The American School of Creative Science is located in an impressive modern building near Maliha Road. On our visit the site was being expanded to double in size for September 2016.
The reason for this massive expansion was the development of the school – currently home to 1,900 students – to enable a separate Middle and High School section.
Sister to the International School of Creative Science which opened in 2002 offering a combination of the UK curriculum and Ministry of Education Arabic and Islamic Studies curriculum, the American School of Creative Science opened in 2013 at the current site.
It offers a US curriculum (with accreditation currently being sought through NEASC) in combination with the MoE curriculum. Both schools, owned by the Bhukhatir Group are also expected to expand their presence to Dubai in 2016/2017.
These two schools have really forged the way for the provision of a recognised international curriculum in combination with the strong desire by parents to enable their children to be educated in an environment where their faith and culture is preserved. The way in which the two curricula are delivered – and the way in which the school is organised – makes it quite different. Essentially, timetabling is split between the two curricula in differing percentages. In KG, children spend roughly equal (50:50) amounts of teaching time on the US curriculum and the MoE curriculum. From grade 1 to grade 4, the split is more focused towards the US curriculum with a balance of roughly 60:40 and by the end of Elementary School, the balance is closer to 70:30.
Not only does the school offer English as a Second language to non-native English speakers, it also offers Arabic Second Language instruction to non-Arabic speakers, since this is fundamental to a part of the curriculum which is much cherished by both students and parents alike – Quran Memorisation is integrated into the school timetable. This does away with the requirement for students to have additional teaching after school, although the school day is adjusted to take this into account and students are present from 7 am to 2.15 pm (2 pm in KG).
The school does have a small number of non-Muslim students and these children have the option not to attend Islamic Studies.
Staff are also not required to be Muslim, but female members are requested to cover in line with the school’s uniform policy.
In line with the requirements of the MoE, gender separation takes place within the school from Grade 4 upwards in terms of both students and teachers. This presents its own challenges, particularly in the Middle and High School where the goal is to ensure that both male and female students cover the exact same curriculum. Male and female teachers are paired to ensure that the same content is delivered. The school buildings are effectively split into 2 square blocks each set around a central quadrangle with classrooms separated on both sides. The library and science labs are shared by both groups of students, but through separate access doors and at separate times. The KG section is located across the front of the school and incorporates both a large indoor play space and outdoor equipment. Classrooms are well furnished and busy and boys and girls play happily together.
Parents have been very keen to see the development of the High School and are very engaged in their children’s learning and interaction with the school. As the High School is growing, so the academic programme is being adjusted to ensure that it meets the demands for an accredited High School Diploma to be issued. More emphasis is being placed on the teaching of Maths and Science to ensure sufficient credits for university entry. Ongoing assessments (SATS) are already in use. The staff see that maintaining a balance in the High School across both curricula is likely to be a growing challenge and recognise that the school may well have to become more selective in its High School intake, as supporting non-English speaking entrants at that level is not possible.
Another area that the school is also strengthening is in regard to the provision of support for children with SEN. Currently there are 3 social workers on site and a Special Educational Needs department with coordinator is being established. Children are often not identified or diagnosed until they reach school and the social work team has established relationships with external experts to whom they refer parents.
Perhaps to the surprise of some, the school has a broad range of nationalities that it serves – 34 in total. Between 50-60% are Emirati families, followed by other expat Arab nationals and Pakistanis. The range of teacher nationalities is even higher with 46 represented among the 352 total staff serving both parts of the school. The senior staff of the school see Professional Development as a core part of their responsibility. The Senior team are all involved in working with the Heads of Department to ensure that mirror teaching takes place and peer observation is a key part of training. The school has an active policy of recruiting fresh graduates and training them internally. These younger staff tend to be enthusiastic and committed – particularly as there are opportunities to grow with the expansion of the school.
The facilities of the school are excellent – the school is a Promethium School of Excellence and in addition to widespread use of technology, each part of the school has access to its own gym and external sports areas as well as an indoor pool. A canteen provides healthy food to both sets of staff and students. The facilities are certainly up to the standard of most upper-mid-range to premium schools but fees of AED 19,000-AED 39,000 per year make it more affordable than many.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com knows from parental feedback that the growth of the dual curriculum schools is one that many parents are looking forward to. ASCS seems to have already worked its way through many of the challenges that are involved in what is a complex social and educational environment. First impressions are of a regular, organised and happy international school environment, but one in which faith clearly plays an especially important part.”
American School of Creative Science, Maliha 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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