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The Aquila School, Dubailand
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The Aquila School, Dubailand

by Jon WestleyMay 18, 2017
Strengths

• Extraordinary curriculum breadth
• Mid-tier fees
• Very high potential ROI
• ISP backing and experience
• Inclusive ethic
• Promise of significant investment in SEND across the spectrum of abilities
• British faculty
• Opportunity to be guide the development of a new school at launch

Weaknesses

• School still in planning phases
• Devil will be in the detail
• Inevitable teeth issues of any new school

Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
40%
In my Top 5
20%
Shortlisted
7%
A possibility
7%
Pass
13%
No way
13%

Updated May 2017 – The Aquila School EXCLUSIVE SCHOOLSCOMPARED.COM FIRST LOOK

The Aquila School is a planned new all-through British schools offering the English national curriculum to IGCSE and a dual-stream International Baccalaureate/British technical BTEC education at Sixth Form. The school is set to open in September 2018 and will be located in the heart of Dubai Land – map below.

Map showing directions to the new Aquila School in Dubai

The Aquila School will be the first new all-through school for the International Schools Partnership (ISP), the UK headquartered global schools group. Currently ISP is best known in the emirates for their taking over and current turnaround of Abu Dhabi-based Reach British School, reviewed here, and Dubai’s Nibras International School, reviewed here. Both schools are subject to considerable investment with the aim of transforming them into high performing emirate schools. ISP currently has 15 partner schools educating 13,000 children from 3-18 years of age in the United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico and the Middle East.

The aim of ISP with the school is to deliver the first “genuinely affordable dual stream British IB school in the Emirates” – and one that achieves this without compromising on the breadth of subject and curricular choice by offfering:

  • Cambridge-backed National Curriculum for England provision from FS1 to IGCSE
  • Multi-track British Sixth Form provision to include the choice of the International Diploma(IB DP), International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IB CP) and broad technical BTEC streams across a wide array of subjects for children between 16 and 18 years.

Currently the school is aiming for BTEC Level 3 provision in a minimum five areas:

(1) Travel and Tourism;
(2) Sport;
(3) Performing Arts and Music;
(4) Hospitality; and
(5) Creative Media Production.

If the school achieves this, its Sixth Form parallel stream offer across IB Diploma, Carer-related Programme and BTEC will be one of, if not the broadest of any school currently operating in the emirates.

These are of course early days and the school will need to go through an extended period of IB accreditation to secure this – but the ambition is impressive. We, and our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, have long campaigned for both the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme across IB schools and the introduction of as broad a range as possible of BTEC options to provide technical stream options for children at traditional British A Level dominated British schools. We believe that the provision of a choice between technical and academic streams for all children is a measure of a school’s commitment to meeting the needs, ambitions and potential of its students.

Our Guide to the International Baccalaureate Career-related programme can be found here. Our Guide to post-16 curriculum choices, including BTEC, can be found here.

For us, what really stands-out in this ambition, however, is the aligning of the Aquila School aim to be genuinely inclusive with the curriculum structure to deliver it. This level of choice, effectively delivered, will enable the school to meet the full spectrum of child abilities. The school promises to be inclusive to the broadest range of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), from both ends of the spectrum including Gifted and Talented children:

“The Aquila School will have a distinct character based on ‘inclusion’ and ‘maximum choice.

First, we welcome students with additional and unique needs and strive to ensure they are fully appreciated within our learning community and achieve excellence within a nurturing and challenging ethos. We do not subscribe to the notion that students at either end of the ability spectrum are expensive to teach, as we believe our resources and strategies are designed to meet the needs of all learners.

Second, we aim to provide a diversity in curricula to meet every student’s unique needs. We will ensure maximum choice in applied subjects through BTEC and IB Career- related programmes (IBCP).”

International Schools Partnership. 2017.

This inclusive approach is matched by very strong ROI – The Aquila School has agreed fees with the KHDA that range between 45,000 AED at FS phases to 72,000 AED in Year 12. These are low fees given the breadth of curriculum choice.

By the time the school launches provision we estimate that this will be the most affordable of any new IB school currently operating in the emirates, let alone one also offering both the Diploma and Career-related Programme – and BTEC.

The level of ambition here to set fees mid tier within our averaged fee structure for Tier 1 schools (because of the school’s aim to be as inclusive as possible), as with the curriculum offer, is extraordinary.

Bottom line?

It is too early, however, to make a considered judgment beyond our recognising a school that, if it can deliver on all of the above, will be transformational for the Emirates.

The devil, of course, is in the detail.

We are awaiting clarification in a number of key areas, including class sizes, the breadth and quality of facility provision, eventual school capacity and the nationality and qualification base of teaching faculty.  We do know that the school is currently recruiting senior faculty from the UK and is speaking to an extremely high profile current Head in the Emirates to lead the new school.

It is this sort of detail that will enable us to build for you a better picture of the eventual school. There must be compromise somewhere to deliver this. Our best guess is that it will, at the least, be in the eventual capacity of the school. A large school would deliver the economies of scale to make this breadth of curriculum provision and fee structure begin to stack up.

We anticipate being able to report on this, the findings of hard hat tours  by our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, and further developments from ISP in the coming months.

The Aquila School is one that has the promise and ambition to stretch the limits of what parents currently expect from this level of fees.

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.

Request School Information

Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 45,000
FS2: 48,000
YEAR 1: 50,000
YEAR 2: 50,000
YEAR 3: 52,000
YEAR 4: 52,000
YEAR 5: 55,000
YEAR 6: 55,000
YEAR 7: 60,000
YEAR 8: 60,000
YEAR 9: 66,000
YEAR 10: 66,000
YEAR 11: 66,000
YEAR 12: 72,000

Curriculum

Hybrid British IB School
Notes
(1) National Curriculum for England to IGCSE
(2) Dual stream International Baccalaureate/British BTEC at Sixth Form

External Exam Boards

(1) Cambridge (IGCSE)
(2) Edexcel (BTEC)
(3) International Baccalaureate (Diploma and Career-related Programme/IBCC)

A Levels offered

NA
(1) Level 3 BTEC Travel and Tourism
(2) Level 3 BTEC Sport
(3) Level 3 BTEC Performing Arts and Music
(4) Level 3 BTEC Hospitality
(5) Level 3 BTEC Creative Media Production
(6) International Baccalaureate Diploma
(7) International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme

A Level A* to A

Phased launch from 2022

A Level A* to C

Phased launch from 2022

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

TBA
Notes:
(1) The Aquila School "will offer a wide range of GCSE/IGCSE options, which provide breadth and balance in terms of Arts, Science and practical subjects."

I/GCSEs offered

TBC

Selective

Fully inclusive:
Notes:
(1) "The Aquila School welcomes students with additional and unique needs and strives to ensure they are fully appreciated within our learning community and achieve excellence within a nurturing and challenging ethos. We do not subscribe to the notion that students at either end of the ability spectrum are expensive to teach, as we believe our resources and strategies are designed to meet the needs of all learners."

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

TBA

Teacher to Student Ratio

TBA

Largest nationality teachers

TBA

Year opened

September 2018

Location

Dubailand, Dubai

Student composition

International

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

International Schools Partnership

Admissions Telephone

TBA

About The Author
Jon Westley

Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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