New Academy School is a US curriculum school located in the heart of traditional Dubai at Al Raffa. The majority of students are from Arabic backgrounds and join the school with little or no English.
The story so far...
New Academy School (NAS) was established in September 1990. It is located in Al Rafaa-Dubai. It is one of a number of US curriculum schools that are in the process of ensuring that they genuinely are providing a curriculum and teaching standards that meet both US accreditation and KHDA requirements. In the past, schools have claimed to be US curriculum but have failed to offer a genuinely proven curriculum and accredited High School Diploma - vital for acceptance to universities and colleges in the US and other international destinations.
New Academy School has met the accreditation requirements for accreditation by AdvancED (a US agency that works with international schools). It is also currently a candidate school seeking accreditation through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) which is a KHDA requirement. The school is also an authorized SAT, an AP testing centre (both US pre-college entry examinations) and an authorized TOEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) testing centre.
NAS's Vision according to its recently updated website is as follows:
NAS community inspires the passion for learning, where students achieve at their fullest potential to become responsible, productive global and innovative citizens and ambassadors of their own culture. Its Mission statement advises that New Academy School is a diversified learning community which empowers learners through a challenging American curriculum, instilling a culture of mutual understanding, international mindedness and compassion that prepares students to be passionate lifelong learners, responsible future citizens and leaders of an ever-changing world.
The school's Core Values are:
International Mindedness: Acknowledging and respecting different cultures, religion and nationalities.
Innovation: To change outdated ideas and products into new and improved outcomes .
Team Work: Teamwork is collaboration and cooperation with peers to achieve a common goal effectively and efficiently.
Inclusion: To facilitate and support all students' learning through creating environment and attitudes where barriers to learning are removed; valuing, reaching and accepting different abilities.
Discipline: To use positive proactive non-aversive methods to support positive behavior among students and develop self- responsibility .
Respect: To value others' feelings, point of views and rights, and to treat them better than you want to be treated
NAS offers formal education for students from the age of 4 to 18, following a US curriculum. The school range of grades includes KG1 (4 years old) through 12th grade (18 years old), covering 14 years of school divided in a clear (and traditional) school education structure; KG, Elementary, Middle and High school sections. Girls and boys are segregated into different sections from Grade 5 upwards. KG classes have a class teacher-based programme (plus specialist teachers) where major English medium–instructed subjects (Maths, English and Science) are taught by one teacher and Arabic medium-instructed subjects (Arabic and Islamic Studies) are taught by an Arabic speaking teacher.
Students from 46 different nationalities attend the school, and staff are of 21 nationalities. The most recent KHDA report (for 2018-19) confirms that there are some 1,300 students at the school of whom just over half are Emirati. Students are supported by 90 teachers, two Guidance Counsellors and 25 teaching assistants. The teacher to student ratio, at 1:14, should enable the staff to provide teaching and curriculum modification to meet individual student needs.
Teachers are mainly from Egypt and teacher turnover in the last year was 38% - very much higher than the average 20-22% that is the norm in UAE International schools. Whilst ordinarily this would be a cause for concern, the arrival of a new Principal, perceived positively by the KHDA for her strong commitment to improvement, may well indicate that positive changes are being made in respect of staffing.
What about the curriculum?
NAS offers an international curriculum that is based on US Common Core Standards (CCSS) in Maths and English, and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and California State standards in Science alongside the UAE requirements of teaching Arabic language, Islamic studies and Social studies using the UAE national curriculum framework.
The school offers a bilingual environment with a traditional Emirati, Islamic ethos. English is not typically the language of the home. Most students join NAS with no English.
The core subjects of the Elementary curriculum include English, Arabic Language (MOE curriculum), Islamic Studies, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies (in Arabic as per MOE curriculum for native Arabic speakers), Global Perspective (GP), ICT (Information Communication Technology) and activity-based subjects including Creative Arts and Physical Education.
In the Middle school - the core subjects are extended through Social Studies with divisions (History, Geography, Civics as per the MOE requirement), Art and Music.
Once students join the High School in Grade 9, the range of options is significantly extended including some more unconventional subjects such as Bio-medical Innovation or Marketing or Robotics, and Psychology or Engineering or Business, and in Grade 10 a further option group includes HTML/Psychology B/Robotics. Once students join the Senior High school section a wide range of options is available including options of Environmental Science, Psychology, Nutrition, Economics, Engineering, Media & Technology, Marketing, Innovation, Robotics, and Biomedical Innovation to name a few.
NAS offers a university preparation program. Most graduates go on to Tertiary education (usually in UAE, but some internationally, such as to universities in US, Australia, Canada, Jordan and Cairo).
What about the facilities?
NAS is located on a plot of approximately 110,000 sq.ft, with one third of this built up and 67% used as green areas, outdoor play areas, sports fields and parking facilities. Most of the buildings and school facilities have been renovated in recent years as part of a master buildings and refurbishment plan.
KG facilities have been upgraded to include extended learning areas aimed at developing cognitive, fine motor, sensorial and computational skills. The learning areas are extensions of the class room which also includes a reading corner. ICT labs are equipped with sufficient computers and the school has a range of portable computer trolleys aimed at incorporating digital tools in lessons. Facilities also include science laboratories and STEM room to facilitate the introduction of a comprehensive STEM program which aims at integrating math, technology, engineering and science concepts.
Recreational and sports facilities include a basketball field, soccer pitches with artificial surfaces, a swimming pool and recently updated indoor and outdoor KG play areas. Other facilities include a library and multi-purpose hall which includes a stage. Music rooms and an art studio are among other facilities available.
What the inspectors say
New Academy School was rated Acceptable for the fifth year in a row by the KHDA inspection team who visited the school in February 2019. This is the minimum rating expected of all Dubai schools.
What about the fees?
Fees range from AED 7,945 in KG1 to AED 8,826 in Grade 6. They rise steeply to AED 14,479 in the Middle School and Junior High (Grades 7, 8 and 9) and further to AED 21,180 for Grades 11 and 12.
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