Al Khaleej International Private School is a US curriculum school based in the Al Azar area of Sharjah. The school offers a unique integrated American and Montessori curriculum aimed at enhancing children’s social, intellectual, physical, and emotional development. It opened on a purpose-built campus in 2015, and educates children from KG to Grade 12.
Beaconhouse Al Khaleej International School (AKIS) is a US curriculum school offering education to students from KG1 to Grade 12. It is part of the Beaconhouse Educational Services MENA group, and is one of four schools within the region. The others are Beaconhouse Newlands School Dubai, Beaconhouse Private School Al Ain, and Beaconhouse Private School Oman. The Beaconhouse group has over 300,000 students in eight countries, and is among the largest school networks of its kind in the world.
The Beaconhouse Group (long and complex) Vision statement is: Beaconhouse values its heritage while it continues to reinvent its educational approach to meet the needs of the future. We believe that modern methods and attitudes can enable students to achieve their fullest potential. With the world and the needs of the community changing at an ever-increasing rate, Beaconhouse endeavours to be open to change, to adapt, innovate and keep pace with the oals that society expects. At Beaconhouse, our aim and belief is that through effort and hard work, students will be able to step confidently into the highly competitive ‘real world’. We ensure that they are equipped with the ability to make mature and well-informed judgements based on a clear understanding of essential principles, concepts and moral values. This, we believe, is the best contribution we can make towards their development as productive members of society and, through them, to the country and the wider world.”
Its Mission is as follows: “Beaconhouse aims to provide quality education of an international standard. We aim for excellence through quality management, quality training and quality teaching, bringing benefits to our students, the community and the wider world.”.
The staff of Al-Khaleej International School believes that in order to accomplish its vision and mission, “all lifelong learners should live with our most valued morals, which include: Caring, accepting, and respecting others, setting high expectations for success, visionary leadership, pursuing creativity [and] Societal responsibility.”
AKIS aims to empower young people from a wide range of diverse backgrounds to be fully prepared for living happy and fulfilled lives in the context of a rapidly changing world. AKIS endeavours to be open to change, adapt, innovate and keep pace with the ever increasing needs of the society, in order to equip its students for the challenges of the 21st Century.
The school currently employs close to 100 staff and educates approximately 500 students with a capacity for around 800 students when full. The teacher:student ratio of 1:25, is on the high side but in line with other schools at a similar price-point. Teachers come from the US, UK, South Africa, and Nigeria among other countries and are expected to be “transformative educators”, able to assist all types of students at different academic levels with various abilities and learning styles.
The leadership of the school has recently changed to Dr. Terry Burwell. In his introduction to the school, Dr. Burwell says, "I am thrilled and excited to have joined Beaconhouse Al-Khaleej International School (BAKIS), and I am looking forward to spending many years here at the school. We have undergone considerable change in the last 24 months, and I am deeply thrilled to be part of the direction we are headed in together. I believe in educating the whole child, inculcating environmental awareness, responsibility and leadership and in enriching and extending both in the curriculum and in the extra-curriculum."
Dr. Burwell has clearly been chosen to lead the school for his experience. As a native of Ontario, Canada, he spent 26 years working in the State sector. He comments, "As a current Adjunct Professor in Higher Education, I know first-hand the skills that tomorrow’s students, today, need to be successful. I spent the last 21 years as Principal, so I can assure you that I bring a wealth of experience and wisdom to the role here at BAKIS."
Al Khaleej International School offers an advanced American curriculum that is associated with the state of California’s Common Core standards of education. AKIS’s New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation is under process.
The school offers the following subjects: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Robotics, ICT, Life Skills and Social Studies, Art, Music, Physical and Moral Education and a choice of Modern Foreign Language. In common with other UAE schools, AKIS also follows MOE’s mandatory subjects of Arabic, Islamic Studies, UAE Social Studies and Moral Education for Arabs and Non-Arabs.
In addition to the core US curriculum, the school offers the Montessori approach to education in respect of the way in which the curriculum is taught. Although largely viewed as a nursery curriculum, there are schools that offer the Montessori approach through Elementary and Middle school also. Al Khaleej International School is the first in the UAE to offer this combined curriculum.
The creators of the Montessori approach believe that every student is an absorbent mind who can adapt to culture, time, and place. AI Khaleej International School has adapted the Montessori theoretical approach and applied it to its curriculum content. It embraces creativity and imagination through sensorial experiences, so students can be inventive.
Montessori emphasises learning through all five senses. It is not just simply through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is designed to be an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones.
In addition to the Montessori approach, the school offers a more traditional STEM Program designed to educate students in the four specific disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates students into a cohesive learning thought process based on real-world applications.
Students are expected to take personal responsibility for their education including: developing an academic plan to create a good balanced studying routine; developing good study skills by ensuring adequate time for studying class material; coming to class prepared through taking responsibility to complete all assigned tasks; taking full advantage of all available academic resources; and by being an active participant in class and extracurricular activities.
As a Montessori and American curriculum school, Al Khaleej International School selects American books and products that are approved by the Ministry of Education. Teachers use various types of English, Math, and Science kits. The KG department is well resourced with toys used for learning, and books. It also has its own stage, play and eating area. Children have access to hands on tools for their cognitive development guided by the teacher and department head.
The school says that it celebrates diversity and promotes a positive learning environment in respect to the Islamic culture. Accordingly, Al Khaleej International School offers a Quran Memorisation Programme which is dedicated to helping Muslim Students to memorise Quran during the school day. The students are required to memorise the assigned parts of Quran and recite them weekly to the Quran Teacher. Additionally, teachers use a modern, but conservative approach in teaching methods.
In addition to the main curriculum, the school also offers an Extracurricular programme that takes place on Wednesday afternoons. Students may participate in activities such as French, ICT, Music, Drama, STEM (Engineering), Chess Club, Art, Sports and Stick Construction.
It seems likely, under the influence of the new Principal, that further options may well be in store. Dr. Burwell comments, "I love to grow all aspects of our calendar, curriculum and co-curricular programs to ensure we inspire and extend all students with leadership and service opportunities aplenty, whether it be the performing arts, art, and design, languages, literature, history, geography, science, computer science, technology, engineering, mathematics, sport, outward bound activity, Model United Nations, community service, environmental work or entrepreneurship."
AKIS assesses students’ attainment and progress through comprehensive analysis of International Benchmark assessments such as MAP, PSAT, SAT, AP, TIMSS, PISA, and CAT4.
The school also offers Advance Placement courses for students in grades 11 and 12. Students who have completed a prerequisite course in subjects such as Biology, Math, Physics, a foreign language and Geography among others during Grades 9 and 10 are eligible to choose from 38 courses. Not all of them are provided by the school, but students may register for assistance in preparation for the AP exam. In addition, the school offers SAT testing and English Language testing (IELTS), designed to ensure that students are qualified for College.
The school states that it offers state of the art facilities and educational tools. The classrooms are unique and different from traditional schools in that each class is considered to be a "smart" class. Each class is equipped with a smart board, tables and contour flexible chairs, which are designed to make a child’s learning experience enjoyable. Classrooms are also designed to enable collaborative and multi-functional activities. This approach aims to make learning more engaging by giving students more visual rather than static images.
AKIS aims to ensure an enjoyable learning environment through its strong infrastructure which includes state of the art indoor and outdoor sports areas, Primary and Secondary libraries, general and specialist science laboratories, a Robotics Lab, and a Music Room.
In common with most schools in Sharjah, there is no published inspection report in line with the UAE-wide school inspection process.
Historically, inspections were carried out by the Ministry of Education but not widely published. With the establishment of Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), this is set to change, but the fledgling authority is taking a gentle, co-operative approach with schools and has stated that the first inspection reports under their authority will not be published (though individual schools may wish to do so).
However, in the first UAE-wide step towards transparency, SPEA has published the Distance Learning Evaluation report for all schools which was mandated by the Ministry of Education for all schools as the Covid-19 pandemic caused the closure of all schools and the move to distance learning.
Beaconhouse Al Khaleej International School was rated "Developed", the highest rating and is justifiably proud of this achievement. The report can be found here.
There is little independent feedback about the views of parents, teachers or students at Beaconhouse Al Khaleej International School. If you are a current member of the school community, please share your experience with other potential members by completing our survey here.
Fees range from AED 15,000 to AED 25,000. These sums do not include Book fees (which range from AED 500 to AED 2,400 dependent on grade, and school uniforms (only available from the school).
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