Liwa International School was established in 1992 to “To provide an outstanding international education that inspires students to be self-disciplined, internationally minded, and independent life-long learners who are innovative leaders and critical thinkers.”
Over the past twenty-five years, Liwa International School has endeavoured to deliver effective, communicative and qualitative education to meet the changing demands, and preferences in the Al Ain education sector. Academic programs are in line with international standards, but the school’s educational approach is inspired by the UAE culture and the UAE national identity. The school follows the American Common Core curriculum, together with the Ministry of Education curriculum for Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies. The school was rated Good in its last ADEK inspection during the 2015-16 academic year.
The school’s motto, ‘Together for a Better Future for Our Children’ defines its vision and underlines its goal of inspiring the youth to become critical thinkers and world leaders of the future. The school aims to go beyond ‘traditional education’. It nurtures individuals, allows them to polish their skills, educates them and hopes to bring their ambitions to the fore. Liwa International School aims to cultivate a parent-child relationship with all members and to ensure that learning is more experiential than factual. This supports the school’s second goal for each student – “The potential for your child to be the best they can be”.
The Principal states that "through partnership with parents, teachers and the community, the school is committed to educating students to high international academic standards by applying a learning centered approach, which prepares self-confident and socially responsible young adults for an evolving and changing world."
Liwa International School currently has over 2,500 students with mixed gender classes in KG and separate sections for Girls and Boys thereafter. The largest student nationality is Emirati at 89%, followed by a range of Arab nationalities (with Jordanian, Egyptian and Omani students making a further 6%). There are an average of 7 classes in each grade with an average class size of 23. There is a slightly higher proportion of girls to boys in the school. All students join the school as non-English speakers.
Students are supported by a teaching team of 180 who are recruited from the UK, US, South Africa and the Gulf area. Teacher turnover in 2017 was 13%, well below the average of 22% in the UAE and a reflection of an increasingly stable team (it had been a much higher 26% in the 2015-16 academic year) . All new staff are required to have a professional teaching qualification and a minimum of 2 years’ experience. This is supplemented by a whole school program of professional development and practice.
The school has a dedicated SEND department with 3 full time staff as well as social workers involved in supporting a relatively low number of children with additional needs. Differentiated teaching is provided where necessary and students with SEND or Gifted & Talented requirements are provided with Individual Education plans.
Academically, the school aims to ensure that all students – irrespective of their ability – achieve above the international level of progress, based on MAP assessment. Academic results are clearly an important focus – with 100% of children achieving a score of 400+ in SAT 1 Math, 100% of students achieving an IELTS score of 5.5+ and in the MoE Arabic exams, an average score of 1043/1400. The school has been accredited by AdvancED since 2005 and certified by the College Board as a Center for SATI and SATII since 2007.
All graduates of the school go on to University education. To date, 16 batches have graduated (a total of 533 young individuals). Alumni include scholars, academicians, leaders, pioneers and influencers in the region.
Not only have students of Liwa International School achieved their own qualifications and awards, but the school is also clearly dedicated to setting an example to its students by applying for and receiving a wide range of awards. In 1998, it received the ISO 9001:1994 award, the first of its kind among schools in the Arabian Gulf region and the Middle East. This was upgraded to ISO 9001:2000 in 2003 and to ISO 9001:2008 in 2008. The ISO awards are given only to organisations that can prove adherence to a strict set of performance standards.
Further awards include Recipient of His Excellency Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashed Al Maktoum’s Award for Distinguished Academic Performance – Distinguished School and Distinguished School Administration category in 2005, Recipient of His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award in 2006, and the Sheikh Khalifa Educational Award in the field of Education and the Sustainable Environment in 2011. The school has also received three Awards for its participation in the Sustainable Schools Initiative of the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi in 2011 and received an award for its participation in the Sustainable Schools Initiative of the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi in the category “Most Proactive School: Outdoor Field Education” in 2013. It has been a Member in the Sustainable Schools Initiative since 2008.
Liwa International School believes that it was the first “Green School” in the UAE. The school is an ADEC model/signature school for ecology as it has taken the initiative of planting creepers all around the building to keep it cool. It also has solar panels to generate its own electricity.
The campus includes a Physical Education Hall, multi-purpose halls, a swimming pool, 4 spacious canteens and 3 mosques spread amongst a well-equipped primary school building and senior school building. There are 5 computer labs, 6 Science labs and a School library, 4 Art rooms, 2 Music rooms, 4 Gymnasia and spacious playgrounds are available for students during recess time and after school.
It is evident that Liwa International School is a very open and progressive environment. It is one of only a few that Whichschooladvisor.com has seen which not only publishes its most recent ADEK report, but has also published the School Development Plan which shows what action the school is taking in relation to the ADEK recommendations.
A clear effort to innovate is apparent through the introduction of the ‘LIWA Cloud’ which acts as a repository of all resources, innovation plans, extended materials, planning, students’ work and professional development activities and ideas. This has supported teachers’ increasing use of enterprise and entrepreneurial approaches and activities. Older students have access to Google drive where their work, plans, assessment and evaluation is made, allowing access in school or home and immediate interaction and feedback from teachers. The primary section has a “Discovery Centre” where students go to create and innovate. A Design Thinking Lab is a further recent innovation.
There seems also to be a real commitment to working with parents – the school website contains full details of programmes, standards and skills that children are expected to achieve by grade. The KG Learning at Home plan emphasises that Parents play a big role in influencing a child’s behavior, attitude and approach towards learning. There is a considerable amount of information and support available to parents through a range of initiatives including Parent Orientation Meetings (a formal induction to discuss each child’s personal, social and learning needs), Topic Guidance (a weekly guide to parents providing a home learning schedule so that they can help their child at home and keep track of the syllabus) and Parents Meetings (held twice a year, the meetings are an opportunity for parents to discuss their child’s progress).
The school also provides Student Diaries (a daily, weekly or monthly note that communicates their child’s skills, successes or issues) and parents have access to a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) which is an online portal that enables parents to access their child’s online work and communicate with respective teachers. In addition to termly reports, Parent Workshops are also arranged throughout the year to help parents with curriculum areas such as reading and math.
In Elementary School - from grades 1-5 - children study the full range of subjects with an emphasis on innovation, STEAM, practical application and active learning. They are encouraged to discuss their learning and think critically. The school has specialist Art, Science, DT and ICT rooms, and children from grade 2 have a weekly lesson in these. All subjects are taught thematically and with an emphasis on cross curricular links. Parent workshops are arranged so that parents understand the learning and how to help their children at home, as well as home-school projects and competitions to involve the whole family.
Children use the library each week for a lesson. Great emphasis is placed on reading both in the general curriculum and with events, such as the World Book day, Book making competitions, DEAR days, and celebrations of the super star scholastic readers among others.
In Middle School, the aim is to develop well balanced students with the content knowledge and 21st century skills for success in their post-school lives. Lessons are delivered by subject specialists who are led by school leaders with international experience. The curriculum includes the core subjects of Math, Science, English, Social Studies, IT, Art, French and PE.
Middle and High School students can take Electives such as Design &Technology, Media, Art and French. Arabic, Islamic Studies and Arabic Civics following MOE guidelines. The curriculum exploits opportunities to develop students' understanding of Emirati national identity, the Student Competence Framework and innovative skills and practice. Individual learning is supported by meeting the needs of all students, providing comprehensive feedback for students to act on.
A weekly PACE session supports students' personal development with topics covering Study Skills, Emotional Intelligence, Universities, Healthy & Safe Lifestyles, Careers, Innovation/Leadership and the Environment.
A range of Extra-curricular activities are offered in Middle and High School. All students participate in the programme, with clubs including Sports, Zumba, Cooking, Drama, Art, UN, Fashion, Journalism, Chess, Reading Buddies and Quran Studies.
High School students are supported with their post-school development through a comprehensive university guidance programme. Support includes one-to-one guidance tutorials with Grade Leaders and Head Teachers; PACE lessons; university guidance packs; online resources; Liwa's annual University Fair; and scholarship guidance for students.
The close relationship between the school and its parents is reflected through the Parent Association Committee which provides a helpful sounding board to the development of school activities and functions. The school utilises many opportunities to engage with the local community and builds constructive relationships with organisations that help students prepare and be better informed about their next stage of education, training or employment.
What the inspectors say
All recommendations from the previous inspection have been met and the school has made significant progress. This in itself is an impressive testament to the dedication and strong focus of the school leadership.
According to the ADEK Inspectors, Liwa International School offers students a good level of education both academically and in their social development. The strong drive for improvement is evident through all layers of leadership; from the very experienced Board of Trustees, a Principal with a clear vision for the school and an exceptionally determined newly formed senior leadership team (SLT) who have brought expertise and fresh insights.
All students start school without any spoken English and with low literacy and communication skills. In Kindergarten (KG), they make at least good progress and this continues throughout the school. In the higher grades, teaching is stronger and prepares students very well for their next phase of education, training or employment. The very well maintained building and clear organizational structures allows the school day to run very smoothly. Students are respectful and behaviour and attendance is very good, reflecting the impact of UAE culture, Islamic values and the caring ethos of the school.
The ADEK report noted that the improvement to the quality of teaching and learning, particularly in Arabic. School leaders have a strong, cohesive sense of purpose and are making rapid change to establish best practice in modern leadership. Leadership at all levels have clear understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement in all subjects and set high expectations.
Interpersonal relationships between all members of the school community are strong, contributing to the welcoming environment and positive ethos. The school promotes strong UAE culture and Islamic values which is evident across all aspects of school life, both academic and social. The care, guidance and support of all students is very strong, ensuring students and staff enjoy a very well maintained and organised school environment. The broad and balanced curriculum with strong cross-curricular links is augmented by good enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities.
Attainment and progress across the key subjects range variously from Acceptable to Good. This is certainly the area upon which the school will need to focus its attention in advance of the next inspection due in the current academic year. This was noted in the last report and recommendations for improvement included the benchmarking of assessments against standardised criteria for all grades and the need to ensure consistency in the quality of teaching and learning in all phases and across all classes, particularly in meeting the needs of all groups of students.
Based on the fact that Liwa International School is one where there is evidently a very strong focus on innivation and improvement and a proven ability to deliver it, Whichschooladvisor.com looks forward to seeing what progress has been achieved when the new report is issued.
The fee range from AED 16,200 for KG to AED 29,300 for Grade 12 are rated Medium to High by ADEK, though significantly below other International Schools in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi.
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