Originally GD Goenka School, Sharjah, Aspam Indian International School's (AIIS) involvement with the Goenka Group was very short lived. Today the school is managed by the Gulf Petrochem Group.
ASPAM is a relatively large and modern school campus, located in the Wasit school district on the border of Sharjah/Ajman.
The school is now teaches up to grade 10 and is home to over 600 students equally split between girls and boys, with 11 sections at KG, 11 in Primary, and 6 so far in Middle School. Students come from India, the United Kingdom, America, Afghanistan, and Pakistan according to information sent to WSA by the school. The largest single nationality is, unsurprisingly, Indian.
The school has yet to be rated by any external body, however the school says "it has been rated outstanding by the Ministry Officials who visit the school regularly". The UAE's Ministry of Education does conduct reports for schools in Sharjah, however we have yet to see an official report on AIIS by the Ministry.
The school is considered premium in terms of fees - especially given this is a CBSE school. Fees range from 12K to 18K - two to three times the range of older Indian based schools in the emirate. However to some degree you can follow the money. The school employs 63 teachers, and has a teacher:student ratio of 1:10 - very, very good for a CBSE school.
That kind of resourcing will help with its focus on the individual child. To handle differing abilities the school says it has an "individualized approach to teaching and learning with a Student Counsellor and Special Educator to support SEND students". The school says it never goes over 24 students in a classroom.
The school curriculum is CBSE, but far the most common choice of curricula within Indian schools in the UAE. At KG the school uses an "amalgamation of best practices across the world". You can read our analysis of the CBSE here. All teaching is in English. Arabic is a compulsory subject for all students, and students are given an additional choice of studying either French or Hindi.
From K-3 the school says it has a "pie approach" to curriculum design where the students are taught all the languages and core subjects, with a special focus on literacy and numeracy. "We have integrated teaching approach from Years 4-8 where students understand how different subjects overlap and extend in real life situations. Cross Curricular link are drawn across all subjects enriching students learning experience."
Core subjects at the primary and middle phases are: Literacy, Numeracy, Science, Social Studies, Value Education, Islamic Studies, Physical Education, Creative & Visual Arts and Performing Arts.
According to AIIS, it is the only Indian School which takes an holistic approach and says that is has designed an Indian Curriculum in a unique way.
Cross curricular links, ICT, Research, Physical Education, Visual/Creative and performing Arts are embedded with the Scholastic subjects ensuring each child’s unique needs are addressed and their personal, social and emotional growth has equal importance as the core subjects. Goal Setting, Personalized Model of Learning, Multiple Intelligences and Differentiation, Collaborative Project Based Approach to Learning, Inquiry Oriented Cross Curricular Learning and Continuous Assessment and Constructive Feedback are some outstanding features of ASPAM School.
The school is doing something right for its teachers. Teacher turnover over the last four years has averaged around 8%, well below the 20% average for the UAE. That said there is considerably less churn in general within Indian schools, particularly compared to IB and UK curricula schools. AIIS says it has "an integrated Continuous Professional Development programme... where all the teachers engage in collaborative learning / training / workshops during a weekly two days stay back."
The school says growth in teaching staff is in lower primary and middle school with more admissions coming in lower grades, as well as the school prepping up for public exams, and bringing in specific subject specialist teachers to set up departments. Teachers come from India, the Philippines, Egypt, Pakistan, and Sudan.
All members of the teaching faculty have a degree in teaching... "However we have some members who are research students and have worked in different sectors as well as Parent School Association members to understand how we are preparing our students for the future."
It is clearly too early to assess the school's performance in external examinations, however ASPAM told us it has already started to engage students in discussions on how professions in the future are changing and how that would reflect on what they are doing and how they are learning today to help them prepare for available future choices.
AIIS has good facilities, including a well-equipped Indoor Sports Centre, Performing Arts Studio, Exploration Room and will have a Swimming Pool (it's under construction). After School activities are being designed and are subject to Ministry Approval. They will be charged activities.
The school itself is a part of the ASPAM, the CSR initiative and Foundation of Gulf Petrochem. The foundation it says "is part of its way of giving back to the world... It is our commitment to improve the society we live in and with it, the quality of life."
We are not sure to what extent the school is run as a not-for-profit. We would hope as a CSR initiative that money does go back into developing the school for its students.
ASPAM does not publish fees, however, the school does offer perspective parents an impressive and current website with comprehensive details on the school, plus an active Facebook page documenting goings on at the school.
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