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American School of Dubai, Al Barsha – The Review
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Review

American School of Dubai, Al Barsha – The Review

by July 11, 2017
Strengths

• Best alumni of the US Schools in the Emirates
• Fabulous, academic curriculum with breadth and choice of subject provision
• Outstanding academics at Post-16
• Tier 1 facilities
• A perfect choice for parents of academic children wanting culturally US prevalent schooling for their children
• Advanced placement
• Rich, inspiring value-rich education
• Outstanding Performing Arts

Weaknesses

• Special Educational Needs (completely unmodified curriculum)
• Islamic education (not provided)
• Native Arabic language provision (not provided)
• Arabic secondary language provision (limited provision)
• Extraordinarily high fees
• Waiting lists

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
A
B-
Value
A-
B+
ExtraCurricula
A
B+
Languages
C+
B-
Sports
A
B+
Arts & Drama
A
A-
Teaching
A
B
Communications
B+
B
Warmth
A-
B
Differentiation
D
B+
SEND Provision
D
B
Scl Community
A-
B+
Scl Facilities
A-
B+
Opportunities

• For a certain limited group of children ASD offers an outstanding level of education, world class facilities and cache. For parents of Arabic children, linguists, or those with [cross-spectrum] Special Educational Needs, as well as for parents seeking a school integrated into Dubai culture, however, there are better schools.

A-
Our Rating
B
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
58%
In my Top 5
8%
Shortlisted
8%
A possibility
8%
Pass
8%
No way
17%

Updated July 2017 – American School of Dubai fees

The American School of Dubai [ASD], previously known as the Jumeirah American School, is an independent not for profit community school located on a 1 million square foot facility within Al Barsha. The American School of Dubai remains the only US not-for-profit and was the first American curriculum school in the Emirate.

Image showing girls at the American School of Dubai talking through their homework

Recognized for its outstanding whole child development and academic programmes The American School of Dubai remains controversial for its refusal to embrace the core Arabic curriculum and the priority it affords in entrance to US and Canadian families, albeit this exclusivity has now been diluted since the move to a much larger campus at Al Barsha in 2010. Today 23% of the school is non-US and drawn from more than 50 countries.

The American School of Dubai pays the price of a distinctly average “Good” rating from the KHDA inspectorate for the weakness of its Arabic provision and the sense of a school functioning as an American enclave in Dubai divides parents on both sides, drawing acclaim and frustration in equal measure.

According to our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, it is important that prospective parents do not focus exclusively, however, on the headline KHDA headline scoring; The American School of Dubai is without doubt one of the highest performing American schools in the Emirates outside the Arabic core curriculum.

For a not-for-profit, school fees are high. Significant controversial recent changes, in which a refundable deposit (effectively a debenture) was replaced by a non-refundable joining fee, together with a fixed annual “seat” charge for each child simply to attend, pushes the real fees to a fixed non-rising 87,417 AED from Grades 1 – and this excludes the further one off 22,000 joining fee (branded by the school a “capital fee”) paid on each child’s entry to the school regardless of year.

This level of fees certainly pushes the American School of Dubai into the premium plus fees segment – and in competition with the most outstanding schools in the emirates. To generate income for development (including for a new 600-capacity, HOK designed 20,000 square metre Middle School extension), The American School of Dubai was left with little choice but to pass on the costs with the fee structure.

You do get what you pay for. Facilities are Tier 1 and include digital classrooms; a secondary school library; separate elementary school library; STEAM Design Studio; 630 seat performing arts theatre; separate, dedicated black box theatre; dance studio; music rooms; multiple meeting spaces; extensive security systems; and two cafeterias.

Sporting facilities at The American School of Dubai include a field house; multiple running tracks; a regulation soccer field; extended playing fields; elementary gymnasium; separate senior gymnasium; two swimming pools including a learners’/toddler pool; elementary play centres and (beautifully) landscaped courtyards and spaces with water features. Core sports include volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, track and field, badminton, forensics, swimming, wrestling, cross-country, tennis, as well as the broader performing arts. The school is a member of the Middle East South Asia Conference (MESAC) and take part in High School level MESAC sports across the Gulf.

Football at the American School of Dubai picturing a young boy taking a corner with team members waiting for the ball to cross the goal

Currently, The American School of Dubai High School section has an enrollment of 585 students with a intake of around 130 students per year. These are supported by 59 teaching staff giving an excellent student to teacher ratio of just under 1:10. 70% of al staff hold post-graduate qualifications. The school is impressively transparent across the board, including in its publication of pay scales. The importance ASD places on the quality of teaching staff, the most expensive single cost of any school, is, for whichschooladvisor, a defining feature of the school. The school is intensively academic, but meets the needs of the spectrum of abilities through an innovative 8-day timetable that ensures 4, 80-minute teaching blocks per subject per day.

Like the other Tier 1 US schools, The American School of Dubai offers the College Board Advanced Placement programme [AP] – impressively in 23 of the 37 subjects available. These include biology; calculus AB; chemistry; Computer Science A; English language and composition; English literature and composition; European history; French language; macroeconomics; microeconomics; music theory; physics 1; physics 2; physics (electricity and magnetism); psychology; statistics; Spanish language; studio art (2D design); studio art (3D design); studio art (drawing) and United States history. The school also offers both seminar and research AP Capstone programmes pursuant to the awarding of the Capstone Diploma. We cannot overstate how important we consider Advanced Placement provision within US schools. Not all offer Advanced Placement, and in terms of its outstanding breadth of subject offer – and commitment to the AP, The American School of Dubai absolutely shines. For us, this is very significant strength of the school.

Elsewhere the core American curriculum offers a seamless pre-K (FS1) through to grade 12 education to a currently 1650 capacity whole school student body organized into three divisions: Elementary School (K1-Grade 5); Middle School (Grades 6-8); and the High School (grades 9-12) culminating in the US High School Diploma.

Prospective parents should note:

(1) that, very unusually for a Tier 1 school, The American School of Dubai does not modify the curriculum at all for students with Special Educational Needs [SEN]. Parents of children with SEN requirements from either side of the spectrum might be advised to look for alternatives;

(2) ASD Islamic Education is weak, and not up to KHDA requirements. If cultural context is important then there are much better options available.

(3) Arab students cannot take Arabic as a first language – The American School of Dubai does not even offer it as a subject choice. Whilst Arabic as an additional language is provided in Grades 1 to 5 and is an elective in Grades 6 to 9 the “curriculum is inadequate” and student’s attainment “unsatisfactory.” [KHDA]

For WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, the American School of Dubai is short of being an outstanding school across the board. But, hugely over-subscribed, for many parents it will be just that, outstanding without any sort of qualification. For others, however, whether Arabic, European, Asian or American, particularly when they are now increasingly presented with very stiff competition from other equally successful, equally impressive Tier 1 schools, an education rooted in local culture, rather than deliberately outside it, will prove to be the better, more whole-child, cultural option for the education of their children.

The school’s decision to push children with Special Educational Needs [SEN] through an unmodified curriculum is unusual and we strongly advise prospective parents to think carefully before shortlisting The American School of Dubai for such children.

Finally, values. It’s the last, but absolutely not least part of the American School of Dubai equation. ASD Core Values – Compassion, Excellence, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility are empowered and brought to life throughout every aspect of each child’s development – they are not a bolt on but intrinsic. And it really shows in the whole child development it provides for all its children and the rounded, creative, thoughtful and responsible young men and women that graduate.

The American School of Dubai is a genuinely outstanding school – for some children.

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

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Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Outstanding features

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Outstanding

2016/17 Rating Secondary / Middle

Outstanding

2016/17 Post 16 / High

Outstanding

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Good with Outstanding features

Type of school

Private, not-for-profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 81,255
FS2: 98,211
YEAR 1: 115,844
YEAR 2: 115,844
YEAR 3: 115,844
YEAR 4: 115,844
YEAR 5: 115,844
YEAR 6: 115,844
YEAR 7: 115,844
YEAR 8: 115,844
YEAR 9: 115,844
YEAR 10: 115,844
YEAR 11: 115,844
YEAR 12: 115,844

Curriculum

American
High School Diploma
Advanced Placement

External Exam Boards

US Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
College Board

Number of A Levels offered

Advanced Placement (A Level equivalent) courses offered in:
European History
US History
World History
Economics (Macro & Micro in 1 year)
Biology
Chemistry
Physics I
English Literature and Composition
English Language and Composition
Calculus AB
Calculus BC
Statistics
Spanish Language and Culture
French Language and Culture
Studio Art 2D and 3D Design
Music Theory
Psychology
Virtual High School (VHS)
Capstone - Seminar and Research

Selective

Entrance examination

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published (WSA predicted LOW)

Number of Students

1656

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:10 High School
1:11 average all phases

Largest nationality teachers

American/US

Teacher turnover

17%

Year opened

1966
(New Al Barsha campus 2010)

Location

Al Barsha, Dubai

Student composition

61% American
16% Canadian
23% Other nationalities drawn from 53 countries

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Not-for-profit

Admissions Telephone

+971 4 395 0005 Extension 1550

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

83.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

91.6%

Attainment Sec SEM

91.6%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

83.3%

Progress Pri SEM

91.6%

Progress Sec SEM

91.6%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

25%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

25%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

25%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

25%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

25%

Islamic St. Primary Results

25%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

25%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

25%

Leadership

75%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

75%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

75%

School Governance

50%

SEN Provision

37.5%

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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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities