The ENS campus in Mohammed Bin Zayed City (ENS MBZ) 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. In September 2021, ENS will open a branch of the school in Dubai.
The first of now a group of soon to be six schools, Emirates National Schools MBZ was the first of the group to be established, opening in Abu Dhabi in 2002.
The Vision of the schools is defined as: "Preparing future leaders through innovation in education and treasuring of cultural heritage" whilst their Mission statement proclaims that "Emirates National Schools aims to provide students with educational programmes that develop character, use technology to improve learning, and prepare students to be leaders and community members".
The ENS group's Chairman of the Board of Directors is His Excellency Ahmed Muhammad Al Humairi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs. The Group was established by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
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.’
ENS MBZ is located on a large campus split across five buildings to accommodate the Primary School (whose separate 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 3,319. KG alone had close to 700 students, followed by the Primary School with over 1,600, the Middle School with over 900 students and the High School with approximately 450 students.
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. 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 240 teachers and a further 11 teaching assistants, with a staff:student ratio of 1:25 across each phase of the school.
In the four years prior to the last ADEK inspection in 2018, staff turnover was 27%. In 2017-18 (when the last inspection took place as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic resulting in cancellations of inspections in 2020), the number was a lower 16%.
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
What the inspectors say:
Having achieved a Good rating in 2015-16 - the minimum rating which the regulators across the UAE expect schools to aspire to - ENS MBZ went one better in the 2017-18 inspection round, achieving the Very Good rating that the Board of the group has targeted for all branches.
Commenting on progress made since the previous inspection, the inspectors noted that "School leaders and staff have successfully improved students’ attainment in all subjects. Attainment for mathematics, science and English has improved overall and now is very good. Attainment for Islamic education, Arabic, social studies and other subjects, has improved in all phases and now is good. It is very good in KG for Arabic. Students in year 12 in 2017 obtained high grades in the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP), the International English Language tests(IELTS) and gained university placements".
In addition, the inspection team noted that "most teachers are now using assessment information to plan appropriate lessons to address students’ different needs. There is high quality marking of students’ work supported by the whole school adoption of a computerised system of assessment".
Additionally, "The school leadership and the governing board have a shared vision to provide an outstanding school for the ‘Future Leaders’ of the UAE and have been successful in improving students’ achievement. They have very good capacity to improve the school further and achieve their vision".
These are indeed very positive comments from the inspection team, and it can only be hoped that such positive improvement has continued over the past two years. It is to be hoped that the postponed scheduled inspection for 2019-20 will reaffirm the strength of the school when it does finally take place.
In terms of the strengths of ENS MBZ, inspectors found these to be:
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspection team recommended:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
The inspection report notes that partnerships and communications with parents and the community are very good. Parents are well informed about their children’s learning and development. The ‘Parents’ Advisory Committee’ are highly involved and supportive of the school.
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It seems that ENS MBZ is making consistently very 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 postponed from 2019-20 - could this be the first ENS school to obtain the highest Outstanding rating?
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 has not been widely offered (or in fact recognised by the regulator!) 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 22,190 to AED 53,750 for Grade 12.
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