Brilliant International Private School (BIPS) is a Cambridge International Curriculum school for Pre-KG to Grade 11. Located in a modern, custom-built building, BIPS is dedicated to shaping students into successful and responsible citizens.
Brilliant International Private School opened its doors in 2013 in the Muwaileh School Area of Sharjah. BIPS is a project borne of a number of educators and philanthropists who have pledged to take students beyond simple education and into a holistic environment based on the highest academic, social, and physical achievement. The school is open from pre-KG (FS1) to Grade 11 (Year 12).
BIPS’ principal, Benjamin Barry, brings to the school a focus on community and student involvement. In his words, the school’s vision:
“embraces the challenges of academic improvement, responsibility, self-motivation, emotional awareness and participation in a wide variety of activities”.
BIPS is a school that focuses on the character of a student, rather than just their academic ability, believing that good character is foundational to a great human being; BIPS extolls the core values of self-esteem, self-discipline, and a sense of justice. The school’s ethos says it all:
“Our thoughts are causes. You sow a thought; you reap an action. You sow an action; you reap a habit. You sow a habit; you reap a character. You sow a character; you reap a destiny. It all starts with a thought!”
BIPS follows the Cambridge International Curriculum for both primary and secondary, which help students work towards their IGCSEs and is recognised by universities and employers worldwide. The curriculum is international in its approach, complemented with the mandatory subjects set out by the Ministry of Education. This combined approach ensures that students are being challenged and inspired by a flexible curriculum that reflects both their local environment and wider global contexts.
BIPS’ Kindergarten curriculum is focused on the UK's Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and is divided into six areas: Personal, Social, and Emotional Development; Communication, Language, and Literacy; Mathematical Development; Knowledge and Understanding of the World; Creative Development; and Physical Development. Throughout the primary school, BIPS looks to lay a strong foundation in numeracy, literacy, and ICT, as its educators believe that these are the vital areas that will form the bedrock of learning ability and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge. Core subjects include English, Maths, Science, and ICT whilst French, Urdu or Hindi as second languages are also offered.
ICT training in particular starts in Grade 1 and follows the Cambridge ICT Curriculum for Primary Years. The school’s E-Safety programme seeks to train both staff and students in responsible use of the internet and how to ensure safety online.
BIPS understands how integral technology is to the world and how fast it is developing, so looks to help students and staff evaluate material online and use it in a positive way with the help of the school’s E-Safety Coordinator and E-Safety team.
Moving into the secondary school, the Cambridge curriculum is divided into Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary; this ensures that there is a continuous and clear progression from primary education to secondary. Lower Secondary teaches the following subjects: English; Mathematics; Science; Arabic; Islamic Studies; Social Studies; Moral Education; French; Urdu; Music; Physical Education; Art; and Information Technology. The Quran and Islamic Studies are taught with special emphasis on recitation to Muslim students, while non-Muslim students take Moral Studies.
In Upper Secondary, students work towards their Cambridge IGCSEs. In Grade 9 begin to study the core subjects, along with the chance for students to choose from a number of optional subjects. BIPS runs the IGCSE over a three year period (rather than the more common two year period offered by most traditional UK curriculum schools). Unless special dispensation is sought, all students take the following: English Language; Mathematics; Business Studies; Information Technology; Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Physical Education (non-examined); Islamic Studies (for Muslim students only); Arabic as a First Language (for Arab passport holders only); and Arabic as a Second Language (this is not compulsory for non-Arab students). Students study either Double Award Science, or take a minimum of two single Sciences. If students don’t take Arabic as a Second Language or only select two single Sciences, they have the opportunity to choose additional subjects as replacements. These options include: Geography; History; French; Urdu; and Physical Education.
Beyond the teaching curriculum, BIPS believes that in order to develop well-balanced individuals, pupils must have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extra and co-curricular activities. Arts, sports, athletics, literary, and cultural activities are woven into daily school life, and available activities include drawing, painting, debate, public speaking, singing, and drama. There is a particular emphasis on Art and Music as ways to stimulate a student’s intellect and imagination, and the school offers training in singing, tabla, sitar, sarod, flute, drums, violin, and piano. The school also offers various sports teams and swimming sessions as part of the Physical Education programme. To catalyse character development and a sense of social responsibility, all students are motivated to participate in community service events, educational trips, and sporting events.
BIPS offers counsellors to its students, to assist them with both academic and emotional challenges. The school further notes that it will adopt appropriate remedial measures to make up for any English language deficiencies in students transferring from non-English speaking backgrounds. However, the school website provides no details on this.
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, implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), BIPS’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Developed.
Inspectors found the promotion of attendance and participation to be successful, resulting in high attendance rates for online lessons. They especially commended the prioritisation of safeguarding and wellbeing at the school, and mentioned that the wellbeing team “is active and provides effective support when required”. The curriculum was described as “carefully planned and delivered with teachers sharing intended learning outcomes clearly during each lesson”, and both short and long-term plans were considered effective. Short-term plans were found to make good use of weekly reviewing and to provide provisions for parents acting as Covid-19 frontline workers, while longer-term plans were similarly well developed and mapped out online, blended, and traditional education delivery. The report also noted that school resources were effectively managed, and that plans had already been agreed with the school’s Governors to upgrade school equipment.
In terms of areas for development, the Distance Learning Review Report mentioned the need for suitable and up-to-date electronic devices for all students, along with training for how best to utilise them at home (as mentioned above, plans for this are already in place). The report suggested that BIPS continue to work on appropriate online assessment processes and personalised feedback, as well as offering more support and communication for parents as to how they can support their children while learning from home.
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.
What about the Facilities?
BIPS makes frequent mention of its modern, purpose-built facilities, which are designed to offer students the best in teaching environments and recreation spaces. These facilities include a well-stocked library; 3 fully-networked ICT labs with interactive smartboards; well-equipped Biology, Physics, and Chemistry labs; language labs; media labs; an art studio; a swimming pool with separate showers and changing rooms for boys and girls; a gymnasium and fitness club; an 800-seat auditorium; a multipurpose hall with provisions for indoor games and concerts; outdoor playing grounds; a fully shaded primary play area; a health and wellness clinic; a cafeteria with dining halls; and a books and stationery store. Wired classrooms ensure that Information Technology is woven into the school as both a tool and a teaching methodology.
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What about the Fees?
While the majority of schools in Sharjah don’t publish fee information online, BIPS provides detailed fee breakdowns on their school website.
Fees range from AED 13,200 for Pre-KG to AED 24,200 for Grade 11, and are due in three instalments (one for each school term). For the 2021-22 academic year, there is a discounted tuition fee available of between AED 10,000 and AED 20,000, depending on the year group.
Books, uniforms, and transport are not included within the tuition fees (although these separate fees have also been discounted for the 2021-22 academic year). Textbook prices currently range from AED 650 to AED 800, uniform prices range from AED 600 to AED 800, and transportation from Sharjah, Ajman, and Dubai is available at AED 3,000, AED 3,500, and AED 4,5000 respectively (as with the tuition costs, transportation fees are also paid in three instalments).
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