Newsletter 05/2021

Industry insights

Australian International School Dubai to Open

Considering an Australian Education in the UAE?

This month the Australian Business Council talks to the Australian International School (AIS), about their new campus due to open in Dubai at the start of the academic year. We talked to Principal Karen McCord about some of the key differences with the Australian curriculum and what it takes to create a strong school community here in the UAE.  AIS was first established in Sharjah in 2005 and they have learnt a lot about creating an education system that takes into consideration a more holistic view of the student, encompassing not just academic success but also a strong focus on supporting your community and outside interests such as sport. This holistic approach is believed to better prepare the students of today for the working world of tomorrow.

Whether you are considering sending your child to an Australian school or not, there are some fascinating points here about what it takes to create a holistic education program that integrates Australian and UAE cultures.  It easy to see why Karen is so excited about this new development.

  • What sets the Australian method of education apart from others?

Australia prides itself on delivery of a future-oriented education.  Twenty First Century skills are critical if our students are to be successful socially, emotionally and academically for a world they are still to create. Research shows in the Western world that students at school now don’t even know what types of roles they may have once they leave school, so it is imperative that we develop adaptable young people who can succeed in their life choices. Our curriculum challenges students to excel and be creative, active and respected citizens in our evolving global society.  We ensure our children have the skills to develop meaningful relationships within a positive and warm learning environment and enable them to learn in a culture promoting mutual respect and personal accountability. We find our curriculum delivery develops motivated and high achieving independent lifelong learners when they are engaged in a rigorous and relevant curriculum.  Flexible delivery of curriculum delivered by experienced teachers ensures our students excel because they love learning in our classrooms and sharing their community responsibility.

 Most important though, our students love learning in the environment our schools foster.

  •   AIS puts emphasis on the development of a strong community within the school. Why is this important especially in a multi-cultural setup such as the UAE/Dubai?

The goals for Education in Dubai and Australia are aligned as are our ways of life. We each encourage our citizens to be part of our local community and take pride in who we are as nations. We both expect our students to be engaged in our communities through activities reflecting our understanding of the needs of that community. Our multicultural societies, with similar desires to ensure our children learn to value who they are as individuals, those around them and their environment, make the Australian curriculum a perfect fit for Dubai.  The warmth of our people is a credit to both nations. Our cultures focus on ensuring our young people become independent, through learning ‘how to learn’ not just ‘what to learn’. In doing so both our societies foster a culture of innovation. Innovation is what our children will need to be skilled in, as they move into our global world.  

  •  What are the skills that students learn inside and outside the classroom at AIS?

Education is a partnership between the home and school, if we are to provide the very best holistic education possible for our students within a safe, secure and happy environment we turn “knowledge into impact” in our students. The learner comes first!

 That means collectively, we have old fashioned values and ensure our children demonstrate manners, considerate behavior, personal responsibility and take pride in their school.  Our focus is on the whole child, so whilst their academic development is critical, we also ensure emphasis is placed on their cultural and sporting passions.  All three are central to how we do business so we provide a foundation that ensures students will emerge into society as motivated, emotionally intelligent, reflective, resilient, and investigative thinkers who are self-disciplined, successful and active participants within their community.

Obviously, in this ever-changing world, a focus on technology will also be central to our student's development, however, the whole child is central to how we develop their skills to transition into individual career pathways once they get to senior.  Simply – our students will be prepared for their future.

  •   How is Emirati culture intertwined into AIS’ education style?

Emiratis are warm, engaging, adaptable and futures focus – just look at what has been created here in Dubai/UAE in just 50 years! They are also inclusive, tolerant and focused on doing what is right and the multicultural society that is Dubai is a testament to that.  Dubai epitomizes a culture of success, where individual talents are not only developed but also supported and our curriculum fosters this ethos.

Australians and our style of education, therefore “fits” beautifully into the development of Emirati children and those of expats from around the world who have chosen to make Dubai their home. Our style of education focuses on

Engaged Learning - relevant activities and curriculum where active learning is negotiated through an Inquiry Approach

Connected Learning - ensuring pathways for personal need – every child matters!

Rigorous Learning - intellectual rigour, literacy, numeracyICT skills are developed in our children. Put simply, learning is what students do, not what is done to them

How to’ Learning - our curriculum is based on Core curriculum elements (CCEs), all of which develop skills for twenty first century futures and the need for children to understand the world they live in, so they can be active participants, not passive.

We want our children to excel in what they choose to do as Emiratis want their children to do, but most important, we want our children to be happy.

  •    What are some of the state-of-the-art facilities that students can take advantage of at AIS?

I’ve never walked into a school fully completed before I arrived as foundation Principal. My two previous new schools, in Australia, grew as the year levels grew – we would have six or seven years of constant building and design. Our students will be in heaven here!

Our primary children have access to the most amazing facilities as soon as they walk in the door. Our 600 seat auditorium, two swimming pools, soccer field and volleyball courts are already complete, along with various playgrounds, music rooms, theatre, library, café, state of the art science labs, technology suites and indoor sports courts are available for use right now by our primary students.

Our KG 1 and 2 and Year 1 students are going to love their purpose built indoor play area too. They will get lost in the space as they negotiate all the activities they can engage in.

  • What opportunities await students who graduate with an Australian education? 

The world is their oyster.  Our students will have multiple pathways after studying with us. As we grow our secondary school, we will be creating partnerships with local universities and our business community alike. Attaining a Queensland Certificate of Education ensures our students have reached a highly regarded literacy and numeracy standard on completing Year 12, which makes them highly employable in the fields they choose to transition to post school. In addition, either an ATAR score or International Baccalaureate accreditation enables entry to selected universities based on the pathway the student chooses. The other skills our curriculum develops, that we have already discussed ensure our graduates are highly sought after in the workforce because of the development their soft skills such as teamwork and communication, along with their ability to be independent, adaptable, innovative and creative.

  • · We are proud that all AIS Sharjah graduates gain admission and attend university
  • · Graduates have gained admission to universities in the UK, Canada, Australia, USA, Europe, Asia, and the UAE.
  • · Graduates are studying medicine, engineering, computer science, law, international relations, architecture, history, business, sociology, economics, finance, biology and maths to name a few
  • · University destinations include the University of Cambridge, Kings College London, University College London, University of Edinburgh, University of Amsterdam, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, New York University Abu Dhabi, University of Maryland, Penn State University, McGill University, Bond University, Griffith University and the University of Toronto. 
  • · Our new ATAR senior curriculum will enable more students to gain admission to many of the top universities worldwide


  •  What are the future plans for AIS Dubai?

Is it too forward to say to be one of the best education providers in Dubai? If we have truly excelled in our role as educators of the whole child, we will continue to provide excellence in educational opportunities for all our children as they come through.

We have been blown away by the response from the public to date and we have only just started taking emoluments.  Since starting to contact parents who had already expressed interest in our school, we have already had 2 parents ensure we have their children on a waiting list for next year’s KG1!

As our students grow and learn with us, our goal is for our students to emerge into society as motivated, emotionally intelligent, reflective, resilient, and investigative thinkers who are self- disciplined, successful and active participants within their community. We will be focused on the learning needs of each child and what they need to be successful in the world they are choosing to enter post school.

When we succeed in the above, we will truly secure a reputation in the Dubai community for excellence because we have made a difference in each of our children’s lives

AIS Dubai has extended an invitation to members to attend a private tour of the school followed by morning tea on Saturday 12 June at 10 am. To register to attend please contact Sarah on 050 386 1792 or email

Founding Families will get a 25% discount for their first 3 years of schooling.

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