Future International Private School is a US curriculum all-through school for students between grades KG to 12, located in Al Nyadat, Al Ain.
The story so far...
Future International Private School was established in 2004 and follows an American, English speaking curriculum. The school has lofty ambitions, based on its Vision and Mission statements which can be found on its website - which is otherwise somewhat lacking in structure and information.
FIS's vision is "To be a leading private school in UAE that provides an exemplary learning environment in line with the vision of UAE 2021." Its mission is "To provide an exemplary learning environment that develops long life learners academically and socially and promotes sense of citizenship and cultural awareness". The school motto is 'Preserving the Past, Shaping the Future'.
The school aims to ensure that when students graduate, they are prepared for their career and to face the world with confidence, knowledge and experience of learning that they have gained during their school life. FIS claims an holistic approach to the development of each child, supported by co-curricular and extra-curricular activities to support their mental, physical, psychological and educational needs.
According to the Principal, FIS aims to be "one of the premier schools in the UAE offering students quality education that will train them to meet the demands of the 21st Century and become creative, independent leaders and team players".
The most recent ADEK inspection, which took place in November 2017, suggests that FIS has some way to go before it can say that it is achieving its aims. The school was rated Acceptable - a distinct improvement from its Weak rating two years earlier, but hardly evidence of its stated goal to be a premier school.
At the time of the inspection, some 650 students attended FIS. Over half (53%) were Emirati, whilst a further 13% of students came from Egypt and some 9% came from Oman. Students were supported by some 65 teachers and 8 teaching assistants. The teacher:student ratio was 1:10, which suggests that students should receive individual attention and delivery of a curriculum to meet their individual abilities and needs. However, staff turnover of 20% means that one in five teachers left the school at the end of the academic year - not a great sign of stability.
This was driven in some measure, apparently, by the school's decision to stop taking students into the KG section of the school, leading to staff losses as a result. As a result, 60% of the student body was in the Primary school section, 19% in the Middle School and 21% in the High School - effectively some 130 students spread across grades 9 to 12.
What about the curriculum?
FIS offers a US curriculum based on the Common Core Standards for subjects including English, Maths, Science, History and Geography, together with Virginia and California State standards for additional subjects such as PE and Art, as well as Humanities and Languages. The school also follows the Ministry of Education prescribed subjects of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies. Graduating students in Grade 12 are required to obtain 150-180 hours of credits for eight subjects, excluding the Arabic subjects.
To be fair to CIS, the numbers of students who graduate from the school on an annual basis is relatively small. In 2017-18, 13 students were recorded on the school's Alumni Destination Board. Among these, three went on to university to study Medicine, one to study Dentistry, six, some form of Engineering, and a further three to study Business, Finance and Science. In the year prior, 22 students graduated with three going on to National Service and the remainder pursuing a similar mix of university studies. The school also operates a Student Council which appears to be popular among senior students.
What about facilities?
Unfortunately, the school's website provides no information about the facilities at the school. According to the latest ADEK report, "The premises are maintained effectively and meet the needs of all students. The school is adequately resourced. Specialist facilities includean art room, ICTand science laboratories".
What the inspectors say
FIS has clearly made significant - if acceptable - progress since its previous inspection in 2016-17 when it was rated Weak. In fact, the school was rated Good in two of the six Key Performance Standards - those of Students' Personal and Social Development, and their Innovation Skills, and The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students. Perhaps more importantly, the strongly-related measures of Student Achievement, Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum, were all rated Acceptable as was the Leadership and Management of the school.
Positive steps had been taken to improve student performance across all Arabic-led subjects, which were largely rated Good, but those subjects taught in English, although improved compared with the previous inspection, were still largely rated Acceptable other than in the High School section where they were rated Good. Inspectors noted that "Senior leaders have introduced more rigorous assessment procedures to track students’ achievement. They now benchmark students’ achievement accurately against national and international standards. Senior leaders moderate data to ensure that students’ outcomes are accurate". In addition, "Students’ now collaborate in lessons because most lessons are no longer exclusively teacher-directed. In the majority of lessons, students are given opportunities to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills".
The report also notes that "Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) mock results for 2016-2017 were above Abu Dhabi national averages in reading, mathematics and science. However, attainment in Measure of Academic Progress tests (MAPs) indicates consistently weak attainment in English, mathematics and science when benchmarked against international standards". Clearly there is still much progress to be made.
Overall, the ADEK inspection team found the strengths of FIS to be:
The key areas for improvement that need to be addressed by the school are to:
Although a relatively short list of key areas for improvement, we should not under-estimate the scale of change and the demands that this will make on the leadership and staff of FIS. Having achieved the Acceptable rating, they now have two years (until the 2019-20 academic year) to continue on their path to improvement.
It will be interesting to see how much progress the school has been able to make at that point in time. There is always a risk, with the annual inspection no longer on the horizon, that schools take their foot off the progression pedal; it is to be hoped that this is not the case at FIS.
Fees at Future International School are in the low to middle range, based on ADEK's evaluation. They start at AED 10,800 in Grade 1, rising to AED 21,800 in Grade 12. Additional fees for books (ranging from AED 1,800 in Grade 1 to AED 2,750 in Grade 12), uniform and, where applicable, bus fees should be added. There is also a 5% registration/re-registration fee at the start of each academic year which is non-refundable.
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