Can of big fat worms……Open

I avoided mentioning anything about schools for so long because I am very opinionated about all the schools here in Al Ain and am definitely not an objective person to ask about them.

On the other hand, I remember coming here to Al Ain and having that desperate feeling of panic because there is a great big black hole of nothingness as far as information goes for this lovely town. (And I really do mean Lovely – I am not being sarcastic – I love it here.)

My two anonymous friends, I am so sorry that there is not much information for you guys out there. It is a terrible situation to be in when you need to make these important decisions and I remember that feeling all to well.

Cairo girl, I will let you do the honors with Choifat information….. I tried and the darn post went on and on and on – heck, I could have published it as a short story! Needless to say, I would not send my children to Choifat if it were the last school on the face of the earth and I had to face a shooting squad on my knees with a blind fold. OK, so, I’ve gone a little far, but not too far….

Madar… Well, Madar is run by Edugates, and the man who runs Edugates is a former manager in the Sabis (Choifat) organization. Enough said.

Al Ain American School is owned by probably one of the nicest local men I have ever met in my life and the principal is an American lady who I happen to know. She is a wonderful educator and has beautiful credentials, but I have heard that her staff find it difficult to work with/for her. I do not know. I have no personal experience with this. The extent of my personal experience with AAAS is that a friend and I did the initial consultation with the owner over the summer before the school opened and made recommendations as to the curriculum and running of the school. I have spoken to one person who is sending her child there and they are very happy, but a fair representation of the overall quality, it is not. It is an American Curriculum. When my partner and I did the initial consultation with AAAS, we recommended that they use the Harcort school books and adopt a brain based learning/play to learn format. I do not know if this is what the school has done as my consultation with the school ended before the school was completed.

Emirates National School is the type of school that will take your breath away – kind of like a beautiful woman who walks into a crowded room. The facilities are state of the art and plentiful. The teachers are top notch (OK, so I am friends with over 50% of them….I am NOT bias!), and the current principal is a forward thinking practical dreamer who does the best with what she has. The problem? This school has issues in the management which they hope you don’t notice because the bling of beautiful facilities is blinding you. The management is a contradiction to what the school is supposed to stand for and does cause issues in the classroom, but not so much so that it puts the children at risk. This year, the classes are randomly organized and therefore the level of learning in any given class is that of the lowest level child in the class. There are talks of reorganizing for next year – which would be a huge boost to the school if it happens. The change that needs to happen is that students should be grouped according to learning level and taught in stages so that the accelerated students can benefit from more stimulation, average students can continue to flourish at the correct level for them and below average students aren’t frustrated with levels that are too difficult for them. This is just one problem. Within the teaching staff there are other issues caused by management. This makes for a difficult working environment for the teachers and therefore creates a higher turn over rate. Not something you want to see in a school, but from what I can gather, is quite a common phenomenon here in the gulf.

Future school – WOW. I really don’t want to go there. I have extremely personal feelings about this school that are enormously negative. It all stems from the personal experience I had while working there for 7 months. The teachers are good, the facilities leave a lot to be desired (common toilets???) and the “management”….well….. The man who owns the school has a powerful family name and has wasta that is only talked about in fairy tales. Last time I said anything negative about the school, I was fired from my job and no one would hire me for almost a year after. That’s all I will say.

As far as not being able to talk to your child’s teacher, it is common practice here in Al Ain. I would guess that AAESS does not follow this practice, but it is not unique to ENS. The majority of the schools here in Al Ain have a no teacher contact policy and therefore employee someone called a parent liaison or a parent care officer who is the link between the teacher and the parent(s). I do not know why this practice exists. It is a point of HUGE frustration for most of us and no one can explain to me the reasoning behind this practice. It is ridiculous and stupid, if I may say so….

Ok, that’s it. I am not talking about schools anymore, OK? I am finished. I am really scared that this entire post will somehow find me in my sleep and choke me. I have a car payment that needs to be paid for 5 more years and I can not afford to be fired from my job again…….

~JAM

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15 thoughts on “Can of big fat worms……Open

  1. bklygrl says:

    Thanks so much for elaborating on your comments. We’re still waitlisted for AAESS and are waiting to hear about ENS. Madar is the only school that has responded with definite openings for both my girls.It is quite frustrating to find a school from a distance. We lived in Dubai a few years back and it was much nicer to be able to tour the schools and make a proper decision. My eldest did KG1 at Emirates International, which we loved.I guess I’ll just see where I can register them and hope for the best.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Well I find your review very informative.I am unable to find the web site for Al-Ain American School.Both my kids are also on waiting list at AAESS . I have tried calling ENS & AAESS but well all attempts went unsuccessful .Emailed numerous times but without any such luck. Have no idea how else to reach them.Any input would be much appreciated by any of you nice ladies out there.

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  3. There was a comment from an Anon. person asking what my partner’s and my credentials were to consult with a school on their curriculum, but I don’t know where it went…..Anywho…. To answer THAT question…My friend is a certified brain based educator (considered an expert in the field) and holds an Undergraduate as well as a Graduate Level Degree in Education. She also has many years teaching experience and several years experience as a school principal. She is now an Educational consultant.I have a double degree in Environmental Health and Safety as well as Operations Management and 8 years work experience in higher education and primary education administration. I write operating procedures, create documents, consult on safety and assist in web design. She had the fun job!Hope that answers your question.

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  4. bklygrl and anon., I do not know if it works, but if you can find the “e-mail me” button on my profile, I would be happy to give you the names of the people to contact at some of the schools. An important point to remember is that the school admin usually closes down between 2:30 and 3:30 here. Depending on where you are in the USA you would need to call during your dinner time. The UAE is 11 hours ahead of PST and 9 hours ahead of Central time, so that would be 8 hours ahead of Eastern time? The best time to call would be between 9 and noon UAE time (6 and 10 pm CST, 8 and midnight PST and 5 and 9 pm EST). Hope that helps you girls (or guys!).

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Girls,Well to tell you the truth,I really enjoyed reading your previous posts also.We’ll be coming to Al-Ain in summer from Canada.I only applied to AAESS (sent completed applications with via courier in April).I never looked at anyother School or even thought to apply elsewhere.It was such an impossible job to contact Admissions dept at AAESS.When I called they advised me to email so I emailed but without any success.SO yesterday I finally sort of gave up and told my husband(who is in UAE at the moment) that I am not moving to UAE this year since I have no idea about kids schooling and I can’t take a risk to send them to any school.But today amazingly I got an email from the school with admission offer.All I have to do is just pay the registration fee about 10200 AED for 2 kids.All paperwork I already sent to them with Application.SO now I’ll start packing as this huge problem has been solved.Thanks for providing such valuable info regarding Al-Ain in your blog.I will keep reading this even after I arrive there.

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  6. bklyngrl says:

    I had a similar experience with AAESS. I sent several emails, completed apps., school reports, and was placed on the waiting list. I did finally get the good news that my girls have both been offered places for next year. This is a relief. Anon. you might want to check out the registration fee. I think it’s 5000 dh. per family, not per child and 600 dh. per child. So that’s 6200 dh. Anyone know what the Gifted and Talented prgram at AAESS is? This is listed on the fees page , along with ESL, music lessons, etc.Just a mom–I read a few of your earlier posts, especially the one about poor manners in chilren. Sounds like we’re of the same mind!Thanks for the informative column.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi again,Well all the fees comes to 10,200 because they also wants 2000 per child deposit towards first term fees.No idea about the Gifted & Talented Program.Do let me know please if you get any info.

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  8. You didn’t happen to work at Choueifat, did you? Elle posted a thread from the Abu Dhabi women’s forum on your last post. I contributed a rather long commentary on that thread about Choueifat. My handle on that forum is “mishmumkin.”

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Why not homeschool? Living in the UAE or abroad in general is scary for your childs education. There are some great homeschooling curriculums from the USA and lots of us living here are going that way. I cant stand any of the schools here but do send my children when they are young (say k-4) to arabic only schools, and then switch to homeschooling for their real education needs from say 5 on up. We are Muslim and need the arabic so that works great for us. And btw just a mom, a while back I read every single post you had written (when I discovered your blog last summer) and felt like omg Iam a muslim version of this lady. Which reminds me, did u ever figure out why all th ehoses and wet bathrooms? I’ll let you in if you tell me no.Oh yeah when I first got here (almost 3 years ago) I saw you in Mega Mart and realised when I found your blog that in fact it was you by the description of your children. Al Ain is very small you know!UmMuhammad

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  10. This week on Radio 2 Lifestyle, Anna has been talking to the people of K12. Homeschooling is becomming a real option here in the UAE. Before it wasn’t recognized. However I don’t know where you stand if you homeschool and then decide to send the kids back to school.

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  11. I’m sooo relieved after searching for a while to find you all. I have been in AL-AIn for the past year and half and MAN I’ve been trying to find ways to find people that homeschool their kids for along time now. Do you have a group here? My kids defintiyl need someone to play with. We are muslim but I certainly don’t mind meeting with non-muslims. I am after all american 😉 Please let me know of a way we can meet. I live near al-Ain Mall area. You can either send me your e-mail through my moderated blog (i wont publish it) and then i can e-mail you my details if you wish….. this is to anyone also who would like to meet up with me. My daughter is 4 and my son is one. thanks for letting me post this here! By the way I went though may of these schoools while trying to find a job here and they all seemed a little scary so i decided to homeschool from now on.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I noticed you mentioned that you do not want to talk anymore about schools in the UAE and I understand that, but I was wondering if you or anyone else has more information about the Madar International School. I just got offered a 2 year teaching contract there and I have been reading some very negative things about the school. I want to know for sure before I sign myself up for a year of hell. Thanks folks!

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  13. Anon –

    It depends on what you consider hell and what your expectations are. I have had no contact with anyone who has worked at Madar for over 3 years, so I am unsure if things have changed there. I do know that is the school where the more well to do local families send their kids and I know that it is run much like Choifat. If you are a creative person that enjoys play learning, this is not the school for that…..

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