The ENS campus in Mohammed Bin Zayed City was established in 2002 and is the oldest branch of the Emirates National Schools which are also located on Abu Dhabi Island, Al Ain, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. Although set up essentially with the aim of educating Emirati students, who make up over 90% of students at the Abu Dhabi campuses, the schools are also open to, and attract, students of other nationalities.
ENS MBZ is located on a large campus split across 5 buildings to accommodate the Primary School (whose new building opened in 2015), and the Girls and Boys separated Middle and High Schools. The school has been extremely successful at attracting local families with a current number of students of 3319. KG alone has over 600 students, followed by the Primary School with over 1,440, the Middle School with just under 900 students and the High School with approximately 380 students.
As would be expected in this location, the largest nationality group (96%) is Emirati, with Omani, Jordanian and Western students each making up a further 1%. Students are taught by a team of 223 teachers and a further 62 teaching assistants, with a staff:student ratio of 1:16 across each phase of the school. In the two years prior to the last ADEK inspection in 2016, staff turnover was 27%. This sounds on the high side, and is above average for the UAE (which runs at around 22% annually), but with most international teachers being employed on 2 year contracts, this is an inevitable aspect of school life in the UAE.
The main curriculum at ENS MBZ is the Colorado State Common Core (American) curriculum, but the school is also authorised and is implementing the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme across all sections of the school. This will impact the way in which subjects are taught as a result of the IB's integrated and enquiry approach, but will cover the same content as the US curriculum. The school carries out a range of standardised tests including AP, SAT, MAP, EMSA, IELTS, and PSAT. It is accredited by AdvancED, the International Baccalaureate Organisation and the US College Board.
The ENS MBZ City Campus is the largest school in the world holding the International Baccalaureate Organization’s Primary Years Programme Authorization. Students in grades 9 to 12 have the option of studying for an American Diploma or the IB Diploma programme.
Teaching Staff are all certified, experienced, and capable of teaching the American Common Core curriculum, and use the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) program to assess student progress in learning in the areas of Language, Arts and Mathematics.
The School's aim is ‘To inspire students to take a leading, creative and caring role in an internationally-minded learning community that empowers them to be independent thinkers, open minded and global contributors, so that they actively achieve their full potential in a changing world, while preserving their national identity.’
Facilities at the large campus are specific to each section but include an indoor swimming pool, outside sports areas, large classrooms fitted with interactive white boards, computer and science laboratories and specialist classrooms/facilities for Art, Music and PE.
The last ADEK inspection took place in February 2016 (a new inspection is imminent at the time of writing). The overall performance of the school was rated Good with this rating being given to all six key indicators.
What the inspectors say:
The principal [who had been in post for two years at the time of the inspection] has a genuine commitment to providing a high quality of education. He, along with the proprietor, the managing board of directors, senior leaders and staff, have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development.
The staff are focused on raising students’ achievement across all the phases. Children in the kindergarten (KG) enter with low attainment. Teachers in the KG and the primary phases plan lessons where students are actively engaged and challenged. This enables the students to build their basic learning skills, particularly in English language development, which helps them to make good progress.
Generally, students’ attainment is rated Acceptable across all 4 sections of the school, whilst progress is a mix of Acceptable and Good across all subjects and phases. The Middle School tends to have more Acceptable ratings for progress than the other 3 sections. This is a specific issue to the Boys' section of the school where there have clearly been challenges in behaviour management. Learning Skills (including innovation, creativity, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving and collaboration), are rated Good in KG, Primary and High School, but acceptable in the Middle School.
Attainment overall in the KG, the Primary phase and of all girls in the core subjects is in line with age-related, national and international expectations. This is significant because the KG, the Primary phase and all girls represent most (80%) of the school’s population. The attainment of a minority of boys who do not reach levels in line with their age related expectations is as a consequence of their weak behaviour.
This is evident in the MoE results in Arabic medium subjects and results of the Measurement of Academic Performance (MAP) tests, IB assessments and Diploma results. More girls than boys entered for the IB Diploma in Grade 11 and Grade 12 in the first year of the course in 2015. In 2016, equal numbers of boys and girls were entered. Unfortunately, ENS MBZ does not publish its exam results and it is not therefore possible to determine how well they performed compared with other IB candidates in the UAE or internationally.
The inspectors noted that there has been Good progress since the previous inspection - there are improvements in all the performance standards. Teaching and assessment are good and this has impacted positively on improving academic standards in Arabic, English, Mathematics and Science. The American curriculum in the KG and the IB framework in the Primary are now well established and this is impacting positively on the good progress being made by the children in the KG and the students in the primary phases. The introduction of a broader range of physical education (PE) activities has had a positive impact on both boys’ behaviour and increased the interest of the girls in sport.
Opportunities for students to develop their innovation skills is fully integrated through the structure of the American curriculum and the IB programme. Curriculum provision is carefully aligned to cross-curricular links and opportunities to develop students’ research skills, inquiry and critical thinking. Student’s also develop a broad range of skills in Music, Art, physical education (PE) and information and communication technology (ICT) and achieve levels above the national curriculum standards particularly in PE.
The personal development of most students in the school is good. They enjoy learning and demonstrate positive and responsible attitudes towards their work and around the school. The good behaviour of most students is respectful. Students’ positive relationships contribute well to a friendly and harmonious learning community.
The quality of teaching in the school is good overall. It is strongest in KG, Primary and for girls across the school. Teachers have good subject knowledge; they understand how students learn and lessons are well planned to closely follow the American and IB curricula to provide continuity of learning across subjects. Teachers use the opportunities for cross-curricular links between a number of subjects such as the study of Arabic and UAE culture.
Assessment is an integral part of the American and IB curricula. As a part of the regular testing, the school generates thorough benchmarking for individual students across the grades. It has implemented the primary IB framework which is well established and effective. Both the boys’ and the girls’ schools are authorised to deliver the IB Middle Years (MYP) Programme. The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) is academically challenging for older students.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students is good. The school’s procedures provide a safe and secure environment for students and staff. Similarly, the overall leadership and management of the school is good. The Principal has ensured that a clear vision is shared with all stakeholders including governors, senior leaders, staff, students and parents. There are good relationships and communication at all levels within the school and with the wider community. Parents provide positive views and there is regular feedback to parents on the performance of their children.
Students in the high school are encouraged to make career choices and are actively supported with their choices of university and guidance with applications. Although, there are no formal procedures to identify SEN students or those who are gifted and talented, there is support for higher and lower attaining students who, as a result, make effective progress in lessons.
The inspectors identified the strengths of the school as the effectiveness of school leaders; the quality of teaching and the progress students make as a result of this; the promotion of UAE culture, heritage and Islamic values; the quality of education in Kindergarten and Primary phases, and the effectiveness of the curriculum.
Areas of improvement were identified as the requirement for further improvement to students’ attainment across the key subjects; the management of behaviour for a minority of boys; teachers’ consistent use of assessment, and improved punctuality of students.
It seems that ENS MBZ is making consistently good progress across all key areas of the school. It will be interesting to see what further progress has been made following the next inspection due to take place in the 2017-18 academic year. It is also interesting to note that the inspectors have been so positive in relation to the changes to the curriculum with the implementation of the IB programme, which is not widely offered in Abu Dhabi, but is becoming very well regarded, particularly for university entry in many parts of the world.
Fees are at the high end with KG at AED 23,30 to AED 55,920 for Grade 12.
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