MSB School (formerly Al Ameen School) is a private, mixed FS -Year 11 school located in the Al Nahda area of Dubai. The school was established in 1985, in a villa, with 20 students in the Foundation stage.
Today there are 850 students on the register, up from 675 two years ago, with 75 full time teachers and 18 teaching assistants. As would be anticipated, both staff and students are Indian nationals. The staff:student ratio of 1:11 has reduced from 1:12 previously. Staff turnover at 16% reduced from 25% two years ago is still on the high side for an Indian school in Dubai. The arrival of a new Principal in 2016 appears to have been responsible for some significant, and highly positive changes within the school.
MSB states that its Mission is
The Principal notes that all staff are committed to the School's Vision which is certainly ambitious:
He also comments - "it is our earnest endeavour to motivate every student to develop the need, and the desire to seek, to constantly modernise and to reach newer heights; every day, every moment. To prepare our students to be future-ready, to face the challenges that the unpredictable world of tomorrow shall bring. And in doing so, greet each day with a smile, pursue excellence with grit and rigour and develop an attitude of compassion and accountability which would then instil the greater quality of leadership."
The school follows the National Curriculum of England from the foundation stage to year 8 and IGCSE from Cambridge University in years 9, 10 and 11 - enabling students to take these external Board exams over a three year period, rather than two which is the norm.
The curriculum is designed to enable access to a range of subject disciplines, individual projects and group work. The curriculum, including field work and visits, is challenging offering English, Mathematics, ICT and PE, Biology, Physics or Chemistry, Accounting, Economics or Business Studies, Arabic or Hindi as a Modern Foreign Language, Environmental Management, MoE Islamic Education and Arabic. MSB offers an effective cross curricular approach to learning, involving a wide range of Literacy, Science, Numeracy, ICT and Art and Design skills.
The approach to teaching and learning is innovative and forward thinking - probably much more so than might initially be anticipated. As part of the school's efforts to move towards student-led learning, MSB uses approaches such as LEGO project-based learning to develop the 21st-century skills that are essential for the careers of tomorrow. Students experience through a STEM curriculum an integrated approach to science, technology, engineering and mathematics Arts are also a focus and include modules working with a range of textiles, 3D design, collage making, Photoshop and applications that blend and emulate featured artists like Bridget Railey and Van Gogh.
Members of the senior leadership team are committed to innovation and have initiated ways of introducing it into the culture of the school. Staff members are encouraged to create innovative projects and students are guided to innovate "this way". Staff have received substantial professional development in support of this initiative.
Students in the Foundation Stage are encouraged to learn by using their sensory abilities. Children are supported in their development of Motor skills, early learning and familiarity towards Alphabets, Colours, Numbers etc., responsibility for taking care of resources and putting them back at a given time and place, their social attitude towards other children and learning to share and care. They also learn to work in groups and individually.
Since MSB School does not offer A Levels which would assure university entrance worldwide, it ensures that a strong process of College and Career Guidance is provided in-house to enable students to plan for their IGCSE decisions and beyond. Students have the opportunity to speak to tutors, attend information evenings and speak to university representatives in order to make informed decisions about their AS level options.
All Year 10 and 11 students are interviewed to discuss their plans beyond into higher education and employment. A whole range of events, information sessions, work shadowing and resources are available to the students, and through these, the students are given the opportunity to develop their ideas and plans for the future, whilst being encouraged and challenged. In addition to this students are also guided through the application process and to determine next steps related to admission process. To bridge the gap between the industry, academia and the student community, students in year 10 and 11 are offered the opportunity to train on the job.
The school offers a relatively narrow range of ECA’s - Swimming, Karate, Basketball, MAD Science, Football, Robotics – one of the few causes for complaint among parents. However, a key focus of the school is its community work initiatives, which provide students with opportunities to become positive contributors to society. It gives a holistic approach to young volunteers to become involved with their surroundings and diversify their experience, helping them to strengthen their roots as embedded in the school’s core values. Community Service activities have included initiatives such the Diabetes Walk, Walk for Education, Pink Day, World Food Day, Literacy lessons for Support Staff, Labour Camp visits, Old Age Home visits, Nepal Earthquake victim, Dubai Cares’ Stationary packing drive, and donation of food and warm clothes to Dubai Cares’ Food Collection.
There is also a strong focus on Environmental campaigns and initiatives including involvement with the Emirates Environmental Group, Hydroponics, a Waste Audit, Save the forest campaign, a Clean-up Campaign, a Simple Machine - Concept made from waste, an All year round garden, Waste Free lunch, Plant a tree, Climate Awareness, an ECO DRIVE campaign, and information from the Petroleum Institute on Carbon Emission and a Conservation of water and electricity programme.
The school has in the past published its IGCSE results. Unfortunately, this welcome transparency is no longer evident on the school's website. The school has, however, released details of its toppers for 2019. These were Murtaza Hussainy Lilwala, the school topper) who achieved 7 A* results, Mustafa Salim - 5A* & 2A, Maryam Abid Ali - 4A* & 3A, and Tasneem Hatim Dalal - 4A* & 3A. The school rated its overall result as “Outstanding” and noted that 82% results were between A*-B.
However, it would be helpful if the school could provide a further breakdown of grades as is normal in UK curriculum schools.
The school's academic success was reflected in its position among the top 10 schools in Dubai for TIMMS testing in 2015 (6th and 7th places for Years 5 and 9). One student, Moiz Talib Mandsorwala, was also awarded Top In World in the June 2017 Cambridge examination series for IGCSE Accounting and IGCSE Mathematics (without Coursework).
The Primary section of MSB is located at Al Nahda 2 in Dubai. Built in 2004, the school, whilst perhaps a little outdated, provides the necessary resources and infrastructure to supports learning, play and creativity in a safe environment. It is described in the latest KHDA inspection report as "of high quality and [is] maintained in excellent condition. The facilities provide students with a safe, clean and stimulating environment that is matched to the curriculum requirements. A variety of high-quality resources and equipment promote very effective teaching and learning."
The Primary campus offers facilities for Foundation stage and key stage 1 children and houses children to Year 2. The 3-storey building Secondary campus is located about 100 meters from the Primary campus. The campus also has a 32,000 sq. ft. sports field and covered play areas.
All classrooms are internet enabled and equipped with overhead projectors and a SMART Learning Suite software that enables teachers to transform static content into interactive experiences with lesson delivery, assessments, collaborative workspaces and game-based activities.. An ICT Laboratory (equipped with one PC per student, a smart board with touch-sensitive display and iPads.
An Activity room in the Primary building supports the development of FS children allowing children to participate in Cooking, Water-play, and Construction among a range of exploratory activities. The primary section campus also boasts of an auditorium that can seat up to 250 people. The secondary campus includes a spacious library fully equipped with encyclopedias, reference/fiction/non-fiction books and workstations. The school also has four science laboratories for Upper Primary and Secondary students for biology, chemistry and physics laboratories, together with a dedicated Art and Design Studio.
The secondary campus has two multi-purpose halls, which stage school concerts, literary events, theme-based activities, indoor games and the morning Doa and Namaaz. External facilities include a Football ground, Basketball court and Badminton court.
What the inspectors say
MSB School is very much a rarity in having maintained a KHDA Rating of Good for nine years in a row - evidence that the school had continued to improve within the bounds of the Regulators' requirements, without making a "break-through" to the next, higher, rating. It was therefore a real achievement - and testament to the school's steady and dedicated efforts to improve - that MSB was awarded the Very Good rating in the 2019-20 academic year.
The challenge for MSB School appeared to have been the pace at which improvements were taking place, rather than the school's ability to make these improvements. Inspectors commented in 2017-18' report that "Action plans address the recommendations from the last report. However, the plans do not address the pace of implementation and the impact in achieving these priorities".
Clearly, the school has heeded these comments. According to the KHDA's DSIB inspection report, this breakthrough has been driven by "significant improvement in the progress of children in the Foundation stage (FS), in the attainment of students in English in Primary and in the quality of the students’ learning skills also in Primary."
Inspectors also singled out the School leadership which they said "is much more aware, than previously, of the quality of students’ outcomes. This is due to the rigorous monitoring and evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning throughout the school."
The improvements noted by the inspectors are borne out by the improvement in ratings for Foundation Stage Maths progress and Primary Section English attainment, which are now both rated Very Good. In fact, with the exception of FS English, all ratings for the core subjects are Very Good. Islamic Studies and Arabic as a second language are largely rated Good.
Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills, retained their Very Good ratings across the board, whilst personal development in the Secondary section retained its Outstanding rating.
The other key improvement at the school - almost every other rating for the Curriculum, the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and Leadership and Management have retained their already Very Good (and four Outstanding) ratings - is that of Teaching and Assessment. Teaching for Effective Learning in the FS and Primary sections have now joined those of the Secondary section as Very Good.
The report also notes the inclusion of parents on the Board of Governors, which includes representation from almost all stakeholders. The Board provides a good level of support for the leadership team while holding them to account for students’ achievement, their personal development and the overall performance of the school. Governors, in ensuring that good quality staffing and resources are deployed in line with key priorities, have had a positive impact on the school’s performance.
MSB is an Inclusive School with a very detailed Policy for Students of Determination posted on their website. The latest Inspection report notes further improvement in the identification of students of determination and says that MSB is making improved very good progress in providing support for students of determination. As a result, the overall rating for the provision and outcomes for Students of Determination was improved to Very Good.
Overall, the inspection team described the strengths of MSB as:
The main recommendations for MSB School in the latest inspection report are to:
In many ways, the improvements made by MSB to achieve the Very Good rating this academic year seem moderate - given that only a small number of key performance measures have changed. However, it is evident that this school well and truly deserves the rating it has now finally been awarded - and possibly might well have deserved sooner.
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so in order to see the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
MSB has a very active Parents' Association designed to build a strong working relationship between parents and the school, in support of students. The Parents' Association works with the school leadership team to facilitate them in providing programmes which aim to most benefit the school and its students.
Activities include the organisation of primary, secondary or school-wide events, Fund-raising initiatives, Parental support programmes within classrooms, the adoption of programmed activities to promote other parents’ involvement in the operation of the school and Promoting school workshops or lectures amongst all parents.
The KHDA inspection report notes "Parents effectively engage as partners in their children's education and are very supportive of the school. They are consulted about the work of the school on a regular basis, and their views are valued. Parents report that they are well informed about their children's education through a range of communication channels and that the school effectively and promptly acts upon their concerns. Reporting to parents on students' academic progress and personal and social development is clear and comprehensive." The relationship between the school and its community was rated Outstanding.
Two hundred parents responded to the KHDA pre-inspection survey with 98% stating that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by MSB. Almost all the parents who responded to the survey were very satisfied with the quality of education their children receive. Many expressed their satisfaction with the values the school instills and the quality of home-school relationships.
166 students participated in the KHDA Wellbeing Survey. The students who responded to the survey were generally optimistic, happy at school and satisfied with their lives. The strength of friendships and how they see themselves as learners had all improved since the last inspection. Inspectors commented that they met with happy, confident students in an inclusive school environment.
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School fees currently start at AED 9,605 for FS1 and FS2 and go to AED 10,888 for Year 11. Fees do not include Books and Uniforms, Exam and Test fees, After-School activities or Field trips and competitions.
Although the latter are described as Optional, clearly this will not be the case for at least the first two listed items! The costs of these should not be under-estimated, with books and uniforms ranging from AED 730 to AED 2,175, and Exams and Tests from AED 765 to AED 6,112 depending on Year group.
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