Rosary School Halwan is a Foundation Stage and Primary school which offers a British-based curriculum rooted in the Coptic faith. Founded and run by nuns from the Coptic Church, Rosary School Halwan is one of three Rosary Schools in the UAE.
Established in Sharjah in 1976, Rosary School Halwan began as a small building holding just 75 students across 11 classrooms. The school now boasts over 2,000 students in 80 classrooms, but has stayed true to its mission to create an innovative education system that prepares students of all ages to thrive in a competitive, global society. Rosary School Halwan strives to offer excellent services and high-quality teaching in order to produce students who will influence the world for the better using their knowledge and strong morals.
Rosary School Halwan grounds its educational methodology in three key approaches: Innovation, to help develop a knowledgeable, pioneering global society; Creative, ensuring the school is infused with art; and Perfect, offering a tradition of excellence to all parents and students. The school motto perhaps best sums up Rosary School Halwan’s educational methodology:
“Where Imagination Turns to Innovation. Where Our Challenge is Our Progress.”
At the heart of the school ethos are its values, which inform every aspect of school life. Firstly, Citizenship and Responsibilities focuses on strengthening the national identity and each individual’s sense of social responsibility. Secondly, Principles and Values of Islam centres on developing and reinforcing the importance of dialogue, tolerance, moderation, peace, and volunteerism. Finally, Commitment and Transparency ensures that all staff at Rosary School Halwan are committed to professionalism and transparency in performance.
At the head of this endeavour is the school principal, Sister Carobine. Originally a Mathematics teacher, Sister Carobine has served as a principal for more than 25 years within the Rosary Private School Group, and “views a collaborative school environment as the key to creating successful teachers and students”. She grew up in Jordan and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Surrey in the UK, with a specialisation in Arts; she later completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Management.
Rosary School Halwan offers parents a strong focus on the academic progress and achievement of each student, and explains that the school “is filled with enthusiastic students willing to learn in an environment where they are challenged and have their expectations raised to achieve demanding targets”. To support students in this, Rosary School Halwan prizes communication with parents and the wider community “to create a positive and inclusive environment for high quality learning and teaching where everyone is valued and respected”.
Rosary School Halwan is co-educational throughout; however, girls will have the option to continue their studies at the Rosary School Muweilah branch, which has an all-girls Secondary section. Boys, on the other hand, will need to find a different school to undertake their Secondary studies.
Every school day begins with an assembly, to offer a continuing sense of community to every year group. For students in Grades 1 to 6, the school day starts with the assembly at 7.25am, and ends at pick-up, from 2.00pm onwards. Foundation Stage students have an assembly at 7.20am each morning, and their final period ends at 1.10pm.
Rosary School Halwan is a Cambridge curriculum school, offering both the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Cambridge Primary. The school explains that while its curriculum is based on the Cambridge curriculum, their model “goes significantly beyond the minimum expectations in a diverse range of subjects”.
According to Rosary School Halwan, a child’s “early years [sic] experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs”. To this end, Rosary School Halwan uses the popular EYFS approach, which helps children to learn new skills, acquire new knowledge, and demonstrate their understanding through seven key areas of learning and development (these seven areas are split into three prime areas and four specific areas).
The three prime areas are: Communication and Language; Physical Development; and Personal, Social, and Emotional Development. These prime areas will then help students to develop skills in the four specific areas: Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World; and Expressive Arts and Design. At Rosary School Halwan, children interact with these seven areas through “playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outdoors”.
In FS1, “qualified and experienced teachers work closely with children to focus on the acquisition of the [EYFS] skills . . . they do so through the use of meaningful, relevant and interesting projects”. Each topic usually lasts around six weeks, and these topics can be chosen based on student interest or currently relevant areas. Then, in FS2, the curriculum is “focused upon supporting students to enjoy learning whilst gaining the necessary core skills in their personal and social development and acquiring the essential communicative and expressive skills to access the Cambridge Primary Curriculum”.
Another crucial part of the curriculum is the integration of the Ministry of Education (MOE) required subjects. All children learn Arabic either as native or non-native speakers, and specialised “qualified early years [sic] practitioners who are native speakers of Arabic work with the children to develop the children’s speaking, listening, reading and writing skills”. The MOE Arabic curriculum actually begins in Grade 1, but Rosary School Halwan offers curriculum content and lessons in the EYFS years that focus on developing core Arabic skills in preparation for the government curriculum.
“In order to make the curriculum motivating and engaging for our children, we incorporate local events, activities and celebrations that are relevant to the context of the school. These will typically include Flag Day, Commemoration Day, UAE National Day, UAE Mother’s Day, Hag al Laila and Eid celebrations.”
Moving onto the Cambridge Primary curriculum, Rosary School Halwan aims to offer an active and creative learning journey so that young learners can become confident, responsible, reflective, innovative, and engaged. The Cambridge Primary curriculum first and foremost focuses on developing the core skills of English, Mathematics, and Science, using clear learning objectives with a flexible approach.
“The curriculum framework for each subject of Cambridge Primary is organised into six stages. These stages reflect the teaching targets for each year group and provide comprehensive learning objectives.”
At this stage, in addition to the core subjects, students also take French, Music, and ICT, alongside the MOE-required subjects of Social Studies, Arabic, and Islamic Studies. In particular, “Rosary School also strives to promote the National Agenda and to ensure that the Emirate cultures and values are visible across the curriculum, alongside a desire to celebrate all cultures within the school”.
Beyond everyday classes, students also have a wide number of opportunities to take advantage of, to support a holistic educational approach. Examples include the Rosary Science Fair, Anti-Bullying Week, and Arabic competitions. The school website is currently adding a new section for Extra-Curricular Activities, including competitions, clubs, and trips, although this has not yet been finished.
In terms of enrichment, Rosary School Halwan has some unique approaches that make it different from other schools. For example, the school has a mosque where students attend their Islamic lessons; here, they can not only learn to pray, but they are given “real life experiences in the proper etiquettes they need to observe while in a mosque”. In addition, the school newsletter is used to excellent effect – it informs parents what topics their children will next be tackling in school, including the activities, key vocabulary, and other areas of learning, so that help can be offered at home.
Finally, Rosary School Halwan runs a Show and Tell project, a wonderful initiative for young learners where they get to present on a topic of their choice. Students are then evaluated based on their body language, eye contact, voice, delivery, and visuals. This assists in building confidence in the English language, and also teaches students to use gestures, eye contact, loud voice, clear pronunciation, and intonation. And of course, it gives students the chance to discuss something they are passionate about in front of their classmates while developing valuable skills.
Rosary School Halwan has an impressively detailed Inclusion Plan available on their school website, and it looks as though they are making as many provisions as possible to ensure that all students have access to education, regardless of Special Educational Needs (SEN):
“Inclusion is at the heart of education at Rosary School. We recognise that each child is different, and we strive to enable learning for all our students in accordance with our vision for a more knowledgeable, pioneering and global society. This means that we do not turn away students who have special education needs and we adopt ways of teaching in our classrooms that makes the curriculum accessible to all the students maximises every students’ academic, cultural, social and emotional success in a common learning environment.”
Rosary School achieves this through its Inclusion Department, which consists of the Head of Inclusion, the Inclusion Champion, a teacher for SEN support, and three social workers. The Inclusion Department is also supported by the wider Inclusion Support Team, which is made up of all coordinators and supervisors across the school. The benefit of this structure is that while specialists are available, everyday teaching staff can also aid in the daily implementation of the inclusion policy on a school level.
Rosary School Halwan categorises students “that are eligible for learning support quite broadly” so that they may “offer support in as flexible a way as possible to meet the individual needs of each student”. Teachers are often the first step in this process, as they are usually the first to notice any difficulties a child may being having in class:
“Rosary School identifies any student who has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than most children of the same age group as having specific learning needs. This could be because of a specific diagnosed condition which prevents or hinders the student from making full use of the educational facilities that are provided for other children of the same age in school.”
Possible reasons for being referred to the Inclusion Department may include: cognitive disadvantage; specific learning difficulty such as Dyslexia/Dyscalculia; speech and language impairment; behavioural issues such as a lack of emotional regulation that affect the student’s ability to concentrate; a sensory impairment; a physical disability; an emotional issue that is hindering the student academically; a health impairment; or English as an additional language.
When a class teacher refers a student to the Inclusion Department, the team performs a classroom observation, follow by an internal assessment with the student. Discussions with the class teacher also take place in order to review the student’s work in comparison with other students and learning objectives. If the school decides that the student would benefit from support, the child’s parents are invited to meet with the Inclusion team to discuss the best possible provisions and any curriculum modifications that may be needed. Rosary School Halwan provides three tiers of support, depending on a child’s needs, and these services include assessment support, skill-focused withdrawn support, and in-class support as required.
Tier 1: General level of support within the classroom. This includes differentiated tasks and individual attention.
Tier 2: A higher level of support within the classroom. This includes differentiated tasks and assessments, close supervision, individual support, and includes practical support e.g. making enlarged copies of work available, accessibility within the school etc.
Tier 3: The highest level of support. This consists of one-to-one withdrawn support, differentiated tasks and assessments, assessment support, and all students have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up.
As we can see, Rosary School Halwan certainly strives to do whatever it can to make the school as inclusive as possible. All teachers use a variety of differentiation strategies in lessons, allowing students to learn in the ways they like best, and regular planning, assessment, and evaluation within departments is routine, to address any issues or make changes as needed. Perhaps best of all, all staff are offered training on specific learning difficulties and how to provide learning support, which truly allows students at Rosary School Halwan to be supported in every area of their environment, not just by specialists but by the everyday teachers who know them best.
Following is a list of additional aid that teachers can offer to students in their classes, facilitated by the Inclusion Department:
For any parents who may want to discuss SEN provisions with the staff directly, the school website provides a direct email for all queries: [email protected].
As is unfortunately quite common in Sharjah, Rosary School Halwan does not provide any information to the public about students’ academic performance. As a result, it is difficult to judge the standard of achievement prospective parents can expect. However, as a Primary school, it does offer a range of internationally recognised assessments to ensure that students receive appropriate support and challenge, based on their assessed abilities.
In addition to regular learning objectives, students at Rosary School Halwan participate in: Cambridge Check Point Test; Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4); GL Assessment; International Benchmark Test for Arabic (IBT); and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Unlike schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah schools have not participated in regulatory inspections on a regular basis; while there were a few instances of inspections being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, schools did not generally publish the outcomes. With the initiation of SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority), the intention is that schools will be inspected using the common framework already in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, SPEA has decided to seek a collaborative approach with the schools for this process, and although we understand that initial inspections did take place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, results of these inspections have not been published.
As a result of the pandemic, Sharjah schools have participated in Distance Learning Evaluations (DLE), implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), Rosary School Halwan’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Developed.
Inspectors noted that “attendance, behavior and willingness to learn are positive features of the school”. Their report noted that students were being provided with a range of learning opportunities, to ensure momentum and continuity during Covid-19 times, and that the school had “ensured that students have the necessary resources and level of IT skills to enable them to access the online learning program”.
As far as teacher performance, inspectors were similarly impressed. In addition to ensuring that students had access to necessary resources, they said that flexible deadlines around the submission of assignments and homework helped to ensure that individual home circumstances were being considered; the report also highlighted that a “variety of assessment methods are adopted by teachers to monitor and assess students’ work”.
Finally, inspectors deemed the school’s short and medium-term planning “responsive”. Inspectors felt confident that Rosary School Halwan had “planned for different longer-term scenarios and considered the effect these may have on the school and the resources and training needed to implement these”.
However, while feedback was largely positive, the report did offer some suggestions for improvement.
Firstly, the evaluation flagged the need for extra guidance for students, “to ensure they are aware of who to contact if they feel unsafe whilst working online”. In addition, they suggested further support being offered regarding students’ wellbeing, to ensure that all students had a manageable workload which balances screen time and other activities. Finally, the evaluation noted that the school should continue to work on its communication with parents, to make them aware of intended learning outcomes in lessons and thereby enable them to actively engage with the school more productively.
If you would like to read the full inspection report – which we strongly advise you to do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings – you will find it here.
Rosary School Halwan offers a dedicated FS section, with specialised facilities for younger learners. FS1 and FS2 students have access to their own shaded playground and play gym outside; an indoor play area with soft toys, sensory materials, and other educational toys; and a colourful FS library with a variety of titles.
As for the Primary school, students have an impressive array of learning resources, given that Rosary School Halwan is not one of the biggest or most impressive international schools in the area. Facilities include: a dedicated Primary library, featuring an integrated mini ICT suite and a wide array of books; 2 ICT labs; 2 fully equipped science labs; a dedicated art room; a multi-purpose auditorium with a seating capacity of more than 600; a canteen; and a clinic staff by one doctor and three nurses. All classrooms have Interactive Boards with touch screen capabilities.
Rosary School Halwan offers its students certain facilities that are unique to the school, such as the aforementioned Mosque, and the Primary Skills Centre. The Mosque is available to all staff and students, along with facilities to perform ablutions, while the Skills Centre is a fully equipped room complete with a sensory corner and a learning corner. This room is used especially for students with different learning needs, providing a tailored space in which staff can offer needed support.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com currently has no reviews for Rosary School Halwan. However, it seems evident that there is a clear effort by the school to ensure that parents are aware of, and involved in, their children’s education: there is one parent-teacher meeting each term, three a year in total, so that parents frequently have the opportunity to discuss their child’s progress with school staff.
If you are a parent, teacher, or senior student at Rosary School Halwan, please share your experience with other potential members of your school community by taking part in our survey.
Fees at Rosary School Halwan begin at AED 10,000 for FS1, FS2, and Year 1, before rising to AED 11,100 for Years 2 to 4. Fees for Years 5, 6, and 7 rise again, to AED 11,400. These fees do not include books, uniform, or transportation, although book fees are stated alongside tuition fees – these start at AED 880 for FS1, FS2, and Year 1, and can cost up to AED 1,300 for Year 7.
There is an AED 500 registration fee for all year groups. While the school does provide a bus service, there are no transportation fees available on the school website.
Rosary School Halwan is a selective school, and prospective students are required to undergo an admission interview and complete an entrance exam, in which students are assessed in Mathematics and English.
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