Diyar International Private School Fujairah is one of two schools bearing the same name; the second branch is located at Dibba.
The story so far...
Diyar International Private School (DIPS) was established in 2013 under the ownership of Fujairah National Group, under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Saleh Bin Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi and Dr. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saleh Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi. The school offers an enhanced US curriculum.
Chairman, Dr. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saleh Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi in introducing Diyar International Private School notes that "At Diyar International Private School, our goal is to prepare students so they have knowledge to succeed and skills and competencies demanded of their future world. Our classrooms at DIPS are set up to invoke critical thinking where solutions are often found by the student, together with the teacher. This is all part of developing life skills in students especially in our digital age where there is an abundance of education of information readily available – “often in the palm of one’s hand.”
DIPS educates children from KG1 to Grade 12 - the first cohort of Grade 12 students will graduate from the school in Summer 2020. The school is fed by local nurseries in Fujairah with which the school has partnership agreements and also admits students from all over the UAE following family relocation to Fujairah.
Children are in co-educational classes from KG1 to Grade 3 inclusive, after which, they are taught in separate single-gender classes. Currently the school is attended by some 1,375 students, the majority of whom attend the KG and Elementary school sections. The Middle School has just under 200 students, whilst the High School section (from Grades 9 to 12) has just over 50 students.
Whilst these numbers seem low, they ensure that students receive a great deal of individual attention, with a staff:student ratio of 1:5 at this level, compared with 1:12 in the lower sections of the school. Average class sizes are approximately 20, with a maximum class size of 24. Students come from 40 different nationalities with the highest proportion - some 80% - Emirati, followed by Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian students at 3% each.
Diyar International Private School's Mission Statement 'is to ensure every child, experiences amazing learning, loves school and makes great progress'. Its Vision defines the school's ambition - 'Compared to other schools in Fujairah, the Diyar School team believes that children need to control their own learning in order to develop a real love for learning. By engaging our students in hands-on, critical thinking and problem-solving activities, through to a diverse range of interesting learning opportunities, we build their independence and confidence and enable them to become resilient, life-long learners. We see our students growing into adaptable young adults capable of embracing the challenges of the future, leading and influencing others. What sets us apart is our student internship programs, our excellent careers advise and our determination that our students will develop skills which prepare them fully for life beyond school'.
The 142 staff and 36 teaching assistants come from a wide range of countries, and are expected to have US curriculum and, ideally, UAE experience in recognition of the high proportion of Emirati students. Diyar International Private School appreciates the importance of recruiting teachers who understand and embrace local culture. Currently teachers have been recruited mainly from South Africa, and others from UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, GCC, UAE (13), Europe, Uganda, and Nigeria.
All teachers AND Teaching or Learning Assistants have a teaching qualification. These are mainly Bachelor’s degrees in Education or Early Childhood Education, or a Bachelor’s Degree accompanied by a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Exceptions are not made in respect of full-time teachers, but DIPS does have two intervention teachers who are awaiting completion of their qualifications to provide substitution and cover. The Head Teaching Assistant is also Cache Level 3 qualified – a course of study we recommend and support for all Teaching Assistants.
Not only are we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com impressed by the clear and stringent commitment to qualified staff, but also to the school's obvious commitment to staff training and professional development!
Annually DIPS spends around AED1 million on Professional Development, including Safer Recruitment Training for all leaders, Child Protection Training for all staff, the Visible Skills training programme for teachers, the I-Lead Programme for the Senior Leadership Team and Middle Leaders, First Aid and Emergency Aid training and Fire Safety training. In addition, DIPS provides a high quality, comprehensive in-house Continuing Professional Development programme as well as cross school visits.
What about the curriculum?
DIPS offers an American curriculum based on the New York State Common Core standards for Maths with New Generation Standards for English Arts and Science. Currently the school does not yet have accreditation through one of the US-based Schools and Colleges Associations (a requirement in Dubai and Abu Dhabi), but is considering accreditation through Cognia (an accreditation agency for international schools offering the US curriculum, previously known as AdvancED). At this point in time, with the first small cohort of students about to graduate and likely to attend university in the UAE, this is not a major concern, but this will need to be addressed as more international students potentially join the school and seek to enter university or college overseas.
The school offers an enhanced American curriculum that includes English, Mathematics, Science, a Foreign language and IT. DIPS also provides the three compulsory subjects from the Ministry of Education: Islamic Education, Arabic, and Social Studies. In the KG and Elementary section, the curriculum is combined with the International Primary Curriculum (an off-shoot of the UK National Curriculum) using a thematic approach to learning. The overall curriculum is designed to meet the unique and diverse educational needs of each Diyar student, as well as to reach the maximum potential of national and international students. The school is targeting continuous development of the students through maximizing the use of technology in the classes and by providing smart laptops to students in grades 1 to 8.
DIPS told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that "Our teachers focus relentlessly on each child’s ability to surprise themselves. We believe learning is about getting better, academically, socially, physically and emotionally. Amazing Learning happens when students are mentored and supported in ways that suit their individual learning needs. Teachers inspire, nurture and equip each child to achieve learning which amazes them and their parents and enables them to embrace the exciting future they face. We aim for a balance of science and the arts through cross-curricular projects. There is an emphasis on innovation and creativity running through the school as demonstrated through STEAM through which we are determined to promote The Arts in our curriculum."
Core subjects taught in the KG and Elementary sections include English/Literacy, Math/Numeracy, Science, Moral Education, Art, Music, PE, Drama, and Digital Learning. In the Middle School and High School sections, Drama is removed from the timetable to enable students to choose electives. These subject choices are under revision, but currently students can choose one of 6 elective pathways: Language (French), History, Business & Economics, Math & Science (which include Trigonometry, Statistics and Health Science), Fine Arts & Design and Computer Science. DIPS is piloting a STEAM elective option for students in 2019-2020.
Students, in collaboration with their parents, choose which pathway they would like to follow in Middle and High School. Information sessions are conducted with students and parents and career counseling sessions are held to support students in making these decisions. SAT support and preparation classes are offered to students in Grade 9 - 11, whilst IELTS support and preparation time is also scheduled into Grade 12 students' schedules.
In addition to the core academic programme, DIPS also offers an extensive range of clubs and activities including Football Club, Basketball Club, Painting Club, Painting on Glass Club, Fitness Club, Drama Club, Indoor Games Club, Chess club, Arts & Crafts, Cooking Club, Computer Keyboard skills Club, STEM Club, Quran Recitation, Book club (Reading), Arabic Reading Club, Maths Club and Basketball Coaching.
Extra-curricular activities are free of charge and open to all students. There is currently a Real Madrid Soccer Academy based at the school which offers subsidized extra-curricular coaching sessions to Diyar students on a weekly basis, if they are unable to attend evening sessions. The school has recently entered into a partnership with an outside provider for free basketball sessions as part of the enhanced PE programme, which will also be offered as an extra-curricular activity.
A particular strength of DIPS is its extensive network of other companies within the Fujairah National Group fraternity, who are able to offer work experience and internships to older students in industries such as Aviation, Marketing and Advertising, Medical and Health, Cosmetic Surgery, Construction, Security, Transport, Hospitality, Education, Human Resources, Public Relations and Finance. With the increasing emphasis on practical work experience for school leavers and college students, Deyar students are in a strong position to enhance their CVs.
What about Academic Achievement?
As a US curriculum school, students participate in MAP and CAT 4 as well as UAE International assessments such as TIMMS, PISA and PIRLS. All Grade 4 and Grade 8 students participated in TIMSS 2019. It is anticipated that they will again take part in the 2023 TIMSS cycle. DIPS' 15 year old students took part in PISA in 2018 and are expected to take this assessment in 2021.
DIPS students also participate in external MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments which take place three times each academic year. All Grades 3 to 12 students take MAP tests to measure the meeting of growth targets and attainment. Progress in MAP is ‘good’ across the school in key subjects. Middle and High School students also sit SAT and MSAT tests.
What the inspectors say
The inspection of private schools in the Northern Emirates (excluding Sharjah) remain the responsibility of the UAE Ministry of Education. Inspection reports are not published. According to the school, Diyar International Private School was rated Acceptable in the most recent inspection. Recent changes in the leadership of the schools, with the appointment of a highly respected CEO who joined the FNG from International Schools Partnership, are designed to ensure that the schools (both Dibba and Fujairah) continue strongly on their improvement journey.
What about inclusion?
According to the school, a number of students have been identified with SEND requirements and with a full diagnosis. Almost all students are studying English as an additional language, and again a number receive intensive EAL support and intervention to ensure they are able to access the curriculum and the assessments. The current Inclusion team includes an English SEN teacher, an Arabic SEN teacher and one Teaching Assistant, as well as two counsellors, two Behaviour Counselors and a Careers Counselor.
From the 2020 academic year there will be an Achievement Leader, Special Needs Coordinator, 3 SEND teachers, a Family Liaison/Parenting Officer, and a Psychologist added to the team. There are a number of students identified as very high achievers compared to their peers (Gifted) and a further group identified as ‘talented’ in one or more areas. Students who enter the school with little or no English have their language skills evaluated using the Additional Language Framework. They are allocated intensive or in-class support on the basis of their acquisition levels. IELTS support and preparation time is also scheduled into Grade 12 learners' schedules.
What about the facilities?
DIPS has the best sports facilities in Fujairah with a sports hall, gymnasium, astro-turf pitch with floodlights, full size and trainer swimming pools and a theatre/auditorium. The STEAM labs are also without compare in Fujairah. Facilities are extensive, including 136 Classrooms, with some 115 Interactive white boards, eight Computer and Science Laboratories, seven Art Rooms, two Music Rooms, a Library, four Student Canteens, a staff Canteen, six Prayer Rooms, two Gymnasia, two Swimming Pools and four Playgrounds.
There is no question that, in the appointment of a new CEO and improvements in key staff positions, staff training and development and overall investment in the school, the owners are clearly committed to improved quality in the educational provision to students in Fujairah. We are interested to see how this investment is reflected in school inspections that will follow.
What about the Fees?
Fees at Diyar International Private School Fujairah start at AED 17,000 (plus a book fee of AED 1,000) in KG1, AED 17,500 (plus book fees of AED 1,500) in KG2, rising to AED 19,000 (plus AED 1,500) in Grades 1 to 3, and AED 21,000 (plus AED 1,800) for Grades 4 and 5. Senior school fees start at AED 22,000 (plus AED 2,000) for Grades 6 to 8, rising to AED 27,000 (plus AED 2,700) for Grade 12.
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