Kamal Kalwani (right) and James Lynch on Ambassador International Academy’s playground. Facilities at the campus will include four libraries, swimming pool, football and cricket pitches. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A new “affordable” International Baccalaureate (IB) school — Ambassador International Academy (AIA) — is set to open in September in Dubai, with average annual fees starting at Dh30,400 for KG.

For primary school, AIA fees will average at Dh35,800. AIA, a dual UK-IB curriculum school, will add higher grades ever year to eventually reach grade 12 in the coming years.

According to a research by AIA, fees at IB schools in Dubai average Dh52,800 for KG and Dh65,600 for primary school.

Savings on fees

That would mean AIA parents would save Dh22,400 in KG and Dh28,800 in the primary, according to the school, which is part of the Ambassador Group of schools.

Faisal Masudi/Gulf News

The school is located in Al Khail, near Al Khail Gate, on a 176,481 square-feet plot of land.

Kamal Kalwani, co-founder and vice-chairman of AIA, told Gulf News that though demand for IB has “exploded”, IB schools are generally beyond the reach of most families because of high fees.

“And we fundamentally wanted to change that. We want to make IB accessible, that’s what we’ve aspired to do with this school [AIA],” Kalwani said.

“This is the vision of the owners. When we study IB philosophy, the higher-arching principles are international mindedness, tolerance, inclusion — inclusion means you must be accessible to everybody, from all spheres of life.

“And when I studied the schools here in Dubai — not only Dubai, you see it all over the world as well — IB seems to be only accessible by people who are blessed economically.”

‘No compromises’

Kalwani said the competitive fees at AIA are not the result of any compromise on quality and standards, adding that “we have hand-picked some of the best and experienced faculty for IB for this school from around the world”.

The average teaching experience of AIA faculty is around 10.9 years, he added.

A modern laboratory at Ambassador International Academy. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Also, every class in primary will have a qualified assistant teacher with a bachelor’s degree in education, “which a lot of IB schools don’t provide over here”.

The teacher-student ratio will also be limited to 1:8 in KG and 1:14 in primary, Kalwani said. In the first school year (2019-2020), AIA is targeting an intake of around 300 students (pre-KG to grade four). Kalwani said the school has already received “a decent response” from parents.

Blended curriculum

Speaking about the school’s blended UK-IB curriculum, James Lynch, principal of AIA, said students will begin with the UK EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) under IB PYP (Primary Years Programme) framework for teaching and learning until grade five. It will be followed by “a very smooth transition” into the IB MYP (Middle Years Programme) designed for grades six to eight. However, the core content and curriculum will continue to be UK.

Grades nine and 10 will prepare students for the IGCSE (UK) exams at the end of grade 10. They will then choose to purse studies for the A Levels exams or the IB Diploma, both culminating in the grade 12 school-leaving exams.

Lynch said “through expert advice and guidance of the school, and the very close relationship with our parents, the students will be in a perfect place to select their pathway”.

Students struggling or excelling in certain areas will receive the necessary support and guidance by the school in special classes, which will be offered for all grade levels.

Upcoming facilities

Facilities at the new campus will include four libraries, a multipurpose hall, a 25-metre outdoor shaded swimming pool plus a training pool for KG, football pitches, tennis courts, cricket practice nets, science labs, and design and art studios.

There will also be over 30 extra-curricular activities ranging from sports; a mother-tongue programme by language school Inlingua International; robotics; chess and violin lessons, among many others.