Liwa International School - Al Mushrif is the third school to open under the Liwa Education brand, and the first in the capital. The original schools, based in Al Ain, offer both a co-educational and All Girls' option, offering a US curriculum.
The story so far...
The opening of the Liwa International School - Al Mushrif, at the heart of Abu Dhabi island, is the first step by Al Ain-based Liwa Education to extend its reach to the capital. The new school, which opened in September 2019, is expected to be the first of several additions to the Liwa Education Group over the next few years.
Liwa International School - Al Mushrif (LISM) expected to open with approximately 225 students, with classes from KG1 through to Grade 7 in its opening year. Students come from a range of 35 nationalities with no one predominant. Initially there will be two classes each from KG1 to Grade 2, and one class each from Grades 3 to 7. The school will eventually grow to a full KG, Elementary, Middle, Junior High and High School format offering a US High School Diploma. Unusually for a new school in Abu Dhabi, Liwa International School - Al Mushrif intends to offer a co-educational environment (mixed-gender classes) through to Grade 12, in keeping with US school traditions.
LISM insists that its core values sit at the heart of the school and will be modelled by the staff and promoted in the students through the community's teaching, learning and everyday practice. The core values are:
MUTUAL RESPECT - We respect ourselves, others and our surroundings in order to build good character and a commitment to the school family and common good.
RESPONSIBILITY & CARE - We insist upon fostering integrity, high ethical standards, leadership and tolerance, in order to nurture compassionate and caring young people with strong values, who have a desire to make a positive difference in the school, community, UAE and the world.
SUCCESS - Our academic experience enables intellectual curiosity and success, by providing a rich, broad, deep, innovative and holistic education where students learn best through active participation which encourages and nurtures interests, talents and academic success.
COLLABORATION & TEAMWORK - We have a passionate belief in “the measure of who we are is what we do, with what we have” and enables shared responsibility and teamwork across students, teachers, subjects, departments and grades.
Led by Principal, Mrs. Nicki Williams, who has moved from Liwa International School for Girls in Al Ain to take over the role of Founding Principal in Abu Dhabi, LISM has opened with 21 teachers and 12 teaching assistants. Teachers have been recruited from the UK, Ireland, USA, South Africa, and Europe creating a truly International team.
A key focus of the management team is to ensure that there is a balance of experience amongst the faculty. Staff range from newly qualified, who come with all the energy and enthusiasm of a new teacher, to very experienced staff on the team that can support their colleagues with improving their practice. All teachers are required to have a teaching qualification. The minimum requirement is a Bachelor’s degree with a postgraduate qualification. LISM dedicates a large sum of its budget to the development of its teachers; this professional development includes, technology, e-learning platforms, google educator, Kagan, and English as an Additional Language (EAL) strategies to name just a few.
The teacher:student ratio varies between grades, recognising the need for more support in the lower grades. KG will have a ratio of 1:10, Grades 1 to 4 13:1, and in Grades 5 to 7, there will be one teacher for each group of 15 students. Average class size are expected to be 20 students with a maximum of 24.
What about the curriculum?
In common with the Al Ain schools, Liwa International School - Al Mushrif (LISM) will offer an American curriculum, based on the US Common Core Standards (California State) and Next Generation Science Standards.
The curriculum is intended to be broad and balanced, building 21st century skills and life skills including robotics, Engineering Technology, STEM, food technology, computer science, Art and Design and the arts, in addition to the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, Arabic, Islamic, Social Studies and Moral education. LISM will offer French in addition to Arabic and is investigating the introduction of Mandarin.
As students move through the school towards High School and graduation, LISM will offer optional tracks, where students can select Career tracks or academic tracks dependent on their strengths. The school will offer opportunities for older students to develop enterprise skills, by selling healthy snacks during the ‘Healthy is Wealthy’ project and the ‘Formula Ethara’ project promoting gas cars and by participating in activities such as French, textiles, and learning the deep meaning of the Qur’an within their life.
Students will be assessed throughout their education and the school will use North West Evaluation Association MAP assessments to benchmark students against American standards. This data is used to drive instruction and has proven to be successful in LISM's sister schools, where students' results have shown them to be on the 99th percentile for growth for the past 3 years.
Although Liwa International School -Al Mushrif has not yet started the accreditation process through one of the US Schools and Colleges Associations or other accreditation organisations as yet, it is well placed to do so in due course. Mrs. Williams trained to be a school inspector with the British Schools of the Middle East, as well as with AdvancED, one of the leading American international school accreditors.
The school is set up to ensure that Students of Determination, and those with Gift and Talents (G&T) are effectively supported. LISM staff identify students in need through records of concerns following the baseline assessments. Staff then create intervention for students in need of support and set up strategies to challenge and support their achievement. Currently less than 2% of students require such support and the school's SEN Coordinator works with the Teaching Assistants across the school for intervention. A Student Counsellor works with G & T students, they are provided with Advance Learning Plans (ALPs) to further enhance their development of those skills.
LISM offers a comprehensive range of extra-curricular activities focused across sports, community and arts activities. Students are encouraged to participate in activities such as swimming, ballet, fitness club, yoga, drama, art, jewellery, school newspaper, and academic support clubs and the school’s annual sports day. Established sports teams offer netball, football and basketball.
The students’ council influences the school community and students support the environment through an Eco Club, encouraging recycling of waste. The school also offers external activities such as ballet, martial arts and swimming. All activities provided by teachers are free. Those provided by external companies have charges. LISM offers a STEM Club to students to enable them to develop their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. They will also be participating in competitions such as Lego League and Formula Ethara.
What about the facilities?
The school offers a newly-renovated learning environment with access to state of the art technology and includes specialist facilities at an affordable rate. Students and teachers work together to support learning through technology and the arts and help promote student leadership. Students have access to a variety of e-learning resources available on the ipads/chromebooks that LISM provides to them.
The school also benefits from an oversized gymnasium, two sports playing fields and two outdoor play areas. Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 3 classrooms will have their own dedicated outside ‘green areas’, in which students will be encouraged to explore their surroundings, engage in hands on practical activities and collaborate with other learners in a safe and caring setting. A grand auditorium at the centre of the school will showcase student talents and achievements amongst other school, parent and community activities.
In total, the school is expected to offer 30 classrooms, 9 Science labs, a Large indoor gym, two Canteens, a Library, a Senior Library, a Food Technology lab, two Design & Technology labs, a Music room, two Art rooms, a Computer Science lab and two multi-purpose activity rooms. Each Science laboratory is fitted with a preparation room and contains all the materials and resources to run a practical and interactive science curriculum for Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Resources are of very good quality to support learning, with a well-stocked library that contains more than 8,000 books for Guided Reading, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Teacher Resources and Reference books both in English and Arabic.
The Art room offers a variety of different media to support building creative design skills with students. Students are encouraged to express their ideas and experiment with different textures, materials and artist styles.
A Music Room allows ample space for students to learn music and movement. It is an extremely well-resourced room and students learn how to use musical notation, percussion, woodwind instruments, string instruments and piano skills, both as part of the curriculum and also during extra- curricular activities.
The main question for parents must be "why choose Liwa International School - Al Mushrif?"
Certainly, one positive aspect that LISM has going for it is the experience of the Principal and the owners, Liwa Education, in opening and operating US curriculum schools of Good quality - both the Al Ain-based schools have achieved this ADEK rating. Parents can be assured that the school is following a fully authorised and compliant American curriculum, together with the Ministry of Education curriculum in Arabic and Islamic education.
With the school's first ADEK inspection due to take place during its opening year, we will be interested to see how quickly Liwa International School - Al Mushrif has got off the ground, and how close to the quality levels of the Al Ain schools it has managed to come.
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Another factor must be fees.
Compared with other well-known US curriculum schools on Abu Dhabi Island, such as the American International School or the American Community School, fees at Liwa International School - Al Mushrif are decidedly more affordable. They are approximately two-thirds of the level of fees at AIS and half those of the fees at ACS.
Fees start at AED 25,000 in KG1 and KG2, rising to AED 26,000 in Grades 1 and 2, and AED 27,000 in Grades 3 through 5. Grades 6 and 7 are AED 28,000. The maximum fees - even at Grade 12 - are AED 30,000.
LISM states that the Admissions philosophy of the school is by nature inclusive, "but contained by boundaries set by the ability of potential students to access the curriculum in English and the school’s ability to support students who have learning difficulties or special educational needs".
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