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South View School, Remraam Community, Dubailand – The Review
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Review

South View School, Remraam Community, Dubailand – The Review

by September 21, 2019
Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

Rating Secondary / Middle

Phased Launch from September 2019

Type of school

Private, for-profit
Note:
(1) Whilst the school does not advertise itself as not-for-profit, the group is known for delivering high quality schooling at an affordable fee level on the direction of the school's owners to extend quality education to the broadest number of parents. Profit is identified specifically as not a major driver of schools in the group.

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 43,000 - discounted to 39,900
FS2: 43,000 - discounted to 39,900
YEAR 1: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 2: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 3: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 4: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 5: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 6: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 7: 56,500 - discounted to 51,500
YEAR 8: 56,500 - discounted to 52,500
YEAR 9: 56,500 - discounted to 53,000
YEAR 10: 61,500
YEAR 11: 61,500
YEAR 12: 61,500
YEAR 13: 61,500

Curriculum

British
Notes:
(1) EYFS
(2) IGCSE
(3) A' Level

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology and Technical Stream options through BTEC

A Levels offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology and Technical Stream options through BTEC

A Level A* to A

Phased launch

A Level A* to C

Phased launch

IGCSE A* to C

Phased launch

IGCSE A* to A

Phased launch

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology with BTEC slipstreams to/at Sixth Form

I/GCSEs offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology with BTEC slipstreams to/at Sixth Form

Selective

Fully inclusive

Waiting list

No

Number of Students

260+ (May 2019)
Capacity: 1800
Notes:
(1) Approximate split 900 Primary and 900 Secondary on all-through opening)

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:25
Notes:
(1) Class size is capped at a maximum of 25 children with 6 x FS1, 6 x FS2, 4 X Year 1 classes.
(2) The school opened in September 2018 to Year 7 initially.
(3) Year 8 will open in 2019.

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

School in phased launch
Notes
(1) Teacher turnover is low across other Interstar schools

Year opened

September 2018

Location

Remraam Community, Dubailand, Dubai

Student composition

International/inclusive
Notes:
(1) Significant provision for native languages although, given the low fee levels, these come with a supplementary cost for parents

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Interstar Advisory Services
Notes
(1) Dinesh C. Kothari, Chairman

Admissions Telephone

04 589 7904
Notes:
(1) Email: [email protected]

Web Address
Strengths

• High value fee structure balancing affordability with premium facilities hitherto not seen in this segment
• Heritage of proven delivery, including the excellent Victory Heights Primary School on which the Primary phase has been modelled
• Commitment to outstanding breadth and depth of subject choice at GCSE, A level and BTEC
• Language specialism
• Focus on Tennis
• Outstanding facility provision
• School design and architecture
• High calibre of school leadership
• Individualised learning and focus on/celebration of individual children
• Potential for outstanding sport provision as school role grows
• High quality of schooling drawing parents from very broad catchment
• Rare school design providing self-contained schooling and facilities for Primary, Middle and Sixth Form designed to meet the needs of children at different phases and protect childhood at primary phase.

Weaknesses

• Location will be a frustrating issue for some parents given high quality of offer
• Additional language fees, although this is understandable given the fee levels and the majority of schools do not even provide the options.
• Any new school in phased launch phase presents a balance of risk and opportunity (although this comes with the balancing positive of playing a role in the formation of school identity)
• No dedicated auditorium for the Arts (although an amphitheatre provides some balance)

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

South View School is already delivering on its promise and ambition, and re-defining what parents can expect from British curriculum schooling in this fee segment. Only in its first year, South View School shows what can be achieved with an owner committed to a more finely tuned balance of profit to favour parents and families over returns. This is a very interesting, potentially game-changing school in the making that is hugely popular with parents - particularly in the way it sets itself apart in concentrating on - and celebrating - individual children. Leadership and faculty outstanding. Creditable success in hosting 2019 BSME Games strongly suggestive of sporting potential as school role grows. Although an eventual 1800 capacity school (even this small by Dubai new school standards), this is a school defined by its British community school ethic and culture. Scoring is provisional and based on published commitments and a school in phased launch. Recommended.

A-
Our Rating
A
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
40%
In my Top 5
12%
Shortlisted
19%
A possibility
16%
Pass
5%
No way
10%

South View School – Updated September 2019 – Exclusive SchoolsCompared.com visits update, First Year overview and confirmation of GCSE and A level

“We are not profit driven. Our main drivers [instead] are our teachers and our students….

At the end of the day, a good school is shaped by the quality of its teachers. Not the buildings, swimming pools or playgrounds….

Eventually a school will be known by [what really matters] – the quality of the faculty, the teaching staff, that it has provided for its children.”

Dinesh C. Kothari, Chairman, Interstar Education [Source: Khaleej Times, May 2017]

“Our vision at Interstar is to develop a small portfolio of outstanding, high quality schools at affordable fee points. Recruitment of highly qualified staff, provision of excellent facilities and engaging with our stakeholders – including our parents, are the core of that philosophy. South View School aims to deliver on that vision.”

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GEMS_INARTICLE

Amit Kothari, Director, Interstar Education

“Our vision at South View is to enable our students to become responsible citizens, confident individuals and successful learners, who will have their eyes on the stars …..with their feet on the ground.

Education needs to be interesting and children need to be eager, engaged and purposeful at school.

They should come in skipping and be sad to leave – not sad to come and skipping to leave.

At some point, every child, each and every year needs the light to shine on them. Every child should have the chance to have the spotlight fall on them, have their moment. At South View we are building a school of opportunities for every child to shine.

Yes, there can only be one Head Boy or Girl – but we endeavor to create as many opportunities as there are children. Everybody should get their day.

When we all look back on our school days, it is this that is the stuff of which memories are made. This philosophy of shining a light and creating sparkle for every single child is at the absolute core of what makes South View School stand out in a UAE filled to bursting with giant corporate schools in which it is far too easy for children to be lost in a very large crowd. We are absolutely child-first here – and that matters.

Joanne Wells, Founding Principal, South View School Dubai

Background and location

Photograph of children playing in the outdoor jungle gym at the British curriculum South View School in Dubai

South View School is a new British curriculum FS1 – Year 13 all-through on a circa 4.2 acre site in the Remraam community in Dubailand.

South View School is situated between Jebel Ali Free Zone and Al Maktoum International Airport.

Map showing the location of the new South View School in Dubailand which will offer an all-through British curriculum to students when it pens across all phases following its launch in September 2018

South View School is the first British all-through to open in the Remraam Community and is targeted to become the one-stop British all-through educational hub for the landmark project as well as providing a draw for parents at the Southern edges of Dubai Sports City, Arabian Ranches and Motor City. To date, the school attracts families from as far away as Mirdif – and a number of families have specifically re-located to the Remraam community to attend the school.

The school launched in September 2018 and opened initially to Year 7, phasing its full all-through launch through to 2022. School capacity is set at a maximum of 1800 children on full opening, a relatively small school by Dubai new school standards. class size is capped at 25 children.

The school defines itself as the leading school in the UAE to balance genuinely premium British community schooling but with affordable fees. It was set up from Day One to be powerfully responsive to the current financial climate in Dubai. In practice this extends, for example, to minimising on-going costs for parents in, for example, school events. Perception amongst parents is of very good ROI.

South View has very strong British school roots – the sense is of a British community school. A key aim is to differentiate itself from giant corporate schools in which children become just a number. A sense of a family orientated, British community school is the aim rather than one in which children are moving into a small city.

Parents come from as far as Mirdif with up to an hour long commute. 90 children come from the Remraam community (around a third).

A Number of families have moved to South View from GEMS Metropole, GEMS Founders, Jebel Ali and Choueifat. South View is the secondary feeder school too for its outstanding sister Victory Heights Primary School.

Young student on a slide at South View School in Dubai. The school has invested heavily in outdoor play equipment for children to develop motoring skills and balance formal classroom based teaching of the EYFS curriculum.

Major events held at the school in 2019, including the BSME Games have firmly established its reputation in the UAE. South View School also hosted the Big Sing, involving 12 schools. Its school visits programme this year has included opera performances for children.

As above, South View School has been opened by Interstar Education, best known within the British sector for their highly rated Victory Heights Primary School.

Interstar is also known for its KHDA rated Very Good (with Outstanding Features) Delhi Private School and the Wonder Years Nursery in Dubai Sports City.

For parents, this should provide a degree of confidence that the school has been set up by experienced founders with a proven track record of delivering very well thought of and successful schools. We rate Victory Heights Primary School, the slipstream feeder to South View School, as one of the highest performing dedicated primary schools in the region.

Total investment in the school amounts to some AED55M (US$ 15M).

What makes South View School different?

South View School differentiates itself by providing

  • Firstly, a premium school offer (in terms of facilities and the calibre of teaching staff) at low fee levels for the quality of provision;
  • Secondly, specialist language provision to ensure that all native second language speakers also receive teaching in their mother tongue (the aim being to ensure children are bi/tri lingual with English as far as possible),
  • Thirdly, a specialist sports focus on tennis; and,
  • Fourthly, a focus on individual children and small school British community driven dynamics
  • Finally, a powerful commitment to extensive subject breadth and choice at both GCSE and A level as the school works to all-through British National Curriculum provision for students.

More on each of these below…..

Design and architecture

Image showing South View School's key role as the British all-through educational hub for the Remraam Community in Dubai

South View School was designed and built by ENBT Reit. On our first visit to South View School in October 2018 we noted considerable attention to detail with inset Arabic-styled coloured glass light panels and multi-height buildings. Whilst later years and Sixth Form provision is still in development, the thought we have seen invested in Early Years and Primary learning evidence a clear commitment to avoid the blocky, low-cost architectural design of schools more common in this fee segment.

The intention is clearly to provide an inspirational space for children – and one that re-enforces and works with the cultural feel of the broader Remraam community.

Photograph of the side vista of South View School in Dubai showcasing the attention to detail in landscaping

On our first inspection we also found much to substantiate the claims of Interstar that, despite its fees,  the group will be delivering to Dubai parents, on all-through launch, a school situated squarely within the ambitions of the premium schools sector.

Interestingly, the school’s design team and architects are said to have worked historically with Frank Gehry, the extraordinary architect behind the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and its planned namesake Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Rendered image showing attention to architectural detail in the plans for the new South View School in Dubai with Arabic styled coloured glass panels

Our general view, after our first three visits to the school in 2019, is of a hugely inspiring school that is still developing its overall identity. Significant parts of the school remain in design and build, in preparation for the opening of the Secondary school – this is understandable given the carefully managed plan to phase launch of the school and much later provision for older children. It should be remembered that South View School, as of May 2019, has only been opened for two terms. Progress has been remarkable. Opening with 147 children, today the South View School role numbers some 260 children to Year 7.

In September 2019 South View School aims to:

  • Open its Secondary school provision from Year 8, expanding the school role to some 500 plus children.
  • Double teaching faculty numbers from 25 currently (plus teaching assistants) to 50 teachers
  • Strengthen further its MFL Department (currently with stand-out provision in French and Spanish)
  • Extend Community outreach in the Remraam community. Today  swimming and tennis courts have become a hub of community life. From next year South View School plans to start night school courses, for example in jewellery-making and pottery to strengthen the ways the school currently brings families together.
  • As an inclusive school, strengthen EAL and SEN support still further with creation of a dedicated SEN Department.
  • Further strengthen the sporting underpinnings of the school with inter-sport competition and recruitment of a Director of Sport.
  • Strengthen Arts provision with a series of events and activities focused around use of the school’s amphitheatre.
  • Dedicated Art, Design and Technology departments open in September 2019.
  • Opening of a new STEM facility in Primary phase

Our 2019 visits confirm our view that the scale and quality of the classrooms and overall space is such as to ensure a blank canvas for any number of possible design, curriculum and visual outcomes for the school as it evolves in all these areas and more.

Subjectively we would still prefer a greater concentration on lighter, primary colour-ways for the school, but considerable investment in school furniture and the celebration of children’s work across the school has gone along way to create balance.

Facilities

The competition 6-lane Swimming Pool at South View School in Dubai

Facilities at South View School include separate, dedicated Science, Art, music, IT, language and athletic facilities for Foundation Stage, Primary and Secondary, supported by separate playgrounds, play areas and social spaces for each age group. The ambition is very much to provide all the benefits of an all-through education for children, whilst still providing for the very individual needs of each child at each phase of their education.

To this end, the separate FS phases have their own self-contained ground floor block, with dedicated indoor and outdoor facilities including two FS indoor activity areas, FS Multi-Purpose Hall,  separate splash pool; and, an FS Playground.

Dedicated FS Play Area at South View school in Dubai designed to develop motoring skills

Facilities are said to have been designed ground-up to meet the needs of younger children. Sunlit spaces and multiple “whimsical touches” are evident “creating a feel of an active and stimulating children’s learning zone.”

FS classrooms have their own dedicated outdoor areas providing a range of curriculum-linked, outdoor learning activities including  water and sand play, mark-making, sensory and construction activities, role play and small world play. FS phases have their own permanent outdoor playground area and (as above) a separate Multi-Purpose Hall.

Image of a child designed to highlight the messy play activities that will be central to developing motoring skills and inspiring younger children at FS phases at South View School Dubai

This should appeal to the significant number of parents who choose to send children to dedicated Primary schools to ensure that they are protected from the pressures that come from being educated with older children. Benefits of all-through schools include the certainty it provides to parents and children, the protection of peer group friendships, removal of post-Primary disruption and sustained knowledge of a child from a young age.

At South View School the aim is to clearly demarcate provision to ensure a cultural and educational separation that recognises the needs of children at Primary, Middle and Sixth Form phases. Again, for us, this provides substance to the claims of the school to be positioning itself within the premium school sector.

The South View School Primary block is again a distinct and self-contained zone, housed on the ground and first floor, separate from both Foundation and Secondary School phases. The Primary school has its own dedicated primary specialist facilities, including a Music Room, a STEM suite (consisting of a Science Lab and Computer Lab); Art Studio and a Primary Library. Investment in technology is significant including 3D printing, this building capacity in DT and technical stream education.

Example of Design and Technology technical stream education at South View School in Dubai with children being taught 3D printing

“These specialist facilities have been designed exclusively for the use of our primary school children and are accessible only to them.”

Interestingly the school directly references its sister Victory Heights Primary School as providing a model for the design and planning for the Primary school phase – and, as above, our very positive view of Victory Heights Primary School suggests that provision will be eventually outstanding as the school builds its role and meets this ambition and blueprint.

Photograph of the full sized sports fields looking on to the main school building at South View School in Dubai

Sports facilities including a floodlit competition football field; 25M temperature-controlled swimming pool; a smaller training pool for younger children; multiple outdoor roof courts; 3 dedicated tennis courts supporting the specialist tennis focus of the school; and, 3 Multi-Purpose Halls for a range of athletics.

Photograph of landmark sports facilities at the British curriculum South View School in Dubai highlighting the multi-purpose Sports Hall

On its own terms, it is worth noting that South View School will be the first specialist tennis school in the UAE and it is rare for a school to choose one key sport on which to focus attention. It does not mean that other sports are not catered for (as the facilities attest) – but it does mean that the school has nailed its colours firmly to one area it wants to excel in.

We think that is both brave and laudable.

The only omission is the rare choice by South School not to provide a dedicated auditorium for full scale theatre productions and broader use for school presentations. Instead, the focus at South View School has been on exceptional sporting infrastructure, investment that has reaped rewards, including hosting the BSME U11 Games in 2019:

We do think that the absence of an auditorium will be a loss for some children and we would have preferred building a theatre in one of the spaces currently used by the second and third sports halls. This would, however, lose the very clear independence of phases rightly celebrated by South View which offers complete facilities for Primary, Middle and Senior children. Parents will need to come to a view about just how important an omission this is for their children; there are always choices to be made in any school. In future years, as the school grows,  we do think that South View School should re-look at this. It is looking in September to address this in part by leveraging use of the school’s amphitheatre as the hub for Performance and the Performing Arts.

Languages

Render photograph of the frontage of the new British curriculum all-through South View School opening in Dubailand in September 2018

South View School identifies language provision and choice as one of the key ways it will differentiate itself from schools in its sector.  Investment in language teaching is already significant at launch and there is a clear emphasis on both protecting and nurturing the native language skills of children for whom English is a second language.

From Day One provision has been available in Spanish, Italian, Greek, Russian, French, German, Urdu and Hindi.  Southview School aims, further,  to provide support for all native languages, if at all possible, of those attending.

The aim is that this will create a genuinely multi-lingual school environment that helps all children, including native English speaking children, from across the cultural spectrum. Children, in this model, will learn from each other, with the ambitions of international schooling to build cultural understanding and language proficiency, so often promised by other schools, in the process made real and tangible. Too often, mother tongue proficiency (and often the substantive cultural roots that go with this) can be at least partially lost in schools whose focus is exclusively on English.

Children at South View School in Dubai reading together

Certainly this provide substance to the claims that this will be a genuinely inclusive international school.

Languages will be supported by specialist labs at all phases. It should be noted that extended language provision will require an additional investment by parents. Whilst some parents may be frustrated by this, we think the decision to keep baseline fees low and provide this as an option, has good rationale and credibility. It is worth bearing in mind that this scale of investment in languages is provided by very few schools in Dubai – and, where it is, often with limited breadth, at fee levels considerably above the baseline fees of South View School.

Fees

On the basis of our 2019 visit, we think that school fees provide exceptional value for parents for a pure British education.

The school achieves this with only a limited number of compromises:

First, there is a balanced, international mix of teachers in comparison with the purely British faculty characteristic of more expensive schools. British teachers, however, predominate.

Second, on a positive, the school’s location, and relatively lower cost of land, has allowed the owners to invest much more heavily in design, space, facilities and infrastructure. The trade-off is that the location may well be seen by some parents as off-pitch.

Baseline fees, running between 43,000 AED at FS phases to 61,500 AED at Sixth Form are, measured over a complete education, around half those of Dubai’s ultra-premiums.  Remaining two-year founding discounts of between DHS3000 and DHS7000, dependent on phase of entry, further enhance the value proposition for parents.

Year of EntryKHDA​ ​Fees 2018-2019 Founder​ ​Fees 2019-2020 Founder​ ​Fees 2020-2021
FS143,000​ ​AED39,900 AED
FS243,500​ ​AED39,900​ ​AED39,900 AED
Year​ ​144,000​ ​AED40,500​ ​AED41,250​ ​AED
Year​ ​244,000​ ​AED40,500​ ​AED41,250​ ​AED
Year​ ​344,000​ ​AED40,500​ ​AED41,250​ ​AED
Year​ ​444,000​ ​AED40,500​ ​AED41,250​ ​AED
Year​ ​544,000​ ​AED40,500​ ​AED41,250​ ​AED
Year​ ​644,000​ ​AED40,500​ ​AED41,250​ ​AED
Year​ ​756,500​ ​AED51,500​ ​AED51,500​ ​AED
Year​ ​856,500​ ​AED52,500​ ​AED52,500​ ​AED
Year​ ​956,500​ ​AED52,500​ ​AED53,500​ ​AED
Year​ ​1061,500​ ​AED56,000​ ​AED
Year​ ​1161,500​ ​AED
Year​ ​1261,500​ ​AED
Year 1361,500 AED

South View School – the SchoolsCompared Bottom line?

Artist's render of the new South View School in Dubai

Had South View School been one without a heritage of (highly successful) sister schools behind it, we would have been cautious given the balance of promised offer which provides for a premium education at mid-tier pricing.

However, we have already seen, in the British schools sector, what the founders have achieved at Victory Heights Primary School – and this gives us significant confidence that the promise of an outstanding school education at South View School will be delivered. It remains in 2019 hard to define the eventual character of the school, given the early phases of the school’s opening.

For many parents, location certainly will be an issue – and a frustration. This is exactly the type of school/fee combination that we know many parents are calling out for in more developed areas of the emirate. Generally, to secure this sort of education elsewhere parents are facing very big trade-offs – usually in both faculty and facility provision. There is a real trade-off decision to be made here by non-local parents between ROI, high quality education and low fees with higher fees and a more accessible location elsewhere. Given the number of families choosing to commute to the school it is clear that South View School is proving extremely attractive.

Children at South View School in Dubai learning through play in EYFS

This confirms our view that South View School, on its current promise and ambition, has the potential to rewrite the rule book of what can be delivered in this price bracket. The opportunities here are providing considerable temptation for parents from across Dubai.

Bottom Line? The SchoolsCompared.com Verdict on South View School 2019

Over visits to South View School in 2018 and 2019 we have found a school filled with life, happy children and school faculty clearly committed to the education of children. This is not a school where teachers (or school leadership) simply go through the motions.

As with all new schools in phased launch, however, there will always be risks. It does take time to build identity, reputation and guarantees. But this is a finely balanced equation in which, positively, on offer is the chance to be a founding family of a school that steadfastly has its heart in the right place – and one backed by owners who have proven they can deliver. What South View School has achieved in just two terms is extraordinary – and the future looks very bright.

Worth noting too that we found the Founding Principal, Joanne Wells, extremely ambitious for child achievement with a clear conviction that the school would evolve to be best in class. We found Ms Wells’ stated resolve to (1) build a community hub driven by parental engagement and respect; (2) ensure that every child has the chance to have the spotlight on them; and (3) ensure that the highest calibre of teaching at South View focus on value-add achievement exceeding global benchmarks of age-related provision, both inspiring and plausible.

As with any new school, it does remain too early to provide an unreserved recommendation.  This comes with all new school territory. Schools need time to bed-in provision and, through interaction with parents and children, develop their own identity and “heart.”

As of May 2019 we now have a powerful commitment from the school to extensive subject choice at GCSE, A Level and BTEC. This will include outlier prestige subjects critical to child choice including Business, Politics, Economics and Psychology as well as a range of BTEC option. On the basis of current school expertise and specialism we would expect this to include BTEC in Sport and Business although these are early days and this will need to be confirmed much later. This will place South View School’s curriculum offer at a level with the very best of the Tier 1 ultra-premium British schools operating in the UAE.

Picture of children playing at South View school in Dubai on specialist outdoor climbing frame facilities for younger children

On this basis, we believe that South View School Dubai is a definitely a school worthy of provisional shortlisting and opening a dialogue with the school’s Admissions Team to explore the detail of its offer further. In future years, for children interested in Sport, there are all the makings, in particular, of stand-out schooling. With eventual published breadth and depth of subject provision, technical and academic, and investment in the Performing and Fine Arts the value proposition will be pretty much unbeatable at this fee level given the quality of facilities and breadth of curriculum on offer.

Across the board, there is a huge amount that impresses here. Recommended.

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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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