moral values to develop successful and contributing members of a global society."
ASCS Al Barsha currently offers education to some 450 children aged 4-14 years from KG1 up to Grade 8, with classes separated by gender from Grade 4. There is a slightly higher male:female student ratio of 57:43%. Approximately 47% of students are UAE nationals, followed by a further 27% of children from Syrian, Egyptian and Palestinian families. In total, children from over 39 countries make up the school population. The school has a staff of 47 teachers with an average class size of 20. This results in a teacher:student ratio of approximately 1:6 - on the low side and offering personalized teaching as a result, but likely to change as more students join the school and class sizes increase.
The school states that:
“Our curriculum will nurture, cultivate, and foster creative and critical thinking skills. We strive for academic excellence with strong moral values to develop successful and contributing members of a global society. ASCS’s aim is to provide the very best of both the American and UAE National Education”.
The school follows the California Common Core State Standards as its "guideline for delivering the American Curriculum to its students in English Language, Arts, Maths, History and Geography along with Next Generation Science Standards in Science." This approach, according to the school, gives more creative freedom to tailor the curriculum based on individual needs. Academics are supported by a range of co-curricular activities that ensure students have the opportunity to develop fully as individuals. Personalized instructions are geared towards inquiry-based, hands-on teaching methods.
The US Curriculum offers a broad and balanced Kindergarten to Grade 12 academic program. The school will provide all the necessary support for students to take their SAT and TOEFL/IELTS exams for College entry. Students will graduate with a High School Diploma upon successful completion of Grade 12. The quality of the diploma is ensured by institutional accreditation, which ASCS is in the process of obtaining. Whichschooladvisor.com anticipates that this accreditation will be through NEASC, in line with KHDA requirements.
The ASCS course delivery aims to motivate students to tap into and realize their full potential. It aims to ensure development of the “Whole Child”, to build self-confidence and self-awareness and to enable independent learning. There is a strong focus on provision of support to children with SEND in all BEAM schools and although, in general, the aim is to enable students to participate in mainstream lessons with their peers, 1:2 learning support is available if required, at an additional fee.
Students are expected to establish a firm foundation of knowledge and skills in the core subjects. They will also benefit from an enriched curriculum through Art, PE, Home Economics and Computer Studies, in addition to the core components of the UAE National Curriculum. The Ministry of Education curriculum is the framework for delivery of "UAE Ministry of Education mandated subjects including Islamic Studies, Arabic Language, and Social/National Studies". In addition, ASCS will offer the Quran Program from Kindergarten progressively to Grade 12 as the school grows.
Also, as the school grows, further Extra-curricular activities will be delivered alongside the curriculum to support and enrich the academic, physical, social, emotional, and psychological development of students. Some of these activities include regular educational field trips, sports competitions, and cultural days to celebrate the diversity of the student body.
Extra-Curricular Activities Clubs are held every Thursday afternoon, and academic competitions such as the Spelling Bee Competition, Maths Competition, Quran Memorization Competition, and Science Fair are offered. Other activities cater to students’ creative development such as Art Fair, Cooking Competitions, Junk Modelling, Sewing, Lego, Computing and Debate. A range of sports activities are also offered.
Classrooms at the school have been designed to be technology integrated, with access to an "engineered garden". All classroom include computers and Interactive White Boards to "encourage creativity with the integration of technology so that the students internalize the concept of ‘thinking out of the box’". There are also tablets, e-Resources, Interactive Whiteboards, digital projectors, digital visualizers, ActiVotes and other interactive software and resources to enhance teaching and learning, in addition to creative activities like Apollo 13, The Why Room and ASCS Barsha Iron Chef.
The usual common facilities are available including a library, auditorium and indoor activity rooms, an ICT room and cafeteria. The Innovation Kitchen Lab in the KG section encourages children to discover more about the food they eat and to learn food etiquette. Outdoor sports facilities are available including, a Football field, Basketball court, multipurpose hall and a swimming pool. The addition of a second building to house the Middle and High School section (expected to start development in 2019) is expected to include further indoor and outdoor sports space and we expect to see greater focus on this area of development in future years.
It remains to be seen how successfully ASCS Al Barsha will develop. Its location, surrounded by a number of UK curriculum schools, (including the GEMS National Schools which are presumably targeting similar families) and the presence of the American School of Dubai only a short distance further along Hessa Street, means that ASCS may well have to fight for families to join it.
However, it does have the benefit of being the sole US curriculum school in a catchment area to whom its combined curricula should appeal. With fees starting at AED 26,250 (a 25% discount on the KHDA approved fees), the Founders fee reduction being maintained throughout the student's time at ASCS if they joined in 2018/19, and 30% discounts for siblings, it may well be that the curriculum/fee combination places ASCS is in a unique position to attract families to whom the US curriculum - with no external, public exam process - appeals.
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