Jumeira Baccalaureate School, Jumeirah 1
• Outstanding all-through IB curriculum in place
• New leadership making a mark with the buy-in of parents
• Taaleem backing
• Outstanding governance – investing, committed and passionate about the school, its potential and the success of its students
• Genuine inclusivity with SEN and curriculum provision to match
• Outstanding facility provision
• Significant Emirati role and cultural investment within a genuinely outstanding, inspirational international student population
• Innovative IB CP Programme meeting the needs of the school’s inclusive intake
• IB PYP in place and awaiting IB certification
• Sporting facilities and committment
• A potentially Outstanding KHDA school not yet meeting its obvious potential
• High fees place the school in a hugely competitive space
• Staff turnover and changes to leadership
• Poor transparency and information provision for prospective parents
• No advertised scholarship or bursary provision
Spread over 8 acres of landscaped grounds, and in one of the best locations in Dubai, Taaleem’s Jumeira Baccalaureate School [JBS] is one of the flagship International Baccalaureate [IB] schools in the Emirates, with facilities and IB programmes competing with the best in Dubai.
The IB World school provides an inclusive, co-educational education to 975 children between the ages of 3 and 16, through Pre-K to Year 12 grades, with complete IB provision across the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), IB Middle Years Programme (IB MYP), Diploma Programme (IB DP), and the IB Career-related Programme (IB CP).
The school provides a slipstream for all of the three Taaleem “The Children’s Garden” nurseries at Jumeirah 2, Al Barsha 2 and Green Community who receive priority places into Grade 1 at JBS.
JBS does much exceptionally well but for those parents interested in moving their children to the school we have some areas to point out.
The first of these is a 26% staff turnover rate which, whilst not in itself unusual in Dubai (20-22 percent is around the average), includes three changes in leadership since 2014. Whatever the rationale for this, the impacts of leadership changes inevitably impact on schools, creating periods of transition that need to be very carefully managed so as not to impact on students.
The second of these is in JBS transparency and the level of information it makes available to prospective parents.
We do not believe the school currently provides anywhere near the level of information prospective parents need to be able to evaluate or benchmark the school for their child(ren). The lack of information stretches across almost every area of information we believe that parents require, and should expect from, a Tier 1 premium school.
One example of this is the complete lack of detailed, JBS relevant information about any of the IB programmes run by the school. Instead, prospective parents are provided with generic, re-hashed IB information and directed to the IB for further information. There is no information on course content, subject choices, IB Diploma scoring, examination performance, added value, the number of children who study for the Diploma (or the excellent Career-related programme) – in fact, as it stands, JBS might as well have simply re-directed parents to the IB web site in toto. Very limited information about university destinations does nothing to address the fundamental issue that without baseline data, prospective parents simply have no information on which to make a decision.
To put some context to this, the best, most transparent schools publish curriculum handbooks for each stage of provision, clearly identifying the individual courses available to students, how they are taught, inspirational features of each course and how studying those courses will benefit each child.
These handbooks enable parents to identify the degree to which a school is able to meet the individual talents and skills of individual students, and provide a means for prospective parents to hold schools to account. Equally, the most transparent schools provide, parent and student handbooks, vibrant newsletters, school prospectuses – a gamut of information that brings schools to life for prospective parents – and provide the tools parents need to benchmark provision.
With these two caveats excepted, there are many positives.
Most impressive, and stand-out, is the extensive IB provision which maps very closely onto the school’s genuine commitment to be inclusive.
We are exceptionally impressed by the school’s provision of the International Career-related Programme (IB CP). One of our issues with the IB historically has been its impact later on lower to mixed ability children in pushing them to its flagship IB Diploma programme – which whilst hugely impressive and academically stretching, clearly does not meet the needs of a significant number of less academically able, but equally otherwise talented students.
The IB CP programme resolves this, delivering an extraordinary, hugely inspirational programme of inclusive study that takes the best of the IB Core, adds moderated IB academic subject choices, and a more relaxed, kinder approach to language study, and then provides students with a vocational qualification (in this case a BTEC) much better suited to the gifts of many children as its focus. This is an area of provision that JBS deserves significant acclaim for providing.
Prospective parents should also be aware that the Primary Years and Middle Years IB programmes are both intrinsically inclusive. There still remains a worry, unfounded, that IB schools are only for academic children. The IB Diploma excepted, this is resolutely not the case – both primary and middle years IB programmes are inclusive at their core – and when delivered effectively, provide all children with the opportunity to develop their gifts and talents, whatever their ability.
As above, our core frustration is that not all IB schools are the same. Parents need to understand how, in detail, JBS delivers, how it innovates, how it makes each programme its own. It does all these things – but simply does not let prospective parents know this.
Facilities are Tier 1 across sporting and academic provision, distributed across its four main buildings (a dedicated Primary block, the J Building; a Grades 3 -5 ‘BACC building’; a combined senior school and library block, ‘the Library Building’; and a shared multi-facility across sports, music, performing arts and academics with rooftop tennis courts, ‘the S Building.’ Facilities stretched across each include, a whole-school digital campus; fabulous multi-purpose auditorium and elementary gym; central and Primary libraries (the latter with a media centre); (sound proofed) music rooms; digital design classrooms; drama studios and spaces; visual arts studio; music practice rooms; multiple internal and (shaded) external play areas for Pre-K and younger children; Primary PE Hall; Health Centre; Prayer Rooms; multiple Science Laboratories by subject specialism; language centres; product design studio; cafeteria; dance studio; and established, inspiring landscaped grounds that can be enjoyed by the whole school.
Sports facilities include a FIFA spec flood-lit grass football pitch; 25M shaded swimming pool; two large gymnasiums, Senior indoor sports hall; basketball courts, two roof-top tennis courts (above).
Whilst the school lacks the bells, whistles, metal, chrome and architectural innovations of the ultra-premiums, functionally it matches their provision – a defining feature of Taaleem schools is to focus investment on spaces that work (light and airy) and facilities that meet student need, potential and aspiration. Given that the school, excepting its new buildings, are in many cases some 40 years old, the general feel of provision is an impressive balance of warmth and the state-of-the-art that new builds cannot match.
ECAs are equally impressive ranging from the spectrum of sports (cricket, football, swimming, tennis, rugby, volleyball, basketball, badminton, …) to clubs for Arabic; the Quran; dance; LEGO Robotics; guitar; Yoga; “Rock Choir”; Arabic dance; drama, Chess; cooking; Spanish; Manga; kick boxing; rugby; “Desert Dance”; choir, public speaking, Model United Nations, The Duke of Edinburgh Award; French; Student Council; and, the Scholars Cup. There are annual camps for Primary and Secondary students and overseas options for Secondary students.
Leveraging the school’s extensive sporting provision is a clear driver for JBS’s new Principal, Richard Drew. A Sports Scientist by training, Mr Drew earned his Masters from the UK’s top sports university, Loughborough. A Deputy Head at Biddenham, a specialist sports school, for eight years, he was recruited to Taaleem as Director of Teaching and Learning before moving to Taaleem’s IB Greenfield Community School as Vice Principal. He joined Jumeira Baccalaureate in 2015. As the school notes: “A keen sportsman, Richard is a former first class Rugby Player in the UK. He now competes in triathlon events and coaches rugby in his spare time. Richard’s involvement in high level team sport has helped him develop a distributed leadership style that supports collaboration, growth and improvement.” Tellingly, the KHDA state that Mr Drew has “swiftly made his mark”, and, critically, this has “been recognised by parents.”
It is worth noting that in one area of school transparency JBS is to be applauded, in publishing the names of all staff, faculty and otherwise. This recognises that an outstanding school is the work of many, and not just leadership – and also serves to build staff retention. We wish that all teaching staff, not just school leadership, however, had the opportunity to provide bios and photos as is best practice with the most transparent schools.
KHDA inspections have consistently rated JBS a “Good School” with outstanding features. Latterly these include exceptional whole child development; outstanding links with parents and genuinely impressive, accountable, investing and committed school governance. In 27 out of the 41 non-student achievement areas of graded by the KHDA, JBS scores “Very Good” or “Outstanding” – here all the foundations are in place for the school to finally reach the KHDA higher grading that clearly drive Taaleem’s ambition for arguably its flagship school.
Where the school performs less well, but still, on the whole, to a “good” standard, is in the basic attainment and progress of its students across every phase of IB provision. We hope that the investment in the IB CP, and the move to the fabulous and naturally flowing IB PYP programme (replacing an adapted UK Early Years Curriculum with international elements) will provide the better integration, and inspiration, needed for less academic children in earlier phases of the IB and later to match their individual talents, abilities and potential.
Certainly, where the real costs of any school lie too, investing in staff – their number and calibre, JBS delivers with its focus on recruiting (and retaining) predominantly (expensive) British faculty and maintaining small class sizes (between 15 and 25 students) with a 1:11 student: teacher ratio.
The picture then is mixed. There are issues with the turnover of leadership and school transparency. Both are serious. However, both can be resolved. Everything looks to now be in place to secure the continuity of (outstanding) school leadership the school needs after a period of considerable flux. The curriculum too is finally structured to be able to meet, and deliver to, the needs of all of its impressively inclusive intake. The school has the hard part out of the way – JBS clearly has a story to tell, it just needs now to actually tell it to the prospective parents that need to hear it.
The trajectory now, with these in place, is towards realising the potential of a KHDA Outstanding school clearly in the making. We are optimistic, but time will tell.Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to BEST IB SCHOOLS on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
FS1: 56,131 (Pre-KG)
FS2: 56.131 (KG1)
YEAR 1: 56,131 (KG2)
YEAR 2: 72,970 (Grade 1)
YEAR 3: 72,970 (Grade 2)
YEAR 4: 72,970 (Grade 3)
YEAR 5: 72,970 (Grade 4)
YEAR 6: 72,970 (Grade 5)
YEAR 7: 72,970 (Grade 6)
YEAR 8: 72,970 (Grade 7)
YEAR 9: 72,970 (Grade 8)
YEAR 10: 72,970 (Grade 9)
YEAR 11: 72,970 (Grade 10)
YEAR 12: 84,197 (Grade 11)
YEAR 13: 84,197 (Grade 12)
International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme [IB PYP] [Candidate]
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme [IB MYP]
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme [IB DP]
International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme [IB CP]
(1) The school is not transparent in publishing benchmark performance data for parents
(1) The school is not transparent in publishing benchmark performance data for parents
(1) Places are awarded only after passing a placement assessment, student interview and former school reports
(2) The school provides full English as an Additional Language [EAL] support
(3) Most children with learning or language support needs can have them met in school
(4) An Individual Action Plan (IEP) may require extra resources requiring additional costs which will be discussed and agreed with parents
(5) The school says it is strongly committed to supporting children with Additional Learning requirements and SEN provided they can access the curriculum
(6) The KHDA note that "an inclusive ethos is a marked feature of the school's policy and practice and the curriculum developments bear this out." 
Class size: 15 Students (minimum) - 25 Students (maximum)
Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Emirati (largest nationality): 243
Total nationalities: 85
Special Educational Needs (SEN): 49
Student Age Range: Youngest 3 - Oldest 18
+971 (0) 4 344 6931, ext 205
+971 (0) 4 344 6931, ext 209