The American School of Creative Science (ASCS) is a Sharjah based K-12 through school with a population of approximately 3200 students. Given the school was founded in 2012/13, this represents significant growth during the school's short existence. The school has added a further 700 students in the past 18 months and is now open from KG to Grade 12.
ASCS is the second school to have opened under the management of BEAM Education, owned by Sharjah entrepreneur Salah Bukhatir. Mr. Bukhatir has a very personal interest in the schools operated under the Creative Science brand. With the opening of a third school in Sharjah at Al Layyah and 2 schools in Dubai in 2016, there is an evident commitment to the unique curriculum and ethos that the schools offer.
ASCS describes itself as family friendly, “with excellence rooted in its values”. Its strengths, it says, lie “in the Islamic environment in combination with a true American education”; the “interculturalism and internationalism” of its students, and the “rich delivery of a dual-curriculum” (around 44 nationalities are represented in the student body). Islamic values are clearly in the school’s DNA with students “expected to uphold [its] moral and behavioral standards”.
The school states that its aim is "to offer the very best of academic instruction combining US Curriculum with UAE National Curriculum. This is delivered in an environment emphasizing on strong moral values, ethos, and cultural traditions".
Students are predominantly drawn from local Emirati families (66%), with Egyptian and Jordanian families each representing 5%. Students of other nationalities are in general from other Arabic countries, together with a contingent of 4% from Pakistan. Children are gender separated from Grade 4, in classes of approximately 25 students. There is a slightly higher proportion of boys (at 54%) to girls (46%) within the school.
As would be expected in a relatively new and still developing school, there is a higher proportion of younger KG and Elementary classes (around 10 across most grades with the exception of KG2 which has 14 and Grade 1 with 15). Class numbers reduce at more senior levels of the school to between 6 in grades 7, 8 and 9, to 5 in grades 10 and 11, to 3 (of which 2 are girls only) in grade 12. It is to be hoped that the progression of students through the school in future years will see more students reaching graduation.
Principal, Majd C Hussain, in his message states
"I bring to ASCS the benefit of over 22 years of experience in teaching, pastoral, coaching, mentoring, and management capacities, having been directly engaged with students, teachers, and parents both as an educator and administrator at various British and American curriculum international schools. Previously, I worked as a Director and Vice Principal at our sister school, The International School of Creative Science".
With a staff of 462 teachers at the school who come from diverse range of nations, with the highest proportion from Jordan and Egypt, it is clear that the Principal's long experience and mentoring skills are key. Around 5% of teachers are from the US, but the school ensures, through its ongoing commitment to professional development, that the necessary training is provided to enable staff to deliver the curriculum.
All staff have either an international teaching qualification or a degree in their subject. American School of Creative Science hires both fresh graduates and veteran teachers. “Fresh graduates are eager to learn and broaden their career, while veteran teachers have a capability to extend their expertise to peer educators.” The recruitment requirements in Sharjah are evidently not as strict as elsewhere in the UAE (notably in Dubai and Abu Dhabi), where the minimum requirement is a post-graduate teaching qualification and a minimum of 2 years' experience. It remains to be seen if the common approach to inspection that is being rolled out across the UAE, will impact this aspect of education in Sharjah in due course, particularly given the substantial additional salary costs that may accrue as a result.
The school has not yet set up a specific department to meet the needs of students who need learning support - another area of particular focus in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this academic year. Currently the school’s social workers and teachers “work collaboratively to refer students to the right place and then in coming up with an individual learning plan to help students in class”. Teachers will need to be skilled, irrespective of the lack of specific teaching qualification: Gifted and talented students are handled by differentiated instruction in class.
The school follows a “US Curriculum” (the Common Core), along with the UAE’s National Curriculum in Arabic, Islamic Studies, and Social/National Studies. The school operates a “Unique Qur’an Memorization Program” and is “in the process of” applying for accreditation with NEASC – a mandatory requirement now for all schools in neighbouring Dubai, but not apparently a requirement in Sharjah. This is important, as accreditation through a recognised Schools and Colleges Association in the US ensures that the High School Diploma being issued by ASCS will be recognised for admission by colleges overseas.
ASCS pays equal attention to sciences, engineering, arts, and languages, and some of its more diverse offerings include Robotics and French as electives to High School Students. The school offers SAT 1 and SAT Subject Exams for College entry preparation.
As well as the mind, American School of Creative Science also works on the body: Its PE program runs from KG-12, and the school offers International Sports as an elective. The school also offers a variety of sports-based extra curricular activities and has “outsourced a football coaching program that is offered on school grounds for our school students”.
The indoor and outdoor playgrounds are equipped with specialised safe flooring and offer multiple provision for different games while creating a safe level of usability. The indoor swimming pool further supports the school’s fitness program. It plays an integral part in enhancing students’ swimming skills and the age appropriate gymnasiums support students’ physical development. The ASCS multi-purpose hall provides state of the art sporting facilities including large seating capability for special school events. It caters for basketball, netball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, martial arts, and many other physical activities. The Multi-Purpose Hall also serves as a meeting point for many different events held in school throughout the year.
Facilitating learning, the school claims to be the only Promethean Center of Excellence in the entire Middle East region. “The facilities of the school are state of the art and truly cutting edge” it says. They include a library, auditorium, activity rooms, ICT rooms, and kitchens (the last for KG students to enable them to learn about healthy eating and food etiquette).
Extra-curricular activities are also used to support the needs of students defined as gifted and talented. ASCS offers various extra curricular activities (ECAs) including a range of sports, art, Origami, swimming, STEM and language development programs. ECAs are provided free of charge.
ACS wants to integrate into the wider community, and there are multiple opportunities for parents to get involved with International Day, Cup-cake day, Graduations, Pajama Day, Color day, National Day, Sports Day, Spelling Bees, the Qur’an Competition, Science Fair and Art Gallery. There is a Mother's Group but no formal opportunity for representation on the board of governors, however, which we feel is something of a missed opportunity.
With the school only recently having started to graduate its first groups of students, there is no current information from the school about student performance, college entries or university destinations.
Fees at American School of Creative Science are mid-range, starting at AED 21,500 at KG1 and rising to AED 46,000 for Grade 12. Full details may be found on the Fees and Availability tab.
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