Canadian International School (CIS), located in Khalfa A, Abu Dhabi, offers an Alberta based curriculum to its 59 different nationalities of students, of which Canadian (23%), Emirati (13.5%), and American (13.5%) are the most prevalent. Just under one half of pupils are Muslim.
The school is rated in the high performing A band by ADEC, Abu Dhabi's education regulator, and more specifically A3 (Good). There are a select few schools in the A2 (Very Good) band. Standards and achievement in English, Maths and Science are high - and the Alberta based curriculum is praised for its encouragement of independent thinking. Arabic progression is said to be average. Indeed, Arabic seems to be one of the key inhibitors to Canadian International joining the schools in the A2 banding.
The school, founded in 2007, largely competes with the capital's North American schools for the affections of parents and students. No other school in the capital offers the Alberta based curriculum, which can be a draw for some parents with its very child centered approach to learning. One other directly Canadian school is the Abu Dhabi Grammar School (offering the Nova Scotia based HS Diploma). Both Canadian schools are, in terms of fees, considerably more competitive than the majority of the US curriculum based alternatives.
The Alberta high school diploma is based on a credit system. To obtain the diploma senior students must be awarded 100 credits. Students are awarded credits for each course they pass. In addition, Grade 12 students must write and pass diploma examinations in core subject areas to graduate. Diploma examinations are provincially administered and account for 50 percent of the students’ final grade in the course.
The school's modern purpose built compound in Khalifa City A, 30 Km from the denser Abu Dhabi city centre itself, affords it a relatively high level of facilities - praised in large part by students and their parents. Its main building has four wings: one for KG, one for grades 1 and 2, one for grades 3 to 6 and one for the high school. It also holds a library, science labs, a computer lab, and an elementary art room. Most classrooms come equipped with interactive smart boards.
The school's annex houses a gymnasium, a newly renovated 25-foot indoor pool, a music room, a dance studio and "an enormous art studio" where students have the space to" create amazing works of art".
The campus also includes a grass soccer field, a central turf playing field, a separate elementary school playground and an indoor, air-conditioned KG playground.
The school says it puts emphasis on producing well rounded individuals through both its curriculum and its extracurricular activities. These "can" include: Football, Basketball, Swimming, Tae Kwon Do, Mad Science, Chess Club, Art Club, Photography Club, Drama Club, Golf, Music Lessons, Language Lessons, Experiential Field Trips, School-Wide Celebrations and Student Council
Parents at the school seem largely satisfied at the CIS offering, although not so clearly expressed as those attending the Abu Dhabi Grammar School. Students tend to be the most positive of the triumvirate of stakeholders (teachers, parents and pupils). From the feedback we have received there is a genuine attempt to tailor each programme to the progress and abilities of each student, and teachers are said to be warm, caring and highly approachable. The latter seems to be a draw for parents, who appreciate the contact the school affords. The least contented of the three appear to be the teachers with the fairly typical grumbling over salaries and accommodation (always a difficulty in the capital). Some parents have complained over a relatively high turnover of staff - although this is believed to have improved over the last two years.
The latest report finds that the school has continued to achieve even though there has been instability in leadership. "[good quality of teaching] has been maintained in spite of two years of instability and change in senior leadership. Governance is weak because of the absence of an effective governing body. This has meant that the school has lacked consistent
The school runs from 8 am to 3 pm from KG 2 onward. KG 1 pupils finish at 1pm.
Fees for the school range from 35,000 AED for KG1 up to 46,500 AED for Grade 12 which does not include transportation, uniform, field trips and special student activities.
There is also a non-refundable 500 AED application fee. Note, the school admission starts with a test to check ability to succeed at the school.
If CIS is on your shortlist, the school has an excellent parent handbook which may be downloaded here.
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I am wondering what the chances are of getting a spot in January 2015 for our daughter who will be 4 years and 5 months by then.