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American Gulf School, Al Rahmaniya – The Review
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Background

American Gulf School (AGS) is an IB-based school which opened in Sharjah in August 2021. It is today the the only IB continuum school in Sharjah.

The school offers a project-based curriculum with a student-centred approach that focuses on English, Maths, STEAM, Arabic and Islamic Studies, and French as an additional language. The school is currently accredited by US-based Cognia and is in the process of being authorized for all four International Baccalaureate Programmes with the aim of these being in place by 2023-24. The school is staffed by an experienced and highly qualified team led by James Lynch, Principal,  and has over 200 students from 20 different nationalities. AGS offers a range of extracurricular activities, including academic, sports, creative arts, and STEAM activities, and provides support for students with SEN requirements through a dedicated hub of specialist professionals.

American Gulf School (AGS) is located in the Al Rahmaniya/Shaghrafah 4 area of Sharjah.

Leadership

James Lynch brings to American Gulf School UAE experience drawn from leadership of two International Baccalaureate programme-based schools in Dubai – Ambassador International Academy (a UK-curriculum founded IB school), and the IB World Dubai International Academy  In 2017, Mr Lynch’s  contribution to the leadership of Raffles World Academy played a key part in the school’s securing of the coveted Very Good with Outstanding Features ranking. With 25 years  experience across schools globally, Mr Lynch played a formidable role in leadership roles in the South west of England at a school renowned for its whole child development of students across the Arts and Sport, before embarking on his UAE career with Innoventures. Interestingly, core leadership of the school has been drawn from key members of Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, the first UAE school to be accredited as an IB World School in the UAE by the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

Feedback to SchoolsCompared and EDSTATICATM is uniformly positive with parents variously describing him as “positive”, “Inspirational” and “someone who listens and gets things done.”

Our own experience of Mr Lynch is of a hugely dedicated educationalist with huge warmth and compassion. Mr Lynch is a mile away from the classic image of an aloof and stuffy IB school leader. To the contrary, Mr Lynch eschews the barricades of the Principal’s office, instead investing time with parents and students, making it his priority to know students by name.  From our discussions with him it is evident he cares passionately, and meaningfully, about child welfare and the ambitions of students. In his previous schools he was adored by parents – and many argued was the tour de force behind each of his school’s delivery of an outstanding education for students.

Mr Lynch qualified in History and Physical Education by original degree training – later securing his Masters in Educational Leadership from Exeter.

Curriculum

The school is resolutely IB across all phases from the IB PYP, IBMYP through to its post-16 provision. Note: the school has now confirmed to us {14 February 2023] that it will, creditably, provide the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme as a technical stream alternative to the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Our view is that all IB schools should be providing this to meet the needs, potential, ambitions and gifts of all students.

GEMS_INARTICLE  

ECAs cover the spectrum of options across Sport, the Creative Arts and STREAM activities and academics.

There is a stand-out bi-lingual English-Arabic programme of instruction from Pre-K.

Facilities

This is not a bells and whistles school – the focus instead is on investment in teachers and leadership and the fundamental building blocks of an IB education. We expect facility provision and depth to grow with the school. As a new school, the investment here is evident and the school is flooded with light. The school has a strong focus on STEAM:

Facilities include:

  • Sciences labs by specialism

American Gulf School Sharjah - photograph of stuent engaging in STEM and Robotics with LEGO Mindstorms

  • Three STEAM labs with strong investment in robotics including LEGO® MINDSTORMS®
  • Two libraries including access to a digital library
  • Specialist KG Resource Centre
  • Visual and Performing Arts Hubs focused on Drama and Music
  • Ballet studio
  • Media studio with full audio and visual production technology
  • Design Café
  • Indoor KG soft play area

An example of the investment in high quality outdoor play centres at American Gulf School Sharjah

  • KG playgrounds
  • Multipurpose Physical education and Sports Complex
  • Cafeteria
  • Mosque
  • Clinic

Teaching

Image of a young student gaining one to one attention from her teacher at American Gulf School Sharjah UAE

Investment in teachers and focus on one-to-one learning is a stand-out feature of American Gulf School Sharjah

Investment in teachers is strong. You can review this here where the school recognises the creditable calibre of its faculty.

Worth noting that far too schools, and unlike American Gulf School, celebrate their investment in teaching. You should ask why.

We have also received confirmation [14 February 2023] that American Gulf School has now completed recruitment of a high number of very experienced new IB specialist and leaders from Very Good and Outstanding Schools in Dubai who will be joining the school in September 2023. Investment here is serious and ongoing.

Fees

For an IB school, our view is that there is very strong ROI on offer here, and particularly so at current discounted levels (2023-24).

Grade Discounted Fees 2023-24 SPEA Approved Fees
Pre-K AED 25,058 AED 34,940
KG 1 AED 27,018 AED 37,740
KG 2 AED 28,628 AED 40,040
Grade 1 AED 31,008 AED 43,440
Grade 2 AED 31,988 AED 44,840
Grade 3 AED 33,668 AED 47,240
Grade 4 AED 35,348 AED 49,640
Grade 5 AED 36,328 AED 51,040
Grade 6 AED 38,708 AED 54,440
Grade 7 AED 39,688 AED 55,840
Grade 8 AED 41,368 AED 58,240
Grade 9 AED 45,148 AED 63,640
Grade 10 AED 47,528 AED 67,040
Grade 11 AED 50,608 AED 71,440
Grade 12 AED 52,988 AED 74,840

Bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2023-24

These are early days – but the big guide here is school leadership. This is serious, accomplished and rich with a pedigree in high performing IB schools. The importance of school leadership in steering a school should not be underestimated. Reputations are at stake. On this basis alone American Gulf School has been established with the engines to establish a leading, very high performing IB presence in Sharjah education.

With confirmation as of the time of writing this review that the IB Career-related Programme will be offered with the Diploma, the curriculum breadth on offer we rank outstanding. The foundations of technical stream education are already being put in place with investment in robotics to nurture formative engineering and coding skills from Early Years.

We would like to see provision of both scholarships and a published bursary policy. But to be fair to the school these are very early days and what we do have here already is highly creditable ambition and investment. Scholarships and bursaries generally kick in later as a school builds capacity.

Class sizes are capped opening at 24 students (22 in KG) – but as a new school there are all the benefits of a very high concentration of teachers for each child. As of 2023, the teacher to child ratio was just 1:3.

It’s early days, but this is a school to watch. We will update our review as the school beds in provision, but everything is in place here to deliver, and deliver powerfully, for students.

Recommended for shortlisting.

© SchoolsCompared.com. A WhichMedia Group publication. 2023 – 2024. All rights reserved.

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

New School - expected 2024/25

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA

Type of school

Private, for profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Grade 1 AED 43,440
Grade 2 AED 44,840
Grade 3 AED 47,240
Grade 4 AED 49,640
Grade 5 AED 51,040
Grade 6 AED 54,440
Grade 7 AED 55,840
Grade 8 AED 58,240
Grade 9 AED 63,640
Grade 10 AED 67,040
Grade 11 AED 71,440
Grade 12 AED 74,840

Curriculum

International Baccalaureate
IB PYP
IB MYP
IB Diploma
IB Courses

External Exam Boards

International Baccalaureate

Selective

Fully, unambiguously inclusive

Value Added

Not published

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:22 (KG)
1:24 (Grade 1 - 12)

Largest nationality teachers

International

Teacher turnover

NA

Year opened

August 2021

Location

Al Rahmaniya, Sharjah

Student composition

International

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Admissions Telephone

06 506 1111 / [email protected]

Web Address
Strengths

• Significant investment in IB teachers drawn from some of the top performing IB schools in the emirates - high calibre and ongoing
• Very high calibre of school leadership
• Resolute commitment to the IB
• New school dynamics with very high balance of teacher to students
• High ROI fees
• Strong STEAM focus
• Commitment to both the IB Diploma and Career-related Programme

Weaknesses

• No published bursary or scholarship programme

Rating
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Value
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A+
Sports
B+
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B-
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Very ambitious new IB school opening for Sharjah driven by accomplished prove school leadership recruited from some of the UAEs top IB schools. Resolute and impassioned commitment to the IB is reinforced by a commitment to the IB Career-related Programme to ensure that both academic and technical stream pathways are available for students. Everything is in place here for an outstanding IB school for Sharjah. Do not expect bells, whistles and frippery – the aim here is instead much more focused on delivering very high value fees with an outstanding IB programme and outstanding teaching. Arguably it is the investment in school leadership and teachers that is the single biggest USP of this school - and this is surely what really matters in any school. Teachers are expensive - the single most expensive cost faced by any school. Many schools cut corners here - American Gulf School, hugely creditably, does not. As with all new schools the final verdict must be reserved for the school when it is more established – but it there is more than enough here to recommend its shortlisting.

B+
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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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