Liwa International School For Girls
United Arab Emirates
About Liwa International School For Girls
The Story so Far
Liwa International School for Girls opened in September 2016. It is one of a small number of all girls’ international schools in the UAE. The school works within an American curriculum framework, aiming to prepare its students for the SAT, the AP, and the TOEFL exam. It currently offers KG1 to Grade 8 and will expand annually until fully open to Grade 12.
The school’s mission is “To provide an outstanding international education that inspires students to be self-disciplined, globally aware, independent lifelong learners, who are innovative leaders and critical thinkers. We will do this within a supportive, safe learning environment with state of the art facilities and specialist provision for technology and the arts.” The school slogan is “International Standards, Inspired by National Values.”
Currently, the school has approximately 400 students studying from KG1 to Grade 8. 90% of students are Emirati, with a small proportion of other, mainly Arabic, nationalities including Yemeni, Omani and Jordanian girls who make up a further 6% of the school population. Students are supported by a team of approximately 50 staff including teachers and teaching assistants (all classes from KG1 to Grade 3 have a team of 2 staff). Class sizes are 20 in KG and 24 through the other grades, with an overall teacher:student ratio of 1:7. This ensures very personalised teaching for all students.
Staff at the school come from a range of backgrounds and nationalities, but are predominantly native English speakers. The Principal, Nikki Williams, has been a teacher for 17 years and a leader in education for the past 11 years. During that time, she also trained to be a school inspector with the British Schools of the Middle East and attained the National Professional Qualification of Headship from the UK. Prior to LISG, she was the Head Teacher of two large international schools in Abu Dhabi.
Teachers are hired internationally through reputable recruitment companies to ensure the appointment of staff of the highest standard and with the right blend of enthusiasm, knowledge and experience. The majority of staff are from the US, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland, together with native Arabic speakers. In their first inspection of the school in May 2017, during its second term of operation, ADEK inspectors noted “The very positive and caring relations between staff and students result in a very harmonious environment where students and staff enjoy school”.
The Admissions philosophy of the school is by nature inclusive, but contained by boundaries set by the ability of potential students to access the curriculum in English and the school’s ability to support students who have learning difficulties or special educational needs. 5 students has been identified with SEND requirements, whilst a further 30 were identified as Gifted & Talented. Very little English is spoken on entry to the school by the majority of students. The ADEK report noted that accurate assessment by teachers has led to strong progress from the starting points of most students.
The curriculum is delivered in English for all subjects except those following the Ministry of Education curriculum (Arabic Social Studies, Islamic Studies and Arabic language), which are taught in Arabic. LISG offers a broad and balanced curriculum, which is aligned with California State Core Curriculum Standards, to develop knowledge and skills across subjects, and is closely aligned to students’ needs. There is an emphasis on English across subjects to strengthen students’ skills as a second language.
The school offers a beautiful learning environment with access to state of the art technology and includes specialist facilities that support learning through technology and the arts and helps promote student leadership. Students have access to a variety of e-learning resources available on the tablets that LISG provides to them.
Among the facilities, there is a canteen, library, science laboratories, art and music room and a large gymnasium and opportunities for swimming at a local pool. Resources are of very good quality to support learning, with a well-stocked library that contains more than 8,000 books for Guided Reading, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Teacher Resources and Reference books both in English and Arabic.
The Art room offers a variety of different media to support building creative design skills with students. The children are encouraged to express their ideas and experiment with different textures, materials and artist styles.
A Music Room allows ample space for students to learn music and movement. It is an extremely well-resourced room and students learn how to use musical notation, percussion, woodwind instruments, string instruments and piano skills both as part of the curriculum and also during extra- curricular activities.
Science Labs are available in the school to support the teaching of Science; Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Each is laboratory is fitted with a preparation room and all contains all the materials and resources to run a practical and interactive science curriculum. LISG offers a STEM Club to students to enable them to develop their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
LISG offers a comprehensive range of extra-curricular focused across sports, community and arts activities. Students encouraged to participate in activities such as swimming, ballet, fitness club, yoga, drama, art, jewellery, journalism club, and academic support clubs and the school’s annual sports day. Established sports teams offer football and basketball. The students’ council influences the school community and students support the environment through an Eco Club, encouraging recycling of waste.
The school also offers opportunities for older students to develop enterprise skills, by selling healthy snacks during the ‘Healthy is Wealthy’ project and the ‘Formula Ethara’ project promoting gas cars and by participating in activities such as French, textiles and learning the deep meaning of the Qur’an within their life.
LISG has already established strong partnerships with parents and the local community – a return rate of 60% for parental questionnaires for first ADEK inspection was extreme positive - and parents specifically sought further opportunities for school involvement. A Mother’s Club already exists and the school plans to create other ways for parents to become more involved.
The ADEK Inspection in May 2017 rated LISG as Good overall with Very Good for Students’ Personal, Social and Innovation skills and Protection, Care, Guidance and Support. They praised the determined and effective leadership and direction, particularly from the principal and vice principal, and noted that the school had established itself quickly.
Further positive aspects of the inspection were the impact of good teaching on progress in students’ learning and personal achievement, the school’s promotion of students’ ambitions and relationships in a safe and caring environment and the good resources and modern accommodation which support a wide, varied and exciting curriculum.
Areas for improvement identified by the inspection included the innovation skills of all students through more opportunities for them to investigate, research, question and become independent learners, the involvement of parents in the everyday life of the school and students’ punctuality at the start of the day and when arriving for lessons.
For a school that had only been opened two terms when its first inspection took place, LISG made a very positive impression on the inspectors and is evidently performing well. The “Good” rating from the inspection is a clear indication that Liwa International School for Girls is very much set on the right course to meet its aspirations in terms of providing “an outstanding international education”.