Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Abu Dhabi

March 7, 2021


Around the world, there are cities (like Abu Dhabi) that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

The big question always is…how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same country.

Abu Dhabi

Currently, we have 21 schools listed in Abu Dhabi on International School Community.

11 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

Abu Dhabi International Private School (43 Total Comments)
American Community School of Abu Dhabi (30 Total Comments)
American International School (Abu Dhabi) (97 Total Comments)
Emirates National School (Abu Dhabi) (15 Total Comments)
GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi) (37 Total Comments)
Glenelg School of Abu Dhabi (31 Total Comments)
Raha International School (28 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

Some teachers are putting aside at least 10000 AED a month. Saving potential is big here, but if you travel a lot and go out drinking a lot, then you won’t save as much…” – GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi)

“If you budget and don’t get a car you can have 2K saved per month…” – Emirates National School (Abu Dhabi)

“A family of 4 will not be pleasantly sustainable with one income. You will receive a deposit very close to $3400/month. Utilities are covered at 50%, so you may pay up to $300 for water and electric (have heard of some teachers having $700 bill). Internet is expensive, $100 will get you medium speed internet, but the best package is obviously higher. Basic but adequate groceries (avoiding western products and cheapest produce) is $400/month. This does not include “junk food” or carryout or dine-in eating…” – American International School (Abu Dhabi)

School Campus

“Way too crowded. Campus is in villa area in city center. Old dated classrooms…” – Raha International School

“There are four campuses for the school. One in Abu Dhabi and three in the western region. I work at a school in the western region however, all of the campuses are very nice and well-manicured…” – Glenelg School of Abu Dhabi

“The campus is new, modern and mostly fully equipped. Good sport installations. The kindergarten wing is very inviting, with lots of color and open space and childrens’ work on the walls everywhere…” – GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi)

Housing Information

“If the First Party does not provide accommodation, a monthly accommodation allowance shall be paid to the Second Party, amounting to AED 2,500. In case a married couple employed by the First Party, a family furnished accommodation or a monthly accommodation allowance shall be granted only to one of the married couple…” – Emirates National School (Abu Dhabi)

“Housing allowance is grossly inadequate for any single person to get even a studio on their own without tossing in around aed10-20K…” – American International School (Abu Dhabi)

“Housing allowance is 2000 aed a month so you MUST take the school accommodation with is not great but is in the city center. Emsons building and Tourist club are the two main locations but if you are a couple or a family you will get a 2 bed apt near Wahada Mall. Must pay for own utilities 150 aed month. Not great housing but not horrible either. Housing is furnished and has lots and pans, etc. low-end furniture but acceptable…” – Abu Dhabi International Private School

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“35%tuition discount for 1st child, 30% second child. Double tuition discount for teaching couples. Insurance provided for kids but NOT visas or flights…” – Abu Dhabi International Private School

“2 children: free if 2 parents teach; 50% if 1 parent teaches…” – American International School (Abu Dhabi)

“If you are a teaching couple you can get up to two children to attend for free. You also get a flight for your child, one flight per teacher…” – GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi)

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“High. This is a top school…” – Raha International School

“There are ECA for elementary. High workload. Many teachers are teaching between 24 to 30 periods per week. They also have assigned duties…” – Glenelg School of Abu Dhabi

“Teachers have to do an hour a week of after-school activities for 2/3 of the school year. Some staff are giving leadership positions with a paid stipend…” – GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi)

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Abu Dhabi, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Australian International School – Sharjah (An international school in the United Arab Emirates)

September 17, 2017


There are a few international schools to work at in United Arab Emirates!  How do these schools stand out from each other?

Australian International School – Sharjah

How many international schools have done a sky-view overview of their school campus using a drone?  Australian International School – Sharjah has! 

Having an opportunity to see an aerial view of an international school really gives you a great idea of what life will be like in and around your future international school. Maybe all schools should consider doing this and then make sure to share that video when they are interviewing people to work with them.

The sunset scene of this video is truly beautiful, and look at all those beautiful trees on the campus!

Hopefully you are not actually leaving school at this time (assuming the sunset stays pretty similar throughout the year at around 18h or so), but if you were to, then it would indeed be a nice ride home.

This video is reminiscent of a blog series we have called, “The Journey to School.” In this blog series we get firsthand accounts of what it is like to travel both to and from various international schools from around the world.

Living in the Middle East does sound very enticing. For one, the sun will most likely be out almost every day of the year. The summer will be quite hot, but the winter won’t be too cool. It is important to note though that there appears to be some overcast can be see in the video, and it might be because of pollution and not clouds!

However, desert life can indeed be quite nice for many of us. The adventures of exploring the desert and its sand dunes are not too far away. Many of city’s buildings are constructed using traditional Arabic architecture with wind towers and finishes in colors reflective of the nearby desert and sea.

There are also lots of beaches, theme parks and movie theaters in nearby Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 76 international schools listed in United Arab Emirates.  Here are a just a few of them (the number of total comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):

• Al Mizhar American Academy (Dubai)54 Comments
• Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi)43 Comments
• American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi) – 68 Comments
• American School of Dubai (Dubai)98 Comments
• Jumeira Baccalaureate School (Dubai)104 Comments
• Raffles International School (South) (Dubai)59 Comments
• RAK Academy (Ras Al Khaimah)56 Comments

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in United Arab Emirates, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  Become a Mayor of one of these schools and you will receive unlimited premium access to International School Community for free!

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Comment Topic Highlight

What type of classroom/department budget do you get at your international school?

March 12, 2016


Many of us teach abroad to save money!  So, why do some international schools make their teachers pay for simple supplies? Well not all do, but according to a number of comments submitted on our website, some indeed leave their teachers in a situation where they need to.  Why do some international schools give nice big budgets to classroom teachers and others do not?

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Some might say that only the for-profit international schools don’t give appropriate budgets. However, that would not be true. A number of non-profit international schools also leave their staff with limited budgets to buy supplies.

Let’s say that your international school does provide some money to buy some supplies. It is nice to get at least something for your classroom! But the question is, when you are working abroad, where can you/the school buy these supplies?

If you order from your host country, then it will be cheaper, but the supplies might not be exactly what you want or have a quality you are used to. If you order from abroad, then the costs will be higher because of shipping and the wait time will most likely be a long time (with the risk of never even getting your order because it gets lost somewhere along the way).

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Another question to consider is does a big budget for classroom teachers equal to better instruction and more learning for students.  Teachers can get quite creative in a budget-less classroom, and it is fairly certain that good learning still happens.

But when an emergency arrises and materials that are necessary for the lesson/curriculum are not there, a number of teachers will use money out of their own pocket to buy them. It is the sacrifice that many teachers choose to do to make sure that their students are getting the best education possible and that the promise the school has made to paying parents can be met.

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But does the administration/owner of an international school really want their own teachers to be using their own money to buy basic and necessary supplies for their classrooms?  It would be hard to believe that they would. But when other factors (like a recession in the world or a declining student population) come into play, sometimes schools don’t have a choice to provide a nice budget for their staff.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to what kind of budgets international schools offer, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What types of budgets do classroom teachers/departments get?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 212 comments in this comment topic (March 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Teachers have no budget to spend in their classrooms. They can take supplies from the resource room, which has basic materials like pens, white board markers, tape, etc. Everything else has to be paid for yourself.” – The International School of Egypt (New Cairo City, Egypt)12 Comments

“Budgets for resources are never an issue – if you have a good reason for purchasing something and can demonstrate the learning that it will support then you are generally approved. Art, Maths and Science materials are often ordered in from overseas and are of high quality.” – Ican British International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)51 Comments

“In past years, teachers have been required to submit their budget requests in October for the following school year � a full ten months before the beginning of the year being budgeted for! This was a major source of stress. As of today, no one has been asked to submit a budget and the budget process has not been discussed.” – American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)64 Comments

“The businessman Mr. Strothoff pays for the school and pays most operating costs. In general, teachers fight for basic things such as staplers, two-hole punchers, tape, whiteboard markers, etc. Departments have budgets but protocol for ordering and getting something as simple as a pear of scissors is 100 layers of red-tape.” – Strothoff International School (Frankfurt, Germany)49 Comments

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Comment Topic Highlight

Surprise Purchases You Need to Buy/Pay For When You First Arrive at Your New School

January 12, 2016


When you first arrive at your new international school, you don’t necessarily want to be scrambling around your new city looking for many things to buy.  We all know that without the helpful guidance of a veteran international school teacher at your new school, it is very easy to end up making huge financial mistakes buying things left and right for prices a little too high than you should have paid (e.g. not knowing where to go to get the best price or get the “local price”).

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In an ideal scenario: you arrive at the airport, get picked up promptly by someone who works at your new school, and they quickly and politely drop you off at your new home. After you open the door to your new place, there is a fully-furnished house with a recently purchased bag of groceries waiting for you to help you get through the day with minimal hassle and without having to leave your apartment/house too much.

But we all know that it doesn’t always turn out that way. There are always things that you will need to buy, sooner than later. Some things more important than others, of course. If they are small things (like an iron, maybe), then it shouldn’t be such a big deal to take a short walk down the road (to the Carrefour, maybe) and pick up a few things. It is good/fun to take the first plunge into your new neighborhood.

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But if there are a number of small items (plus a few big ones) that you need to buy, then things could get a bit stressful; especially if you need to go somewhere more than just a short walk down the street.

Depending on your chosen living situation, you might end up needing to do some emergency purchases ASAP. A trip to a store like IKEA will definitely be in order for you on your first day. Some schools even will take you there in the school van, if you’re lucky!

And now, let’s not forget our new schools themselves. They might also have some things that you will need to bring or buy for the greater good of the school. If they gave you a head’s up on these items, you can make sure to pack them into your shipping container.  But if you weren’t set up with a great contact at the school beforehand, you might not get the head’s up in time. Then you are left with possibly buying things for your classroom in the local shops. Hopefully, your school will give you a budget for those things, but that is not always the case!

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Living abroad is not like our home countries. International school teachers do need to be open minded and adaptable. It is definitely tempting to want everything to be as perfect as it can be once you arrive, but we must be ready for a few surprises (i.e. surprise purchases) that will come our way the first few months.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out which things you might need to buy once you arrive in your new host country, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 111 comments in this comment topic (Jan. 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Beds are HARD in Thailand – if you rent a furnished place you might need a mattress topper or take the plunge and buy your own mattress/bed (or bring your comfy one with you – cost is irrelevant as it is important to be able to sleep comfortably at night). If you like a hard mattress you will be very happy here…” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)75 Comments

“You will need deposit and first/last months rent to get your condo. No one told me this and I was not prepared with enough cash. When you arrive you don’t have a bank account yet and ATM’s limit how much cash you can withdraw. If you arrive early before new staff orientation, no one may tell you that NIST will loan you the money until your first paycheck. You just need to ask HR for the loan and it won’t be a problem. Or come with lots of cash that you can change to baht.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)109 Comments

“Your kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, dishes, and small appliance needs in the school apartment will vary widely depending on what the last tenant left. You will not receive a TV, iron, ironing board, etc., just furniture and one set of light bedding.” –American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)39 Comments

“Don’t worry if you forgot something here because the school has a relationship with the local embassy and teachers can use the commissary there. Teachers can order things even on amazon.com and have it shipped to Moscow through them, as you can use their “American address.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)61 Comments

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