Star International School Al Qusais is a branch campus of Star International School Al Twar which opened as a Secondary only campus in September 2021.
Star International School Al Qusais (SIS Al Qusais) is an evolution (or perhaps even revolution!) of the long-established Star International School Al Twar which is located just seven minutes away from the new branch campus.
Established in 2005 by ETA Star Holdings, a construction company, SIS Al Qusais brings back to three the number of schools now under the operation of the holding, which includes the Al Twar school, which has reverted to an FS and Primary only campus, and Star International School Mirdif. The original third school was sold in 2008 and is now Horizon International School, with no further connection to the ETA Star Group.
The Al Qusais school will offer solely secondary education to students joining it from Al Twar and other schools. Star Al Twar had offered a UK curriculum education for students up to Year 11 (IGCSE). The new campus allows the school to develop its secondary offering and to include Years 12 and 13 (Sixth Form), enabling its students to complete their full FS to Year 13 education within the group.
The leadership of the school will remain under the management of the Senior team at the Al Twar campus, though WhichSchoolAdvisor.com understands that the Admissions process will be managed separately. SIS says it will be able to accommodate more students in years 7-13 from the local area and better serve its community in meeting their educational needs.
Explaining its focus, the school says "At SIS, we empower students to believe that they can change the world. Sustainability Innovation and academic achievement are all within their reach. SIS aims to develop students into well rounded happy individuals who can make an impact on their own community and the wider world."
Commenting on the opening of the new branch, Principal Dolly Goriawala said;
“At SIS Al Qusais, we understand that an outstanding education is not merely characterised by achieving good grades. It is defined by a combination of high-quality academic provision and an expansive enrichment program [sic]. At our secondary campus, students will receive extensive support to help them manage their studies and guide them towards a successful future, with the help of our exceptional curriculum, facilities, and programs. We will support them in selecting the right subjects to ensure they can access their desired university course and pursue their chosen career.”
There were originally some 550 boys and girls aged from three to 15 on the register of the Al Twar branch with Arab children currently forming the largest demographic segment at the school, with almost 20% of students Emiratis. With 43 nationalities represented in total given the size of the student body, this is a very international school and we would expect the same to be true of the new campus. Student numbers are likely to be on the low side initially, which will provide students and their families with a rare opportunity to receive significant individual focus.
The original school has a low teacher to student ratio of 1:11 which, in theory, should allow good one to one attention, with mainly British, teachers. The Principal, Ms. Durriya Goriawala, has been at the school since 2007, providing continuity throughout the almost 15 years.
According to Ms. Goriawala, "the new campus in Al Qusais, will support the school in offering an exceptional education fostering global citizens who are true ambassadors of change."
Star International Al Qusais follows the National Curriculum for England and Wales and offers the Cambridge Secondary curriculum and International programme at Key Stage 4 (IGCSE). The school is now open to its first cohort of Year 12 students and organises its teaching is such a way that students study for IGCSE over a 3 year period (starting in Year 9, as opposed to Year 10).
Starting Sept.2021, Year 11 students will seamlessly move on to Year 12 (A/S Levels), and then to Year 13 (A Levels). Star Al Qusais offers vocational subjects (BTEC) as well as IGCSEs. Teachers use a teaching style that is training and work-based combined with digitally-enhanced learning.The Secondary and Post 16 programmes are embedded with STEM learning, rich ECAs and have a focus on ICT and student well-being.
In February 2021, ahead of the opening of the Al Qusais campus, the school announced its plans to launch a state-of-the-art “STEAM” curriculum with the aim of providing students with an enhanced overall educational experience. The school has recently invested in additional resources to ensure students have access to the latest, innovative design-based science learning methodologies within the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to solve problems in an engaging way. Also, as part of the school’s expansion plans, it will be opening new cutting-edge science and tech laboratories for students, and an urban art room developed for the modern industries.
The range of subjects options at IGCSE has improved and includes mandatory subjects of English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Science (Combined or Separate) and Arabic (Arabic A Students). Non-examined subjects are Physical Education, Social Studies, Moral Education, and Islamic Studies (for Muslim students). Options choices include Arabic B, Art & Design, Business Studies, Geography, History and ICT. Individual Science subjects include Biology, Chemistry and Physics. French is offered from Year 7 to Year 11 (optional at IGCSE).
The programmes that will be offered in the Secondary school for A Level and BTEC have now been confirmed. Building on the range of IGCSE subjects, A Level subjects will include Art and Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Design & Technology, English Literature, English Language, Geography, History, ICT, Mathematics, and Physics. The implementation of further creative subjects into the curriculum, such as music and drama, will support an already broad range of both academic and creative subjects on offer.
BTEC Level 3 subjects (equivalent to A Level), will include Business, Information Technology, Media Studies, Physical Education and Travel and Tourism.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is very encouraged to see a range of Liberal Arts and Fine Arts subjects in addition to the more traditional Commerce and Science focus of many more moderate-fee schools in Dubai.
The school's brochure outlining A Level and BTEC options and the support and facilities that will be available for students joining in Year 12 can be found here. The vocational pathway will be further strengthened with the addition of level 3 BTEC courses that possess strong employer links and will build upon the existing level 2 BTEC qualifications currently offered.
According SIS, the additional space, facilities and resources will allow the school to provide a broader and more enriched curriculum which will empower students to be solution-minded critical thinkers - agents of change.
The school will also offer a range of Ecofriendly Learning areas, including an eco-friendly garden, where students will have access to a community space dedicated to sustainable agriculture and outdoor learning. Students will grow herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables organically and sustainably. Students will visit the garden for art classes, science exploration, maths, geography, history and other subjects. They will learn how to make compost, use tools safely, grow and harvest different plants in the arid local landscape.
Additional features in support of curriculum development include a sustainable outdoor learning area, an amphitheatre offering an open-air sloping seating venue that supports students in socialising in addition to providing spatial connection. This is designed to motivate students to work together in groups, thus improving their social skills. They will learn to manage conflicts, communicate, and cooperate with their peers in a more effective manner which will develop their self-esteem and encourage them to take personal responsibility, co-operate with and respect the needs of others.
Although the new campus has not, of course, been inspected by the KHDA's DSIB inspection team, the senior school of the Al Twar campus has been regularly subject to inspection and was most recently rated Good.
The 2018-19 KHDA inspection report notes that, in the 2015 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), students exceeded the school’s targets in mathematics and science. In 2016, students met targets in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), they significantly exceeded targets in reading, mathematics and science.
In successive cycles of GL benchmark tests, most students make the expected progress in English. Most make above the expected progress in science, and a significant majority do so in mathematics. Progress, in relation to the expectations arising from the cognitive ability test (CAT4), is good in English, very good in mathematics and outstanding in science.
Students sat their first set of IGCSE examinations in June 2018. Unfortunately, SIS did not publish the results - something that we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com encourage all schools to do. Whilst examination results should not be viewed as the be-all and end-all of school evaluation, it is clearly an important factor when making decisions about schools.
However, a statement by the Principal in early 2021 in relation to GCSE results in 2020 noted that:
"Our very first GCSE results last year set a new benchmark for us. Our students achieved outstanding results, and I am so proud of the commitment of our school’s secondary teachers who motivated the Year 10s and 11s Star Al Twar has gained KHDA approval to launch its Post-16/Key Stage 5 programme".
In 2021, the school did share its IGCSE results with us, informing WhichSchoolAdvisor.com a small cohort of 13 students were entered for 110 examinations and achieved a remarkable 31% of awards at A*, 45% at A*-A, 57% at A*-B, 76% at A*-C and that 100% of students achieved a minimum 5 passes including Maths and English at A*-C. Such strong results bode well for these students at A Level or BTEC Level 3 and for the support that students receive from the school - a particular advantage of such small student numbers. You can compare results across UAE schools by reading our GCSE results article.
The new campus has been designed specifically to support Secondary students with a particular focus on technology-based facilities in support of the STEAM curriculum and a wide range of sporting facilities.
Interior features include a 150 seat auditorium, three fully equipped Science labs supporting GCSE and A Level students, a library, Art studio, ICT suite, MAC suite, STEAM Workshops (supporting the provision of Innovation Skills programmes), a Design and Technology lab, a Media Room, Post-16 Study Centre and Inclusion suite. Students will benefit from on campus catering whilst parents will have their own social Café area.
The provision of high quality sports facilities will allow the school to compete in national tournaments, develop students talents and ensure their physical development far exceeds the expectations of parents.
Facilities include large open spaces, a full-sized football field, a 100m running track, an 8 lane 25 meter swimming pool, an indoor Sports Hall and multigym, outdoor Paddle tennis and basketball courts, and indoor badminton, netball and basketball courts.
With no inspections in 2020- 21, the most recent inspection of the Al Twar campus took place in 2019-20, when it was one of a limited number of schools to be visited by the DSIB inspection team as the Covid 19 pandemic resulted in the closure of schools. Happily, SIS Al Twar achieved an improved Good rating.
The following is the information taken from our Review of Star International School Al Twar.
With no in-school inspections taking place, the KHDA carried out Distance Learning Evaluations, and Star International School Al Twar was rated Developed in the second DLE round - the highest possible rating. You may read the report here.
The DSIB Inspection team responsible for the 2019-20 inspection identified the following strengths of the school:
The inspection team also commented that "The personal and social development of all students is a strength of the school. Their relationships, attitudes to learning and self-discipline are positive."
Improvements in Teaching and Assessment were also noted, and this together with the Curriculum (rated Very Good in Foundation, and Good across the rest of the school), have clearly played an important role in SIS achieving its improved rating.
The fifth key performance indicator, that of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, also showed almost entirely Very Good ratings, whilst all aspects of Leadership and Management are now rated at least Good - an area of performance that was a concern at the last inspection.
The main recommendations from the KHDA inspection for the school are that it should:
This most recent KHDA report was clearly a very much more positive one than that of a year ago, and the team at SIS should be congratulated on their achievement over such a short period. It is to be hoped that they will be able to maintain the impetus as the plans to expand the school to Sixth Form and A Level are brought to fruition.
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to gain a detailed understanding of the reasons behind the ratings, you will find it here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received very limited feedback from parents, with only twelve responses. However, those who have participated in our survey are largely positive giving an overall rating of 3.6/5 - a positivity rating of 72%.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Star International School Al Qusais, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by taking our School Survey.
67 students responded to the KHDA's Student Well-being survey. Most students reported that there are staff in whom they can confide and that they are cared for in the school. Most stated that they feel safe at school. Nearly all report that they have good attitudes to learning and can persevere with tasks. A minority stated that they have experienced some form of verbal bullying this year, but that issues were dealt with quickly.
Some 124 parents also participated in the pre-inspection survey, commenting that most are satisfied and stated that the school listens and responds to their views. They believe that they have the information to support their children’s learning at home. Nearly all feel that their children are kept safe. They believe that their children have strong relationships with their teachers and fellow students, and that on-going bullying is not an issue.
Fees range from AED 40,297 for Years 7 to 9 inclusive, increasing to AED 47,149 for Year 10, and AED 52,630 for Year 11. Year 12 fees for 2021-22 are AED 58,946. The fees for Year 13, which will open in 2022-23, have not been released as yet. These are definitely among the more moderately priced fees in a school that offers a broader than usual range of options.
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