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 will offer 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.
ASCS Nad Al Sheba 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 40% 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.
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. Whilst the school was praised for
These positives did not make up for the achievement levels across all core subjects.
Whilst English, Maths and Science were rated Acceptable for both attainment and progress in KG, with the exception of English progress and Learning Skills, which were rated Good, progress and attainment in both the Elementary and Middle school sections were largely rated Acceptable, and with attainment Weak in Arabic as a second language in the Elementary section and in both English and Maths attainment in both sections. Only Science progress in the Middle school section was rated Good.
Both the key performance measures of Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum were rated Acceptable. These key measures are fundamental to the attainment and progress of students.
Students' personal development, and their social and innovation skills were rated Good across the school. Their understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures were rated Very Good.
Health and safety arrangements were also rated Very Good, although Care and Support of students was rated only Acceptable.
Finally, the leadership and management of the school achieved an Acceptable rating. In particular, the inspectors noted that "The Principal and Vice-Principal are knowledgeable about the US curriculum, and about best practice in teaching, learning and assessment." In addition, the report notes that "The Principal and Vice Principal have stabilised the school, gained parents' confidence and significantly increased enrollment. It must, therefore, be a concern that neither the Principal, nor the then Vice Principal, are transferring to Nad Al Sheba.
In terms of areas of improvement, the inspection team recommended that the school should:
Clearly there is considerable room for improvement across the school, with a particular need to focus on staff training and development and the employment of subject-specific leaders. Leadership appears to have over-estimated the school's performance Support for students of Determination and those who are Gifted and Talented was inconsistent and a further area for development and restructure,
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, you will find it here.
According to ASCS Nad Al Sheba, the KHDA inspection for 2019-20, which took place shortly before all UAE schools were closed due to Covid-19, resulted in improvements in 14 measures. However, it would seem that these were not sufficient to raise the school's overall rating from Acceptable.
A total of 95 parents responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey in 2019. Of these, almost 1 in 5 (19%) disagreed that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. Most parents welcomed the inclusive ethos of the school and felt that their children were happy and safe. However, some expressed the need for clarity about leaders' roles and responsibilities, so that they know with whom to speak if they have specific concerns.
Parental feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been limited.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at ASCS Nad Al Sheba, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
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. How well the presence of ASCS on the ISCS campus works, and whether both schools can maintain their individuality remains to be seen, particularly given that there will be a single leadership at Principal and Vice Principal level for both schools.
What about the fees?
Fees range from AED 26,250 for KG1 to AED 43,875 for Grade 8. Significant discounts are available for siblings on the KHDA approved fees of 30% for the second, third and fourth child.
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