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 girls’ only 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 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 May 2022, when the most recent ADEK inspection took place, LISG had approximately 840 students (double that of two years prior) of whom 95% of students are Emirati, The balance of the school population is made up of a small proportion of other, mainly Arabic, nationalities including Yemeni, Omani and Jordanian girls. Students are supported by a team of approximately 90 staff including 64 teachers and a further 27 teaching assistants (all classes from KG1 to Grade 3 have a team of two staff).
Class sizes are 20 in KG and 24 through the other grades, with an overall teacher:student ratio of approximately 1:13. According to LISG, this ensures individualised teaching for all students. The school recognizes that every child has different needs that requires customised, 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 with the largest contingent from South Africa. Teachers are said to be 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.
School Principal, Rachael Saebnoori, is originally from the UK. Mrs. Saebnoori joined LISG with extensive experience of leadership in reputable international schools, including six years in the UAE, as well as in the UK and Spain.
According to LISG, throughout her career, Mrs. Saebnoori 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.
It seems that Ms. Saebnoori's experience has borne fruit - the school achieved the second highest ADEK rating of Very Good for the first time in the 2021-22 inspection round. This an achievement that the other schools in the group -Liwa International School - Falaj Hazza and Liwa International School - Al Mushrif, both rated Good, have not yet managed. The newest school - Liwa International School Al Qattara - has not yet been inspected.
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. 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. There is an emphasis on English across subjects to strengthen students’ skills as a second language.
The school is accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvanceD) which indicates that LISG delivers a standard of curriculum and teaching that ensures the acceptance of the High School Diploma, with which students graduate, by universities and colleges internationally.
The school offers 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.
The school has recently been renovated. Among the facilities, there is a canteen, library, science laboratories, art and music room and a large gymnasium. Additional facilities include an 'Adventure village for the little ones’, Textile Tech lab, Music Studio, Electives Career tr., Makerspace, Auditorium, Robotics + Design Tech , ICT (Entrepreneur lab/ Startup lab), a swimming pool for K-2 students, and a semi-olympic size swimming pool for students in grades 3-12.
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 first inspection was followed up by a second in February 2019, when LISG was again awarded a Good rating. With the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, LISG's next schedule inspection was postponed by a year and took place in May 2022.
This most recent inspection - which did not focus on all six key performance standards, (excluding Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills, together with the Curriculum) - resulted in the award of a Very Good rating - the second highest possible award.
The majority of ratings for Student Achievement and all those for Teaching and Assessment were awarded Very Good. The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students was awarded Very Good for Care and Support and Outstanding for Health and Safety. Again, most ratings for Leadership and Management achieved Very Good ratings, with Governance rated Outstanding.
If you would like to read the nspection report - and we always 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 2018-19 inspection report noted 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?
Tuition fees for Liwa International School for Girls start at AED 32,500 for pre-KG, KG1 and KG2 and rise to AED 41,850 AED for Grade 12. There is a compulsory additional fee for school uniforms which varies from AED 700 to AED 850. There is also an annual 5% re-registration fee which is offset again the tuition fees for the first term.
These fees are adjudged Medium High to High under ADEK's evaluation scheme.
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