Pakistan Community Welfare School is, as the name suggests, a low-fee school designed to support mainly low income Pakistani families in Abu Dhabi, and offers the Pakistan National Curriculum.
Pakistan Community Welfare School (PCWS) has a long and interesting history, having been founded in Abu Dhabi in 1981. The land on which the school operated was leased to the community by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi under the directive of His Highness, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as a sign of his compassion towards the Pakistani community.
Initially the school operated in caravans and was supervised by a committee formed by the community, subsequently moving to Musaffah in 1996, when the Pakistan Embassy took over responsibility operating the school on a non-profit basis. The current building of the school was built in 2010 and has the capacity to accommodate almost 500 students from Kindergarten (KG) to Grade 8. The main nationality is Pakistani but a small percentage of students come from Afghanistan and Bangladesh. As at the last inspection by ADEK in 2019, some 350 students attended the school. Boys are educated from KG to Grade 5 only, with girls staying at the school until Grade 8.
Also at this time, there were 23 teachers and a further 4 teaching assistants. The teacher:student ratio was 1:15, which is a relatively low number for affordably-priced schools.
PCWS is remarkable as being one of the very small number of charitable organisations for underprivileged families in Abu Dhabi. For over 20 years, the school has been known for providing access to perhaps the only affordable education available to its community.
Perhaps most remarkable is the evident change that has taken place and continues to do so within the school. Having been rated initially Very Weak by ADEK in its first two inspections in 2012 and 2014, the school improved to Weak in 2016, and two years later in 2018-19, was awarded an Acceptable rating. This is the minimum rating required by the UAE regulators, and its award in a school where fees are just over AED 3,000 per student annually across all grades, shows what can be achieved without significant funding.
The school notes that "we have now emerged again with new leadership and management to uphold the vision of providing “Affordable Quality Education” to not just this community but to anyone who knocks the door of knowledge." The school says that with new strategies and an overhauled approach it has taken the step towards change and is determined to achieve the highest standards of education with passion and sincerity.
The school Mission is "To develop a love of learning enabling all children to reach their full potential", and its inspiring motto is "You enter to learn, leave to achieve".
The school is now led by Farhat Jadoon as Principal, who has over 25 years of professional experience in Abu Dhabi, latterly as Principal at Goodwill Children Private School.
Passionate about education, Mrs. Jadoon, in her introduction to the school, notes: "My heart is dedicated to education and throughout my career, I have worked hard to enable all children to reach their full potential. The Pakistan Community Welfare School is on a journey of development, to become a 21st century school. The road may be hard sometimes and changes will have to be made! I will be your trusted guide throughout our journey,"
The school offers the Pakistan National Curriculum (FBISE). The curriculum at PCWS is designed to provide a broad and balanced education that meets the needs of all students and gives them the skills, knowledge and understanding to prepare them for their future lives. It is designed to ensure that academic success, creativity and problem solving, reliability, responsibility and resilience, as well as physical development, well-being and mental health are key elements that support the development of the whole child and promote a positive attitude to learning.
Additionally, the curriculum "celebrates the diversity and utilizes the skills, knowledge and cultural wealth of the community while supporting the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development." There are a wide range of parent volunteer opportunities to support these goals.
According to the school, the aim of the curriculum is for students to have the requisite skills to be successful, independent and motivated learners in readiness for their next stage of education.
The curriculum is divided into three phases, KG, Cycle 1 (Grades 1 to 5), and Cycle 2 (Grades 6 to 8). The curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum of the Federal Board of Pakistan, but is modified to reflect the society and culture of the United Arab Emirates including Arabic, Islamic Studies and Moral Education.
The school believes that the curriculum should offer a diverse and challenging curriculum that enables learners to be the best they can be, whilst ensuring the curriculum upholds the culture and values of the UAE. It is also designed to provide a range of learning experiences that challenge, stimulate and promote independence of thinking and learning, along with preparing students to be leading citizens of the world.
The school is an inclusive learning community with a culture and ethos of ‘support me, challenge me, coach me’ underpinned by the highest of standards and expectations.
The new curriculum also focuses on providing students with opportunities to investigate and apply the skills they have learnt in more detail. This has given the school the opportunity to encourage students to achieve more. A particular focus is on the development of STEM skills (Science, Technology, English and Maths).
Children entering the Kindergarten follow the UK curriculum-based Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) focusing on the seven core areas of Literacy, Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Understanding of the World, Mathematics and Expressive Art and Design
As they enter Grade 1 in Key Stage One, students continue to work on the Early Learning Goals of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. During Term 3, the majority of children progress to the Pakistan National Curriculum. Throughout this period and beyond, all children are still developing their phonic knowledge through a 'Letters and Sounds Program' and developing their fluency in reading through the 'Daily Supported Reading Program'. Students in Key Stage 1 and those in Key Stage 2 (Grades 3 to 5) learn in a project-based cross-curricular environment whilst still being taught English, Maths and Science lessons as distinct subjects.
At Key Stage 3, students are taught in individual subjects. Students are offered a broad range of subjects which include: English, Maths, Science, Languages (including Urdu), Geography, History, ICT, Art, PE and Design and Technology.
Specialist instructors support physical education activities.
The school seeks to enrich the curriculum through a variety of Theme weeks, whole school activities and opportunities within and outside school to enrich and develop the students’ learning. After school clubs and events extend these opportunities further. Students have opportunities to share their learning with each other, their parents and carers and other learners through school-based and external exhibitions, performances, competitions and events involving other schools.
Extra-curricular activities which operate both in- and after-school take place from Grade 1. For Grades 1 and 2, these include Karate Club (Paid), Art Club, Heritage Club(Pakistan/UAE), Literacy Club, Numeracy Club, Quran Recitation Club and Games Club.
Students in Grades 3 to 8 may participate in Literacy Club, Numeracy Club, Badminton Club (Girls), Football Club, Coding Club, STEM Club, Poetry Club, Home Economics (Baking), Quran Recitation Club, Karate Club (Paid), Heritage Club(Pakistan/UAE) and
Coding Club (Java).
In order to develop qualities of leadership and team work, the school has also implemented a House System, which according to PWCS is "an excellent method of bringing out the hidden talents of the students by setting light to their competitive spirits."
House points are awarded to students for their excellent performance in class, in sports, for behaviour or in any school events, individually or as a house. Winner houses are announced each term and are awarded with a house trip. The school house system has been entirely restructured with new names - Dhow, Palm, Pearl and Falcon - and programs. .
The school has also implemented a Student Council, a ten member team including the President and Vice President elected from Grades 5 to 8. Student Council shares the students’ ideas, concerns and interests with teachers and the Principal. The Student Council team helps to raise funds for school-wide activities and social causes, and participate in community projects.
The school does not provide any information about its facilities, but does say that "hi end digital resources" expose students to innovative learning experiences and transform their learning capacities. However, the ADEK report notes that the ICT room and Science laboratory added since the previous inspection have had positive impact on learning.
The ADEK inspection that took place in November 2018 occurred 15 months after the arrival of Mrs. Jadoon. It is clear from the inspection report that the significant improvements which had taken place to enable the inspection team to award an Acceptable rating, were largely as a direct result of her involvement at the school.
This was vital since the school had been barred from admitting new students until the appointment of the new principal and approval of her school development plan (SDP). Children were permitted to join Kindergarten (KG) for the first time in September 2018 in KG1 and KG2.
Summarising their findings, the inspectors commented:
The overall performance of the school is acceptable because, overall, most students achieve in line with curriculum standards in all key subjects. Effective leadership and governance have rapidly improved teaching and the curriculum through strong processes of self-evaluation, school improvement, and staff development. Students are well cared for and are kept safe, but do not experience enough independence and challenge in their learning.
In terms of the six Key Performance Standards against which the school performance was measured, inspectors found that Student Achievement had improved across the school. Progress was good in English, mathematics and science in primary and middle phases, and in Islamic education in middle phase. It was acceptable in all other core subjects and phases.
Teaching and Assessment inspection showed that teachers had at least an acceptable subject knowledge. They planned lessons that engage students and used questioning well. Secure assessment procedures provided a baseline against which to measure students' progress. A majority of teachers were using these to adapt work for students. Professional development, targeted at need, had improved teaching. There was an effective induction programme for new teachers.
The curriculum had been adapted to enhance the knowledge-based approach with more opportunities for hands on learning and investigation. As a result, students’ creative and innovative skills were beginning to improve.
In terms of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, the inspectors found that students received good guidance and support. The school provided a safe environment for them.
Lastly and perhaps most notably, leadership was stable. The permanent principal was found to be developing the skills of the middle leaders. The school consistently met statutory requirements for safety and hygiene. Leaders used the inspection framework increasingly to support the accuracy of self-evaluation.
The inspectors' summary was impressive - "Much has been achieved in a short time. Leaders have made significant progress in addressing almost all the recommendations in the previous inspection report. Overall, school leaders’ capacity to improve the school is very good." This latter comment is unusually positive! It is rare for inspectors to assess a school's capacity beyond its current rating, although a capacity to improve by one rating does occur from time to time. To suggest that a school has a capacity to improve by two rating levels (as Very Good indicates), is exceptional.
In terms of the strengths of Pakistan Community Welfare School, the inspectors found these to be:
In terms of areas for improvement, the list is inevitably somewhat longer and more detailed:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand fully the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
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There is limited comment in the ADEK report in relation to the involvement of parents and the community within the school, although the following comment suggests that this is an area again, where considerable progress had been made:
"The school has been successful in engaging parents. Parents are kept well informed about school life through effective communication systems and receive regular, clear reports. Parents of SEN students are fully involved in producing and monitoring their children’s IEPs. There are some links with local and international schools, but these are not well developed."
Furthermore, the school clearly encourages involvement from parents through its Parent Volunteer Program, saying, "We are more than excited to take you along with us in your childs learning journey. Come join hands with us and let us all bring out the best in your child." Volunteers are sought to assist the school and its students with Maths, Reading, School trips, Events, Clubs, and Calligraphy/Handwriting.
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com were excited to write this review. Whichever way you look at it, this is a remarkably affordable school that has seen significant progress in its provision in the past two years. We are excited to see the next ADEK inspection report (due in 2020-21 but postponed due to the Covid 19 pandemic) in the hope that the inspection team will find that Pakistan Community Welfare School has continued to reach new heights.
Tuition fees at PCWS are AED 3,100 per academic year for all grades. Inevitably, there are additional fees for Books (ranging from AED 125 to AED 180), uniforms (AED 25-75) and bus transport (AED 1,650).
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