One year after the announcement and ground-breaking ceremony for a long-awaited Australian school in Dubai, it seems that construction is going ahead as planned and the Australian International School Dubai will open at a date yet to be determined.
The school will offer an Early Learning Centre (KG equivalent) to Year 12 (Grade 12 equivalent) for children from age 4 to 17 on entry, in line with the Australian system where children do not commence school formally until the age of six.
Construction of the sister school to the long-established Australian International School in Sharjah is now at around 45% complete, according to the latest update received by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, with the second Australian International School under the same ownership in the UAE, expected to open its Dubai campus at a yet to be determined date. The Dubai and Sharjah-based schools are not related to the Australian School in Abu Dhabi.
The Australian International School Sharjah (AISS) opened in 2005 through a partnership between the Al Sharif Investment Trading Group and the Government of Queensland, Australia. For years, Australian families in Dubai have been wondering when a branch would open to cater to the large population in the neighbouring emirate. Whilst Sharjah has two Australian-curriculum schools, AISS and Victoria International School, Dubai-based Aussies have tended to favour UK or US curriculum schools rather than face the journey to the neighbouring emirate.
AISS is the only learning institution in the Middle East that is recognised as an Australian school outside Australia. The Sharjah School offers both the International Baccalaureate and Queensland Certificate of Education, and the new Dubai-based school is expected to follow suit with the aim of enrolling over 2000 students when it reaches capacity.
The new AED 150 million Dubai campus will be developed across 350,000 sqft and the four storey building will feature 85 classrooms, a 600-seat auditorium, a multi-purpose hall, multi-use court, and a football pitch. Other facilities will include a fully equipped library, modern art and music rooms, science and ICT labs, and learning centres.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony last year, Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of Australia encouraged AIS Dubai to offer a safe, supportive, and disciplined school environment that nurtures positive relationships between all stakeholders. "This is yet another link between the nation of Australia and the UAE; yet another expression of the wonderful developing benign and very productive relationship between these two nations," he said.
The AIS Sharjah campus has over 1,400 students across its early learning centre, junior school, middle school and senior school. Students graduate at the end of Year 12 with either a Queensland Certificate of Education or an International Baccalaureate Diploma and go on to universities both in the UAE and around the world. On national assessments of literacy and numeracy the school states that it is meeting and exceeding Australian standards.
Speaking about the curriculum, the Principal of the Sharjah school mentions "the futures focus" of the Australian curriculum. "We all know the world is changing rapidly. The jobs that many students currently in our school will move into haven't even been thought of yet. It is not enough then for students to simply learn information. They need to develop the skills to be successful in this future world. This is about working with others to solve complex problems.
The pedagogical model is inquiry-based, very much in keeping with the model of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Students are encouraged to ask complex questions and then work out how they might find the answers to these questions. Technology plays an increasing role in this. Students have access to as much information as they could ever need, but the real skill is in learning how to sort through this vast array of data and apply this information to creating novel solutions.
Unfortunately, AIS Sharjah does not publish its academic results, and it is therefore not possible to say how academically successful its IB students in particular are. This is something the school will likely need to address if it is to attract IBDP students to the new school, since transparency among Dubai schools (particularly those offering the IB Diploma) is growing rapidly.
No fee information for the new school has been provided as yet, but for comparative purposes, fees at the Sharjah school are as follows: Early Learning Centre (KG2): AED 36,700, Prep: AED 36,700, Year 1: AED 36,700, Year 2: AED 39,750, Year 3: AED 39,750, Year 4: AED 41,800, Year 5: AED 41,800, Year 6: AED 48,950, Year 7: AED 48,950, Year 8: AED 52,000, Year 9: AED 52,000, Year 10: AED 60,150, Year 11: AED 60,150, Year 12: AED 66,300.
Further information about the Australian International School Dubai will be provided as updates are made available.
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