Australian International School (AIS) is a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school offering the Queensland curriculum, the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), and the Australian Based Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). It was the first Australian school established in the Middle East, and is recognised in the UAE as ‘an Australian school outside Australia’.
Located near the Al Khawaneej district in Sharjah, Australian International School (AIS) first opened in 2005, established by a partnership between the Al Sharif Investment Trading Group and the Government of Queensland. The school’s vision centres on ensuring “a quality international and intercultural education which prepares students for their futures in a global economy”, incorporating Arabic, Islamic, and Australian values to create a global school with a local context.
“Our students’ journey to success is mapped along a path where the best of the world’s schooling curriculum stands alongside a proud Emirati culture, producing young adults who are not just resourceful global citizens but happy children of proud parents.”
With the Australian curriculum’s focus on pastoral care and well-being, active and enquiry-based learning, and sport, technology, and the arts, it’s not hard to see why Sharjah parents like AIS so much. Students are encouraged to ‘Reach for the Stars!’ (the school’s motto), and AIS puts a community approach into practice by asking students, staff, and parents to elect the values they feel are most important to sustain as a school:
Leading this approach is Australian-born Steve McLuckie, who took over the school after the longstanding Executive Principal, Annette Wilson, stepped down in 2018. Before his career in education, Mr. McLuckie was a professional Australian Rules footballer playing for Southport and the Brisbane Bears. McLuckie then went on to teach and took on eventual leadership positions at two Queensland schools before joining Varsity College, Australia’s largest independent school.
During his time in Australia, he was invited to join the Principals' Congress Board for Queensland; attend the World Class International Study Tour of Shanghai and Singapore; mentor new Principals within the education system; and present as the key note speaker for national conferences in best practice teaching, learning, innovation, and leadership.
In his welcome message, Mr. McLuckie emphasises the importance of encouraging a sense of happiness and belonging in students, in order to make them the most effective learners:
“Preparing our children for success in a world which is ever-changing requires thoughtfulness; it is not enough for students to simply learn information from the front of a classroom. This is the AIS difference: we are building the critical thinkers and problem solvers of the future not only through outstanding education, but in the development of their resilience, the forging of their grit and determination to succeed and most of all, through fostering their innate happiness.”
But how exactly does AIS achieve such an environment? First and foremost, through the fundamental belief in the timeless saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. AIS believes that the relationship between home and school is pivotal in a child’s education, and emphasises the importance of open communication, creating “a strong schooling community filled with a network of families, teachers and staff invested in providing an outstanding, innovative education to happy students”.
The school’s leadership team is sourced from some of the best schools throughout Australia and the Emirates, ensuring that each member is expertly-trained, highly-experienced, and passionate about delivering outstanding education in a nurturing and caring environment. The leadership team’s ‘open door’ policy is considered a key feature of AIS’ success.
But it is not just the leaders of the school that are held to high standards – AIS believes that the strong work ethic and friendly nature of Australian nationals makes them some of the best teachers in the world, and therefore ensures that its staff is comprised of only “highly-trained and highly-skilled” individuals. To complement the Australian staff, AIS also relies on specialist Arabic teachers, to ensure that the Emirati culture and language is proudly honoured.
“Working together, the AIS team is uniquely positioned to ensure students receive a globally diverse education immersed in a deep pride and knowledge of Arabic culture, language and values.”
After many years of requests from parents, AIS will be opening a sister school in August 2021, AIS Dubai.
AIS’ pedagogical approach is centred on the Australian curriculum, and the school offers two pathways for graduating students: The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), and The Australian Based Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). AIS is a 'Recognised School' under the Queensland Education Act and is affiliated with the Queensland Department of Education and Training; Education Queensland International; the International Baccalaureate Association; the Middle East IB Association; Australian International Schools Association; Australian International Nursery; and the Knowledge Workx Foundation.
According to the AIS website, the school’s central pedagogical model is enquiry – encouraging students to ask complex questions and work out how they might find the answers, to develop the ability to sort through vast arrays of information, and to create novel solutions to problems they encounter. AIS centres this approach in the four key pillars of Academia, Culture, Sports, and Community, which underpin every aspect of student learning. These four pillars “allow each student access to opportunities across the developmental spectrum, honing their strengths and interests, developing their passion and possibility of achieving outstanding success”.
Students are introduced to all of this from their very first days at AIS, starting in the AIS Early Learning Centre (ELC). The ELC is guided by the Australian Early Years Learning Framework, which aims to provide children with a sense of ‘Belonging’, recognises and celebrates their ‘Being’, and supports their ‘Becoming’. Teachers plan and support balanced learning by focusing on five key outcomes:
Outcome 1: Children have a Strong Sense of Identity.
Outcome 2: Children are Connected With and Contribute To Their World.
Outcome 3: Children have a Strong Sense of Wellbeing.
Outcome 4: Children are Confident and Involved Learners.
Outcome 5: Children are Effective Communicators.
Underpinning practice in the ELC are the Early Years Learning Framework Principles, which assist children in making progress in relation to the learning outcomes. These core principles include nurturing secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships; partnerships; high expectations and equity; respect for diversity; and ongoing learning and reflective practice.
Education at this early stage is largely play-based, and often student-led, in order to stimulate curiosity, exploration, and social connections. Teachers support this learning through providing positive and responsive interactions, offering engaging materials, and cultivating learning environments which reflect the interests and needs of the children. This play-based and project-based approach also supports the development of essential early English and early Mathematical skills, in addition to exposing young students to a wide variety of interests and opportunities:
“Our teachers plan rich open-ended learning experiences including literacy, language, literature, maths, science, sensory, dramatic, imaginative, visual arts, music and movement, physical, self help and environmental awareness experiences in an engaging and inclusive way.”
Although students are just starting their educational journey at this point, AIS ensures frequent assessment right from the beginning, to help develop students’ strengths, improve on their weaknesses, and nurture their passions. Assessment methods may include the following: baseline tests; early childhood development screens; individualised learning goals; project books; learning portfolios; yearly interim reports; twice yearly end-of-semester reports; and parent/teacher interviews.
AIS considers the foundational years of learning from Prep through to Grade 2 vital in developing the building blocks of student literacy, numeracy, and, most importantly, their lifelong love of learning. Once students leave the ELC for Prep, they are encouraged to develop their independence and learn how to be a ‘learner’ within a slightly more formal classroom setting (although learning is still very much led by student interests). English, Mathematics, and Integrated Studies (Science and Humanities) form the core of the Prep curriculum; students also take part in weekly Arabic, Art, Music, and Health and Physical Education lessons.
Students will continue to focus on their reading and writing abilities through Grade 1, as well as continuing their study of Arabic; Islamic Studies, Social Studies, and French are also introduced to the timetables. Teachers also focus on helping students to develop emotionally and, “with students learning the foundations of positive wellbeing and strengths-based learning, as well as how to be a positive friend and contributor to their own learning and that of their peers”. This continues through to Grade 2, where students are encouraged to become increasingly independent, are introduced to basic responsibilities for their own learning, and engage in more regular collaborative teamwork.
Moving into Grades 3 and 4, AIS begins to forge the link between home and school, as students take on learning that is personally relevant to them and their experiences (this is particularly noticeable in subjects such as Humanities & Social Studies or Health & Physical Education. Students also experience STEAM rotations in the areas of Science, the Arts, and Digital Technology.
In the final years of Primary School at AIS, students are encouraged to develop a growing awareness of themselves and the world around them; to refine and mature their academic, social, and wellbeing skills; and experience a deepening pride in their roles as lifelong learners. The AIS website notes that of “particular importance is preparing students for life in the Secondary School, where self-management of homework, assessment and accountability for learning tools is a focal point”.
Once AIS students start Secondary School, the curriculum focuses on enquiry-based pedagogies, to prepare students to “become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens”. The Australian curriculum focuses on eight key areas of study: English; Mathematics; Science; Health and Physical Education; Humanities and Social Sciences; The Arts; Technologies; and Languages. And to adapt this western curriculum to its local context, running alongside these subjects is a strong focus on Emirati culture and the teaching of Ministry of Education (MOE) required subjects such as Arabic Studies and Language, Moral Studies, Social Studies, and Islamic Studies.
The Arabic Department at AIS deserves special mention at this point, given the resources and time that are devoted to it. The school seeks to ensure the quality of Arabic programs for both native and non-native learners through processes of continual reflection and renewal, which involves native and non-native staff from all sectors of the school working together to develop relevant units of work and lesson plans. Lessons are taught each day so that students have exposure to Arabic five times per week, as well as regular celebrations of events such as National Day and Mother Language Day.
All AIS staff undertake professional development once a week as a whole school, and the Arabic Department follows up these sessions by meeting with the Head of Department so that teachers can discuss the curriculum, learn about planning, and identify suitable teaching strategies. As the school explains, these meetings “provide opportunities to all teachers to develop their professional knowledge and skill for the teaching of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies”. As for the students, both those native and non-native are taught to understand concepts and curriculum content in both Arabic and English, in order to ensure that both languages are promoted as being of equal importance to the learners and the parent community.
Islamic Studies is taught twice a week for both Arab and non-Arab learners from Grade 1 to Grade 12. These lessons are presented in Arabic for Arabic speakers and in English for non-Arabic speakers. Meanwhile, the Social Studies course offered at AIS provides an in-depth study of the skills, information, and concepts of UAE citizenship, grouped under four specific disciplines: History; Geography; Economics; and Political Science.
“Adhering to the values and morals of the UAE culture, Social Studies allows students to gain an understanding of the factors and ingredients contributing to the UAE national identity, along with the foundations of government, its various forms and functions. Social Studies also teaches students the process and skills of instruction, research, resolution and reflection in solving a range of current social issues, positioning AIS students as active and effective global citizens of the future.”
The most noticeable thing about all of these provisions is that AIS is not a school which teaches MOE-required subjects purely because it has no choice. Instead, AIS looks at how to build on the MOE curriculum and integrate it into their global teaching approach, so that students gain true knowledge and appreciation for the society they study in.
Taking a look at the Secondary School, students continue to build upon the educational foundations laid in Primary School while also preparing for their journey to AIS’ Senior years. Grades 7 to 9 are described by the school as a ‘crucial’ period “when students’ strengths and interests become pivotal in determining just what that journey might look like and where it might lead”; while students continue to study the eight key areas from Primary School, they have the chance to investigate these with more depth and rigour, focusing on areas of personal interest.
Starting in Grade 10, students are introduced to “an engaging and enriching” elective program. This allows students to pursue their passions in areas such as Specialised Theatre, Visual Arts, Digital Technology, and Health and Physical Education. Grade 10 subjects offered by AIS include the following: Extension Mathematics; Mathematics Fundamentals; Extension English; English; English for Second Language Learners; Physics; Chemistry; Biology; Business; History; Health and Physical Education; French; Spanish; Film, Television, and New Media; Theatre; Visual Arts; Arabic; and Islamic Studies.
AIS employs a Senior Education and Training (SET) plan process, which is designed to guide and support students by ensuring targeted learning toward future study and career goals. And to further solidify the best path for each student, AIS offers two internationally acclaimed secondary course options for Grades 11 and 12: The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) and The Australian Based Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). The school explains that both programs “offer a comprehensive and challenging course of study and prepare students for their transition from school to the demands of higher education and the responsibilities of adulthood”. Students are helped to select their preferred course based on their career pathway, individual abilities, and personal interests.
The IB Diploma program is unique in that it is based on no particular national education system, but is instead a deliberate balance between the breadth and specialisation required by many universities around the world. Students studying the IB Diploma program will select subjects from a number of core areas: Studies in Language and Literature; Language Acquisitions; Individuals and Societies; Experimental Sciences; Mathematics; and the Arts. Students select three subjects at Higher Level and another three at Standard Level, allowing them deeper focus in subjects they are interested in or need for the future.
Current IB subject options at AIS include the following: English Language and Literature; Arabic; French; Spanish; Business Management; Economics; History; Psychology; Physics; Chemistry; Biology; Mathematics (Analysis & Approaches or Applications & Interpretations); and Theatre. AIS also ensures that students who wish to take Arabic or Islamic Studies in Grades 11 and 12 have the option to do so. Finally, in order to be awarded an IB Diploma, students are required to complete the IB Core Program alongside their chosen subjects: they must study Theory of Knowledge as a two-year subject; they must participate in and complete the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) Program; and must submit a 4,000-word Extended Essay written on a research topic of their choosing.
Given how rigorous and broad the IB Diploma is, it is usually best suited for high-achieving all-rounders, and may not be the ideal option for students who require specialisation rather than breadth or who wish to study to their strengths. So, for students who would be better suited to in-depth study in pursuit of a specific career pathway, AIS offers the QCE. There are two programs for students to achieve the QCE: the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) pathway or the Applied pathway.
The QCE ATAR is the Australian equivalent of an IB Diploma – it is an internationally recognised university ranking and is accepted worldwide, including at top institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Ivy League universities. AIS describes the QCE ATAR as a course for students “who are motivated, organised and self-disciplined”, which provides flexibility in subject offerings, allowing students the option to specialise or the option to pursue a broad general education.
Meanwhile, the QCE Applied pathway is for creative and practical students who learn best through applied learning and community connections. AIS explains that this option “suits students who struggle with the writing and study requirements in the IB and ATAR General subjects”; however, this pathway is still recognised by most local UAE universities and allows students to study across the widest range of disciplines.
Subject options for QCE students vary depending on the chosen pathway, but general subjects include a choice between Essential Mathematics, General Mathematics, or Mathematical Methods; a choice between Essential English or General English; and a choice of three or four additional subjects from the AIS subject list. Students who need to take MOE subjects also have the option of taking Arabic, Islamic Studies, and Moral Education, while some university subjects may also be offered, such as Curtin University’s Information and Communication Technology course.
General subject options: English; General Mathematics; Mathematical Methods; Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Business; Economics; and Arabic.
Applied subject options: Essential English; Essential Maths; Science in Practice; Drama in Practice; Media in Practice; Visual Art in Practice; Sport and Recreation; and Business Studies.
As can be seen, AIS offers an incredibly rigorous and far-reaching curriculum for all students – not only is this provided in classes, but AIS also ensures that students are given the chance to develop as individuals outside of classes too. AIS works hard to provide opportunities to its students to develop skills such as leadership or to win awards that might make them stand out from other university applicants. For example, AIS makes sure to celebrate the achievements of its students, recognising those who have performed outstandingly during the Pillar Assemblies and ensuring students are applauded for their different strengths.
Further to awards for all students, AIS also offers promising students the chance to develop leadership skills from a very early age. In Grade 3, students who display positive attitudes, strong motivation, and the skills of future leaders can be nominated for Student Ambassador roles – there are four available roles, one for each of the four pillars (Academic, Cultural, Sporting, or Community). These students are elected through a process that includes a written application, an interview, a speech, and teacher/student vote. The successfully elected students are then responsible for leading their pillar within the Primary School, and also have the chance to liaise with their student leadership counterparts in the Secondary School. This allows students to practice their leadership skills up until Grade 6, when Primary Captains are elected.
Primary Captains liaise with teachers, the staff leadership team, the Secondary Student Leaders, and the community, allowing them to put their gained skills to practice while also learning about individual future opportunities. The role also allows them to represent their peers, lending to the strong community and student-led feel of AIS. Meanwhile, in the Secondary School, the leadership is elected through a process of written application, interview, speech and a teacher/student vote. This leadership team consists of 4 School Captains (2 Boys and 2 Girls from Grade 12), 8 Pillar Leaders (from Grade 12), and 10 Pillar Ambassadors (2 from each Grade to represent each of the Pillars.)
And these kinds of opportunities are not just limited to within school either – AIS gives students the chance to further their leadership skills, independence, and individual talents through a number of local, national, and international programs. Some examples of programs available include Global Leadership Training, Model United Nations, World Challenge Trips, and Subject-specific Trips Abroad. Examples of previous trips include Ski Trips in France and Japan; a World Challenge Expedition to Vietnam; a Leadership Camp in Switzerland; and a trip to London for both Theatre and History students.
Of course, like all of the big international schools, AIS also offers the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It is worth noting that both programs delivered in the Senior School (IB Diploma and QCE) recognise the importance of learning outside of the traditional classroom, and therefore value the Duke of Edinburgh Award as a means to achieve this. Hours completed for the IB Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) program can be counted towards the Award requirements, while students following the QCE pathway are granted one credit toward their senior certificate if they complete the Award before finishing school.
Finally, AIS offers a wide variety of extra-curricular activities available each week, which are provided by external companies. AIS does its best to cater to as many areas of interest as possible, to allow all students the chance to pursue and develop personal talents, as well as try new things. Examples of previous clubs offered by AIS include Ballet; Basketball; Cricket; Cooking; Engineering; Football; Gymnastics; Handicrafts; Homework Club; Karate; Lego; Martial Arts; Music; Performing Arts; Robotics; Mini Tennis; Science; and STEM Club.
AIS considers itself an inclusive school, where its focus is on ‘NEED not DISABILITY’. The AIS community believes that inclusive education is not a project or initiative, but is instead “the progressive development of attitudes, behaviours, systems, and beliefs that enable inclusive education to become a norm”.
To this end, the Wellbeing Team at AIS has developed a ‘Support for Learning’ model which is highly responsive to the needs of all learners. Areas covered by this model include student engagement; aid for those in need of learning support or behaviour support; aid for those who have educational support needs arising from a diagnosed disability or mental health disorder; and aid for those learning English as an additional language or dialect. While this model offers targeted support to students who have development delays, impairments, or special requirements, it also offers extension and enrichment for gifted students as well.
AIS divides inclusion practices into three specific areas: Early Identification; Provision; and Communication. Early Identification means that additional learning needs are assessed for each student at the time of enrolment or within the first few weeks of school (for some students, these needs may have been identified ahead of enrolment). Provision involves a team of trained teachers who work closely with dedicated Learning Assistants to offer in-class support, focused teaching for small groups, one-on-one tuition, and advice on strategies and resources for each student’s specific needs. Finally, Communication ensures that regular meetings are held with classroom teachers, parents, support staff, and external agencies.
In addition to its primary Wellbeing Team, AIS currently has two highly trained Guidance Officers, one based in the Primary School and on based in the Secondary School. These are specialist teachers who can offer a broad range of skills and services to children, parents, and staff. These Guidance Officers are available to provide advice and counselling on educational, behavioural, vocational, personal, social, family, mental health, and wellbeing issues.
In 2018, the Wellbeing Team began developing a Wellbeing Framework, a model which draws on the growing field of positive psychology, which is a scientific field that studies the flourishing and optimal functioning of individuals, groups, and institutions. As the AIS website explains:
“We are incredibly proud to be the only school in the UAE to work with internationally acclaimed positive psychologist and author, Professor Lea Waters (PhD), whose programs are revolutionising wellbeing practice across the globe through the introduction of the Visible Wellbeing (VWB) framework. The VWB framework aims to help our entire schooling community thrive and operates under the notion that ‘when we feel good, we function well,’ a philosophy crucial to effective teaching and learning.”
The Wellbeing Framework developed by AIS is based on the six pathways of the Visible Wellbeing model: Strengths; Emotional Management; Attention and Awareness; Coping and Comprehension; Relationships; and Habits and Goals.
Finally, AIS also employs the Stymie system, in order to encourage inclusivity within the school community. Stymie is “an anonymous email notification system which allows AIS students and families to support feelings of safety and wellbeing for the whole school community by allowing bystanders the chance to ‘Say Something’ and help each other”. For example, the Stymie system allows bystanders to send anonymous notifications to the school when they see incidents of bullying, detailing information such as who was allegedly bullied, by whom, and how often. Because of the anonymous nature of the system, members of the AIS community are encouraged to speak up, without having to worry about social pressures, repercussions from peers, or a lack of knowledge about how to act in a given situation.
What about Academic Achievement?
2019 exam results show impressive achievement from students in both the IB and QCE pathways. In 2019, 100% of the cohort achieved their QCE qualification, while the IB pathway students achieved an average of 30.3 IB points (comparable with a world average of 30 points). 15 out of 18 students were entered for the full diploma, and achieved an 88.2% pass rate. Of the IB students in 2019, 13.33% of pupils achieved 40 points or more, 20% of pupils achieved 35 points or more, and 73.33% achieved 30 points or more.
AIS has a history of strong achievement, an especially impressive result given that the school is frequently reviewed by multiple independent education organisations. The Department of Education Queensland School Improvement Unit (SIU), the International Baccalaureate (IB) World School Department, and the Sharjah Private Schools Education Authority have each marked and measured AIS as ‘Outstanding’ in terms of teaching and learning, results which have been achieved not only during times of traditional teaching, but in relation to the new online learning program that was developed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For example, in a 2019 Review Report by Education Queensland, key findings included the following:
Similarly, the International Baccalaureate (IB) World School Department found no matters that needed to be addressed, and AIS’ 2019 quality assurance review (undertaken by the Queensland DoE School Improvement Unit) confirmed that the school is exceeding the benchmarks of the Australian National School Improvement Tool.
Unlike schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah schools have not participated in regulatory inspections on a regular basis; while there were a few instances of inspections being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, schools did not generally publish the outcomes. With the initiation of SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority), the intention is that schools will be inspected using the common framework already in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, SPEA has decided to seek a collaborative approach with the schools for this process, and although we understand that initial inspections did take place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, results of these inspections have not been published.
As a result of the pandemic, Sharjah schools have participated in Distance Learning Evaluations (DLE), implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), AIS' implementation of distance learning was rated as Developed.
Inspectors found that AIS successfully encouraged students’ attendance and participation by using a wide range of approaches and resources for distance learning. They also noted that student well-being was clearly a high priority at the school, and that individuals were given a clear understanding of what to do if any safety issues arose. Furthermore, the report noted that teachers ensured the learning objectives for each lesson were clear and shared with both parents and students, along with guidelines following the curriculum plans. Teachers were also praised for collaborating fully together when planning, to ensure continuity and momentum in students’ learning. Finally, inspectors felt that through short-term planning “leaders have responded well to changing circumstances and they keep distance learning programmes under constant review”. Similarly, the long-term planning at AIS was thought to fully consider possible future scenarios, and inspectors commended AIS for keeping parents very well informed of this.
However, the review also suggested a number of improvements and developments that could be made as well. For example, inspectors suggested that the school continue to review the range of assessment methods used by teachers, as well as establishing “consistent use of a range of differentiated activities in lessons to meet the needs of all groups of students”. The report also suggested that AIS provide further help and guidance to enable students to take advantage of the flexible deadlines being offered, so that students could take more responsibility in managing their own workloads.
If you would like to read the full inspection report – which we strongly advise you to do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings – you will find it here.
The AIS campus is divided into different teaching blocks which each cater specifically to the four sections of the school: the Early Leaning Centre and Nursery (Block A); the Primary School (Block B); the Junior Secondary School (Block C); and the Secondary School (Blocks D & E). Each block includes dedicated science labs, theatre and movement rooms, music and art rooms, digital technology rooms, and onsite occupational and speech therapy rooms.
The wider campus boasts large, spacious grounds, which include 5 dedicated playground areas and 3 separate ovals; a large gymnasium with changing rooms and a performance stage; a custom-built library and resource centre; prayer rooms; and a school clinic with an MOH certified doctor and two full-time nurses. The award-winning school library is a point of specific pride, containing over 82,000 items.
It is also worth noting that while AIS is spacious and well-equipped, it is also undergoing constant expansion and improvements. 2021 has seen the start of an extensive refurbishment of the ELC rooms, which includes new flooring and furniture; new indoor learning resources; a STEM exploration area; a refurbished gross motor/perceptual motor programme area; a new, specifically-designed outdoor learning area; and a new playground.
There are also a number of improvements and developments currently being undertaken throughout the wider AIS campus: new classrooms, with new furniture and resources; new teaching labs; a new Reception area and related office; new playgrounds with grass, soft fall, seating, and rest areas; a new oval with seating and fences; new lunch and rest areas with seating; a new AIS café; new painting and flooring throughout the school; new buses; new sound and lighting in the gym; a new phone system which includes all classrooms; new photocopiers throughout the school; a new bus monitoring app and student safety system; an upcoming Primary School auditorium; an upcoming new car park; and upcoming communication improvements which will include a new website and newsletter.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a total of 56 reviews for AIS, and they paint a very positive picture of the school. Responses for areas such as student happiness, student achievement, and parent satisfaction all show that AIS has a lot of support from its community.
Reviews from parents suggest that student life at AIS is a happy and enriching experience: 80% of all parent responders reported that their child felt either quite a bit of belonging (21%) or a tremendous amount of belonging (59%) at AIS. Similarly, 76% of parents thought that their child enjoyed going to school either quite a bit (13%) or tremendously (63%), and 86% reported that AIS has improved their child’s confidence either a great deal (45%), a lot (21%), or a moderate amount (20%).
In terms of academic performance at the school, responses show that parents are confident in AIS’ ability to ensure high student achievement. 72% of reviewers were satisfied with their child’s academic performance, compared to only 6% who were unsatisfied. It should be noted that 100% of responders also felt that additional tutoring at home was needed to supplement school learning – however, given AIS’ dedication to involving parents in each child’s learning journey, it is perhaps unsurprising that the school would encourage assistance from family members outside of school hours.
Parent satisfaction in general seems to be high across many areas. For example, 55% of parents totally agreed that the school offers good value for money, when considered in terms of its standard of education, with another 20% partially agreeing. In addition, 77% of parent reviewers reported feeling either quite (30%) or extremely confident (47%) that the school could meet their child’s specific learning needs. Similar numbers offered positive views on the level of feedback received from AIS (71% satisfied and only 16% unsatisfied) and on the school’s disciplinary policy (71% satisfied and only 11% unsatisfied). The majority of reviewers (45%) reported being not at all concerned about issues like bullying, while another 18% were only slightly concerned – this shows that of 56 reviews, over at least half of them were from parents who consider AIS to be a safe, inclusive environment.
Perhaps the most telling questions on the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey ask about whether parents have ever considered moving their child from the school, or if they would recommend the school to another parent. For AIS, only 29% of responders said they had thought about alternative schools, an impressively low number which suggests parents and students are very content at AIS. Furthermore, 73% of responders said they would recommend AIS to another parent, showing that the popularity the school courts in Sharjah is still going strong.
If you are a parent, teacher, or senior student at AIS, please share your experience with other potential members of your school community by taking part in our survey.
Fees at AIS reflect the quality of the staff, the facilities, and the education students can expect to receive. Annual fees are paid in three instalments, one each term, and range from AED 36,700 for ELC, Prep, and Grade 1 students, to AED 66,300 for Grade 12 students. There is also an AED 200 Health Services fee which is applicable to all students (this should be paid with the 1st term tuition fees) and annual bus fees total up to AED 6,990.
While there are no detailed explanations of scholarships on the AIS website, it does note that scholarships are available through application, so the school can be contacted for further details. The school should also be contacted for campus tours, although these are currently suspended due to Covid-19.
The application for enrolment process at AIS begins with age appropriate assessments based on work that current pupils are undertaking. Students who are of Arabic nationality or have a passport from a GCC country must also pass an assessment in Arabic. Once the application has been submitted, prospective students and parents will be invited to book an Enrolment Interview, by completing the relevant form and making a non-refundable payment of AED 1,000 per child (this fee is required within one week of acceptance of enrolment in order to secure a place).
Students enrolling in Grades 10, 11, or 12 must complete a SET plan as part of the subject selection process, and upon commencement of enrolment must undergo an appointment with the Secondary Guidance Officer. Interviews range from 30 minutes for ELC – Grade 9 students, and can run up to 60 minutes for Grade 10 – 12 applicants. If a diagnostic assessment is required, an additional 30 minutes will be required for the interview.
Australian International School Sharjah 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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