Part of the Catholic Church-owned St. Mary's Group of Schools, St. Joseph's Abu Dhabi is the oldest member of the group, and only one of two schools within the Group not to bear the St. Mary's name. It is also the only fully Indian curriculum school within the group.
St. Joseph's School is a Primary to Secondary school located in the heart of Abu Dhabi at Al Mushrif. Similar to its sister school, the St. Mary's Catholic High School in Dubai, St. Joseph's only starts to educate children from Grade 1 - children join from a range of nurseries - in line with the statutory requirement in the UAE that children must attend school from the age of six.
The school was established in 1967 and is managed by the Apostolic Vicariate of the Roman Catholic Church to Arabia. St. Joseph's School was always associated with the Roman Catholic Church, and was located initially with the church building on the Corniche strip.
Following the decision of the Abu Dhabi Municipality to redevelop the site, the school was obliged to relocate and the present foundation was laid for the church and school buildings on the 19th of March, 1981, being dedicated to St. Joseph, whose feast-day is celebrated on the same day. The day-to-day working of the school is managed by the Carmelite Sisters of St. Theresa, led by the present principal, Sr. Suranjana (Prestina Rocha).
St. Joseph's motto is Shine Where You Are. Its Vision is to Educate, Innovate, Empower to become Global Citizens, whilst the school's vision is "To equip students with skills and values to face the challenges of the 21st century, whilst its mission is "To enable students to achieve their highest potentials by developing their Social and Emotional personality through active learning, To create in students an awareness of Global environmental issues".
St. Joseph's educates both girls and boys in mixed classes from Grade 1 to Grade 6. From Grade 7, the school is single gender for Girls only. The school has grown to well over 1,160 students. The vast majority of students and staff are Indian. At the time of the last ADEK inspection in November 2021, there was a teaching staff of 69. A staff to student ratio of 1:16 encourages personal support for each student. Staff turnover is minimal.
St. Joseph's is affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education in New Delhi. Students follow the CBSE curriculum from Grade 1 and take part in the X and XII standard public examinations. Core subjects include Maths, English Language and Literature, Science, Arabic as a Second Language, Hindi, French, Islamic Education and Social Studies.
PE is also included, and the school says that it has always encouraged and motivated its students "to discover their forte and provides them with a platform to showcase their talents through their annual events such as Talent’s day, Sport’s day, Elocution, Drama, Science Quizzes, etc".
The curriculum at X and XII standards is relatively limited with a very specific focus on Science and Commercial subjects. These include a Science and a Computer Science stream, (with Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology, or Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Biology), and a Commerce, Psychology and Maths stream. Commerce includes Business Studies, Economics and Accountancy, whilst the majority of students also retain English.
The school aims to ensure that students are academically able and qualified for a university education in order to ensure a wider choice and better career prospects. St Joseph’s School prepare students for university and a future of continuous learning.
The school states that "Through the St Joseph’s School Educational System, students develop a solid foundation of knowledge. They are motivated to strive for academic and personal excellence, and thereby become better geared to meet the challenges of a changing world".
A number of students with additional learning needs had been identified at the time of the last ADEK inspection - some 3.77% which equates to 44 students. The inspection report from 2018-19 noted that "identification and support of students with special educational needs (SEN) and those who are gifted and talented (G&T) is good overall. Most students receive highly effective guidance and support. SEN and G&T students mak[e] similar progress to their peers from their respective starting points".
Although St. Joseph's does not publish its exam results in detail - providing only Toppers, with each year showing a 100% pass rate.
The 2018-19 ADEK report includes the following information:
"CBSE 2017 data for Grade 10 students show that attainment was outstanding in English, Mathematics and Science. The 2017 CBSE data for Grade 12 students indicate that attainment was outstanding in English, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, very good in Mathematics and Business Studies, good in Accountancy and Economics and weak in Psychology. Attainment was outstanding in Islamic education and very good in Arabic (Second Language)".
The School Building is situated in a campus area of 400 x 400 sq.mt. The main modern building consists of 49 class rooms, 4 Science Laboratories, an IT suite with both desk top and laptop computers and a well equipped Library. Sports facilities are limited to outside shaded spaces.
St. Joseph's has been inspected by ADEK's inspection team on a bi-annual basis and had consistently achieved a Good rating until the 2021-22 post-Covid inspection when the school was awarded a Very Good rating (the second highest).
It is one of only three CBSE curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi Emirate to have achieved this. No CBSE curriculum schools have been awarded the highest Outstanding rating.
For reasons that have not been explained (we assume to enable inspections to take place at all schools that had not been inspected in 2019 and 2020), the inspection team reviewed only four of the six key performance standards and issued abbreviated reports without commentary.
The improvement in rating appears to have been driven by the fact that all the evaluated key performance measures were rated Very Good (53%) or Good 18%), compared with 2018-19 when a proportion of measures were rated Acceptable. 29% of measures were not evaluated in the most recent inspection.
If you would like to read the inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the strengths of the school and those areas that may still be improved - you will find it here.
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The latest 2018-19 ADEK reports noted that "Partnerships between parents and school are very strong. Parents’ views are sought and acted upon by school leaders. Parents make a substantial contribution to school life, volunteering to help, for example, in updating the ICT facilities and assisting with careers advice". Partnerships with parents were rated Very Good in the 2021-22 inspection.
St. Joseph's has made significant improvements to the school site; the Church, school and their community have clearly made the funds available to invest further in the resources of the school. This has now been reflected in the overall improvements across the delivery of education to students resulting in the Very Good inspection rating. ADEK deems its fees to be Very Low.
Fees range from AED 6,170 in Grade 1 to AED 10,640 in Grade 12. There is an additional book fee which varies AED 395-475 dependent on grade. This is a remarkably low level of fees for a school that consistently delivers academically (albeit with limited subject options).
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