Opened in September 2020, the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi is a welcome (though rather unexpected) addition to small number of non-English tongue international schools in the emirate.
Having opened in September 2020 in a purpose built facility located close to the apex of Al Bateen Street and Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (previously known as Khaleej al Arabi Street), the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi (SSAD) is located at the heart of Abu Dhabi Island,
The school's Vision states "The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi offers a world-class education through an inspiring and culturally diverse learning environment." The school's Mission statement notes that the school is "Founded on the basis of strong cultural relations between Spain and the UAE", the School is "committed to providing quality education based on the Spanish curriculum. We believe a successful student is a happy child, and are committed to providing a safe, positive, engaging and stimulating learning environment that prepares students to become life-long learners and global citizens."
Whilst the UAE is home to a wide number of different curricula (approximately 20), and, in particular, to schools offering the French, German, Japanese and more recently Chinese curricula - in addition to the majority English-language based international schools - SSAD is the unique Spanish school in the region. Founded on the basis of strong cultural relations between the United Arab Emirates and Spain, the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi is committed to providing a quality education based on the Spanish curriculum.
The school says that it seeks "to help students to become coherent, inquisitive and broad-minded learners receptive to new ideas. While developing the talents and interests of students, the school seeks to establish a strong sense of values. SSAD accelerates learning by integrating technology and innovation in teaching that empowers and equips children to successfully take part in the information technology lifestyle or the digital world and chase their dreams."
The school is mixed gender and currently open from Nursery to Grade 6 and at the present time is a small and therefore highly personal school with only one class per grade. Despite this, SSAD has already attracted students from a variety of nationalities including 60% Emirati and 30% Spanish, as well as a further 10% of other nationalities. In total, ten different nationalities are represented in the school.
In line with the number of classes, SSAD currently employs ten teachers, almost of all whom are experienced in teaching the Spanish curriculum, are native Spanish speakers and employed directly from Spain. They are masters of their respective fields, carrying both experience and knowledge of their subjects; proficient for skills based learning, combined with pastoral care.
Additionally, the school employs teachers to deliver the Arabic curriculum and English as an Additional Language. SSAD also employs teaching assistants to support teachers in each of the pre-school classes (Nursery, KG1 and KG2).
With a teacher:student ration of 1:10 in KG and 1:6 in the Elementary School, students will certainly not lack attention; a fact that is underlined by average class sizes of only 10 students at the present time. More positively still, class sizes will not exceed 10 in KG and 15 in Elementary.
SSAD teaches the Spanish national curriculum with an emphasis on languages. The curriculum is a world recognized educational programme (bearing in mind the many countries in Latin America in particular that are still Spanish-speaking and influenced) that follows a core of subjects. SSAD is not offering a Spanish immersion programme as such; it is the language of instruction, and non-Spanish speakers very quickly grasp the nuances of moving between languages, regardless their mother tongue.
The Spanish Curriculum specifically focuses on mastering speaking, comprehension, reading and writing in the target language. In addition to the main curriculum, students will also have access to English (English as an Additional Language) and Arabic classes. Core subjects include Spanish, English, Arabic, Mathematics, Sciences, Islamic studies, Arts (including Music), and Physical education.
Academic performance will be measured through the Spanish national assessment process.
SSAD has appointed a full-time Special Needs Coordinator who works with the relevant teachers and a small number of students identified so far with additional learning requirements, including one student designated Gifted and Talented. There is no additional fee for such support, though in the event that a Shadow teacher or Learning Support assistant were required, the cost related to this would be passed on to the family.
SSAD occupies a new building which houses 43 classrooms, each with an interactive board and WiFi throughout, an auditorium and sports facilities. Technology is a particular focus and the school has already achieved 'Apple school' status.
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Fees range from AED 35,500 per year for students in Nursery, KG1 and KG2, to AED 37,500 for students from Grades 1 to 6. In addition, the school charges for text books in a range from AED 500 to AED 1,500 depending on grade. There is also a deductable registration fee of AED 1,000 on offer of a place, and an administration fee of AED 500.
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