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.
MSB school has been rated Good for the ninth year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full reports have been published.
The story so far...
The recently renamed Al Ameen School (now known as MSB School) belongs to the group of MSB Educational Institutes founded by His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb (RA) with branches situated in 22 cities worldwide.The school’s vision is to foster the concept of Al Istinarat Bil Taalim-e-Isla: Secular Education with Shari'ah perspective.
Today there are just over 680 students on the register, with 57 full time teachers and 16 teaching assistants. As would be anticipated, both staff and students are Indian nationals. The staff:student ratio of 1:12 has increased from 1:10 a year ago, due evidently to a reduction in teaching staff from 62 to the current 57, although the Foundation section of the school has grown significantly during this period. Staff turnover at 25% is on the high side for an Indian school in Dubai, which averages 20-22% in international schools.
The Principal, who joined the school two years ago, offers an introduction to the school which sets out the very clear focus in terms of both the education it seeks to offer and the goals its students seek to attain:
“At Al Ameen, we encourage every student to develop the need, and the desire ‘to seek’, ‘to constantly modernize’ and ‘reach newer heights’, every day, every moment. We prepare our students to be ‘future ready’, honing the skills they should have to face the challenges that tomorrow would bring, whilst living in the present, greeting each day with a smile and a go-getter attitude. And in doing so, we encourage our students to develop the sublime attitude of ‘compassion’ which would then instill the greater quality, that of ‘leadership’”.
“Students at Al Ameen are embossed in an atmosphere of spiritual fervor, learning to rely on the Almighty at all times, being grateful for the bounties and mercies and boldly reciprocating the goodness in their lives in the many ways that they can”.
“…In a nutshell, the students at AAPS, not only strive to work towards a better academic performance, but also work to find within themselves the will to live by the moral values and the 'Words of Wisdom' delivered regularly by His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb (RA) and Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin Saheb (TUS), during their worldwide addresses to the Bohra Community”.
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. 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. Al Ameen offers an effective cross curricular approach to learning, involving a wide range of Literacy, Science, Numeracy, ICT and Art and Design skills.
Its 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). Another student, Moiz Al Anwar, topped in the UAE for Maths Grade 4, at the ISFO Olympiad 2016.
The school also publishes its IGCSE results in a tabular format which compares them with global IGCSE results. This is a welcome step towards transparency.
Since Al Ameen 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 Facilities and buildings of the school, whilst some-what outdated, provide the necessary resources to enable students to make Good or Very Good academic progress. Classrooms are designed to support ICT resources with access to the World Wide Web. All classrooms are internet enabled and equipped with overhead projectors. An ICT Laboratory, audio visual room and provision of Promethean Boards are also available for staff and students to develop their skills.
Members of the senior leadership team have embraced the concept of innovation and have initiated ways of introducing it into the culture of the school. They have contemplated how the learning environment and the school buildings might be used more thoughtfully to help promote innovative exploration and they now have a “projects coordinator” to facilitate this initiative. Staff members 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. The Activity room promotes this and is designed to enable children to develop 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. It also provides exposure to working in groups and individually.
A spacious library is available with encyclopaedias, reference, fiction and non-fiction books and workstations with access to e-learning. Students are encouraged to read from a very early age and regular book reviews are the norm. The science laboratory aims to reinforce theoretical learning with the help of practical experiments.
The Art and Design Studio provides an opportunity for all students to develop their artistic and creative talents. The curriculum is designed to enable access to a range of subject disciplines, individual projects and group work. Interesting modules include working with a range of textiles, 3D Design, collage making, photoshop and applications that blend and emulate featured artists. A Multipurpose Hall serves the purpose of staging school concerts, literary events, theme-based activities, indoor games and the morning Doa and Namaaz.
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 in 2015—2016 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 program.
What the inspectors say
Al Ameen Private School is very much a rarity in having risen from a KHDA Ranking of Unsatisfactory to Good, which was the KHDA's second highest grade, and is now the third after the introduction of Very Good as a rating in 2015/16. Following the latest KHDA inspection in October 2017, Al Ameen has now been rated as a Good school for eight years in a row. Ordinarily, a school that is clearly making strong efforts to improve, would hope to step up to the next rating (in this case, Very Good), but it seems that there are still some areas holding the school back. A Good rating is the minimum the Dubai Schools' Regulator is targeting for all schools in the emirate.
Having said that, Al Ameen's success in moving up to and maintaining the Good rating (when inspections are becoming ever more demanding) is indeed some turnaround: To do so the school's leadership have needed to have been highly effective, acknowledged by Dubai's education regulator, noting "a senior management team that had led the school exceptionally well".
The latest report notes that "The school is increasingly achieving its vision, shared with parents and governors, to develop students' learning and sense of global citizenship. Devolved leadership is enhancing the school's capacity to innovate through adjusting the curriculum. Leaders are managing the increased student numbers in the Foundation Stage (FS) very effectively. A structured programme of teacher professional development is impacting positively on students' learning".
In 2016, the school appointed a new Principal, and the fact that the Good rating was again retained, with improvements noted in a range of areas, including the school’s self-evaluation and governance, is further evidence of how well the school continues to perform. In the 2017-18 report, although there are no improved ratings in any of the indicators measured by the inspection team, it is clear that steady improvement is still taking place.
How effectively the school is performing can be seen across all key KHDA indicators in terms of 1. Student achievement, 2. Student’s personal and social development and innovation, 3. Teaching and assessment, 4. Curriculum design and adaptation, 5. Protection, care, guidance and support and 6. Leadership and management.
In terms of Student Achievement, almost all indicators for Mathematics and Science across the school were found to be Very Good and this was also true of English in the Secondary School. English in Foundation and Primary, and Arabic as an additional language and Islamic Education in both Primary and Secondary were rated Good. Learning skills in the Foundation stage were rated Very Good, whilst in Primary and Secondary they were found to be Good.
Previous inspections identified a number of significant strengths in the school. The latest report notes that the school is maintaining high levels of student attainment in external examinations particularly in Mathematics and Science. It is also maintaining the improvements achieved last year, in attainment in the Foundation Stage and in both students’ attainment and progress in Mathematics and Science in the primary phase. Increasingly students are demonstrating their abilities to apply their learning in the 'real world' context.
If Al Ameen can push a few more of the Good ratings to Very Good, this will set them on the path to an improved overall rating.
The challenge for Al Ameen School appears to be pace at which improvements are taking place, rather than the school's ability to make these improvements. Inspectors commented 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".
In 2016-17, inspectors noted that students "demonstrate all elements of personal and social development very well. However, a greater focus on independent learning and critical thinking is needed." In the latest report, inspectors found that "The school is increasing its focus on developing students’ independent learning skills across all phases. This is most consistently applied in Science and Mathematics. Teachers are developing students’ critical thinking and creativity. Project work is stronger than class activities showing quality application of skills, particularly in mathematics and science". Clearly progress is being made. In fact, all key indicators related to Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills are rated Very Good.
The one area where improvement is still evidently required in larger measure - and this may perhaps explain the higher than average teacher turnover - is in relation to Teaching and Assessment. Whilst the ability of teachers to use assessment data and to plan their teaching around the differing abilities of their students is rated Very Good, Teaching for Effective Learning is rated Good. The report includes the following comments: "Teachers' subject knowledge and their ability to communicate it are strong throughout the school. Teaching is more variable in creating opportunities for students to learn independently. In the best lessons, students led aspects of learning often based on personal research. Teachers’ awareness of how students learn and the importance of skilled questioning are improving due to recent professional development".
Clearly, investment is being made in this key area. The challenge for Al Ameen is that this is a very low cost school, and therefore finding staff who already have the training and skills, at the salaries the school can afford, will inevitably be difficult. However, the school is proving that staff development is possible and will produce results if the commitment on all sides is there. The difficulty seems to lie in the pace at which this is happening.
Al Ameen is an Inclusive School with a very detailed Policy for Students of Determination posted on their website. According to the KHDA inspectors, procedures for identifying students with SEND are well established and effective. The needs of students with SEND are efficiently identified enhancing support in class and individually. The identification of gifted and talented students is not leading to sufficient challenge. Gifted and talented students are provided with extension activities, but provision for them is not as strong as it is for students with SEND. Overall, the quality of support enables most students to make good progress.
Both the design of the curriculum and its adaptation to meet the needs of individual students were rated Very Good. Inspectors felt that the curriculum is planned very effectively ensuring smooth transitions as students move through the school. Innovative projects are increasingly being developed, particularly at the upper primary and secondary phases. These are most effective when they are evaluated for impact on learners. This informs the school’s ability to integrate imaginative learning opportunities within class activities and provide suitable challenge for students.
An absolute focus and strength of Al Ameen Private School is its dedication to the protection, care, guidance and support of its students. Health and safety are rated Outstanding across the school, whilst Care and support are rated Very Good in Foundation and Good in the other two sections. The inspection report notes that "The school provides excellent protection for students within a very caring environment where respect and sense of community are paramount. Teachers are committed to supporting students’ needs".
Leadership, self-evaluation and governance are all very good aspects of the school’s management. The Board includes a member with responsibility as an academic advisor. Unusually, in Whichschooladvisor.com’s experience, half of the Board are parents of current students - an extraordinary display of transparency and openness. This clearly contributes to the relationships with parents and the community which are noted by the inspectors to be Outstanding.
Parental interest in the school enhances the curriculum through their input and participation. The school regularly ensures high quality communication with parents and, as a result, parents have a highly developed understanding of the school's internal assessment processes and their children's performance in both internal and external examinations. Parents also contribute significantly to the community based ethos of the school. Parents and members of the local community are increasingly supporting learning in the classroom.
Parental feedback, sought by the KHDA through its pre-inspection survey, revealed that almost all of the 309 respondents were satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. "Almost all parents who returned the survey, indicate high levels of satisfaction with the school. Parents of children with SEND feel informed and think their children are well supported within a welcoming and caring school. Inspection findings support these views".
The main recommendations for Al Ameen School in the latest inspection report are to:
Al Ameen School is a moderately fee-based school that seems to be working away quietly in the background and making Good progress as it does so. We cannot help but wonder how long it will be before the school makes the next step to a Very Good KHDA rating. Certainly, there is much about the school which already receives this mark. The school's challenge is to increase the pace at which improvements are taking place whilst maintaining the Good and Very Good standards it is already achieving.
School fees currently start at AED 9,441 for FS1 and go to AED 10,667 for Year 11.
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.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information