The original International Community School is a private K-12 school located in Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi. The school was first established in 1990 and caters to approximately 1,600 students, almost exclusively of Arab origin, with UAE Nationals the largest single grouping, followed by Jordanians, Egyptians and Syrians.
The Story so far...
Set up in 1990, International Community School Mushrif has gone through a period of change over the last few years, having moved from a school offering both a UK and US curriculum to an exclusively US curriculum more recently. The school had been growing significantly - over 400 new students joined the school between 2014 and 2016 - but numbers appear to have reduced somewhat - to just under 1,600 students in 2018.
Based on the most recent ADEK report - the inspection took place in November 2017 - ICS had some 220 children in KG, 530 in primary, and 400 in secondary (where the largest reduction in students numbers seems to have taken place) and 300 in High School. The largest nationality group is Emirati (at 24%) followed by Jordanian at 19%, and Egyptians and Syrians (each 13%). However, beyond these larger groups, there are a further 40 nationalities represented at the school.
The school currently employs 100 teachers, and 13 teaching assistants. Its teacher to student ratio is a reasonable 1:15 across the school. Teacher turnover continues to run at 20% - average for the UAE.
Approximately 1% of students had been identified with Special Educational Needs at the time of the 2018 inspection. In 2016, no students were registered with Special Educational Needs, however, the most recent report (following the inspection in November 2017) indicates that this situation has now changed. The 2018 ADEK reports notes that "Students with special educational needs (SEN), and those who are gifted and talented (G&T) are now identified. The school produces an individual education plan (IEP) for all students with SEN". Support ranges from 1:1 interventions to physical site modifications and off site collaboration.
The Principal's introduction to the school provides further information about the school's goals which include to:
The school aims "to always Inspire, Challenge and Succeed".
What about the curriculum?
The school had previously aligned its American curriculum to the ‘Virginia Common Core State Standards’, but is now in the process of transitioning to the California Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Students follow the Ministry of Education curriculum for Arabic, Islamic Studies and Arabic Social Studies, It has phased out the UK curriculum that was previously offered.
Subjects offered through the school include Science, Mathematics, English, English Social Studies, Arabic, Arabic Social Studies, Islamic, French, Computing, Business Studies, Sociology, Art, Music, and Physical Education. This is quite restrictive in terms of a range of study options.
In keeping with UAE national priorities and the focus on STEAM subjects, students continue to study sciences through to Grade 10 with some subject options. A wider range of electives is available in Grades 11-12, although details of these are not provided on the school's website.
The school has introduced Advanced Placement (AP) courses starting from the Academic Year 2018-2019. The first batch of AP students will sit for the examinations in May 2019 at the end of Grade 12. AP is the main College-entry exam for US universities.
ICS is internationally accredited by AdvancEd, ensuring that its High School Diploma will be recognised by universities around the world.
Extra curricular activities at ICS include Eco-Club, Student Council, Student Red Crescent Society, Model United Nations, School Band, Choir Club, Tournament of the Minds, Think Science, Innovation Science Club, Robotics Club, ICT Club, Heritage Club, Book Club, Arabic Reading & Drama Club, French Club, Math Club, Arts & Crafts Club, Media Club - Photography & Film-making, Cooking Club, Table Tennis Club, Karate, Ballet, Gymnastics, Football, Basketball, and Volleyball.
What about facilities?
Facilities at the school include a library, two computer labs, a gymnasium (equipped for sports such as basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and badminton), a swimming pool, science labs, a music room, art room, cafeteria and medical clinic. Facilities are, in effect, satisfactory, but as the school continues to grow, its position in the centre of Abu Dhabi will put constraints on its ability to expand these offerings. The school is said to already be considering a move to a new location. Classroom sizes, as well as indoor/outdoor sport facilities are already an issue for the school.
Previous concerns raised by ADEK in relation to resources - and notably a lack of technology and interactive white boards in the classrooms - appear to have been addressed.
What the inspectors say
ICS was rated a "satisfactory" but also an "improving" school by ADEK, Abu Dhabi's education regulator, for the second time in 2016, and effectively achieved the same rating again - that of Acceptable - in 2018. The Principal comments on the school website that ICS is "diligently working towards a high placement accreditation by ADEK".
In terms of the six key performance standards, ICS was rated Acceptable in the key areas of Student Achievement, Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum, but Good in relation to Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills (an improvement from the previous inspection), The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and the Leadership and Management of the school.
Inspectors noted that the school had implemented most of the recommendations from the previous reports. They found the school's strengths to be:
Areas for improvement identified the need to:
There are clearly improvements being made at ICS. In particular, the move to the California State Curriculum, the widespread use of ICT and the growing culture of innovation within the school, both in lessons and extra-curricula activities, and the care and support provided to students are positive signs. The requirement to raise achievement in Arabic and English is clearly key to future improvement and can only be driven by improved teaching and assessment.
Fees range range from AED 21,050 in KG1, AED 23,800 in Grade 3, to AED 39,800 (though new students pay a higher rate from Grade 3 upwards (from AED 27,366 to AED 46,046 in Grade 12). There are also additional fees for books (ranging from AED 1,400 in KG1 to AED 4, 385 in Grade 12), transport (AED 4,100) and uniforms (AED 400). Admission is an open process with an entrance test to determine skills gaps.
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