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Reach British School, Baniyas – The Review
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Review

Reach British School, Baniyas – The Review

by June 22, 2016
Strengths

• New management
• Emerging indications of investment in communications, faculty, governance and ECAs
• Good standard of facilities
• School warmth
• Teacher, student and parent commitment

Weaknesses

• The school continues to (successfully) work through the domino effect of failures flowing from launching a school when the plans do not meet the eventual reality – and not then having the resources in place to respond.

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
C+
C+
Value
B-
B-
ExtraCurricula
B
B
Languages
C-
C+
Sports
B-
B-
Arts & Drama
B-
C-
Teaching
C+
C-
Communications
B
A-
Warmth
A-
A-
Differentiation
D+
B
SEND Provision
D+
B
Scl Community
A-
B
Scl Facilities
C+
B
Opportunities

One of the lessons for any new school facing teething problems, however serious, is that where you have been, and where you are, is not the same thing as where you will end up. Reach has shown itself able to respond quickly to a very weak first inspection to produce a school now operating at an Acceptable standard with some Good Features in its delivery and care of students.

C+
Our Rating
B-
User Rating
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Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
17%
In my Top 5
17%
Shortlisted
33%
A possibility
17%
Pass
17%
No way
0%

Updated August 2017 – Reach British School second ADEC inspection and launch of IGCSE provision

Reach British School is a new (2014) all through FS to Year 10 (equivalent) English National Curriculum school offering phased launch provision through to IGCSE for children between 3 and 16 years of age. Prospective parents should note that the school, somewhat confusingly, works through Nursery, KG1 and 2 to Year 12 rather than using the standard UK school progression from FS1 and 2 to Year 13. We are advised that this is at the insistence of ADEC. The end result is, however, the same. As a school in phased launch, Sixth Form provision (Years 12 and 13) is not due to open until 2019 and is currently not confirmed. The school is currently operational between FS1 to Year 9 (Ages 3- 15/Pre-KG to Grade 8), with Year 10 (Grade 9) opening the school’s IGCSE provision in September 2017.

Photograph of children at Reach British School in Abu Dhabi in their school uniforms

Reach British School fees, at some 22,800 AED to 46,800 AED are mid-tier, even allowing for the generally lower costs of an education in Abu Dhabi compared with schools in its sister Dubai.

The trade off is in the lack of school grounds – Reach British School is not one with rolling playing fields – but it is also one without a single grass pitch. Games take place in an albeit large quad at the heart of the school. Outside this weakness, which for some parents may be a deal breaker, facilities and classrooms are a very good standard. We hope that Reach British, like similar schools with restricted sporting facilities, over time crafts relationships with nearby schools and grounds to bring some balance.

As of April 2017, The Abu Dhabi Schools Inspectorate places Reach British School in the upper tier of schools needing improvement as an Acceptable school with some Good Features. This is a poor scoring – the expectation is that all school will operate in the High Performing schools category with a minimum Good school rating. However, the school’s performance is improving with considerable gains over its first 2015 inspection.

There are a number of balancing factors that, we feel, should be taken into account by prospective parents weighing up Reach British School as a potential home for their child(ren)’s education.

First is context. Reach British School is a school in phased launch – judging a new school even in even the first years is harsh –  very few schools get everything right early on. Some outstanding schools manage to fire on all cylinders earlier than Reach – but very few. One of the lessons of any new school is that where you have been, and where you are, is not the same thing as where you will end up.

There is nothing in the ADEC report to suggest that Reach British Schoolcannot eventually become, at least, an ADEC Good School (the minimum expected standard of any school in the capital). That is a matter of time to determine – and how successfully the school can bed in its provision and drive forward its ambitions.

Second, any inspection is only a snapshot in time.

Third, independent feedback for Reach British School has been positive. This is a school that is succeeding, at the least, in the hearts and minds of a vocal sample of its key stakeholders.

Finally, Reach British School has now been taken over by new owners. As of January 2016, Reach is part of the International Schools Partnership (ISP), London. Under its newly appointed Director of Schools in the Gulf, Christine Simmonds, International Schools Partnership is continuing to grow the number of its schools in the region, which also includes Park House English School in Doha.

The group also has schools in the UK and Spain – but the message prospective parents should take from this is that ISP is here to invest and ratchet up the quality of provision – this clear in a number of fast-track initiatives at Reach, including joining British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) and cascading new management initiatives.

Visibly we have seen significantly improved new school communications, launch of new CA programmes, improvements to fee payments (now more manageably divided into three instalments) and fast-track launch of sixth form provision. This said, at least in terms of communications, Reach is operating from a low baseline. The school should continue as it has started now with weekly newsletters – critical to bringing any school to life for prospective parents – and celebrating the achievement of children in any school.

ISP is led and owned by some seriously impressive and experienced conviction educationalists, including Paul Brett (Chairman) and Steve Brown (MD) – both with a background of leadership stretching across Serco Education, Alpha Plus and World Class Learning. The Group’s Advisory Council is headed by Professor Simon Lee, a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. Mr Lee was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett, to the UK Standards Task Force and his background includes being a Brackenbury Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, and a Harkness Fellow at Yale Law School. With this backing, and recent high level of interventions, we expect rapid results in bringing the school to a high standard of delivery for children.

Prospective parents should note that Reach British School offers a mixed, co-educational education to Year 5, but segregates classes between the sexes from Year 6.

The ambition to broaden (“double”) the representation of nationalities in its role from its current 40 nationalities is still a core mission of the school, no small part because a more balanced role, offering a high proportion of children for whom English is a first language, particularly in a British school, improves the language skills of Arabic children – and those of English children, in reverse, with Arabic.

Reach British School is now open for registration for Years 1- 10.

Facilities at reach British School touch on a good standard taken as a whole. Students in the Early Years are housed in a separate block, with their own entrance and playground. There are two identical, three-floor, teaching blocks: one for Primary (KG2 – Grades 5) and one for Secondary (currently to Year 9).

Sport at Reach British School Abu Dhabi

Students have access to a 25-metre swimming pool (from Year 3) and large indoor sports hall, with smaller rooms which can be used for dance in the Sport’s Block. Changing facilities are segregated for boys and girls and well maintained. Two canteens: one for girls and one for boys serve meals and snacks from 7:30am every weekday morning.

There are two school clinics in the school, one situated in the Early Years building and the other in the Primary building.

Facilities at Reach British School, beyond its (lovely) swimming pool and sports hall, above, include independent (fully equipped) ICT suites; activities rooms; art room; (excellent) purpose built science laboratories; library; prayer rooms; clinics; dance and drama rooms. In future years, we would like to see investment to transform rooms into dedicated studios.

ECAs aim to compliment the curriculum, but are not yet of a breadth, or uptake, to compete with the best in sector. There are some strengths, including inter-school football and an impressive themed Books Day – but there is a long way to go. We would like to see a minimum of thirty, fully supported ECAs, including a mix from Model United Nations to Lego Robotics on top of basic language support classes. To some degree, there is again a sense that the school is working out the best way to deliver a British education to its Arabic role and bring parents on the journey. There has also been a significant ratcheting up of activity to grapple with the issue since the take-over by its new owners.

Reach British School has now adopted a classical English house system with four houses: Mustang (Red); Cougar (Yellow); Panther (Green); and, Jaguar (Blue). This has further seen cascading down of appointed house captains. The result is reaping dividends in building links between the role, as well as the healthy competition driving attainment across the academic and whole child curricular.

Transparency is excellent, in places. We particularly like the publication of the names of individual staff members – each personally written. Information is also clearly accessible, written in a personal, explanatory style.

The new Head, Dene Bright, brings with him 30 plus years experience in education latterly  for GEMS Education at Windright Academy in Cairo. His historical experience in Abu Dhabi stems from working with ADEC on educational reform. He is well qualified to turn around the school as it moves beyond its teething issues.

Bottom line? Under new, credible, and serious, management Reach British School does have the foundations in place to move beyond the weaknesses of its current ADEC grading. Students, parents and teachers are supportive. Infrastructure, excepting the lack of playing fields, is in place and of high quality. We wish the school every success.

 

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.
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Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Acceptable with Good Features

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Acceptable
(KG with Good Features)

2016/17 Rating Secondary / Middle

Weak with Acceptable Features

2016/17 Post 16 / High

NA - school in phased launch

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Weak - in need of significant improvement

Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Nursery: 22,800 (FS1)
FS1: 22,800 (FS2)
FS2: 26,600 (YEAR 1)
YEAR 1: 26,600 (BRITISH YEAR 2)
YEAR 2: 26,600 (BRITISH YEAR 3)
YEAR 3: 26,600 (BRITISH YEAR 4)
YEAR 4: 26,600 (BRITISH YEAR 5)
YEAR 5: 26,600 (BRITISH YEAR 6)
YEAR 6: 32,900 (BRITISH YEAR 7)
YEAR 7: 32,900 (BRITISH YEAR 8)
YEAR 8: 39,100 (Phased launch 2016-17) (BRITISH YEAR 9)
YEAR 9: 39,100 (Phased launch 2017-18) (BRITISH YEAR 10)
YEAR 10: 39,100 (Phased launch 2018-19) (BRITISH YEAR 11)
YEAR 11: 46,800 (Phased launch 2020-21) (BRITISH YEAR 12) *To be confirmed
YEAR 12: 46,800 (Phased launch 2021-22) (BRITISH YEAR 13) *To be confirmed

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
IGCSE (Phased launch 2018-19)
A Level (Phased launch 2020-21 - not confirmed)

External Exam Boards

TBA

Number of A Levels offered

Phased opening 2019 (not confirmed)

A Levels offered

Phased opening 2019 (not confirmed)

A Level A* to A

Phased opening 2019 (not confirmed)

A Level A* to C

Phased opening 2019 (not confirmed)

IGCSE A* to C

Phased launch 2017-18

IGCSE A* to A

Phased launch 2017-18

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

11

I/GCSEs offered

English
Mathematics
Science
Geography
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Art
Arabic
Islamic Studies
Physical Education
Business Studies
Health, Nutrition and Fitness.
Note:
(1) The school advises that "more options may be introduced from September 2018."

Selective

Fully, unambiguously, inclusive/non-selective
Notes:
(1) Mild to moderate Special Educational Needs (SEN) can be catered for.
(2) School is accessible and includes ramps and a lift to ensure openness and support for children with relevant physical disabilities
(3) English as an Additional Language (EAL): >50%

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Capacity 2,100
Current: 1230+

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:15
Notes:
Maximum class size: 25

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

30%

Year opened

2014

Location

Baniyas, Abu Dhabi

Student composition

Arabic (largest nationality)
Emirati: 58%

Gender

KG - Year 3: Mixed, co-educational
Year 4 onwards: Classes are segregated

School canteen

Yes

Owner

International Schools Partnership, London, England

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0)2 582 2030
International Schools Partnership UK: +44 (0) 20 3867 7000

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

46.6%

Attainment Pri SEM

40%

Attainment Sec SEM

26.6%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

NA - school in phased launch

Progress Nur SEM

53.3%

Progress Pri SEM

40%

Progress Sec SEM

33.3%

Progress Post-16 SEM

NA - school in phased launch

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

20%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

20%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

NA - school in phased launch

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

20%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

20%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA - school in phased launch

Islamic St. Primary Results

40%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

20%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

NA - school in phased launch

Leadership

40%

Community

40%

Facilities

40%

Quality of teaching

46.6%

Student personal responsibility

40%

Quality of curriculum

46.6%

School Governance

60%

SEN Provision

40%

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities