Pace British School opened in 2019 in the Muwailah area of Sharjah, and, as the name suggests, offers the UK curriculum.
Pace British School (PBS) was founded in September 2019. It is one of a growing number of schools under the ownership of the PACE Education group which was founded in 1999 by Dr. P.A. Ibrahim Haji through his P.A. Educational Trust. The trust's first venture was P.A. College of Engineering (PACE) in Mangalore. Nowadays, the group includes 16 institutions in India and the Gulf, educating over 20,000 students from 25 different nationalities with over 1,200 staff.
The group's venture into the UAE started with CBSE curriculum Gulf Asian English School which educates students from KG to 12th Grade and has a capacity for 5,400 students. The Pace International Academy in Sharjah, a further CBSE school, opened in 2011 joining India International School Sharjah, and, latterly, Delhi Private School Ajman, and the Creative British School in Abu Dhabi.
According to the school website, PACE Education "is dedicated to promote an effective learning environment that encourages excellence and diversity in thoughts and endeavour. We propose to have many more modern educational institutions in view of the high demand from parents and the respect and reputation our institutions gained over the years."
On opening in September 2019, Pace British School offered places from FS2 to Year 6. In September 2020, the first phase of the Senior School (Years 7 – 9) opened and these will be followed by Year 10 and above from September 2021.
At the time of the school's PR launch, Keith Marsh, Chief Academic Officer of the Pace Group, advised that the school would have capacity of more than 4000 students. This was clearly an ambitious goal, as, on opening in 2019, the school attracted approximately 200 students. This number has doubled for 2020 - although still a small number for a school encompassing FS2 to Year 9. The school is expanding and actively recruiting additional staff at the time of writing (October 2020).
According to Mr. Marsh, “The teachers at the school are native English speakers hailing from the UK, USA, Canada and South Africa. They are internationally qualified and experienced in their respective specialisations, with ample experience of delivering the UK curriculum, preferably in the Middle Eastern context. They have a diverse set of skills but a common aim of providing the very best educational experiences for pupils and for each other.”
The school is led by Principal David Flint, who joined the school on its opening from GEMS Education in Dubai and advises that, "staff hail from a variety of educational backgrounds in UK schools and from international, UK based, educational contexts. As life-long learners themselves, they are all committed to providing the best possible education for all our pupils."
Early in 2020, Pace British School announced that it is now a Cambridge approved school and, as planned, and would offer the Cambridge Primary Curriculum and the Cambridge Lower Secondary Curriculum from August 2020. This will pave the way for IGCSE and post 16 phases (we assume International A Levels) being launched.
The school is also accredited by British Schools of the Middle East (BSME), a professional learning and development organisation. Pace British School is one of only 5 BSME certified schools in Sharjah; reinforcing its standing as an organisation that aims to provide high-quality, accessible British Education.
Pace British School offers the EYFS and Primary curriculum for England & Wales and follows the applicable curriculum standards as specified by the UK Government’s Department for Education. The curriculum is delivered in the context of, and with respect to the UAE and includes Arabic, Islamic Studies and Moral Education for both Arabs and Non-Arabs in accordance with the federal laws.
Mr Flint describes the curriculum in his introduction to the school as "Firmly founded on the British curriculum but inclusive of the best an international education has to offer, PBS’s aim is to help equip our young people with the tools to function and excel in our increasingly globalised word at university and beyond. Tools to investigate, learn, cooperate and communicate skills and ideas to others. The need to develop pupils as knowledgeable, globally aware, compassionate and effective individuals is greater than ever and our focus is therefore to ensure that the pupil experience at PBS is geared towards providing such opportunities in all contexts."
Students follow the basic elements of the UK National Curriculum including English, Maths, Science, Humanities (History/Geography) and Arts in addition to PE, Robotics, Arabic, Islamic Studies, Moral Studies and French.
Children in FS2 participate in the learning through play approach of the Early Years Foundation Stage. The curriculum is described as rich, varied and growing and "includes a strong co-curricular component. The continuum of education at PBS is constantly being developed to ensure that all pupils have the fullest range of strengths, both academic and pastoral, when they complete their formal journey with us at the end of Year 13."
Whilst it is early days for Pace British School to measure academic achievement, we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com are encouraged to see that the school is "well aware of the importance of value-added attributes for those pupils applying for university places at institutions where academic excellence is largely a given. In such cases, the keys to success lie in what a candidate can offer in terms of experiences, personal qualities, skills and importantly the ability to use their secondary school academic and pastoral knowledge and apply it practically to real world problems."
Principal, Mr. Flint pledges that he and his staff, will “do what needs to be done” to ensure that students have the best possible learning experiences allowing them to maximise their talents and enabling them to ultimately reap the rewards that effort and a quality education brings.
In common with many schools in Sharjah, there is no published inspection report for Pace British School as there are for all schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Historically, inspections were carried out by the Ministry of Education/Sharjah Education Zone and were not widely published.
With the advent of Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), set up specifically to support private schools in the emirate, Sharjah schools will increasingly be subject to the UAE-wide inspection programme. However, SPEA, wishing to encourage and engage with potentially understandably nervous schools, has said that the reports will not initially be published.
Having said this, in common with all UAE Public and Private schools, Pace British School was required to participate in a Distance Learning Evaluation designed to establish how UAE schools have adapted to the requirement for Distance Learning as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. The evaluations were graded with schools being deemed to be Developed, Partially developed or Not developed in the context of their distance learning provision. Pace British School was rated Partially Developed. Full details of the SPEA report can be found here.
The inspection team noted that positive aspects of the school were that:
Areas for Development included:
Given that the school had been operating for just six months when Distance Learning was mandated for all UAE schools, Pace British School can be reasonably pleased with the evaluation outcome, but will no doubt be putting in place measures to ensure that it addresses those areas identified for improvement.
Unfortunately, the school website provides little detailed information about the school facilities, which is a great pity, given that this is a new building designed to offer premium facilities at a reasonable fee level. It includes an air-conditioned auditorium and multi-purpose hall.
We know that the school embraces the use of technology in the classroom and incorporates provision for Robotics, fully networked computer labs and STEM labs. Smart Classrooms include interactive boards and mobile projectors which provide opportunities for smart learning and teaching by integrating advanced solutions and products, such as specialised learning and teaching software, and assistive listening devices.
Science laboratories for Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Home Science are included. A Computer Lab provides high quality computers whilst Activity Rooms, which include many toys and educational games, are designed to make learning more fun and exciting.
Outside facilities include Play Grounds, a Football ground, Basketball and Badminton courts with Running track and Athletics facilities, and separate Boys and Girls' swimming pools.
As a relatively new school with no fully published inspection reports, we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com are inevitably reliant on parent feedback and information shared via social media. The school has a Facebook page which is clearly popular with parents (and rather more informative than its website!).
If you are a parent, teacher, or student at Pace British School, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
PACE Education as a group appears to be well-recognised in Sharjah in particular, and is clearly investing in growing its portfolio of schools. However, it must be said that all of the schools are "affordable" in terms of fees, and whether this will really allow Pace British School to offer the premium education that it aspires to - especially if it plans to follow the UK curriculum as taught in the UK, with the staffing and resource implications this brings - is open to question in our opinion.
We would like to see Pace British School "go the extra mile" and seek British Schools Overseas accreditation. This involves being inspected by UK-based OFSTED inspectors who will assess the school based on the inspection process used in England. This would allow Pace British School to see for itself - and permit parents to see - whether it is really able to meet its own ambitions. To the best of our knowledge, only not-for-profit Sharjah English School and Scholars International Academy have BSO accreditation in Sharjah.
Fees at Pace British School start at AED 14,500 for FS2 and Year 1, rising to AED 19,000 for Year 6. Fees for Years 7 to 9 were not available on the school website. There is a non-refundable registration fee of AED 500.
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