St. Mary's Catholic High School Fujairah is one of five schools owned by the Catholic Church under the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia. A sixth school is due to open in Ras Al Khaimah in September 2019. Despite the religious affiliation, the schools are open to students of all nationalities and religions.
The story so far...
Founded in 2002, St. Mary's Catholic High School in Fujairah was originally established as a UK curriculum school designed to offer the Cambridge GCSE curriculum to international students in Fujairah and the surrounding areas, subsequently adding the Indian CBSE curriculum to support Asian families. Currently, St. Mary's Fujairah is the only member of the group to offer both curricula - the others all following the UK curriculum only - and over time, the proportion of students following the CBSE curriculum has significantly outgrown those following the UK curriculum by a measure of approximately 2:1. In 2008, the school administration was handed over to the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The vision of St. Mary's Fujairah is "To prepare innovative global leaders and realize the National Agenda by providing holistic, inclusive and quality education". This vision is supported by a clear set of objectives within the Mission Statement:
In addition, the school motto - "The End Crowns The Work" - is designed to motivate students to achieve at the highest level. This is a school where students are expected to work hard and to follow a strict and all encompassing set of rules and regulations - 12 pages of the school's policy document, which can be found on their website, deals with every aspect of expectations and behaviour.
The school is operated on two separate campuses. The UK (GCSE) curriculum campus has an average of two classes per year group, whilst the CBSE campus has approximately four classes per grade. Students come from a wide range of nationalities, with a total of 46 represented. The main nationality groups are Indian (36%), Egyptian (13%) and Emirati (12%). The split between boys and girls is almost exactly 50:50. The school is oversubscribed and is therefore able to manage this aspect of admissions with little difficulty.
Average class sizes are between 25-30 students, with a maximum class size of 30. Some 128 teachers of various nationalities are employed at the school, providing a staff:student ratio of 1:16 - a relatively low number by moderately-priced school standards. Staff turnover is modest - with some 4% in the UK school and a slightly higher 7.5% in the CBSE school. Given the average UAE staff turnover of 20-22%, St. Mary's Fujairah is evidently a popular employer among teaching staff. All staff have a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in their subject area, together with relevant experience. The school sets aside 2.5% of the annual budget to provide ongoing professional development.
A key area of investment by the school is in the provision of support for students of differing abilities. St. Mary's Fujairah has a comprehensive and inclusive policy of support for to meet the pastoral, educational and behavioural support of all students through curriculum planning, teaching and assessment and specific SEND resources.
What about the curriculum?
Or we should say curricula...
UK curriculum students follow the EYFS curriculum in FS1 and FS2, learning through play. Essentially designed to provide early learning skills in English, Maths and Science with the incorporation of Music, Art and Physical Education, once children move on to Year 1 and beyond, a broader subject-based curriculum is provided. In FS2, Arabic as both a first and additional language are included and once children join Year 1, this is further enhanced with Islamic and Moral Education and Social Studies. In Year 3, Geography is added, followed by History and IT in Year 4 and the options of French and Urdu in Year 6.
Once students reach Year 9, (Senior 3), compulsory subjects include English, English Literature, Religious Studies, Mathematics, Arabic, French / Urdu and Computer Science. Students choose between Chemistry or Accounts, Physics or Economics, and Biology or Business. Some students may take early entry GCSE exams during year 9. In the GCSE years of 10 and 11, students are offered the compulsory subjects of English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Religious Studies and Arabic. In Year 10 (Senior 4) students are required to take a minimum of 9 subjects. Additional options include Biology or Business Studies, Chemistry, Physics or Accounts, French or Urdu and Information Technology.
A Level subjects are limited, to say the least. Options include Maths or Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. Students wishing to apply to university in the UAE are also required to take the Ministry of Education exams in Islamic Studies in English or Arabic, and Higher Arabic or Lower Arabic dependent on the ability of the student.
Despite the relative limitations of the subjects offered, 95% of students from both campuses of St. Mary's go on to university, predominantly in the UAE. Students are provided with the opportunity to visit career fairs and university guidance classes are conducted by local universities and overseas agencies including Dubai University, BITS Pilani, Madona University and the University of Bolton among others.
The CBSE curriculum is largely similar in structure and subjects to the UK curriculum in the KG and Primary sections with Hindi introduced in KG2. Subjects from Grades 1 to 4 include Maths, English, EVS/Social Studies, Malayalam and Information Technology, as well as Arabic, Islamic Studies/Moral Science or Religion. Students also follow non-scholastic studies of Music and Dance, Art and Craft, PE and Club Activities/Life Skills. French is added in Grade 5. Junior students from Grades 5 to 8 continue to follow the same mix of subjects, together with Science, Social Science and UAE Social Studies through to Grade 10. (with the exception of IT which is dropped at the end of Grade 9).
Senior students in Grades 11 and 12 are offered English, Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology, Informatics, Economics, Accountancy, Entrepreneurship and Business Studies. Non-scholastic subjects include General Studies, Work Education and Physical Health Education. In common with the UK curriculum students, the focus of St. Mary's CBSE students is very much on the Business and Science streams.
In addition to the academic programmes across the school, St. Mary's Fujairah also offers a range of Extra-curricular/Co-curricular activities based largely around Sport and Music. The school does also arrange international trips for students which have included visits to the USA, Singapore and China in the past.
What about academic results?
Unfortunately, St. Mary's Fujairah does not publish its GCSE, A Level or CBSE results, although it does make mention of the three student toppers. The nearest comment related to achievement by students is the following "The school still holds all the aces in Fujairah, due to the outstanding accomplishment made every year by the industrious students together with their centrifugal force, the teaching staff". We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com would like to see a more analytical evaluation of results so that parents and students can truly share in the success of the school.
What about facilities?
The school's website, which is currently being redesigned and improved, does not yet provide any information about the school's facilities. However, we know that classrooms are reasonably spacious and well-furnished. Libraries are well stocked and ICT laboratories are provided with modern IT equipment. Science laboratories provide specialist resources. The school has plentiful outdoor space, mostly hard-surfaced, and playgrounds for different age groups.
There is no doubt, that families seeking an international curriculum school in Fujairah will no doubt be happy to entrust their children to an institution that has been in operation for over 15 years and is able to offer a solid curriculum choice. The school has been rated by the Ministry of Education during its inspection as Effective. Unfortunately, St. Mary's does not publish the inspection report, and it is not therefore possible to provide greater insight into the school's strengths or potential areas for improvement. However, given the overall concerns about the quality of education being delivered across the Northern Emirates, with some 43 schools found to be Weak or Very Weak in 2017-18, a school that can offer at a minimum an Effective level of education must be a good option.
What about fees? Fees at both school sections are the same and very much at the low end. FS2/KG1 fees start at AED 5,750 and rise to AED 12,650 for Year13/Grade 12. Books and uniforms are additional to these costs.
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