United Private School Al Yahar is an improving US curriculum school serving both the mainly Arabic-speaking local and expatriate communities of this area located approximately 25km from Al Ain towards Abu Dhabi.
United Private School Al Yahar (UPS Al Yahar) is one of two schools under the same ownership - the other rated Acceptable by ADEK is located in Baniyas - and offers a US curriculum education to students from KG1 to Grade 12.
Founded in 2010, the school at Al Yahar is predominantly attended by UAE national students (around 78%), Syrian nationals (3.5%), Jordanian (3%) and a further 15% of students who come from a range of other Arabic-speaking nationalities. Students in KG make up approximately 15% of the school roll; Elementary students represent approximately 40%, whilst Middle and High school sections represent 27% and 17% respectively. Classes are co-educational from KG1 to Grade 4 and then separated in to Boys and Girls sections thereafter.
After a less than glowing report card at the outset, the school has made rapid progress since its foundation. Having initially been rated Very Weak at its first inspection in 2012-13, it has achieved an improved rating on each subsequent inspection, achieving a Good ADEK inspection rating in 2018-19. Much of this improvement is credited to the Principal, Dr. Salam Omar, and her senior leadership team.
Introducing the school, Dr. Omar states that "Our school is committed to promoting and inculcating the importance and respect for cultural diversity.
Our vision is to maintain the authenticity of the past and the inventiveness of the present in teaching and learning. Inspiring our students to love learning and helping them achieve their potentials and build their social, emotional and physical wellbeing."
Of the school's Mission, she says - "We strive to provide our students with engaging learning experiences that develop intellectual skills and creativity while blended with cultural and moral values to become actively contributing citizens in the future social and economic development of the world."
Students are supported by a total of 77 teachers and 15 teaching assistants. There has been a significant number of new, more experienced teachers employed in the past two to three years and this has led to a relatively high level of staff turnover at 19%. With a teacher:student ratio of 1:11, the school is clearly becoming increasingly more focused on providing the level of individual attention that students require.
Support for students with Special Educational Needs (approximately 5%) is a further area of good quality provision; the school now needs to develop its provision for students who are Gifted and Talented.
UPS Al Yahar offers an American curriculum based on the US Common Core Standards of the State of California, together with the Next Generation Science Standards. The school is accredited by AdvanceED by the NCA Commission and School Improvement, the Northwest Accreditation Commission, and the SACS Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (now a requirement from ADEK), which is vital for the accreditation of the High School Diploma issued by UPS for students who may wish to study overseas (and particularly in the US).
Core subjects include English, Maths, Science, ICT including Robotics, Music, Art and PE, together with the UAE Ministry of Education subjects of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies. Additional subjects such as Business Studies, Economics and Graphic Design are offered to students in High School.
Unfortunately, the school's website provides very limited information about its curriculum. However, Dr. Omar notes that "Our school is proud of being a pioneer in implementing a variety of advanced programs and differentiated approaches to teaching. This, I believe enhances teaching and learning which inevitably, improves the quality of education for all students. The school fervently believes that it is the right of every child to get a meaningful, comprehensive and quality education."
The school also aims to ensure that students achieve not only excellent academic outcomes but also fundamental life skills such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, functional and problem-solving skills.
According to the latest ADEK inspection report, the majority of students attain above curriculum standards in Arabic and Islamic Studies with Grade 12 examination results showing very good attainment. English is a weakness of students joining the school, but in regular MAP assessments, students attain in line with the national and international expectations, with most students generally making acceptable progress.
Students’ achievement in Mathematics is good overall and has improved since the last inspection when it was acceptable. MAP test results show that students attain in line with national and international averages. ADEK inspectors' lesson observations and students’ work show that the majority of students attain above curriculum levels. Students’ achievement in science is good with MAP test results indicating that students attain in line with national and international averages.
Students take an active part in MAP and PISA mock examinations to assess students’ attainment and to help plan for next steps. The school also has firm plans to promote students’ performance in TIMSS benchmarking tests, which like PISA, are held globally and used to determine attainment and improvement by students internationally.
It would be interesting to find out more about the career and educational paths of graduates from the school - as yet this information is not provided.
Again, unfortunately, little information is provided by the school website about its facilities. However, as a new school with a purpose-built building, it can be assumed that facilities are up to date.
The school consists of five sections in a two-storey building, whilst the KG section is separate from the remainder of the school. The ground floor of the main building is divided into two sections for Grades 1 and 2, and Grades 3 and 4 of the Elementary school. Grades 5-12 of the Boys' Middle and High School and the separate Girls' Middle and High School sections are accommodated on the first floor of the building.
Specialist facilities include two Science labs each for the Girls and Boys sections, and each section also has its own library, computer lab, and gymnasium, as well as separate playground areas externally. There is also a swimming pool which is shared by both sections at separate times. Other facilities include an Art room, music room, auditorium, drama room, and talent room.
The inspection team found that the library is well stocked with English and Arabic books. Older students use books and computers for research in the library. The librarian and teachers help students to develop their research skills. Students can borrow books to take home or to read during breaktimes
According to the most recent ADEK report, "Premises and resources are good quality and fully support the effective delivery of the curriculum."
With the arrival of Dr. Omar, additional impetus has clearly been achieved in terms of improvement at UPS Al Yahar. In the most recent 2018-19 Inspection Report all six Key Performance Standards had improved to Good from the previous inspection of 2016-17.
The report notes that since the last inspection, the school had undergone a restructure of leadership and staffing, and had recruited and trained experienced teachers; as a result the school was considered to be at a stable stage of development.
Inspectors found that the overall performance of the school was good noting that "the leadership team and staff have taken effective steps to secure rapid improvement in the school’s work. Teaching and assessment and the curriculum have improved from acceptable to good. This has resulted in good achievement in most subjects, except for English that has remained acceptable. Students now make good progress overall."
School leaders have successfully improved students’ achievement from acceptable to good in most subjects, including Islamic education, social studies, mathematics and other subjects. In English, students’ attainment has improved from weak to acceptable in primary to high, and achievement has remained acceptable overall.
The school has reviewed its curriculum content to ensure continuity and progression. Teaching in art has improved and students’ creativity is encouraged. Students have opportunities to practise and develop their skills in music. The 'musical band' leads in daily assemblies and special events. Students show interest in business studies and make good progress.
The school has reviewed its curriculum planning to include opportunities for students to use learning technologies in lessons and to be more independent in their learning. Robotics workshops are popular and enable students, particularly the Gifted &Talented students, to follow their interests and aspirations.
The school has improved the support for SEN students. The SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) works effectively with relevant agencies to ensure students receive the support they need. Teachers and support staff now provide good support for students in classrooms and through intervention programmes.
The inspection team determined that the strengths of United Private School Al Yahar were:
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspection team found that UPS should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report, and we strongly advise you to do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings, you will find it here.
Little information is available in relation to the thoughts and opinions of members of the school community of UPS Al Yahar. However the ADEK inspection report notes that "Partnerships between parents and staff are very strong. Parents contribute very well to the life of the school and the wider community. They help arrange national events, such as supporting sustainability. Parents speak positively about their children’s learning and how staff keep them fully informed about their children’s progress and well-being. The school works very effectively in partnerships with local schools, relevant agencies and international institutions to enrich the curriculum."
There is no Parent Survey available on the TAMM website where all the reports are held. If you are a parent, teacher or student at United Private School Al Yahar and would like to share your experiences with other potential members of your community, please take part in the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey here.
There is no question that, based on the ADEK inspections, United Private School Al Yahar is a school that is serious about improving the standard of education that is offered, and students are clearly benefiting from the investment - particularly in senior staff, teachers and their training - which is being made.
We would have to question how genuinely an 'American school' - as opposed to an American curriculum school this may be. For families seeking the full international US curriculum school experience (with all of the co-educational, extra- and co-curricular activities that are fundamental elements of a "culturally" American curriculum school), it is doubtful that UPS Al Yahar will be able to deliver. There are a number of US curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi that much more closely reflect the genuine US school experience.
However, for parents seeking a good quality education, taught in line with US curriculum standards, at a mid-range fee, this is a school that delivers - and probably offers a more culturally appropriate experience for its target market.
Fees range from AED 14,920 in KG1 and KG2 to AED 29,220 Grade 11 (Grade 12 fees are slightly lower at AED 28,290). Book fees range from AED 1,000 per year in KG, rising to AED 2,000 from Grade 1 onwards. Uniform fees are AED 500 per set and bus fees are also set at AED 2,500.
We assume that most UAE students will leave the school at the end of Grade 11 in order to obtain equivalency from the Ministry of Education in order to attend university in the UAE. Students wishing to complete the full HSD to be able to study internationally, are more likely to complete Grade 12.
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