Islamia English School is a private co-educational, England and Wales based curriculum K-12 school currently home to 2140 students, aged 4 to 18 years of age.
The story so far...
Islamia English School (IES), Abu Dhabi, was established in 1978, as a private, non-profit educational institution mainly aimed at Pakistani families living on Abu Dhabi Island. It is managed by a Board of Directors and recognised by the Ministry of Education & Youth. The partners who support the school are largely from the Darwish Alqubaisi family.
IES states that its general objectives are to enable the students to
"To recite the Holy Quran correctly.
To become good citizens of the state.
To acquire value based quality education".
The majority of students, 66%, remain from Pakistan, 11% are Egyptian, and 10% come from Sudan. Virtually all students are Muslim. Priority registration is given to students who were enrolled in the previous year, siblings, children of staff, and families living close by. Priority is given to Emirati students "from schools rated Good or higher". There are less than 20 Emirati students at the school. Registration for KG1 starts in March/April each year.
The maximum class size is 25 in KG1/2 with a maximum of 30 per class Grades 1-12. The school has a teacher:student ratio of 1:14 in KG, and 1:16 in Primary and other phases. This is an improvement on previous years where KG historically had a teacher:student ratio of 1:21 and 1:18 in Primary. It employs over 120 teachers, and a further 9 teaching assistants and retains a very good retention rate of 91%. The upside of this statistic is that there is stability in terms of the teaching team; the potential downside is the lack of fresh experience and knowledge of newer teaching practice. It seems also that the school may have some difficulty with replacing staff - ADEK noted that although new staff had been appointed, they had not arrived at the school at the time of their inspection in October 2017, having to rely on temporary teachers as a result.
Strict discipline is evidently a practice of the school. Speaking English is compulsory at all times on the school premises. Students are not allowed to bring audio or video cassettes, mobile phones, disks, CDs, Cameras and other objectionable items to the school. Confiscated items will not be returned. Those who come late without valid reasons may not be permitted to enter the classroom. For all classes 95% attendance is obligatory, with promotion in Secondary school and eligibility to sit in the qualifying exams a condition of the attendance requirement.
What about the curriculum?
In terms of exams, Islamia English School is affiliated with Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (Islamabad, Pakistan) for providing SSC and HSSC education, and with Edexcel for providing IGCSE and GCE Advanced Level education.
Subjects offered at IGCSE are limited: English Language, English Literature, Arabic, Urdu/Hindi/Bengali, Quran, Islamic Studies, Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), Social Studies, Pakistan Studies, Economics, Home Science, ICT, Art/Craft and Physical Education. A Levels are even more limited: Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics or Biology – Science Group; or Accounting, Business Studies, Economics – Commerce Group.
In the most recent ADEK report inspectors recommended widening the choices offered to students both at IGCSE and in the extra-curricular programme, which is described as varied but limited in Senior grades.
What about academic achievement?
Unfortunately, the school does not publish its results, but according to ADEK, the number of students gaining 5 A* to C grades at International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) has increased. The inspectors noted in the most recent report that places gained by students in third level (university) institutions is also increasing.
In 2016, Grade 12 MoE examinations taken by a small cohort of students, the performance was outstanding in Islamic education as it had been over the previous three years. In Arabic as a first language, students attained outstanding results in the MoE examinations. Attainment in English Language dipped from previous years in 2016 and is now weak. Students from Grade 3 to Grade 10 sat international benchmark tests in English, Maths, Science and Arabic as a first language with approximately 20% of them receiving distinctions or high distinctions.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com would always encourage schools to publish their results so that parents can see how students perform and celebrate their successes.
What about facilities?
The school took over its current building in 1984. Facilities at Islamia English School include a range of science laboratories equipped for chemistry, physics and biology, a small mosque, library and a number of sporting facilities for football, badminton, squash, basketball and table tennis. The building was improved in recent years and the science laboratories were refurbished, with additional science and computer labs added.
Resources are satisfactory. The school has invested in computers. The library is a well‐used resource, however the number of books is limited. There is also a limited range of attractive books in Kindergarten.
What the inspectors say
Islamia English School school is currently rated an Acceptable school, and has been consistently for three inspections. The most recent inspection took place in October 2017. Students' personal and social development, and the Care, protection, guidance and support of students were rated Good in the most recent report, whilst the other four key performance standards were rated Acceptable.
The inspection team described Students' personal and social development as good, noting that students continue to work hard in lessons and have positive relationships with teachers and peers. In terms of Care, protection, guidance and support, the well-being and personal development of the students was found to be "a key priority for all staff and all students are well cared for. Information on students’ personal development is carefully monitored by teachers, the school nurse and counsellor". Safeguarding measures are described as acceptable. In the past, ADEK's inspectors had stated that the school's leadership had "worked tirelessly" to improve the school. The most recent report is somewhat less positive in its feedback.
The school was deemed to have made acceptable progress since its last inspection. "The principal and vice principal have initiated appropriate improvements. These initiatives are being implemented but are not yet fully embedded within the school. The school now produces more comprehensive records of progress. These are not yet being used effectively enough by teachers to meet the needs of different groups of students and raise attainment. The curriculum is less text book driven and students, overall, are more actively engaged in their learning. This is not consistent across all phases or all subjects. There is still scope to give students more opportunities to take responsibility for their learning".
Academically, in terms of Students' achievement, the majority of ratings across all subjects and throughout the school were found to be Acceptable, although Islamic and Social Studies, Science, and Learning Skills in the Middle school section (Grades 6-8) are rated as Weak. Maths was found to be Good in both the KG and Senior school sections, with inspectors noting that "Progress accelerates again when students reach [the] high phase as a result of more collaborative and independent learning, and opportunities for problem solving. The majority of students in [the] high phase achieve standards above curriculum expectations". However, only a few students achieve well in English Language, though they do so particularly in the IGCSE examination.
KG1 children attain above age-related expectations from a low entry point and they make good progress by the end of KG2 where the majority attain above expectations.
The overall quality of teaching and assessment is acceptable. Teachers' good questioning and their promotion of meaningful discussion was found to engage KG and High school phase students in their learning. Progress data is now being recorded across the school; however, teachers do not yet use international assessment or progress data consistently to improve teaching and learning standards - this is a fundamental focus of ADEK's inspections. The overall quality of the curriculum was also found to be acceptable. It was described as broad, balanced and age-appropriate in each phase and it is designed to teach knowledge and understanding in each subject.
In terms of the strengths of the school, inspectors praised
As far as recommendations for improvement are concerned, the inspection team determined that IES must:
There is no doubt that IES will need to invest heavily in staff training and development and broaden the curriculum if the school is to make progress in its provision. For a school that falls in the very low to low fee category, this will be a challenge.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com through our survey is less than positive. According to parents, almost 60% of children do not have a strong sense of belonging at the school (compared with a UAE average of 13%), although all parents agree to some extent that they are receiving a good quality of education for the fees that they pay. Some 57% of parents have considered moving their child to a different school. Only 29% of parents would recommend the school against a UAE average of 66%. In terms of academic performance, 57% of respondents do not think it is up to the level that their child would receive in their home country.
Fees are very affordable which will of course constrain investment in resources, ranging from AED 7,100 to AED 14,400. This excludes books, uniforms or transport costs.
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