Global English School Al Ain is a private KG1 to Grade 12 school located in Manaseer, Al Ain. The school follows the English National Curriculum, but follows the international K-12 grading structure.
The story so far...
Global English School (GES) Al Ain is a private K-12 school located in Manaseer, Al Ain. The school was established in 1982 by Global Educational Solution.
The school currently caters to more than 1,100 students with approximately 80 teaching staff and 20 teaching assistants - both significant reductions in terms of students and teachers compared with 2016-17. The teacher: student ratio in the KG section is 1:25, whilst in the rest of the Primary school, the ratio is 1:24. The ratio is much lower in the Secondary section at 1:16, and is 1:5 in the High school section. Whilst the teacher:student ratio in the Secondary and High school phases are below the norm - ensuring greater individual attention for students, ratios in the KG and Primary section are on the high side and will present significant challenges for staff in terms of adapting the curriculum to meet individual student needs. Staff turnover, at 12%, is relatively low.
The school is particularly "bottom-heavy" with 168 students in the Kindergarten (KG) (a reduction of almost 50% compared with 2016-17) and 660 in the Primary section (Grades 1-5) - again a significant reduction of approximately 25% compared with a year earlier. The Secondary section has some 235 students with only 56 in the upper section (Grades 10 – 12). Forty‐two different nationalities are represented and the main ones are Egyptian 17%, Sudanese 17%, Filipino 11% and UAE nationals at 12%.
The drop in student numbers seems to have been driven in part by the Weak ADEK ratings that the school had achieved over several years and action has clearly been taken by the owners of the school to address this. The school has recently appointed a new management team, led by a British Principal and Head of Primary who have clearly been brought on board to ensure the necessary improvements needed across the board are made. Both have obvious experience in school improvement in past roles at schools in both the UK, as well as the UAE.
This action seems to be paying off - in the 2017-18 inspection, GES achieved an Acceptable rating. Standards have clearly improved significantly, with three of the key performance measures - including Leadership and Management - now rated as Good.
In fact the ADEK report notes that "The new senior leaders have successfully led improvements in student achievement. School leaders have raised the level of accountability of staff. School self-evaluation is reliable and realistic. Links with the parent body are good". This is good news and indicates a school that is in turnaround. In addition, the report notes that "The new senior leadership team have quickly identified past weaknesses and put well-considered plans in place to address the issues. Middle leaders now have clear responsibilities and are developing their management skills. Training needs have been identified and relevant professional development has been provided".
As is often the case, improvements in Teaching and Assessment and Curriculum Design and implementation are the key to improvement in Student Achievement - and ratings of Acceptable across these three key performance measures lie at the heart of the next steps for the school.
What about the curriculum?
The school follows a mixed British curriculum with kindergarten students following the Montessori educational approach and secondary school students following IGCSE, A and AS level. Classes are all taught in English apart from Arabic studies as set by the Ministry of Education. The school initially provided an Indian CBSE based curriculum. The curriculum changed in 2006‐2007 to the Cambridge IGCSE. The Montessori system of education was adopted in the Kindergarten in 2008‐ 2009.
What about academic achievement?
According to the most recent ADEK report, in the 2017 external assessments, Grade 12 student outcomes were outstanding in Islamic education and Arabic, and good in mathematics. Results at iGCSE indicated weak attainment in most subjects. Most recent assessments indicate that attainment in the primary and middle phase is very good overall. In the high phase, attainment in A-level subjects is acceptable but weak in iGCSE subjects.
What about the facilities?
The school has over 60 classrooms with internet access and audio visual equipment. School facilities include a library, ICT lab, renovated Biology, Chemistry and Science labs, a language lab, play area, basketball court and volley ball court. Resources are now deemed to be Acceptable by ADEK though "The school lacks sufficient high-quality ICT equipment for students, and some teaching areas are cramped and limit interactive learning".
A significant programme of investment is currently underway, with the addition of a new Learning Resource Centre which will incorporate the library and will include a number of study rooms, primarily for senior students, who will be able to conduct research and study when they are not timetabled in a class. The LRC will provide access to technology for study purposes through online digital resources and the Librarians will be trained to develop research skills with the upper school and to liaise with class teachers from the Junior School to ensure that Library lessons support learning in the class.
In addition, classrooms have been upgraded to "Smart classrooms" with e-beam, smart boards with high-speed internet connectivity. A new canteen is also being added, and once construction is complete, there will be improvements in the playground facilities including a dedicated football field with an artificial turf surface, improved basketball surface, increased shaded areas and the development of green areas.
A new Multi-Purpose Auditorium (MPA) is also under construction which will be a welcome addition to GES. This air-conditioned facility will allow students to continue their sporting and physical education programmes during the heat of spring and summer. The MPA will also provide a venue for performing arts with the development of a Creative and Performing Art Programme to support students.
What the inspectors say
Following several years rated Weak, GES finally achieved an Acceptable rating in the 2017-18 inspection round. Whilst this is still below the minimum Good rating that all UAE schools are targeted to achieve, an improvement to Acceptable is clearly a good sign.
Student achievement is broadly Acceptable across all subjects and school sections - only Arabic as a second language in the High school section remains Weak. This is a remarkable achievement for a school that was rated Weak overall one year ago.
The strengths of the school now include
Clearly there is still plentiful improvement required including the need to:
However, the progress that the school has made over a twelve month period cannot be under-estimated, and there is a very evident and clear commitment to the school and its students in the achievements so far. GES is definitely on the road to improvement and we are excited to see how well it has performed in the next inspection round which is anticipated to take place in the 2019-20 academic year.
What about fees?
Total fees for the KG are relatively affordable, starting at AED 13,135 for KG1 and rising to AED 19,825 in the upper section from Grades 10-12.
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