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Ignite School, Al Warqa 3 – The Review

Ignite School, Al Warqa 3 – The Review

by Jon WestleyMay 16, 2018

May/June 2018 – Ignite School Dubai, First Looks new school in planning review, exclusive – updated


“Ignite School is a Pre K-12th grade American educational institution for Emirati and expatriate children.

Our vision is for all young people to experience learning that has lasting relevance beyond their life at school.

Our goal is to ensure that our learners are well equipped to become innovative, responsible and confident 21st century ‘citizens of the world.’

Our mission is to know the need of every student, collaboratively creating a student-centred, sustainable 21st century learning environment that fosters leadership, social cohesion, creativity, responsibility and ambition.

The well-being of every Ignite learner is our number one priority.

At Ignite School Dubai It is essential that our learners feel happy, safe, accepted and valued.”


Veronica L Griffin, NBCT, M.Ed, Director, Ignite School Dubai

“There is a shortage of high-quality mid-range US curriculum schools in Dubai.

We looked at many different state standards, and felt that New York Standards were robust and educationally sound

In addition, New York is a large and populous state, giving us a larger pool of exceptional potential teachers for Ignite American School.

This is an important consideration when starting up a school because the quality of teachers means everything.

Jason Kirwin, Chief Executive Officer, Ignite School Dubai Holding Group

Ignite School Dubai is a newly announced Pre-K to Grade 12 US curriculum School offering an American education based on the New York Common Core standards that will open in Al Warqa 3 Dubai on the 9th September 2018. Initially Ignite American School will open to Grade 5, with phased launches of subsequent phases following children as they grow with the school to Grade 12 in successive years. The school occupies a large, circa 6-acre site footprint and is being purpose-built, ground-up.

Map showing the location of Ignite School in Dubai

Ignite School Dubai sits within a cluster of Al Warqa schools including the International School of Arts and Science (more here), Our Own High School, here, Primus Private School, Sharjah American International School; and the out-lier GEMS Our Own English High School, reviewed here. The school’s location draws in a catchment including Mushraf Park and Dubai Festival City catchments.

Our first Hard Hat Tour took place on Monday 21st May 2018 – see below.



Image of the frontage to the Ignite School opening in Dubai in 2018

Elementary phase school facilities at Ignite School at launch will include an ELC indoor playroom; ENL centre; Music studio; Black Box Theatre studio space; Art space; Science lab; “Makers and Robotics” lab; Learning Support Centre and Library; IT lab; and multiple Learning spaces.

As the Middle and High Schools come on stream in phased launch, facilities will expand considerably to include multiple Science Labs focused on the individual Sciences and further facilities across the Arts and Performing Arts, specialist Higher education Centre providing individualised career and further education advice; Music Studio.

Images of the planned Ignite School in Dubai showing the interior and exterior of the building in a multitude of aspects

Shared facilities at Ignite School include a Swimming pool (with changing rooms); (shaded) multipurpose hard court; AstroTurf 5-a-side football field; dedicated ELC outdoor play area; dedicated Elementary School play area; indoor multipurpose sports hall and Auditorium; Fitness studio; dedicated grass areas with seating for social activities; dedicated prayer rooms for boys and girls; and an Indoor dining area serving hot meals.


Curriculum, ECAs and Special features

Interior render showing planning for the new Ignite School in Dubai

Stand-out features of Ignite School announced so far include:

(1) Concentration on languages. Ignite School will provide dedicated languages provision for Arabic with Spanish and French as second- language options for learners.

(2) Eco-environmental curriculum. All students will access an environmental curriculum focus through a study of agriculture through gardening and learning to maintain a spectrum of easy to grow crops within and around the campus. Food-based instructional concepts, ideas and activities will be developed within the curriculum as a means of showing the relevance of food to nutrition. On a  broader note, families will be encouraged to support and promote healthy eating in their home and prepared lunches, and the canteen will provide healthy lunch options by default.

(3) Curriculum. Much thought has gone into choosing the New York based curriculum focus for the school. More below:

Ignite School New York Teaching Standards


(4) ROI and value for parents. On the basis of planned provision, Ignite School is meeting its ambition to provide high quality schooling at the lower end of mid-fees expectations. With fees running at Elementary phases from DHS 28000 at Pr-K to DHS 35,000 in Grade 5, fees offer, in our view, very high value. It has now been confirmed exclusively to that incremental fee levels will rise by only DHS 1000 per annum between subsequent phases to full all-through entry in Grade 12. Grade 12 fees will peak at DHS 44,000 – at the lowest end of mid-tier fees in Dubai.

(5) STEM. Provision for Robotics and Engineering related schooling is being invested in from Day 1 with dedicated Labs.

(6) Focus on families, engaging parents and building community engagement. Ignite School is being built ground up to follow the John Hopkins University National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) six-point framework to set a benchmark for how each child’s education can be improved – and their potential achieved, using research based best practice proved in US schools. To our knowledge, Ignite American School will be the first in the UAE to formalise NNPS as a core element of leadership, teaching, parental relationships and care of students. Every parent automaticaly joins the Ignite School Parents association and a parent will be represented, with the Owners, on the School Board.

(67) Most importantly for parents, we have a secure commitment from Ignite American School that it will offer Advanced Placement options at High School:

“As an Authorized American school, we are absolutely committed to Advanced Placement courses.

These offerings have been thoughtfully planned and are on the horizon for our High School students, once our High School years open.

We have not included much information regarding our Middle or High School programs, since we are only opening Pre K – 5 and these will come later..

However, in hindsight, your review has encouraged us to include more information, including our tentative listing of courses that our high school students, these showing our commitment to AP.

Our web site will reflect this shortly.”

Veronica L Griffin, NBCT, M.Ed, Director, Ignite School Dubai

This is important and creditable – the reasons for this can be found here in the Official Guide to the US High School Diploma. By offering Advanced Placement, Ignite is putting the bar high and the value proposition here gains exceptional strength for parents.


Specially discounted fees for founding families

Ignite School has confirmed that it is providing launch discounts for founding families joining the school in the first year. All families who make full payment no later that September 8th 2018 will receive a 7.5% discount. All families who make their complete payment, no later than April 7th 2019 will receive a 5% discount. April 7th is the deadline for all 3rd term payments, thus all families making regularly schedules payments will all receive a first year discount of 5%. Ignite School has confirmed that it will offer sibling discounts of 5% each year thereafter. Hard Hat Tour May-June 2018

Construction photographs of Ignite School Dubai showing work in progress as part of the schoolscompared Hard Hat Tour 2018

As usual with early-stage Hard hat tours we found a school in too early a stage of build to provide significant detail. However, what should be of value to parents is to note that the build has begun and is ambitious. Photographs will follow shortly.
As it stands:
  • Phase 1 will be finished by the end of June 18.  This block 2 story will house Pre KG and grades 4 & 5
  • Phase 2 will be finished by the end of August 18.  This block 2 story will eventually house grades 1, 2 & 3.
  • Phase 3 which will see the development of Middle and High School facilities will follow in alignment with the phased launch of these years
During our tour we noted a number of interesting features:
  • A canteen area is being built overlooking the gym.  The design is intimate with supporting landscaped and shaded areas outside the school for children to enjoy their lunches.
  • Ignite School design is focused on inspiring a culture of warmth by leveraging seated areas within corridors with trees and design features designed to inspire children’s learning
  • The class “cubbies” will be flush with no handles and a hidden opening mechanism so that entrances resemble the walls of the school.  Each “Cubby” area will include audio-visual facilities to communicate information digitally.
  • Elementary, Middle & High school phases will all have their own designated Principal when the school opens to full phase provision. The aim is to ensure that each phase of school life is properly designed around the needs of children at each phase of their education. There is particular concern to ensure that younger children are given every opportunity to celebrate their childhood.
  • The second floor of the Middle School there will house Science, IT, Music, Art, the Maker/STEM lab, Multi purpose room & a Black Box theatre.
  • There will be 2 playgrounds for Early/Elementary years.
  • Middle and High school will have their own congregational/recreational area.
  • Ignite sports facilities will include one outdoor pool, a football pitch and multi-purpose basketball/tennis courts.
  • The Ignite School agricultural spaces will enable children to grow produce and develop horticultural skills. The aim is that business and numerical skills will be developed through in-house commercial activities within the school shop, these also provding feedback to the children for the value of their work and creativity.


Ignite American School Bottom Line? The verdict for parents

Image showing the entrance to Ignite School Dubai in Dubai opening in September 2018

With all new schools there are benefits and risks. The clearest benefit for founding parents is having the opportunity to join a school from launch and have the chance to engage with the school’s culture and evolution. Equally, risks come from an unproven school  and the inevitable teething problems that inevitably come in the early days of a school’s life. As the school approaches its launch in September it may well be that Founding Discounts are offered, these fairly par for the course with new schools opening in the UAE. These are early days however. Our Had Hat Tour of the development will enable us to better advise parents on the quality of build and the investment in design and facilities.

As it stands, however, it is clear that, at least on paper, Ignite School Dubai has the promise of an important new school for the American schools sector. In particular, the confirmation of Advanced Placement provision provides parents the certainty, at the outset,that the choice required at later phases will be delivered – avoiding any need to move children later to secure the level of qualifications required for entrance to universities worldwide.

At, our view is that Ignite School in planning and promised delivery gives much to inspire parents and, if delivered to plan, the school will set a new, and high, benchmark for schools operating at this level of fees.

© 2018

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

NA - School in planning
(1) First Inspection due 2019-20

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA - School in planning
(1) First Inspection due 2019-20

Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

NA - new school in planning phase

Average Cost Per Year

Pre Primary: 28,000
KG1: 29,000
KG2: 29,000
GRADE 1: 33,000
GRADE 2: 34,000
GRADE 3: 35,000
GRADE 4: 36,000
GRADE 5: 37,000
GRADE 6: 38,000 - Phased launch 2019-20
GRADE 7: 39,000 - Phased launch 2020-21
GRADE 8: 40,000 - Phased launch 2021-22
GRADE 9: 41,000 - Phased launch 2022-23
GRADE 10: 42,000 - Phased launch 2022-23
GRADE 11: 43,000 - Phased launch 2022-23
GRADE 12: 44,000 - Phased launch 2022-23


(1) US New York State P-12 Common Core learning standards (Languages, Arts, Mathematics)
(2) Next Generation Science Standards
(3) MoE Social Studies, Islamic and Arabic Education
(4) John Hopkins University National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) community and parental engagement approach embedded within the curriculum

External Exam Boards

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation in process


Fully academically, culturally and SEND inclusive subject to (1) & (2) below
(1) Pre-K to Grade 1: "Children are assessed and observed in groups of at least three students. Five main criteria are considered for successful entrance. Children must be age appropriate for their grade; be able to separate from their caregiver and demonstrate a readiness to participate in the classroom; be bathroom independent; be able to engage in an activity following verbal or non-verbal direction; and be able to demonstrate fine and gross motor skill development at age appropriate level."
(2) "Grade 2 to 12 are to include a transcript (school report) for the most recent completed grade. Students should have a passing level of achievement. Students and parents will be invited to discuss their application with the Director and Admissions Officer."

Waiting list


Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

2150 capacity on full all through launch to Grade 12
(1) Expected role at launch: 500+ students to Grade 5 only

Teacher to Student Ratio

To be confirmed

Largest nationality teachers


Teacher turnover

NA: school in planning phase

Year opened

September 2018


Al Warqa 3, Dubai

Student composition

(1) Expected significant Emirati role


Mixed, co-educational

School canteen



Retaj Investments
(1) Jason Kirwin, Chief Exceutive Officer

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0)50 891 5900

Web Address

• Very good published facilities provision planned from launch
• Strong ROI on fees for a US school
• Meets call for choice in US school sector
• Planned language provision and Emirati programmes
• Embedded community and parental engagement ethos drawn from John Hopkins
• New York state standards
• Published commitment to Advanced Placement


• Inevitable teething problems of any new school

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• Examples of innovation in curriculum planning, impressive architectural modeling, high ROI based on planned facility provision and Advanced Placement, amongst other features, suggest a potentially benchmark school. These are very early days however. Watch this space.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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