West Yas School Abu Dhabi, located on Yas Island, is the first US curriculum school to be operated by Aldar Academies.
Located on a very large campus adjacent to Ferrari world and the main hotel locations close to the Yas Marina circuit, West Yas Academy will eventually accommodate approximately 1500 students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Students will be separated by gender from Grade 5.
The school opened in September 2016 with approximately 285 children in classes from KG to grade 6. The school will expand to offer Grade 7 and 8 from September 2017. Grades 9-12 will open from September 2018.
Approximately one out of every two students are Emirati with the balance from thirty different countries including a substantial number from the US, UK and Australia. At present, the school offers two classes per grade but anticipates that by 2017 with an additional 500 students joining the school, the number of classes will grow. At present approximately 50% of the total campus has been handed over to the school.
The school follows the Massachusetts Common Core programme with an emphasis on English, maths, science and social studies. In addition to these core subjects the school also offers Arabic, Islamic studies and UAE history and social studies. The Massachusetts common core programme is an upgraded version of the US Common Core, with a particular emphasis on STEM subjects which are integrated into the curriculum. Students will have access to iPads and laptops as well as dedicated ICT labs.
There are currently 30 teaching staff at school with a mix of nationalities from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Staff who have joined the school from the US have received extensive professional development since their arrival in order to ensure that they settle into the local environment and are mindful of UAE culture.
A significant proportion of students require English language support and resources are being developed within the school and in coordination with the Director of SEN for Aldar to ensure that children with additional learning needs have these meant and are monitored through the provision of an independent education program.
Facilities of the school are impressive and excellent. The building is light and bright with an L shape section set on 2 floors which is currently used for all the children. The ground floor of the building is divided into 2 sections with central areas from which the classrooms are spread. The first pod contains the KG classes with 4 KG1 classes and to KG 2 currently in operation. Student:teacher ratio is currently 1:18 with a teacher and classroom assistant.
The second pod is home to the grade 1 to 3 classes of which there are currently 2 in each grade, with a student-teacher ratio of 22:1. Arabic and Islamic studies are taught within the pods in separate classrooms and all support staff are bilingual. Grade 4 to 6 students are housed on the 2nd floor of the building where a range of specialist classrooms are also available.
There is currently canteen on site with healthy food provided by 'emirates taste'. The school aims to offer healthy meals with 3 hot main courses, together with a selection of fruit and vegetables.
There is a KG Auditorium with 600 retractable seats. This joins a block which is set around two quadrangles with a common central corridor. Each side of the common corridor will be used for the students in the middle and high schools and will be occupied on one side by the girls and on the other by the boys. The middle and high school contains science labs, art, music, food technology and information technology rooms, as well as a library and cafeteria. This building has not yet been handed over to the management of the school but is expected to be ready by time you read this.
The external facilities of the school are equally impressive with an enormous playing field set up for football, soccer and arrange of grass. There is also a very large gymnasium, a weight training and dance studio and on each side of these, separate swimming pools which will be used by the girls and boys.
Between the two sets of buildings is an outdoor area that can be used for assemblies and performances as well as plentiful play equipment for younger students.
The school already offers an extensive range of after-school activities three days per week. These are mainly teacher led a number of external suppliers are being sourced to provide additional activities for music and dance among others. The majority of students travel by bus school from Khalifa, Al Falah, Sadiyaat and Abu Dhabi Island. The new Aldar Properties development located adjacent to the school will no doubt be a strong source of future students.
It has to be said that at the moment the school feels somewhat empty, particularly given the very large size of both its indoor and outdoor facilities and the relatively small number of students. However we are sure that as the residential area around the school grows so the number of students will also grow rapidly. We are also extremely confident in Aldar Academies itself, a group with a history of delivering highly sought after, Outstanding rated schools.
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