Liwa International School, located in Al Ain, is a relatively new school, having opened in 2016. It is the sister school to Liwa International School (a mixed-gender school) that opened in 1992.The school aims to provide a high quality, creative and challenging international education, based on the American Curriculum Philosophy.
Liwa International School for Girls opened in September 2016. It is one of a small number of all girls’ international schools in the UAE. The school works within an American curriculum framework, aiming to prepare its students for the SAT, the AP, and the TOEFL exam. The school is now fully open to Grade 12.
The school introduces itself thus: “We are the only international school for girls in Al Ain. We provide a leading, individualized American curriculum education for girls from KG to Grade 12, taught by an internationally experienced teaching team, within a dynamic, supportive and inspiring school environment.”
As at September 2021, the school had just over 800 students (double that of two years prior). 91% of students are Emirati, with a small proportion of other, mainly Arabic, nationalities including Yemeni, Omani and Jordanian girls who make up a further 6% of the school population. Students are supported by a team of approximately 70 staff including 52 teachers and a further 26 teaching assistants (all classes from KG1 to Grade 3 have a team of 2 staff). Class sizes are 20 in KG and 24 through the other grades, with an overall teacher:student ratio of approximately 9:1. According to LISG, this ensures individualized teaching for all students. The school recognizes that every child has different needs that requires customized, technology-led learning in a flexible, supportive academic environment
Staff at the school come from a range of backgrounds and nationalities, but are predominantly native English speakers. School Principal, Rachael Saebnoori, is originally from the UK, Rachael joining LISG with extensive experience of leadership in reputable international schools, including 6 years in the UAE, as well as in the UK and Spain. According to LISG, throughout her career, Rachael has demonstrated a proven track record in strategic school improvement, high quality outcomes for students and a commitment to high impact leadership. As a passionate educator and languages specialist, she has coached and mentored Academic and Pastoral teams throughout her career and holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a National Professional Qualification in Headship from the UK.
Teachers are hired internationally through reputable recruitment companies to ensure the appointment of staff of the highest standard and with the right blend of enthusiasm, knowledge and experience. The majority of staff are from the US, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland, together with native Arabic speakers. In their first inspection of the school in May 2017, during its second term of operation, ADEK inspectors noted “The very positive and caring relations between staff and students result in a very harmonious environment where students and staff enjoy school”.
The curriculum is delivered in English for all subjects except those following the Ministry of Education curriculum (Arabic Social Studies, Islamic Studies and Arabic language), which are taught in Arabic. LISG offers a broad and balanced curriculum, which is aligned with California State Core Curriculum Standards, to develop knowledge and skills across subjects, and is closely aligned to students’ needs. There is an emphasis on English across subjects to strengthen students’ skills as a second language.
The school offers a beautiful learning environment with access to state of the art technology and includes specialist facilities that support learning through technology and the arts and helps promote student leadership. Students have access to a variety of e-learning resources available on the tablets that LISG provides to them.
LISG offers a comprehensive range of extra-curricular focused across sports, community and arts activities. Students encouraged to participate in activities such as swimming, ballet, fitness club, yoga, drama, art, jewellery, journalism club, and academic support clubs and the school’s annual sports day. Established sports teams offer 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 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.
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. 5 students has been identified with SEND requirements, whilst a further 30 were identified as Gifted & Talented. Very little English is spoken on entry to the school by the majority of students. The ADEK report noted that accurate assessment by teachers has led to strong progress from the starting points of most students.
Among the facilities, there is a canteen, library, science laboratories, art and music room and a large gymnasium and opportunities for swimming at a local pool. 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. The children 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.
Science Labs are available in the school to support the teaching of Science; Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Each is laboratory is fitted with a preparation room and all contains all the materials and resources to run a practical and interactive science curriculum. LISG offers a STEM Club to students to enable them to develop their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
The first ADEK Inspection in May 2017 rated LISG as Good overall with Very Good for Students’ Personal, Social and Innovation skills and Protection, Care, Guidance and Support. They praised the determined and effective leadership and direction, particularly from the principal and vice principal, and noted that the school had established itself quickly.
For a school that had only been opened two terms when its first inspection took place, LISG made a very positive impression on the inspectors and is evidently performing well.
The “Good” rating from the inspection is a clear indication that Liwa International School for Girls is very much set on the right course to meet its aspirations in terms of providing “an outstanding international education”
In its latest ADEK inspection which took place in February 2018, under the leadership of former Principal, Nikke Williams, the school was again rated Good. At this stage, there were only 11 students in the Senior section of the school.
The inspection team summarised their findings as follows:
The overall performance of the school is good. Students’ achievement is good overall in all subjects. Teachers plan purposeful lessons that meet the needs of almost all students. However, they do not provide consistent challenge for higher-achieving students. Leaders have maintained good attainment overall during a period of rapid growth in the school.
Although there were no improvements in the ratings across the six key performance standards, the inspectors found that the school had continued to make improvements, noting that "The overall capacity of the school to improve is good. School leaders have improved key areas so that students’ achievement and the quality of teaching remain good overall. Leaders have overseen improvements in students’ achievement in KG in Islamic education and social studies, Arabic as a first language (AFL) in middle phase and science in primary phase."
In terms of the strengths of the school, inspectors found these to be:
In terms of areas for improvement, LISG needs to address:
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.
LISG has already established strong partnerships with parents and the local community – a return rate of 60% for parental questionnaires for first ADEK inspection was extremely positive - and parents specifically sought further opportunities for school involvement. A Mother’s Club already exists and the school plans to create other ways for parents to become more involved.
The latest inspection report notes that "Parental involvement has improved. School leaders use a number of innovative approaches to encourage parental attendance at meetings, and to canvass their opinion about school future direction. This includes the creation of an on-line digital television channel which regularly broadcasts information about students’ achievements and school events. A parent governor represents the views of parents on the governing body."
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What about Fees?
Fees for Liwa International School for Girls starts at AED 32,500 for KG1 and rise to AED 41,850 AED for Grade 12. These fees are adjudged Medium High to High under ADEK's evaluation scheme.
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