ARIS is an IB World School
The ARIS Admissions Policy and the concomitant procedures are characteristic of a young, vigorous and rapidly expanding international school. Most importantly, the policy is inclusive rather than exclusive, enabling, insofar as is possible, equity of access to the high quality learning environment that ARIS strives to offer.
This document depicts the relevant policy and its context, outlines certain of the procedures whereby the policy is effected, and where further explanation may be appropriate, provides some account of the rationale.
The roots of ARIS are grounded in an indigenous Ghanaian population. However, the student body also reflects much diversity, stemming from relatively mobile families often linked to the world beyond Ghana's borders and beyond the region of West Africa via, for example, commercial businesses (at sole trader, corporate and multinational levels), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) charitable foundations and diplomatic missions.
Collectively, youngsters (now at any age between 2 and 16) whose parents seek their enrolment are exposed to an international Weltanschauung from the outset, if only by reason of peer diversity. International-mindedness is stimulated by everyday social interactions as well as the intrinsic elements of the school's globally-referenced curricular content, which is conducive to developing global perspectives.
A key tenet of the ARIS Mission Statement and Aims is inclusiveness:
Al-Rayan International School is a multicultural community of learners committed to motivating students to attain their fullest potential through broad-based, world-class curricula that promote critical thinking, foster self-motivation, and encourage self-development.
The school is dedicated to nurturing creative, resilient and socially responsible students able to take initiatives, and endowed with the knowledge, skills and global awareness necessary to continue their education and become active contributors to the global community.
It is our task to keep the welfare and wellbeing of our students at the forefront and provide them with a morally sound environment.
By 2018, Al-Rayan International School will be recognized nationally and internationally as a leading international school in Ghana, providing a stimulating multicultural learning environment in accordance with the best international standards in education. . .
The above Mission and Aims are congruent in all respects with the International Baccalaureate Mission Statement.
Although sponsored by a charitable foundation, The Ghana Society for Islamic Education and Reformation (GSIER), ARIS is a private school largely funded by revenue from tuition fees. Some potential students, therefore, will be unable to enrol because of the (albeit modest) cost of tuition. Establishment of a scholarship fund will be considered as soon as financial circumstances permit.
A further limitation on a wholly inclusive Admissions Policy is the provision of facilities for the disabled, which are currently inadequate. Again, when financial circumstances permit, improvements will be made in this regard. It is possible that the Student Representative Council will decide to initiate a fund-raising exercise to accelerate such improvements.
By now the reader will be asking ‘What exactly must my child do to enrol at ARIS?' The reader should already have clicked the ‘Contact Us' button on the ARIS website and begun to engage in the form-filling and information-gathering process.
Because youngsters in different parts of the world begin formal schooling at markedly different chronological ages, a useful preliminary reference might be the chart Year/Class/Grade showing the correlation between chronological age and the levels at ARIS. The terminology at ARIS uses ‘Year', such as a student in Year 6, in Year 9, or whatever.
The first point of reference for ARIS personnel handling admissions is the applicant student's current and/or previous school report(s). A judgement will be made as to the extent to which the report is authentic and a reliable basis for decisions.
Admission to Playgroup
Playgroup, the first stage of school life known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This is the Pre-Nursery year. For admission to Playgroup, the eligibility criterion is that the child should be 2 years old by 31 December of their year of enrolment.
Admission to Primary Years Programme (PYP) Nursery – Year 6
ARIS offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) from Nursery class through Year 6 (ages 3-11). For applicants applying to Nursery, the eligibility criterion is that the child should be 3 years old by 31 December of their year of enrolment. For applicants applying to Reception Class through Year 6, please refer to the chart Year/Class/Grade. An assessment will be given to all pupils entering Year 3-6.
Admission to Primary Years Programme (PYP) - Support Programme
All pupils who come under the English as a Second Language (ESL), Special Education Needs (SEN), Individual Education Plan (IEP), or Individual Language Plan (ILP) are placed in a support programme under the direct supervision of that department. Eligibility is based on our ability to provide service to the applicant; and the potential of the applicant to benefit from the Special Educational services available. When it appears that it could be beneficial for the student, he or she might be placed in a lower grade than requested.
The final decision on grade placement will be taken by the school based on all the information gathered through the application process. ARIS reserves the right to deny admission or re-enrolment to any applicant if, in its opinion, there were reasons to believe that admission or re-enrolment would not be in the best interest of the applicant or ARIS. We also reserve the right to postpone admission, if a class is full. In this case, the applicant is placed on a waiting list. The qualified applicants are then accepted in order of date of application, subject to the above priorities.
The final decision on grade placement will be taken by the school Principal based on all the information gathered through the application process.
Admission to Secondary School Years 7 – 9
If the child is age-appropriate for Years 7 – 9, s/he will sit, under examination conditions, a minimum of three entrance tests, in English Language (the medium of instruction in the school), Mathematics and Science respectively. Because the tests are security sensitive, there is no advance notice or other indication of their content.
The entrance tests are not centred on any one national educational system. To provide valid assessments of the academic attainment and potential of applicants from varied educational origins and educational backgrounds the content of the tests and the assessment instruments used are also varied; diverse in nature to reflect an international perspective and to ensure equity of access.
The entrance tests and the school report(s) inform the appropriate placement of new students and provide prospective teachers with a profile of the applicant's attainment in the relevant subject areas. The tests also function as a diagnostic instrument, highlighting anomalies and providing the basis of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) compiled by the Special Educational Needs Coordinator. As the title indicates, the IEP is specific to the student. It directly addresses his or her academic needs, identifies ‘SMART' goals, appropriate teaching strategies to reach them, and a timeline for review.
Admission to Secondary School Years 10 and 11 (IGCSE)
The entrance tests and IEPs as described above are appropriate to applicants for Years 7 – 9 at any point in the academic year. External applicants, seeking entry to Year 10 at the start of the academic year, will sit tests in the subjects they plan to offer for the International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE), the courses spanning Years 10 and 11.
If after the commencement of the academic year an applicant is seeking admission to either Year 10 or 11, entrance tests are of necessity closely focused on the syllabus content of the desired courses. Because courses at IGCSE frequently involve optional content, perhaps unique syllabus choices and pedagogical interpretations made by individual teachers, there is much less flexibility in the admissions process, and transition from one school to another is potentially disruptive to the applicant's academic progress. The more time which has elapsed since the beginning of the IGCSE course, the more difficult it will be fully to meet the needs of the applicant. A lot of catch-up work may be required, or in extreme cases a subject may need to be abandoned altogether. The ARIS Faculty can be relied upon to do their utmost to resolve such problems in the best interests of the student.
Appropriate placement in an IGCSE (or IBDP) course can therefore only be achieved when the subject matter already covered by the applicant substantially matches that already covered in the course(s) to which s/he seeks admission. If there is not substantial overlap, bringing the new student into alignment with the progress already made by his or her peers, particularly in content-laden subjects, may be impossible. Subjects where greater emphasis is placed on skills rather than content may be less problematic.
Admission to Secondary School Year 12 & 13 (IBDP)
Admission of ARIS students to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is not automatic. Scheduled in March each year is the first phase of DP orientation for Year 11 students. It is designed to facilitate a clear understanding of the IBDP in general, and its interpretation, principles and practices at ARIS in particular.
Before addressing the individual circumstances of each student, the first phase of the IBDP orientation is predicated on the assumption that every student will be offering the full Diploma: the core of Creativity, Action, Service (CAS), Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and the Extended Essay (EE), plus three Higher and three Standard Level subjects. Students' preliminary subject choices will be similarly predicated, and similarly ambitious.
All students at IBDP level in ARIS will be expected to meet the Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) requirements and fully to participate in TOK classes. It is important that all students have a strong grasp of the underlying philosophy of the DP, and that whatever permutation of subjects they may offer, according to their individual circumstances and needs (perhaps a restricted range leading to certificates), they do not engage in their DP subjects in isolation, but have a sense of the holistic nature of the programme, its intention to educate the whole person, and its potential impact on their future lives.
The IBDP is academically rigorous. To be assured of a subject profile that enables eligibility for the award of the full Diploma, students should be seeking to attain at least six IGCSE subject passes at grade C or better, including English Language, a Science and Mathematics. For the three subjects to be taken at Higher Level, students should be seeking grades of B, A or A*.
A great many considerations, of course, must be taken into account in the construction of a DP subject profile appropriate to the individual student. The profile will accommodate as far as possible a recognition of the intelligences of the student, and his or her abilities, potentials and aspirations. And the process of constructing a profile extends beyond the empirically verifiable evidence of academic ability to less readily quantified attributes of the person, such as commitment, attitude, altruism and sense of responsibility to others. Attributes, perhaps, that mirror the IB Learner Profile, and which engagement with the DP will continue to cultivate.
ARIS is proud of the many ways support is provided to new students, particularly those facing language difficulties, and/or whose academic background (for whatever reason) signifies deficiencies in syllabus coverage or competencies in essential areas of the curriculum, such as mathematics and the sciences. The IEPs are devised and implemented to ensure that students experiencing these difficulties are soon able to match the progress of their peers.
‘Will this prospective student benefit from the educational programme available at ARIS?' That is the question which informs all decisions on admission.
Let's conclude with an observation from elsewhere: 'These days, the impact of inclusion is apparent everywhere. Student diversity has made [ISB] a more humane school. This is reflected in a multitude of policies, practices and cultural norms. It has also made us a smarter school. Rising to the greater challenge of meeting more diverse needs has raised our overall game, making us smarter thinkers, smarter problem solvers and, critically, smarter teachers. In the end, inclusion has made us a better school, in all senses of the word.'
Kevin Bartlett (UWC United World, April 2014)