Opened in 2016 at its original Al Barsha campus, The American School of Creative Science, Nad Al Sheba, aims to nurture students towards "academic excellence with strong moral values to develop successful and contributing members of a global society."
In July 2020, BEAM Education announced that the American School of Creative Science Al Barsha would be transferred to the site of its other Dubai-based school, the International School of Creative Science at Nad Al Sheba. The Nad Al Sheba campus has offered both the UK and US curriculum from September 2020.
The American School of Creative Science, now co-located with the UK curriculum International School of Creative Science at Nad Al Sheba, is part of BEAM Education's family of schools. There are two other American Schools of Creative Science, one in Al Layyah, and one in Maliha. In June 2020, BEAM announced that students from the Layyah campus would transfer to the Maliha campus for one year from September 2020 for cost-saving reasons.
In June 2022, the KHDA's DSIB inspection team issued the Inspection report for the 2021-22 academic year for the American School of Creative Science. Last inspected in 2019-2020 just prior to the halt of all inspections due to the Covid 19 pandemic, when it achieved an Acceptable rating for the second time, the American School of Creative Science has retained the same rating in the latest inspection round. Full details can be found here.
At the time of the DSIB inspection in May 2022, ASCS Nad Al Sheba offered an education to some 433 children aged 4-14 years from KG1 up to Grade 8, with classes separated by gender from Grade 4. Student numbers have fallen by one quarter since the previous KHDA inspection in 2018-19, but there has been significant growth in UAE nationals who represent over 50% of the student body, with the remainder from mainly Arab families.
The school had a staff of 49 teachers and 24 teaching assistants with an average class size of 20. This results in a teacher:student ratio of approximately 1:9 - on the low side which should ensure adaptation of the curriculum and teaching for its students. Teachers are predominantly from the Egypt and it is evident from the KHDA report that not all are especially experienced in teaching the US curriculum. The school is led by Principal Sara Hollis, who as Vice-Principal, was involved in the previous inspection in 2020.
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 anticipated that this accreditation would be through NEASC, in line with KHDA requirements, and this is indeed the case.
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 weekly, 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.
All classrooms 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. However, the KHDA report noted insufficient technology resources.
The usual common facilities are available including a library (described as small and under-resourced by KHDA inspectors in 2019 report), auditorium and indoor activity rooms, an ICT room and cafeteria. Outdoor sports facilities are available including, a Football field, Basketball court, multipurpose hall and a swimming pool.
In its first inspection, which took place in February 2019, ASCS achieved an Acceptable rating - the minimum required by the KHDA and lower than the Good rating expected of all Dubai schools. It followed up this inspection result with a further Acceptable rating in 2020. On its third inspection in May 2022, postponed by over a year by the Covid 19 pandemic, ASCS again achieved the minimum Acceptable rating.
To be fair, the overall rating does not acknowledge clear improvements that have been made since 2020, including ten improvements in individual measures for Student Achievement, (from Acceptable to Good), six further improvements to Good across the remaining five Key Performance Standards, Very Good ratings for Personal Development in the KG and Elementary sections and Outstanding ratings for Health and Safety including child protection and safeguarding.
Unfortunately, these improvements alone were not sufficient, with the majority of ratings for Student Achievement still Acceptable, and the two core Key Performance Standards of Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum - fundamental to improvements in Student Achievement - still rated a mixture of Acceptable and Good.
The inspection team defined the strengths of the school as:
In terms of areas of improvement, the inspection team recommended that the school should:
Clearly there is still considerable room for improvement across the school, with a particular need to focus on staff training and development.
The inspection team commented that "Some teachers are becoming more familiar with the U.S. Curriculum and the skills and content knowledge that it requires." This idea that teachers are having to learn the curriculum and its skills and content requirements 'on the job' must be a concern, although the inspection team noted that "There is an improvement in the number of staff with teaching qualifications, as was recommended in the previous inspection."
On a positive note, through effective self-evaluation procedures, leaders and teachers now understand the strengths and needs of the school. Senior leaders have taken initial steps to improve the impact of teacher evaluation. Support for students of Determination and those who are Gifted and Talented was previously found to be inconsistent, but is now rated Good with inspectors commenting that "This is an inclusive school. Teachers support students of determination well, based on their individual needs."
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the detailed reasons behind the ratings and the recommendations for improvement - you will find it here.
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There was no pre-inspection survey of parents or students ahead of the 2022 DSIB inspection, but comments from the report are broadly positive. Parents are appropriately involved in the community life of the school. If they are unable to participate, information, shared in both English and Arabic, helps them to feel connected. Parents are generally happy in their choice of school, its vision and its growth. They appreciate being actively involved by the school in their children’s development.
As we stated in our original review, ASCS does have the benefit of being the sole US curriculum school in its original - and now in its new - catchment area, to whom its combined curricula should appeal. Whilst it is evident from the inspection report that improvements are being made - particularly with respect to the improvement in teaching and assessment standards, and to teachers' knowledge of the curriculum, it remains a concern that staff are clearly not as experienced in teaching the US curriculum as we would expect.
What about the fees?
KHDA approved fees range from AED35,000 in KG1 to AED 58,500 in Grade 9 which will open in August 2022. However, the school is offering a 25% for the first child, bringing the fees to AED 26,250 for KG1 to AED 43,875 for Grade 9. Further discounts are available for siblings on the KHDA approved fees of 30% for the second, third and fourth child.
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