International Academic School, Abu Dhabi first opened to students in 1987 and at the time of the last inspection served just 377 students, a sharp fall from the school's last inspection in 2014, when 870 students attended the school. Teaching numbers fell less sharply but still by a third, to 40 teachers.
The contraction at International Academic School, Abu Dhabi was unsurprising given these numbers came during a transition year for the school, spent in temporary accommodation as the school transitioned from a villa school into one in a new building in Shakhbout City.
Clearly not all parents wanted to make the move down the road with it - or perhaps more importantly to spend a year 'in between' worlds.
Those that stuck with it have benefited in one major way however. There is a significant variation in fees between existing and new parents. At Grade 2 for example, parents that have come across from the villa school pay 11,000 AED. Those new to the school pay just shy of three times as much - 32,000 AED. There is a similar ratio across year groups. What students and their parents get for that money in terms of education remains to be seen. However in terms of facilities the difference is already evident.
IAS had been defined as a "villa school". In fact it was four villas connected with corridors. Today, as you can see from the images, the space is modern, spacious, bright and accommodating, with dedicated science labs, and sporting facilities.
As well as a shift in the type and quality of building the IAS move has also been one of curriculum. The school had followed a traditional UK curriculum of IGCSE and A' Levels. The new IAS now focuses solely on a US, State of Virginia curriculum. Given the demographic of its students - 23% Emirati, 22% Jordanian, 19% Egyptian and 9% Palestinian this makes considerable sense.
The school continues to follow Ministry of Education curriculum for Arabic, Islamic Studies and Social Studies. IBT; SAT; TOEFL are also used as external examinations/tests.
One thing we hope has transitioned in its entirety is its spirit. This paragraph from the ADEC 2016 inspection report is rare in its effusiveness:
"The school is a harmonious community where adults and young people share great respect for each other. Students enjoy their life at school as evidenced by their conduct, a shared love of learning and ambitions for their future lives..."
Other strengths of the school are students’ ambition to succeed and their positive, receptive attitudes to all forms of learning and students’ sustained use of the English language to confidently access a wide range of subjects. A third strength - "the school leadership’s management of the school that ensures smooth day-to-day operations during a period of transition" is no longer a guarantee given principal Allan Yasin's departure, to be replaced by Amal Anadoly.
Areas of attainment for the school include attainment and progress of students in all subjects, achievement in writing in English and Arabic, the use of resources and technology to provide students with more practical learning experiences, the overall quality of teaching and learning and the proportion of good or better lessons across all subjects and the adaption and enrichment of the curriculum to meet the needs and aspirations of all students.
Some of these issues will have at least partially been addressed simply in the move. It is difficult to have effective chemistry lessons without specialist equipment. The same can be said for biology, sport, even arts and drama. Importantly, across subjects the school is now considerably better resourced.
Time will tell however how well the school's teaching unit manages to use what they have at their disposal. Encouragingly, even in its previous makeshift accommodation, attainment and progress in English, Maths and Science in Middle and Senior phases has been rated Good however.
International Academic School Abu Dhabi is mixed until Grade 6, and then offers separate streams for girls and boys. Extra-curricular activities include football, basketball, music, art, and environmental club.
Fees as noted range considerably depending upon whether students come from the old school site, or are new. For existing pupils fees range from 11,200 AED to 22,000 AED. For new students they range from 29,000 AED to 39,000 AED.
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