Ibn Seena English School is a KG1 to Grade 12 school that follows the National Curriculum for England. Ibn Seena specifically aims to offer a high quality education at an affordable price.
Located in the Al Shahba area in Sharjah, Ibn Seena English School was built in 1978, under the patronage of the ruler of Sharjah, H.H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohd. Al Qassimi.
The Ibn Seena environment is a safe space of trial and experience, risk-taking, questions, and self-regulation rather than regimentation; as the school says, a “natural evolution of such an environment and approach would be the creation of an ethos of respect for self and others. Students would embrace diversity and a collaborative culture would evolve”.
This is a school that is looking to shape students who will make a difference, to their local communities and the wider world. The school believes that “while academic achievement is a necessary focus, it should not need to be at the expense of other areas of a child's development”, and to this end is committed to producing students who have more than just robotic information at their command, but the wisdom to use it for the greater good.
“A world citizen; erudite, able to accept diverse cultures and values while holding on to his own. A humane person; an eco friendly citizen of the world. These are big targets, but unless you reach for the stars, you will not touch the moon!”
While most schools make similar claims, about moulding students to make a positive impact in the world, Ibn Seena has already proven its commitment to this goal. Since its inception, Ibn Seena has worked to offer affordable yet high quality education, so that as many families as possible have access to it. The school explains that the majority of students at Ibn Seena come from homes where English is never spoken, and either one or both parents have been unable to complete a high school education. Yet, in spite of this, Ibn Seena continues to offer quality education to those who would usually find it out of their reach, so that their children can contribute to the advancement of their families.
In order to achieve such a goal, Ibn Seena relies on a team of qualified and experienced teachers, who bring to the school “enthusiasm; innovation and ability to try out new ideas; a passion to infuse curiosity in students”. The school believes that children need a free and relaxed atmosphere in order to grow, where they are trusted and teachers are always approachable and friendly; this kind of environment encourages children to take charge of their own development, where their education “is not a putting in, but a drawing out”.
The teacher-student ratio at the school is 1:20, providing a balance between individual attention and providing space for as many students as possible.
Teachers undergo in-house training programmes, lectures, and visits from overseas experts in order to stay up-to-date with new ideas in education, enabling them to “meet the evolving needs of the 21st Century learners through the use of creative teaching techniques, technological resources and differentiated instruction”.
Ibn Seena models its curriculum on the National Curriculum for England, offering a number of British qualification programs including IGCSEs and A-Levels.
The Primary curriculum, starting in KG1, focuses on the core subjects which form the foundation of future learning: English, Maths, and Science. Students also take General Knowledge and Art, in order to develop experience with Humanities-based subjects. As per UAE Ministry of Education requirements, all students take Arabic, Islamic Studies, Social Studies, and PE.
Starting in Grade 3 and running until Grade 7, students take the following subjects: English, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Arabic, Islamic Studies, and Social Studies. Once students reach Grade 8, new options are added for their IGCSE and A-Level years; however, due to a recent Ministry of Education directive, Ibn Seena no longer offers a Science or Arts stream from Grade 8.
Students must now take English, English Literature, Maths, Physics, Biology, History, and ICT, and then have a choice between either Chemistry or Accounting, and between Economics or Business Studies. Students continue to take Arabic, Islamic Studies, Social Studies, and PE.
As can be seen by these developments to the secondary education options, Ibn Seena has become a school that is much more in-line with Indian curriculum schools, where the focus is almost wholly on business or science, rather than any arts-based subjects. As such, if your child is more creatively-inclined, then this may not be the school for you.
However, students do still have opportunities to engage with their creativity through a variety of extra-curricular activities and annual events at the school. These include competitions in creative writing and in movie making & photography. Student welfare is supported by events such as wellbeing sessions and health talks, and students further have the option to challenge themselves by taking part in debates, spelling bees, school quizzes, and school elections. Ibn Seena has recently celebrated a variety of events including Teachers Day, Flag Day, Pink Day, National Day, Peace Day, Human Fraternity Day, and a day dedicated to the UAE Mars Mission.
There is no mention of any Special Educational Needs provisions on the school website.
In 2015, Ibn Seena was one of the few schools in Sharjah to publish its academic results. However, since then, Ibn Seena has stopped making its results available to the public, meaning there is no recent record of academic achievement from the school.
We do know that in 2014/15, of the 461 pass results at IGCSE, 23.5% were A*, 29.5% were A, 30% B and 16% C. And in 2015/16, the school seemed to have done equally well, as shown in the below results:
Information on the school website now focuses more on the manner in which assessments are carried out, rather than how students fare on them.
In order to identify areas for improvement through continuous assessment, students are given credit for whatever work they do in class for the first two months of each term. This is supplemented by quizzes and surprise tests, and teachers take care not to repeat questions, so that students must study the textbooks rather than learn from copybooks.
In the third month of each term, a term examination is held, and at the end of the academic year the sum total of the three term exams and six-monthly assessments are put together into a final credit mark. While a child’s performance is shown against the best performance in that class for each subject, no rank is given, to ensure students focus on their own achievement.
While Ibn Seena doesn’t sell itself as one of the most academically rigorous schools, it does seem that they are taking steps to ensure that their results reflect a high standard of achievement. For example, the school website notes that students who fail twice in the same class will be removed from the school roll, and that for the Chemistry and Economics subjects at IGCSE and A-Level, the 30 applicants with the highest marks in Maths and English will be chosen from the boys and girls. With the minimum passing mark set at 50% until Grade 8, and at 60% from Grade 9 onwards, it seems that Ibn Seena’s focus is on setting a baseline for performance that will ensure their standing among other schools.
Ibn Seena proudly states that its students have gone on to join prestigious universities all over the world, including MIT, Stanford, Yale, University of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Imperial College London, London School of Economics, Manchester University, University of Edinburgh, McGill University, the IITs and IIMs in India, Australian National University, and Melbourne University. It certainly shows that many Ibn Seena students go on to excellent higher education institutions, although does perhaps make us wonder what happens to those students who need significant extra support and may still not meet the pass rates.
Unlike schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah schools have not participated in regulatory inspections on a regular basis; while there were a few instances of inspections being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, schools did not generally publish the outcomes. With the initiation of SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority), the intention is that schools will be inspected using the common framework already in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, SPEA has decided to seek a collaborative approach with the schools for this process, and although we understand that initial inspections did take place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, results of these inspections have not been published.
As a result of the pandemic, Sharjah schools have participated in Distance Learning Evaluations, implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), Ibn Seena’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Partially Developed.
Inspectors noted that “promotion of attendance and participation is successful, and results in high student numbers in lessons”. These evaluations are looking to ensure that students are maintaining their learning momentum and still experiencing a variety of learning methods, which Ibn Seena seems to be achieving. Similarly, lessons are still being run with “clear intended learning outcomes and teachers share expectations for activities with students during class and with parents electronically”.
Not only did the evaluation report that the curriculum was “carefully planned and delivered with a strong focus on covering essential academic content in the key subjects”, it also praised short and long-term planning as “clear, reviewed regularly, and adjusted to suit changing circumstances such as parental requests”.
Finally, the report commended the senior leadership team for their management of “scarce” resources and for ensuring that “teachers have the necessary skills to deliver the distance learning programme”.
However, the report did offer a number of areas for further improvement, which would help the school meet the Developed rating.
Firstly, the inspectors flagged the need to clarify and communicate Ibn Seena’s safeguarding procedures, so that students know who to contact if they have concerns when online. Further concerns about technology use at the school focused on the need to develop students’ IT skills, particularly for younger students, to “ensure equal access to the distance learning material and the balance between screen time, other learning activities and breaks”.
And while the curriculum was reviewed as well-planned, inspectors felt that the school needed to provide more regular and constructive feedback to students about their work, in order to help them improve. To further this, the report suggested that the school improve its communications with parents to “help them understand their roles, support their children’s learning, and access parent support networks”.
If you would like to read the full inspection report – which we strongly advise you to do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings – you will find it here.
While the school website does not give detailed information about the facilities available at Ibn Seena, images from the school’s gallery show outdoor fields, a playground, an auditorium with a stage, and bright classrooms (although there is little evidence of technology such as interactive whiteboards).
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a total of 12 reviews for Ibn Seena English School, and results suggest that feedback is firmly middling.
There are fairly even splits, for example, between parents who feel that their children enjoy going to school tremendously and those who feel their children do not enjoy it at all. Similarly, the sense of student belonging within the school seems to vary quite evenly between none at all, some, and a tremendous amount.
In terms of academic achievement, parent satisfaction seems quite decent. 50% of reviewers reported being partially satisfied with their child’s achievement, versus 42% being satisfied and 8% being unsatisfied. However, 75% of reviewers felt that they needed to give their child additional tutoring to supplement their school learning. And while 33% of reviewers felt quite confident in the school’s ability to meet their child’s specific learning needs, all other categories (ranging from not confident at all to extremely confident) came in at 17%, again suggesting an array of opinions not tipping expressly in good or bad directions.
The majority of reviewers, 37%, believe that the fees represent good value for money given the quality offered by the school; however, 27% of reviewers totally disagree, so there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming opinion in either direction. And there is an even 50/50 split between parents who have thought about moving their child from the school and those who have not.
Ultimately, it seems that Ibn Seena does have some support from its parent community, but that there is also plenty of room for improvement; only 50% of reviewers would recommend this school to another parent, and there is an even three-way split between parents who were satisfied, partially satisfied, and unsatisfied with school feedback. It looks as though Ibn Seena would benefit greatly from working with the wider community to improve its practices and make use of the support it already has.
If you are a parent, teacher or senior student at Ibn Seena English School, please share your experience with other potential members of your school community by taking part in our survey.
Fees at Ibn Seena range from AED 5,300 in KG1 and KG2, up to AED 10,500 for Grade 12. Tuition fees are paid in five instalments for KG1 to Grade 10, and then in four instalments for Grade 11 and Grade 12.
Ibn Seena is a selective school, with entrance exams for all year groups. The syllabi for these exams are given in detail on the school website, with explanations as to exactly what skills must be proven by prospective students.
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