German International School Sharjah is a K-12 school located in the Al Abar area of Sharjah. It was established in 1975 as a non-profit school by Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.
German International School Sharjah, or more accurately, Deutsche Internationale Schule Sharjah (DISS), is formally recognized by the Ministry of Education and is officially recognized by the German government. The school is overseen by the Federal-State Committee for Schools Abroad (BLASchA) and consists of over 130 students with more than 30 staff.
The school teaches a curriculum based on the state of Thuringia with subjects taught in both German, English and Arabic as well as a number of other languages offered. As from grade one student’s are taught in German and Arabic with English taught as a second language.
From Grade 6 and up students are taught in German with classes in French and Arabic.
Core subjects include mathematics, social studies, and Islamic studies (for Muslim students) or Christian studies for non-Muslims.
The school was inspected in 2014 by Sharjah Education Zone. The report noted strong, highly effective leadership with a strategic direction that is "strong and... shared... with all stakeholders in a unique and engaging way". The school also has very good management systems.
The only area performing less well is feedback to teachers. However according to the report, the school follows an "official German framework" that does not permit school leaders to make direct comments to teachers about their choice of teaching methods. This is the result of a "German principle of academic freedom, especially among teachers qualified to teach at secondary level."
What is interesting is how much of a contrast this is to the UK system where teaching plans are regularly assessed, to a point where some teachers claim micro management. Perhaps simplistically, German institutions place a significant amount of trust in teachers, to an extent that is not the case is schools following an England and Wales based curriculum. Where teaching in an institution is strong, the German system would make considerable sense. Where it is variable, the UK system is likely to even out qualitative differences.
Fortunately DISS is rated as "highly effective" in its approach to learning (both the quality of teachers and teaching), as well as classroom climate (the feel of classes - how effective, and engaging they are).
Teachers are said to be well qualified (largely recruited from Germany), and the school offers a broad curriculum, with three streams for key subjects allowing differentiation based on abilities. This would explain why "results in the German state examinations at Grade 10 are improving with increasing number of students graded as higher level, Gymnasium students each year."
DISS also scores highly as a community:
The school [is] warm and caring, supporting the vision of ‘a family under one roof’. Students and teachers [are] welcoming and the school provides a supportive learning environment. Students’ views [are] valued, with mutual trust evident. New staff feel valued and readily assume responsibilities. Leaders encourage [a] free exchange of views resulting in high morale.
Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore student personal development is also rated highly.
All in all therefore DISS is a school that serves its audience well. However it does so at some cost. As of 2016-2017 school fees range between 19500 AED per year for kindergarten students rising up to 48,500 AED per year for grades 11 and 12. This would be mid-range in neighbouring Dubai, but is premium for Sharjah. It should be clear however DISS students get pretty much everything their parents are paying for...
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