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Greenfield Community School, Green Community, Dubai Investments Park
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Review

Greenfield Community School, Green Community, Dubai Investments Park

by July 23, 2016
Strengths

• Outstanding new leadership bedding in significant changes across the school
• Taaleem backing and Governance investing in the school
• Very good levels of transparency
• Outstanding, genuine school inclusiveness – backed by exceptional care for children across all abilities
• International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme – pioneered by Greenfield in the Emirates
• Tier 1 facilities – subject to ongoing investment, new development and improvement
• Rapidly improving Mathematics provision across phases

Weaknesses

• Lack of sponsorship and bursary provision
• More information required on Career-related and integral/stand-alone BTEC programmes

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

An exceptional, inspirational inclusive school. Greenfield Community School has many outstanding strengths for prospective parents to consider shortlisting the school for the education of their child(ren).

B+
Our Rating
B+
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
33%
In my Top 5
44%
Shortlisted
11%
A possibility
11%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

Updated July 2017 – Greenfield Community School SchoolsCompared.com visit update and KHDA Inspection

“Greenfield Community School is a school with a warm heart – a place where each child and family is made to feel welcome and at home.

We seek to inspire young minds and to challenge each child to identify and develop their unique talents.

It is our teachers themselves who create our school’s unique learning environment. They demand the very best from our students and give them the support and encouragement they need to flourish.

We set ourselves apart by the energy of our children, the care of the teachers – and our  passion for education.”

Andrew Wood, Principal, Greenfield Community School

It is worth stating upfront that we think that there are many things that make Greenfield Community School special in the UAE. We also believe that parents should not be diverted from the many exceptional features of the school by the headline grading of the latest KHDA inspection, although there are issues raised which we will address. For a genuinely inclusive, all-through International Baccalaureate education, that can deliver for children of all abilities, we believe that Greenfield Community School sets a key benchmark for the sector.

What makes Greenfield Community School so impressive can be summarised in the following key points:

  • This is a pioneering school in the delivery of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme – the alternative, inclusive and outstanding post-16 curriculum alternative to the IB Diploma, developed by the International Baccalaureate to ensure its through schools can meet the needs, potential and aspirations of all children
  • Greenfield offers full continuity of the International Baccalaureate through all phases. It does not need to offer parallel stream alternative curricular alternatives because all four IB programmes are in place and established
  • The school is very inclusive
  • Greenfield invests in qualified, committed and passionate staff with a 1:10 student:teacher ratio according to phase and class (improved from its 1:12 level in 2014-15) recognising the needs of its inclusive intake, and a low 11% turnover in staff telling of Taaleem’s investment in retention and the shared sense of purpose within the school. All teachers at Greenfield hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Education or equivalent, specialising in the relevant educational field, combined with (usually significantly) more than two years’ qualified teaching experience.

Greenfield Community school is a Taaleem school, established to provide an all-through, FS – Grade 12 IB education to children between the ages of 4 and 18. The school provides the slipstream for students in the Children’s Garden Green Community who have priority in placements into Grade 1.

It is inclusive in its intake and draws exceptional praise from the KHDA for curriculum intervention programmes ensuring that English as an Additional language (EAL) and the learning needs of students with SEND are well met.

Aspirational image showing children at Greenfield Community School holding hands with the sky in the background

Greenfield does not make inclusivity an adjunct to learning, or a secondary add-on to core provision: Special Educational Needs (SEN) and English as an Additional Language (EAL) provision, and the care of all students, of all abilities, is integrated root and branch across school provision. Unlike many schools, the Head of Student Support is a core member of the senior leadership of the school. In terms of approach, the KHDA record that “Greenfield is developing an ethos where every teacher is a teacher of students with SEND.”

Tellingly:

“Parents speak positively about the difference the school has made to their children’s lives.

Dubai Schools Inspectorate. 2016

Whilst we are frustrated that Greenfield provides only limited information on the academic performance of its students, this including a lack of complete breakdown of IB scoring or the number of children who progress to the Diploma and CP programmes – something we feel significantly lets down the school in not providing prospective parents an absolutely imperative means of benchmarking the school’s provision (and later holding it to account), we do applaud the school’s open publication of its Parent-Student handbook – a key resource for prospective parents in understanding the dynamics of the school.

Greenfield Parent_Student_Handbook_2015_16

We hope that Greenfield’s Principal, Andy Wood, will address this lacunae of parental information as he beds in his role within the school.

Mr Wood, in post since August 2014, is a Joint Honours English Linguist and Geographer by training, with specialist post-graduate training in Educational Management from Henley, UK. He brings to the role more than two decade’s teaching and leadership experience worldwide, including significant IB expertise, latterly drawn from his five-year headship of The International School of Hout Bay in South Africa. Whichschooladvisor independent feedback on Mr Wood is uniformly positive, and reflect that he has taken the school, students and parents with him in bedding in significant staffing and structural changes introduced on his joining the school.

“If we are to be a successful school, whether in terms of the ratings that the quality assurance bodies give us, the performance of students in external examinations, or the joy of seeing our children thrive and flourish, our first responsibility must be to teach well.

“Michelangelo said ‘the chief danger for most of us is not that we aim to high and miss, but that we aim to low and we reach it.’

Let’s not be happy with good enough, but expect the best from our children – and ourselves.”

Andrew Wood, Principal, Greenfield Community School

Facilities at Greenfield Community School are Tier 1 including a fully digital campus; fabulous, landscaped grounds across a 10-acre site (including wildlife and birds!); landmark auditorium and theatre with full production facilities; (new) Apple Mac IT; Amphitheatre; multiple  laboratories; dedicated IT collaboration room; design and technology laboratories across materials and robotics; specialist food technology room; independent Science laboratories by specialism; separate Primary and Secondary libraries; drama studio; multiple Music studios and practice rooms; dedicated Dance studio; Fine Art rooms and Art studios; prayer room; Separate Primary and Secondary cafeterias; health centres with a full-time doctor and two nurses; and (fabulous) Mindfulness facility.

Photograph of the beautiful, purple colour-washed Mindfulness Room at Greenfield Community School with children peacefully looking at the moving colours and golden lit tree in the centre

Sports facilities include a six-lane, shaded, competition-standard swimming pool; separate (shaded) learning pool; tennis courts; gymnasium; full size soccer/rugby pitch; separate min-pitch; and, a plethora of outdoor and indoor play areas designed for each phase of the school.

Sports investment at Greenfield Community School by Taaleem is significant including a new changing facility; complete refurbishment of the sports hall and auditorium and new kindergarten playground equipment. Core sports at the school are football; cricket; tennis; netball; basketball; volleyball; badminton; and swimming.

Young man swimming at Greenfield Community School in Dubai showcasing his skills at Butterfly

Greenfield Community School school fees are premium, ranging from 42,933 AED at FS phases to 79,062 AED in Grades 11 and 12. These are not out of step with IB schooling – and are significantly lower than the ultra-premiums. In terms of baseline provision, the trade-off comes with bells and whistles and architectural design – Greenfields is a traditional Taaleem school where investment is directed to function and staffing, rather than the “add-on” luxury of 50M Olympic pools, glass and steel curves and design flourishes of the Ultra Tier 1 premiums with their fee structures to match. This said, we would like to see a dedicated bursary and scholarship programme for the school.

In our last review we noted that Mathematics provision across phases somewhat let the picture down of a very high achieving school. Mathematics . This was an exceptionally rare area for a Tier 1 to be facing troubles. It is clear today that Mathematics is now subject to high levels of on-going investment and this is bearing fruit. The progress of students from their starting points has reached a Good standard across three of the four phases of provision and attainment at Sixth Form/Post-16/Diploma phase has reached a Good standard.

In our January inspection which we undertook as a part of a Parent’s tour of the school we liked the following key features of the school:

  • The area for KG is spacious and the classrooms are light, the corridors are wide enough to accommodate additional learning tables for 1-1 sessions.  Thursdays in KG are ‘Free-flow’ and lessons are often held outside in the play areas which have sections designed for Experiential learning.
  • The external play areas include grass pitches, an area for climbing apparatus as well as quiet shaded places and tennis courts.
  • EAL is an intrinsic part of the school and there are 2 dedicated EAL classrooms in the Primary section.  Groups are both taught through specialised provision and additional support is offered to students in their regular classes. Many of the students who attend the school arrive with no knowledge of English.  The school is very proud of its commitment to EAL and highlighted the achievements of 3 children who had arrived at GCS without English but who went on to achieve top tier University places – one at Nottingham University to study Economics.
  • EAL students at Greenfield Community School are not required to take French, or the alternative German which is offered to the student body, together with Arabic.
  • The Canteen has 3 sections, one for Grades 4-5, one for KG (packed lunches only) and one for Grades 1-3.  Provision of hot meals (Grade 1 upwards) is from SLICES and parents can use the canteen facilities on the ground floor as a coffee / meeting area in the mornings.
  • There is a Science Inquiry room being utilised by two Grade 4 classes.  The activity of peeling shell and layers from a boiled egg was clearly absorbing them and was a demonstration of the earth’s layers with the teacher introducing themes of plate tectonics.
  • The Greenfield Community School Library is welcoming and well equipped having had a recent refurbishment to create U shaped zones with integral seating.  A new section was being created to house books in languages other than British.
  • The Pool is 25M and multi-laned with starting blocks. In addition, there is a smaller ‘emerging swimmers’ pool. Parents assist in lessons as required and swim lessons are conducted by members of the PE staff. Hamilton Aquatics operate external swim training from the school.
  • There are over 30 ECA’s on offer, at least 10 sports related. Music tuition can be arranged.
  • The school has areas dedicated to Dance and Gymnastics.
  • A good range of Sport is on offer at Greenfield Community School – extending to Handball, Badminton as well as the regulars.  There is effectively a double sized sports hall with a curtain partition so independent classes can be accommodated.  The school have teams at competition level in school sports leagues.
  • Transparency is important to the school and supported by a Greenfield Community School blog. We really like this. Prospective parents can gain a lot of insight into the school from its dedicated web site which can be found here.
  • All the teachers we encountered were very welcoming and willing to share the theme of their lessons.

We particularly liked too the new Greenfield Community School Mindfulness Room (see photograph above). The idea evolved from a teacher, Ms Rola Ghadban, who practices mindfulness and had introduced it to her class as a trial.  At the end of 12 months it was evident that her class had a quality and performance level which exceeded others at the school and the facility is now being rolled out across school classes. Our Inspector writes:

“There has been much consideration in the design and a palpable calm and soothing quality emits from the space.  The whole space struck me as being sensory, with a mirror area for reflection and positivity; Yoga mats; majlis-style low seating; hanging ‘pod’chair; and iPads and headsets with wellbeing and mindful content.  Teachers and Year 11 students have contributed to tasteful, organic paintings on the wall and the whole room is centred around a rather beautiful white tree with twinkling lights.  Blue twinkly lights adorn the ceiling too. It is a wonderful space and has won the endorsement of the KHDA with Dr Abdulla and the Happiness Minister having officially opened it last week.”

Initially the plan is to focus use of the facility on SEN students but access will develop across the Primary School with a maximum of 6 students at any one time. There is an intention to create something similar for Greenfield Community School Secondary children.

There are a few issues which we found on our tour, but they are minor:

  • Grades 4-5 of the Primary have spilled into the Secondary school areas. The school argues that as the older children maintain the same timetable as primary there is little contact between the phases. We do know that parents like to protect the very individual feel of dedicated primary provision and we hope more clear separation can be re-established.
  • The ground floor canteen was fairly small and arguably undeveloped as a meeting place for the school – and particularly for parents. We would like to have seen greater investment in this area – particularly as the school is otherwise genuinely committed, and successful in, engaging with parents and community. This is something of a lost opportunity. It would not take much to make this an inspirational and warm meeting place for parents and the broader school community.
  • Greenfield Community School is currently on a bit of a limb in an area close to the Green Community and in DIP.  The plot is adjacent to land being developed for EXPO 2020 and with the improvements to the Green Community roundabout access has greatly improved. Time is likely to improve the sense of the school being better integrated into its broader community and environment.

Bottom line? As above, Greenfield Community School transparency does have a number of outstanding features, including exceptional communications in general and newsletter provision from the Principal in particular.

The school should have the confidence however, to publish in full its examination profile. We think the International Career-related Programme, and integral BTEC provision, should be celebrated. For us, it is a stand-out area of the school’s provision – and indicative of its inclusive welcome to all students. The majority of IB schools cannot say the same. Yet there is very significant lack of information about something, we think, the school should be shouting about. What we can ascertain is that 94% of those young men and women sitting for the Career-related certificate achieve a pass.

The school does, however, publish more information about its Diploma students. Score average in 2017 is 30 points (31 points in 2016) and the pass rate is 80%. Top scoring students achieved 40 Points, this telling of a school that meets the needs of young men and women across the ability spectrum. Taken as a whole, Diploma performance is good for a very highly inclusive school.

In overall terms of inclusion, EAL and SEN provision – and the overall care of students, we rate Greenfield Community School provision as outstanding.

Greenfield Community School is one of the oldest IB curriculum schools in the Emirates – and its experience and commitment shine through. It is also a much more spacious school than most with a low teacher:student ratio and staff turnover of  around 10% (low by Emirates’ standards).  Whilst the school is generally rated Good, it is an “Outstanding” one in terms of Personal and Social development.  We really like its expertise in the Career-related diploma (see above) – an important qualification mixing the Diploma with a vocational edge and liked a lot by Top Tier UK universities. This is an IB heavyweight school – it knows its stuff – and is very impressively inclusive.

Greenfield Community School for us, is a very special school because it meets the needs of all children regardless of their academic strengths. It is a genuine community school in that respect. Inclusion, whole child development and the happiness of its children are placed at a premium. We wish that more schools, as is the case here at Greenfield, recognised that league tables and statistics are not the “be-all and end-all” of school provision. Kindness, compassion, self-confidence, these have a critical place in education – and at Greenfield Community School these qualities shine through.

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Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Acceptable, Very Good and Outstanding features

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Good

2016/17 Rating Secondary / Middle

Good

2016/17 Post 16 / High

Good with Very Good features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Good with Acceptable, Very Good and Outstanding features

Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2017-18

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 42,933
FS2: 42,933
YEAR 1: 51,522
YEAR 2: 51,522
YEAR 3: 51,522
YEAR 4: 51,522
YEAR 5: 51,522
YEAR 6: 51,522
YEAR 7: 64,688
YEAR 8: 64,688
YEAR 9: 74,271
YEAR 10: 74,271
YEAR 11: 79,062
YEAR 12: 79,062
YEAR 13: NA

Curriculum

International Baccalaureate:
International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP)
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP)
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP)
International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IB CP)
BTEC

External Exam Boards

International Baccalaureate
Council for International Schools (CIS)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

IB DipM Pass Rate

80%

IB DipM Average Grade

2017: 30 points
2016: 31 points.

Selective

Highly inclusive
Notes:
(1) Entrance is subject to a child’s placement assessment
(2) Acceptance to Greenfield Community School is contingent upon the results of the placement assessment, student interview and former school reports
(3) The school's ethos is highly inclusive. (KHDA)
(4) Parents of children identified with SEN speak positively about the difference the school has made to their children's lives (KHDA)
(5) The school is developing an (impressive) ethos where every teacher is a teacher of students with SEND (KHDA)
(6) Outstanding English as an Additional Language (EAL) provsion

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1291

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:13
Notes:
(1) 114 Teachers and 37 Learning Assistants
(2) Maximum 26 students per class
(3) KG1: 3 classes
(4) KG2: 3 classes
(5) Grades 1+ 2: 6 classes
(6) One Teaching Assistant (TA) per class at KG and Grade 1 with shared TA resource according to identified need from Grade 2 onwards.

Largest nationality teachers

British
Notes:
(1) 26 Teacher Nationalities

Teacher turnover

12%

Year opened

2007

Location

Green Community, Dubai Investments Park, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)
Notes:
(1) Emirati: 12
(2) Special Educational Needs (SEN): 102
(3) Pre-kindergarten: 0
(4) Total nationalities: 80
(5) Total native languages: 50+
(6) 44 per cent of students have English as a 1st Language with 30+ languages present at School. "Necessarily EAL is evident and strong throughout the school." (SC Inspection January 2017)
(7) Approximately 800 Primary Children currently and 500 Secondary. (SC Inspection January 2017)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Taaleem

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 885 6600, ext 214

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

53.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

53.3%

Attainment Sec SEM

60%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

66.6%

Progress Nur SEM

60%

Progress Pri SEM

60%

Progress Sec SEM

60%

Progress Post-16 SEM

66.6%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

50%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

40%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

40%

Leadership

60%

Community

80%

Facilities

60%

Quality of teaching

60%

Student personal responsibility

85%

Quality of curriculum

60%

School Governance

60%

SEN Provision

75% with outstanding features

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