Dear friends I am hoping to travel out to Dammam to join Aramco within a couple of months and now having to decide on the schooling option for kids who are in Primary 1, 4 and 6 in the UK at present. I am considering to put the kids in the American school in the Aramco compound, primarily for the ease of the process as the school is inside the compound.
The Aramco school website doesn't show much details on the curriculum. Our long term plan is for kids to return to UK upon completing school education. Does anyone from UK enrol kids at the Aramco school? If so, can you kindly comment on the questions below:
1. How did your kids find the transition from British to American curriculum? 2. How would you rate the Aramco school? 3. What is the highest level of education at the Aramco school? Do they do equivalent of A-levels?
The transition from British to American schools is not so bad. From experience of my daughter who spent 1 year in Dhahran for grade 9, before moving back to the UK for the last 3 years boarding school, the Math was a level above the UK system which she struggled with a little. UK system was ahead in English and much of a muchness for everything else.
She transitioned to boarding school in the UK after grade 9 to an IBGCSE program of 6 subjects. This was setting up for an International Baccalaureat year 12 (basically an internationally recognised version of year 12, designed to prep students for university).
To transition from US to UK system is a little more difficult, especially from grade 9. You may need to drop back a year to the beginning of the GCSE years 9 & 10. We did a tour of 5 boarding schools in central Scotland over 7 days, all of whom extended offers to her to join.
I had no complaints about the school. Teachers and the general environment I felt were excellent and Aramco schools claim to be in the top 5% worldwide.
As I said, grade 9 is the highest level in the Aramco school (year 10 / 3rd year). After that either your kids can go to Dhahran High (US curriculum), one of the British schools (BISAK or British grammar) or further afield to boarding school.
There is assistance through EAP with flights and fees for boarding school (90% of fees up to a ceiling). Personally we had no intention of our kid going to boarding school originally, but ultimately that's the choice she made during year 9, and a choice which worked out really well for her. She went to an excellent school and did well enough to secure a University place at the end of it.
All things being equal education wise, I personally would be more inclined to use the Aramco school purely for the social aspect. Your kids will be at either Junior school (years 1-4?) or Middle school (years 5-9?) and have access to a broader social circle through the Aramco school / camp. They are picked up in the morning by Aramco bus, come home to mom for lunch and are dropped off after school. Be prepared not to see much of them some weekends thru sleepovers, parties etc.
Thank you so much for your time and effort yo respond at length.
After much thought and research, we decided to put our kids into DBGS from the start to minimize disruption during transition / change over between schooling systems further down the line.
However upon checking with DBGS we were told they have no spaces for our eldest who will be in Grade 7 (English curriculum) so we will resort to the Aramco school for their first year in Dammam and then look to move to DBGS. We will do this sooner than later to avoid loosing a year.
If you don’t mind me asking, did you consider DBGS and was your decision to go with boarding school back in Scotland over DBGS/BISAK based on a better quality of education?
I did enquire at the time but there was no availability at either BISAK or British Grammar so the Aramco school was the only option available.
As to the schooling after grade 9 - boarding was not something we had really considered until meeting with my daughters counsellor who suggested it. All if the boarding schools we visited offer top notch education - truly a level above most state schools in the UK.
She put us in touch with an agent in the UK who after a skype session with my (then) 15yo sent us 10 suggestions. From the 10 we chose 5 to follow up with and visit in person.
It's a big step for a child, but at no point did we push my daughter one way or another. I had my preference, she had hers and hers is the one that we went with. I was really impressed with each of the schools we visited, but ultimately she was the one who had to spend each term there so it had to be one she was comfortable with.
There may be a waiting list for DBGS that us available to you, so you never know. Finally, we listed my daughters residence as my home in Scotland, with my oldest daughter as guardian there, so she satisfied the residence requirements for free University tuition fees when she graduated High School. She literally came back to Saudi only 3 times a year during Christmas, Easter and summer recess.