Italian International School is a new school - and first for the UAE - teaching both the IB and Italian National Curriculum.
The Italian International School Abu Dhabi is the first school in the city - and in the UAE - to offer both the International Baccalaurate programmes and also the Italian National Curriculum. The school has opened for students aged 4 to 10 years offering KG2 to Grade 5 in its first academic year, before growing to a K-12 school.
Located in Khalifa A, the new school aims to attract both native Italians as well as other international students who are interested in the Italian culture and language. The school has a stated ambition to be among the exceptional schools in Abu Dhabi, employing a holistic approach to all learning and shedding light on the building of character in the students in its care. In addition, the well-being of staff and students is a priority.
The Founding Principal of the school is Janet DesJardins, a Canadian National who grew up in a small city in Northern Ontario, where over ½ of the city’s population were Italian immigrants. Ms. DesJardins worked nationally in Canada for 15 years as a teacher and Special Education Coordinator, and left Canada 16 years ago to pursue a career in a total of seven countries so far. She has been in the UAE since 2017. Teaching staff are from a range of international backgrounds.
IIS has applied as a candidate for the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme initially, and will subsequently apply for authorisation to offer the Middle Years and IB Diploma programmes with Italian enrichment. Core subjects are taught in English and students will also take Arabic (following the Ministry of Education requirements) and Italian lessons. The school offers the Italian Curriculum to provide parents with a choice in terms of the appropriate curriculum for children.
The Italian Department is a pivotal department of the Italian International School and combines the principles of the Italian Ministry of Education curriculum with the IB curriculum guidelines in terms of teaching areas and subjects.
The department aims to tailor its teaching strategy to the needs of every student in the school whether they are native speakers or learners of Italian as a second language. Following the IB principles, learning a language in school is not a separate discipline isolated from all other learning. Similar to the teaching of Arabic in UAE schools (for native and non-native speakers) the Italian Department at IIS offers two language programmes throughout the whole course of study from KG1 to the Diploma years.
All students whose mother tongue is Italian are taught in accordance with the requirements of the Italian Ministry of Education, with interactive texts currently in use in Italian schools used in this programme, with the support of materials created specifically to meet the needs of bilingual students. Students are able to graduate in the Italian Language by choosing Italian as a studied subject in the IB Diploma Programme at either at a Higher or Standard Level. Non-native speakers who have developed an excellent level of Italian during the course of study of Italian as a Language B, may also participate in the Language A Diploma Programme. The study of Italian as Language B is for students of a second language. All students from KG1 onwards are eligible for this programme.
The Italian language will be brought alive via lessons, activities or celebrations. Students will be exposed to learning the language throughout all subjects studied. An essential vocabulary will be known in all the three school official languages, English, Arabic, and Italian, as a result of close collaboration with classroom teachers.
In addition, Information and communication technologies are an integral part of the curriculum and all classrooms are equipped with high-speed connectivity and interactive whiteboards, allowing teachers to make full use of multimedia resources to enhance their teaching. Students will be involved in a range of activities and subjects including Italian enrichment, arts, sports, personal health, and creativity – all using the latest technologies.
Limited information is provided about the facilities of the school, but in addition to technology enabled classrooms, we understand that these include ICT rooms, a library, cafeteria, multi-purpose halls, both indoor and outdoor playgrounds, a large 957 m2 gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool. The school will use its facilities to host the Juventus Football Academy.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is somewhat curious to see how the Italian International School Abu Dhabi progresses in terms of interest and student numbers. Whilst it has been the norm in most international cities to provide first language schools for Japanese, French and German families who have often made up a fairly sizeable part of the expatriate community, it is less common to see schools offering other 'home' languages. Having said that, the Italian International School now joins the Spanish School in Abu Dhabi and the Chinese School in Dubai as ground-breakers.
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Fees range from AED 36,250 for KG1 and KG2, to AED 49,500 for Grades 1-5. Although the school will not initially offer higher grades, it has confirmed that for Grades 6 to 8, fees will be AED 51,500 and for Grades 9 to 12, AED 57,450. No mention of sibling discounts is made although UAE Government employees may benefit from a discount of up to 10%.
School hours for KG1 and KG2 are 8:00am -1:00 pm Monday to Thursday, Fridays 8:00-11:30 am and for Grades 1 to 5 - Monday to Thursday 8:00 am -3:00 pm, Fridays 8:00-12:30 pm.
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