Founded in 2002 as the first school in the BEAM group, the International School of Creative Science occupies a large site in the Muwaileh district of Sharjah. It currently educates 4,300 children between the ages of 4 and 18 years, offering a curriculum that is based on the UK National Curriculum and the UAE Ministry of Education curriculum for Arabic and Islamic Studies.
Since its opening, the concept of a school offering an international curriculum, but with a very clear focus and ethos aimed at embedding and preserving students' Islamic roots in their behaviours and educational experience, has clearly been welcomed. Such has been its success, that ISCS and its sister school, the American School of Creative Science (ASCS), have expanded to one further school under the ASCS brand in Al Layyah, Sharjah and into Dubai, where one of each brand opened in 2016.
That ethos is one of "East meets West" says the school, with a curriculum largely from the UK, and behaviours rooted in Islamic values. The school offers a "character building program" designed to foster morals and sound ethics. ISCS also offers Quran memorization, a "unique subject that enables our students to have better memory power and recalling skills". The school also organises Umrah for its secondary school students.
The school currently employs 516 teachers, recruited from all over the world. The school says it has "staff that have been with the school for over 10 years, many whose tenure is about five years or over, and a lot more who have just completed two years.
This, says ISCS represents a "good blend of experience as it’s a valuable source of time-tested best practices alongside the latest educational strategies and ideas". That seems to be backed up by the school's inspection. ISCS has been rated "Highly effective with distinction" by the education authority during an inspection that took place in 2014. Sharjah's Ministry of Education has not yet introduced the common UAE inspection framework applied to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it is understood that this programme will be rolled out in the near future.
Some 69 nationalities are represented within a student body pretty evenly split between girls (48%) and boys (52%) who are educated separately from Grade 4. The majority of students are UAE Nationals (25%) with a further 18% from Pakistan, 13% from Egypt, 11% from India and a further 15% made up of students from Jordan and Syria.
The size and scale of the school is difficult to appreciate until the number of classes per year group are considered. KG1, KG2 and Grade 1 have 22, 21 and 21 classes respectively. Grades 2 and 3 each have 14 classes, whilst Grade 4 has 13 (7 boys and 6 girls) and Grades 5 and 6, 5 classes each of boys and girls. In the higher classes of the school, numbers reduce somewhat, dropping from 9 in Grade 7, to 5 in Grade 10 and to 2 (one each of boys and girls) in Grade 13. As the school continues to develop, no doubt class numbers in the higher grades will also continue to grow.
Class sizes are generally around 25 students with a maximum of 30. This leads to a teacher:student ratio of approx 1:9, with classes in the lower grades also being supported by teaching assistants. Specialist subject staff in the Secondary school account for the additional staff numbers. According to the school, all staff are suitably qualified, holding an international teaching degree or relevant university qualification. On-going professional development, particularly for younger, less experienced staff, is a cornerstone of the school's provision.
With 20 children per class in KG1 and a maximum of 24 in KG2, a purpose-built KG section is provided with light, bright and colourful classrooms, an enormous indoor play space where children can run around during break times when the weather is warmer and all the usual resources.
The school is continuing to expand. It has added another building which will enable the expansion in the Secondary School and create additional space for Primary. A separate new gymnasium and second 25 metre swimming pool have also been completed. The buildings are almost identical in design and provide an exact mirror for both the Girls’ and Boys’ sections. There are some shared facilities, including the multi-purpose hall and swimming pool, but almost other facilities (aside from libraries and laboratories), including the canteen, are separated by gender. There is a strong working relationship between staff of both the Boys’ and Girls’ sections to ensure that teaching is parallel; this includes boys taking part in Food Technology lessons for instance and girls have equal opportunities to participate in more traditionally male lessons.
The International School of Creative Science makes significant use of interactive Promethean White Boards which are found in every classroom and as a result the supplier has recognised them as a School of Excellence. As with all UK curriculum schools, the focus is on learning through play in the early years and the set-up of the classrooms allows free flow movement, so that children can participate in the activities that appeal to them.
As children move into the main Primary Section of the school, so there is a greater emphasis on structured learning and the school focuses on an Applied learning approach, whereby children gain practical experience though use of laboratories and specialist rooms.
Although these sections could be independent schools, there is no sense that the schools are overcrowded; quite the reverse. Classrooms are busy, corridors are colourful and though students do move around in large groups, but there is no sense that the school is overwhelming in size, since students remain within their own dedicated building other than for sports activities.
The school is academically selective, particularly for students entering the Secondary School who are assessed in English, Maths and Arabic prior to acceptance. Admission testing is based very much on behaviour in addition to the assessment test. There is support for children with Additional learning needs (including English and Arabic as Additional Languages for non-native speakers) and this is an area which has been given further focus with the establishment of a SEN department and the appointment of a SEN Coordinator.
All students study Maths, English, Science, Islamic Studies, Arabic, Social Studies and Quran. Students work towards IGCSE at KS4 (age 16), and A Level at KS5 (aged 18). Core subjects for IGCSE include Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and ICT alongside the MOE curriculum for Arabic, Islamic and Social studies. Students may choose between English Language and Literature or English Language only or even English as a Second Language if necessary. Elective subjects include Psychology, Business Studies, Geography and Art and Design.
In Grade 12, the first year of A Level Studies, students can take up to 4 subjects with a choice from Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Applied ICT and Business Studies. Parents are made aware early on that the choice of ISCS does bring certain additional obligations; not least the additional workload for Grades 12 and 13, where students not only are expected to undertake the rigorous A Level curriculum, but in addition, the MoE subjects of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies are compulsory. The school day is a long one by comparison with many schools, with classes starting at 7 am and not finishing until 2.20 pm. Extra-curricular and homework then need to be added to this day.
The school has published its iGCSE results for the past 4 years - something we at Whichschooladvisor.com heartily applaud. We would very much like to see this transparency extended to the school's AS and A Level results also. The results indicate not only an improving range of results, but also pass rate standards that are higher than the UK average by a considerable margin at the A*-A and A*-C level.
|iGCSE June 2015||iGCSE June 2016||iGCSE June 2017|
|A*-A =43.9% (23.20%)||A*-A =51.69% (20.50%)||A*- A = 56.3% (20%)|
|A*-C = 88.07% (69%)||A*-C = 89.14% (66.90%)||A*- C= 91.6% (66.3%)|
|A*-G = 99.31% (98.60%)||A*-G = 98.88% (98.70%)||A*- G = 100% (94.8%)|
|(UK figures in brackets)||(UK figures in brackets)||(UK figures in brackets)|
|Note: In the UK, Maths statistics are for %age at grade 9-4|
The most recent results for 2018 indicated that A2 Level, 81% of students obtained an A*-B grade, with 55% obtaining an A*-A grade. For AS Level, Year 12 students appear to have obtained good results with 57% obtaining an A-B grade, whilst for IGCSE, Year 11 students achieved 78% at A*-B grade, with 55% obtaining an A*-A grade. Unfortunately, since the school reports student performance, rather than the number of exam papers passed at these grades, it is difficult to judge how well students have performed overall.
The vast majority of students remain in the Middle East for Further Education and University studies and are not therefore required to stay for grade 13. 75% of 2016-17 Grade 12 cohort of graduates went on to university, 19% continued with A Levels and 6% took a gap year. The 2016-17 Grade 13 graduating cohort saw 92% go on to university, with 65% attending universities in the UAE, 12% going on to the UK, almost 7% to Canada and the remainder to destinations as diverse as Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, the United States, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. 6% took a gap year and 2% of students went on to complete their first year of National Service.
Based on past results, the enthusiasm of staff and the obvious support of parents, it seems that demand for the Creative Science schools is for the time being assured. Its unique blend of an internationally recognised UK national curriculum, together with the UAE mandated Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies and the specific focus on Quran memorisation, clearly appeals to many Muslim families, a natural and thriving target market in the UAE.
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