The International School of Creative Science Nad Al Sheba is owned by Sharjah entrepreneur Salah Bukhatair and his BEAM Education group. The Creative Science schools were among the first to explicitly seek to offer an international curriculum (UK or US) together with a very strong focus on Islamic Studies, including Quran recitation.
In July 2020, BEAM Education announced that it would be closing the campus of its second Dubai-based school, the American School of Creative Science in Al Barsha, and transferring its operations to the campus of the International School of Creative Science (ISCS) at Nad Al Sheba. Whilst aiming to retain two distinct brands and operations, the schools will offer both the UK curriculum and the US curriculum on the Nad Al Sheba site. Leadership of both schools (suggesting that this, in fact, a merger) will be under Principal Ataullah Parkar and Vice Principal, Farhaan Abdulla Patel.
The International School of Creative Science Nad Al Sheba is one of 5 schools owned by the BEAM Education group. Long established in Sharjah, the entrée in to Dubai took place with the opening of ISCS Nad Al Sheba and the American School of Creative Science (ASCS) originally in Al Barsha South, both in September 2016.
The school is currently offering FS1 to year 10 with future plans to grow to Year 13. Year 10 will be introduced in September 2020. There is one more International School of Creative Science located in Sharjah and two more American Schools of Creative Science located in Maliha, and Al Layyah.
Shortly before the announcement of the closure of ASCS campus in Al Barsha, BEAM announced that the campus in Al Layyah would be closed for one year from September 2020 for cost-saving reasons, and its students transferred to the Maliha campus for the duration.
The International School of Creative Science in Nad Al Sheba, is located between two well-established schools, GEMS Dubai Modern Academy and Repton Dubai. With Kings School Nad Al Sheba also located within the same immediate area, one might ask why there is demand for another UK curriculum school in a location that is primarily occupied by Emirati families. In part, the location on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, with easy access to the Al Ain Road also, make this a convenient location to which children can commute from a wide range of locations with relative ease. However, the fundamental motivation lies in the approach that the Creative Science schools offer in regard to their curriculum in its broadest sense.
The mission of the school is
"to effectively instill traditional morals and values while ensuring excellence through an integrated curriculum based upon internationally renowned best practices in teaching and learning primarily based on the British Curriculum, UAE curriculum for Arabic Language, Islamic Studies, and Social Studies and the most modern innovative skills including proficiency in Science and Technology”.
There has clearly been an appreciation of the ISCS approach among families, with 600 children joining the school in its first two years. The majority of children are in the 8 Foundation Stage classes, a further 7 classes across Years 1 to 3, 8 classes in Years 4-6, and 2 in Years 7 and 8. The school will progressively add year groups each academic year.
The school currently has 30 different student nationalities, with the highest proportion being Emirati, followed by children from a mix of countries including Pakistan, India, Egypt, the UK and Jordan, together with a further 100+ students from other countries. There is a slightly higher male:female ratio among the students, who are separated by gender from Year 5 onwards. With average class sizes of 24 in EYFS and 28 in Primary and Secondary, these are on the high side.
At the time of the 2018-19 KHDA inspection, ISCS had just over 900 students, with the largest nationality (412) Emirati. Just over 100 students were identified with additional learning requirements (SEND). The teacher:student ratio was 1:12 (in line with the class sizes), and 77 mainly British teachers were supported by a further 37 teaching assistants. Staff either hold a teaching degree or other relevant qualification.
The school is a member of British Schools of the Middle East and has been inspected by British Schools Overseas (who use the same criteria as OFSTED in the UK to assess a school's performance). The BSO report is not available on the school's website, but it achieved a Good rating.
Another particular area of focus of ISCS is in relation to inclusion. An inclusion champion has the key role of promoting inclusive ideas and modelling approaches that support the development of inclusive attitudes and methods. His role is to motivate others to share in this experience, while working collaboratively with the Governor for inclusive education, who is nominated by the Governing body. The nominated Governor for inclusive education holds school leaders to account for the improvements of provision and outcomes for students with SEND.
ISCS offers an innovative, well equipped ELP and Sensory room. The SEND department is run by a highly qualified and experienced team. The ratio of learning Support Assistants to the students with identified special needs is 1:2. All teachers are trained to develop strategies to address and carry out a clear analysis of students’ needs including gifted and / or talented students. ISCS uses internal assessments and standardised (GL) tests on entry for each child, in order to understand the learning needs and and ELP requirements.
The school strives to ensure that every student has the support and confidence to feel safe, to learn and to achieve to the best of their ability. SEND students generally attend mainstream classes with their peer group with an appropriate level of additional classroom support (if necessary) to facilitate their learning. In some cases, students are withdrawn from some mainstream lessons as and when necessary for individual teaching. Further details can be found in the Q and A section of our review. The school received an overall rating of Good for the provision and outcomes for Students of Determination in the first KHDA inspection of the school.
The uniqueness of the programme of studies offered by the International School of Creative Science lies in the integration of the two curricula offered at the school: the National Curriculum for England and Wales and the UAE Arabic, Islamic Studies and Social Studies curriculum. A key differentiator of the school is its inclusion of Quran studies and recitation as a part of the curriculum, and a strong sense of moral values in the attitudes and behaviours of students and the school community.
At ISCS, from the outset, the English and Arabic departments adopt a common approach and ensure that links are established between the different subjects. In the Foundation Stage, for instance, both departments adopt an area-of-learning based curriculum and story books used in the English classes are translated in Arabic, so that children can listen and interact with the same story in both languages. At the Primary level, the school adopts a thematic approach, ensuring that children are encouraged to make links between the different subjects.
The school has also developed its own ICT curriculum to ensure that students are developing their computing and digital skills. This curriculum "meets the objectives of the National Curriculum of England while referring to material used in English, Islamic Studies, Maths and Science, thus encouraging children to use their IT skills in a variety of contexts." The aim is to encourage creativity with the integration of technology so that the students internalise the concept of ‘thinking out of the box’ and ensures children find classroom learning fun and engaging.
ISCS offers a range of Extra-curricular activities which will continue to be developed as the school grows. Currently EYFS students can take part in teacher-led Junk-modelling, Lego, Arts and Crafts and Cooking. Primary students can participate in Arts and Crafts, Boxing, Computing, Debate, Sewing and Football (the last is out-sourced and is charged separately).
The International School of Creative Science has been rated Good on its first inspection (the minimum rating sought by the KHDA) in the 2018-19 inspection process. The school's second inspection was due to take place in February 2020 - details of its outcome have not yet been released. Since the first inspection and the second, the inspirational Principal responsible for the achievement of the Good rating, has left the school.
The KHDA inspection team identified the strengths of the school -:
The Vision and impact of Senior Leaders that has brought about:
Students' achievement was rated almost entirely Good across all subjects and sections of the school, with the exception of Arabic as a first language in the Secondary section (rated Acceptable), English attainment across the school (also Acceptable), and Maths attainment in KG and Primary (also Acceptable).
Both key indicators of Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum - fundamental to the achievement of students and almost always rated hand in hand - achieved ratings of Good with the sole exception of Curriculum Design and Implementation in Primary which was rated Acceptable.
Students' personal development and understanding of Islamic values, together awareness of Emirati cultures were rated largely Very Good, whilst students' Social responsibility and innovation skills were rated Good in Primary and Secondary sections, and Acceptable in KG.
Health and Safety achieved the highest possible rating of Outstanding across the board, whilst the Care and Support of students was rated Very Good.
Finally, almost all measures for Leadership and Management achieved a Very Good rating.
In terms of recommendations for improvement, the inspection team asked that ISCS:
If you would like to read the full Inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
What about the facilities?
As would be expected with any new school, facilities are modern and technology-integrated. The classrooms are the centre of learning and have been designed to support optimal movement, creative open spaces and, in the Foundation stage, several activity stations with immediate outdoor access to an engineered garden. Each classroom is fitted with the latest computers, Interactive White Boards, and shared Active-learner responses devices.
Other facilities include a Library with an extensive range of books chosen to cater to children of different abilities, keeping their minds stimulated and eager to seek more knowledge. A fully equipped Learning Resource Centre with multimedia facilities is available for students to enhance their learning outside classrooms.
A rather more unusual feature of ISCS is the inclusion of kitchen facilities for children studying at the Foundation Stage. This includes basic culinary classes that teach them hygiene, and at the same time, develop their independence in making the right food choices and meals for themselves. A cafeteria is also available for all students and staff and is seen as an important social-cultural environment of the school, designed to encourage healthy eating habits and to develop an appreciation of courtesy and basic etiquette.
Sports and Outdoor facilities have not been overlooked. The students have access to an outdoor All Weather astro soccer field for a variety of sports activities. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds are equipped with specialised safe flooring and multi-provision for different games, whilst a Gym provides indoor sporting facilities. A Multi-Purpose Hall is built for the Secondary School for activities such as sports, special events and exams. A large, covered swimming pool is heated in cooler months, so the lessons may continue throughout the year.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a small number of responses to our School Survey. Those who have responded are largely happy with their choice of school.
If you are parent, teacher or student at ISCS, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey here.
A significant 289 parents responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey. Of this number, close to 90% were satisfied with the quality of education being provided by ISCS. A few had concerns about bullying, communication systems, the quality of teaching in Arabic and the limited range of subjects beyond the core ones. About a quarter of parents felt that their children did not have a close relationship with their teachers.
A small cohort of 21 senior students participated in the KHDA's Wellbeing survey. 71% displayed a high level of Wellbeing; whilst 19% felt a moderate level of wellness and 10% felt low levels of wellness. Overall, the survey indicated that students at ISCS have a higher level of happiness and a more positive outlook on school and home than the majority of students in Dubai. Generally, they were happy, healthy and optimistic, though some found it difficult to cope with their school work.
There is no doubt that the International School of Creative Science has got off to a good start. It, together with the Next Generation School and the GEMS National Schools in Al Barsha, seems to have created an increasingly popular formula for parents seeking a good quality international education centred around the traditional values of the Moslem faith.
With fees ranging from AED 30,150 to AED 47,250, these fees are comparable with the US curriculum Next Generation School, and significantly lower than the GEMS National schools. Add to this the sibling discounts offered of 25% per additional child, and ISCS also seems to be an economic option.
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