Based in Mirdif, Ontario International Canadian School is the first Canadian school to have opened in Dubai and is fully staffed with Canadian trained, certificated and experienced teachers.
Ontario International Canadian School has again been rated Acceptable on its third inspection in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab.
The story so far...
Ontario International Canadian School (OICS) the first of its kind in the Arabian Gulf, is unique to the region and is the only school in Dubai that offers the enriching Canadian curriculum to students. Located in Mirdif, OICS is led by Mr. Ron Hodkinson, who brings over 17 years of experience in Canadian education.
This is truly an Ontario school shipped to Dubai pure and simple, with the ethos, belief system and educational principles the province proudly upholds. In keeping with their educational principles, specialist teachers are only employed for languages, enabling the children to build up a real relationship with their class teachers.
At present the school is open from pre-Kindergarten to grade 10. The school is structured in three sections - KG, Elementary (from Grades 1 to 8) and Secondary (from Grades 9-12). With just over 200 students, this is a very small school by Dubai standards, but one that is able to provide significant individual support to its students. Class sizes are small, with 18 children per class in the Kindergarten years; a mere 20 per class in the higher grades. This means that there are far fewer students in each class than in most other schools in Dubai, which is optimal from an educational point of view. With a teacher:student ratio of 1:7, parents will be hard-placed to find a school better able to provide individual attention to their children.
This school is not merely offering Canadian education, but specifically the curriculum of Ontario province, with virtually 100% of the teaching staff recruited from Ontario. The team of 28 teachers have been been specially trained and certified in Ontario, and offer children a unique learning atmosphere that involves group learning, flexible teaching methods and a technology-driven environment. Text books as well as all other equipment are also from Ontario.
In keeping with the Ontario educational system, the school is fully inclusive. The large open spaces within the building and the elevator facilitate wheel-chair access, should this be required. Each application is assessed individually, with every effort being made to accommodate any child wishing to study at this school. Accordingly, student support workers are welcomed, should their help be required for a specific student.
What about the curriculum?
The Canadian curriculum has been identified amongst the top seven in the world by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), and among the top five by PISA. By providing an all-rounded approach to education, the school endeavours to raise healthy and intelligent young leaders for the UAE. Alongside the rich offerings of the unique curriculum in the UAE, OICS places immense focus on the physical development of its students.
Principal, Mr. Ron Hodkinson says that students receive two hours of scheduled Physical Education throughout the week, including the chance to let loose playing basketball, badminton, soccer and volleyball in addition to being able to swim.
He explains, “It is important for children to be exposed to team work and the idea of fair play from a young age, which is best done through sports. We encourage such ideals as students showing sportsmanship and dedication are chosen to compete in matches against other schools. With the support of our parent community, OICS also hosts an annual Sports Day and a unique ‘students vs. staff’ sport match during lunch hours, to further develop these important traits.”
Artistic endeavors are also highly encouraged, through hour long weekly sessions. OICS connects these sessions to themes that students face in homeroom. “We first introduce pupils to appropriate techniques, leading to them innovating and creating their own art installations or musical pieces. At different times throughout the year students have the opportunity to showcase their diligent efforts and highlight their talent in the field of arts,” says Mr. Hodkinson.
There is also a strong emphasis on leadership capabilities. By embedding this focus into their daily school routines, staff members are able to acquaint children with the subject, and therefore make it seem less daunting. To further promote this approach, all assemblies are student-led, giving them the opportunity to build their confidence across both Arabic and English mediums. Students have access to The World Scholar's Cup, a debate club where students meet weekly to refine their skills, following a competition against 800 students across Dubai. Students from OICS proven extremely successful in the past, with three students winning gold medals and advancing to the Global Round on an international scale.
What about the facilities?
The building itself is spacious, and there are many shaded out-door areas with sports facilities. Located just off Algeria Street, at the perimeter of the Shorooq residential area, the school is easily accessible and can be reached reasonably quickly from all areas of Dubai and neighbouring emirates. There is a parking lot outside.
What the inspectors say
Ontario International Canadian School has been rated Acceptable for the third time in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection round. There is no doubt that this is a disappointment to the school and something of a surprise to us at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. Although the detailed report has not yet been issued, the abbreviated report suggests that the main concerns for the inspection team relate to Arabic as a first language - the school has 15 Emirati students among its 200 children - and the failure of Student Achievement for Arabic (both native and as an additional language, and Islamic Studies) to improve beyond the Acceptable rating achieved in previous inspections.
Student achievement in English, Maths and Science are rated Good in the KG section, and a mix of Good (for progress) and Acceptable (for attainment) in the Elementary and Secondary school sections. A fall from Good to Acceptable for English progress in the Elementary and Secondary sections will also not have helped the overall school rating.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills are rated a mix of Very Good and Good, with only the Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures rated Acceptable in the Elementary section.
Similarly, Teaching and Assessment are rated Good across all sections of the school except for Teaching for Effective Learning in the Elementary section which remains Acceptable, whilst having improved to Good in the Elementary and Secondary school sections. The Curriculum is rated Good across the school.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students are rated Good overall (and Very Good in regard to Care and Support). In terms of leadership and management, relationships with parents and the Community have improved to Very Good, but Governance, and the school's self-evaluation and planning processes have been downgraded to Acceptable. This is a great pity, as the effectiveness of the leadership, and the school's management, staffing, facilities and resources were again rated Good.
With so many positive ratings, it is clear that raising Student achievement in the core Arabic subjects, and improving attainment in English, Maths and Science in the Elementary and Secondary school sections are fundamental to raising the overall rating of the school. This can only be achieved if the leadership and governors have a clear understanding of current standards and the steps necessary for improvement. There is so much that is positive about OICS, and with such a strong curriculum, we would hope to see the school raise the bar and reach the Good rating very soon.
For the many Canadian citizens resident in the Emirates, this school is obviously an ideal choice, enabling their children to filter back into the Canadian educational system seamlessly upon their return to their homeland. To many others, the common-sense approach will appeal, founded as it is on very firmly held principles. This is a school with good and up to date facilities, and one that is hoping to provide solid education to children who may or may not go on to continue their studies in Canada. For many, this will be the school they have been searching for.
Fees at the school range from AED 28,350 in pre-KG (3 year olds) to AED 36,090 in KG 2 rising to AED 56,700 in Grade 10. Although still Premium level, fees have been reduced significantly since the opening of the school. Canadian national receive further discounts of approx AED 1,500 to AED 2,500 per year dependent on Grade.
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