United Arab Emirates / Al Ain / Falaj Hazzaa / MBK Generations School Al Ain

MBK Generations School Al Ain Review

Mohammed bin Khalid Generations School - now re-branded MBK School - offers the US curriculum mainly to KG and Elementary students, although it is now open to Grade 8.
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 15,500
Annual fees
AED 12,100–18,000
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
2000
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
12%
Principal
Dr Wafaa Salama
Community

Nearby nurseries

2.7km
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MBK Generations School Al Ain
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 15,500
Annual fees
AED 12,100–18,000
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
2000
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
12%
Principal
Dr Wafaa Salama
Community
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Mohammed bin Khalid Generations School - now re-branded MBK School - offers the US curriculum mainly to KG and Elementary students, although it is now open to Grade 8.

The story so far...

MBK Generations School is a relatively small US curriculum school that was founded in Al Ain in 2000 as a villa school and moved to its present buildings in 2006. The school changed from MOE curriculum to an American curriculum in 2014-15. It remained an Elementary school for most of its early years, expanding to include Grade 6 in 2106-17 and has now opened to Grade 8 for the 2020-21 academic year.

The school was established under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Dr. Shamma Bint Mohammad Bin Khaled Al Nahyan who is the Chairman of the school's Board. 

According to the school's new website, it aims to provide a distinctive education that is on par with the current world scientific progress and 21st century skills through various educational standards that encourage students to respect the values of society and promote the concepts of citizenship and patriotism. It also instills in students the values of tolerance and respect for all cultures living in the United Arab Emirates. The school is keen to create a conscious generation that takes responsibility, respects and cooperates with others.

In her introduction to the school, Sheikha Dr, Shamma focuses (unusually in our experience) on the role of teachers, noting that "Education is the most difficult and dangerous task in all societies, for being a teacher means that you are building the future of society.  Therefore, working on the development of the educational skills of the teachers is one of the most important elements of building a conscious and aware education that is capable of reproducing the society in a more sophisticated and modern manner plus being more responsive to the technological acceleration in the world. All of this without abandoning the community’s moral and societal values that are inherited and constitute a large part of the community."

Clearly the school does not underestimate the importance of its key assets - its staff - and with staff turnover at a relatively low 12% it would seem that they, in return, appreciate the positions they hold.  Having said this, there is little evidence of direct US influence among the staff, the majority of whom appear to come from non-US backgrounds.  This is a pity as it often results in a school being American in name only and genuine US curriculum schools are as much about the culture in the broadest sense, the involvement of parents and external organisations, and in particular, the co-curricular activities, if not more than the subjects taught.

Having said this, however, MBK School has come a long way relatively quickly - certainly, at least, in the context of ADEK's biennial inspections.  In 2014-15, MBK School was rated Unsatisfactory, the lowest rating.  Two years later, in 2016-17, the school moved up to an Acceptable rating (the minimum requirement for schools), and two further years along, in 2018-19, MBK School achieved a Good rating. To have made such significant improvements in such a short timescale is an achievement that should not be underestimated.

The school has probably been assisted to some extent by its size.  With approximately 500 students, and a relatively small teaching team of 38 supported by a further 19 teaching assistants, it is perhaps less of challenge to ensure that all staff are following the same path. The majority of students are in the KG section (approx, 42%), with a further 54% in the Elementary section (Grades 1 to 5).  The number of students in Grades 6-8 remains limited. The teacher:student ratio of 1:13 is a relatively low one, which should allow the staff to deliver personalised learning.

Students themselves come from a range of nationalities, with just over half (56%) from the local Emirati population, whilst a further 9% are Egyptian, 8% Jordanian and 7% Syrian. 

Principal, Dr.Wafaa Salama, in her introduction to the school states: "We assure that our main goal is to raise the move our school from development to development and hence, to raise the quality of education by developing the school. We also aim to strengthen the school communication between the school and our parents. In addition, we prioritize building our students personal and academic progress and attainment."

The school's Mission states that it is "committed to providing all students with positive educational outcomes through high quality teaching by using best practices, technology, and international standards. MBK will prepare students that are lifelong learners, global citizens, and qualified to pursue their ambitions."

The school's Vision notes that: MBK School focuses on delivering high quality educational standards to all students fostered in a safe and nurturing environment. Our students will grow academically, spiritually, and emotionally while learning to think critically, become inquisitive, and to take initiative for their own learning. Our students will be prepared to achieve their goals and become productive members of the UAE."

In addition to the Mission and Vision, MBK School also sets out its Goal (Lifelong learning under the competencies and values to meet national needs and keeping in pace with international standards) and Core Values: REACH

R- Respect: We respect students colleagues, parents and the community and respect ourselves.
E- Empathy: We Tolerate and sympathize with others
A- Ambition: We Seek to achieve excellence and meet challenges.
C- Collaboration: We communicate, cooperate and work collaboratively.
H- Honest: We are committed in word and sincere deeds, whatever the circumstances.

What about the curriculum?

Unfortunately, the school's new website provides very little information about the school curriculum.  As a result, we have gleaned most of this from the 2018-19 ADEK report. 

According to the ADEK report, MBK offers a US curriculum based on the Common Core Standards for English and Maths, and the Next Generation Science Standards.  There is no information as to which State standards is followed - the Common Core is an overarching curriculum for all US schools, but individual US states then add to this with their own local curriculum requirements, and most US curriculum schools align to one specific state curriculum   

The school, however, as required by ADEK, is accredited by AdvancED, one of the four US School and College Boards, which means that its High School Diploma - the pre-university leaving certificate awarded to students on completion of the necessary courses in High School - should be recognised both by the UAE Education Authorities in terms of equivalency, and by universities and colleges overseas.

In addition to the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, Arabic (both first and second language), Islamic Studies and Social Studies, students also focus on IT and Robotics, PE and Art.  Although music is not taught as part of the curriculum, it is a feature of the school during assemblies.

The inspection report notes that the curriculum has undergone a rigorous and comprehensive review and provides students in all phases with a balance of knowledge, skills and understanding. The curriculum is enhanced by a wide range of extra-curricular activities in and outside of school that motivates and engages the students. Activities and events support innovation and enterprise, and this is well embedded in lessons. Robotics and coding are timetabled into the curriculum and an ‘innovation hour’ in Term 2 offers independent project work. Links with UAE culture and traditions are often local and are particularly strong.

MBK uses MAP testing in order to assess students' learning and to adjust teaching and the curriculum to meet individual students' needs. The school has a small number of students of Determination, for whom it caters well.  It is less adept in adapting the curriculum to provide challenge for students who are gifted and talented.

What about the facilities?

Little information is provided by the school about its facilities. The school building is a two-storey purpose-built structure. ADEK tells us that classrooms are bright and welcoming, are motivating, exciting and well-resourced, especially in English medium subjects, and good use is made of specialist facilities such as laboratories. Teachers provide workstations, a free-flow zone and an educational kitchen in KG to develop children’s speaking and listening, investigation and creativity skills. 

Specialist facilities (in addition to the laboratories) include an Art room, music room, auditorium, Drama room, Talent room, and library. 

Resources are good, although a few classrooms do not have data projectors and not all students have access to iPads in lessons.

What the inspectors say

As we mentioned in our introduction, MBK is to be congratulated for the significant improvements that have clearly taken place under the leadership of the current Principal. To achieve an improvement in rating from the lowest to what is effectively the mid level is no mean achievement from one inspection to the next.

In the 2018-19 inspection round, MBK achieved the Good rating, obtaining improved rating levels in all six Key Performance Standards. Not only were four of the six standards rated Good, but two - Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation skills, and the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students - were rated Very Good.

The report summary found that the overall performance of the school was good because students make at least good progress in all subjects. Students have a positive attitude to learning. School leadership is driving and managing change effectively and has improved all performance standards since the previous inspection. Teachers plan purposeful and engaging lessons with explicit learning objectives. The broad curriculum, and a safe, caring and supportive learning environment are all contributing to the improvement in students’ achievement all subjects. 

The majority of students' achievement was above curriculum standards in all subjects. Attainment in Arabic was acceptable in primary and middle. Children’s achievement in kindergarten (KG) in English, mathematics and science is very good. Students' work cooperatively, and fully engage with their learning. They understand how learning relates to the world outside school and are creative and innovative, particularly in KG and English, mathematics, science and robotics

Students' attitudes to learning, their relationships with adults and each other, and their attendance are very good. Students have very good understanding of Emirati heritage, values and culture though their knowledge of other world cultures is less strong. Students are innovative and creative, and initiate projects. 

Inspectors determined that the strengths of the school lay in: 

  • The improvement in the quality of teaching and students' achievement in most subjects.
  • The school's secure and caring learning environment and students' strong personal and social development.
  • Students' clear understanding and appreciation of Islamic values and Emirati heritage and culture, which the school promotes in all aspects of the curriculum and school life.
  • The effective leadership in driving improvement and setting a vision for the future direction of the school.
  • The high quality of educational provision in KG and the rapid development of children's learning and social skills.

Certainly in terms of Student Achievement, there is little doubt that this is good across almost all subjects and all sections of the school.  In the KG section, students make Very Good progress and attainment in English, Maths and Science, and rapidly develop their speaking and listening skills due to the structured phonics scheme. As children rapidly become more proficient in English in KG, they quickly learn about number and quantity and their uses.  In fact, with the exception of Arabic (both first and second language) attainment across Elementary and Middle school section (where it is rated Acceptable), all other measures across all other subjects and learning skills are rated at least Good.

Students'  personal and social development and their Innovation skills were also rated Very Good across the school.  In particular, the inspection team noted that "Students’ innovation skills are promoted effectively. Students in all grades are involved in innovation activities in and out of lessons. Children in KG are involved in creating a greenhouse. Older students create working models in robotics and are very creative in scratch programming. Classes compete in creating independent innovation projects. Students’ innovation skills are effectively promoted in most lessons particularly in English medium subjects and KG."

Inspectors were also impressed by the teaching for effective learning and assessment processes used by teachers which resulted in high quality provision and very effective teaching in KG particularly in English medium subjects, the explicit learning objectives, group work and collaborative learning, and the wide variety of assessment methods used in lessons, which contributed to Good ratings being awarded overall.

Similarly, inspectors responded positively to the design and implementation of the curriculum (rated Very Good in KG and Good in the Elementary and Middle school sections) and the adaptation of the curriculum to meet student needs (rated Very Good across the school).  The latter key performance measure is one where many UAE schools have faced challenges, but is clearly a strength of MBK.

A further area of strength of MBK is the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students which was rated Very Good across the school.  In addition to practical measures to ensure the safety and security of students, the inspectors commented

"Pastoral care staff ensure that students’ personal development and well-being are monitored systematically. They provide students with well-informed advice and guidance on a variety of issues to support their social, emotional and academic progress. Very good links with middle and high schools, and transfer of personal and academic information, support students’ transition to the next stage of their education."

Leadership and Management is also rated Good, with inspectors noting "The Board of Governors includes parent and teacher representatives, as well as representatives of the local community and businesses. The board is long-established, knowledgeable and contains a wide range of expertise. Governors observe lessons, set targets for the school and the principal and hold the school to account for its performance. They have a clear vision and plans for the future growth of the school."

In terms of areas for improvement, MBK School must:

  • Raise students' attainment further in all subjects, especially in Arabic, by: providing all students with challenging, innovative and problem-solving activities; ensuring all students in higher grades, especially in Arabic, are supported to develop their extended writing skills; regularly sharing good practice in teaching across Arabic-medium and English- medium subjects.
  • Provide more effective, individualised challenge and support for higher-attaining students, by: ensuring all teachers have the highest expectations for students' learning; identifying and tracking individual students' needs and progress using assessment data; giving students regular opportunities to carry out independent tasks that enable them to follow their interests and exceed curriculum standards; increasing the use of problem-solving and enquiry as a learning strategy.
  • Develop the role of middle leaders, especially heads of subject departments, by: providing professional development so they are aware of the latest educational practices and can more effectively lead and support their colleagues; developing their lesson observation skills so they can identify and share good practice; providing opportunities for them to observe good practice in their subject in other schools and by networking with colleagues.

If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so in order to understand the detailed reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.

The Buzz

Whilst there is little direct feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com about MBK Generations School as yet, we have been able to glean feedback from both the ADEK inspection reports and also the ADEK Parent Survey report.

The main report notes that parents speak highly of the school and school leadership. Communication is very good. The school uses a wide variety of methods including the class dojo, the school website and newsletters and weekly work plans. All queries and concerns are promptly followed up and resolved.

The ADEK Parent Survey asks parents to rate the school's performance against a list of key criteria out of a score of 5. These include Parent's Overall Impression, Academic Achievement, Quality of Learning, Parental Engagement, School Safety, School Health, School Code of Conduct and School Leadership.

A significant 222 parents responded to the Survey and gave the school a rating of 3.82 - a rating that was higher than that of over 26% of schools that had also been awarded a Good rating by ADEK's inspectors.

The full report from 2017-18 can be viewed here. It includes the school's strengths and challenges as seen from the parents' perspective and is well worth reading.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com also encourages Parents, Students and Teachers to share their experiences with other potential members of their community by completing our surveys here.

Our view

MBK School is a school where much is clearly going in the right direction... and quickly. It clearly merits its overall Good rating from ADEK, and whilst there are evident challenges, parents seem largely satisfied with the education their children are receiving. Whether MBK will be able to sustain this improvement as it grows further, educating students beyond Middle and into High School will be extremely important.  Often, it is when school grow rapidly in terms of staff and students, that maintaining improvement becomes more difficult. 

What is, however, evident, is ADEK's belief that MBK has capacity to improve further and if this is as part of the development of the school into an all-through school, this will clearly benefit current families. Our sense is that MBK is a school that genuinely cares about its students, their development and support for them. We hope this continues to be reflected in the culture of the growing organisation.

What about the fees?

Fees range from AED 12,100 for KG1 and KG2 to AED 18,000 in Grade 8 placing MBK School in the affordable category.

If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.

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