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Uptown School, Mirdif
Academic
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Review

Uptown School, Mirdif

by March 26, 2016
Strengths

• Taaleem reputation
• Tier 1 facilities
• Premium fees offer good value in the context of a very high level of provision
• Outstanding PYP programme
• Significant investment in school leadership with capacity to drive improvements as the school beds in provision
• High investment in Special Educational Needs and English as an Additional Language provision

Weaknesses

• Some minor teething issues across staff turnover and Middle Years provision as the school beds in
• Clarity needed on IB Diploma strategy and offer for September 2016

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

• A genuinely impressive school with all the foundations in place to offer an effective and inspirational IB based all through education for its students

A-
Our Rating
A
User Rating
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Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
57%
In my Top 5
14%
Shortlisted
14%
A possibility
14%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

Updated May 2017

Taaleem’s Uptown School [UPS] is in the final stage of its phased launch that will see it reach complete all-through International Baccalaureate structured education from FS to Year 12 provision by September 2016. The school achieved Very Good school status in May 2017.

UPS offers near complete IB syllabus progression including the Primary and Middle Years programmes [IB PYP, IB MYP] culminating in the Diploma [IB DP].

The phased launch  follows the move of separate Uptown primary, middle and secondary schools to a single Uptown 300,000 square foot campus set within 14 acres of landscaped grounds adjacent to Mirdif Park in 2012.

Facilities are Tier 1 – and excellent. They include zoned areas for Early Years, Primary School and Secondary School phases; Early Years, Primary and Secondary libraries with Wi-Fi study rooms; a fully digital campus with wireless connectivity and integrated ICT; three fully equipped labs; two on-campus catering restaurants; performance theatre; multiple practice rooms for individual instruments; visual arts studios by phase;  DT studios for primary and secondary phases; dance facilities with fully sprung flooring; a 25-metre, eight-lane pool; separate gym; Early Years pool; two international standard football pitches; indoor basketball courts; outdoor tennis courts, track and field facilities for long jump and javelin; prayer rooms, clinic; SEN Centre; a 120-meter running track and multi-purpose sport activity spaces.

Total enrollment is 1251 plus students (up from 1052 in the previous academic year). An impressively diverse 81 nationalities are represented in the student body, but the single largest grouping of students at the school is Emirati, accounting for one fifth of students. This demonstrates Uptown’s considerable investment in English as an Additional Language [EAL], something that incurs considerable costs for a school and starts to make its premium level fees look considerably good value (and particularly with the current discounts offered by the school as it undergoes completion of its launch to full capacity).

Faculty and staff number 176 (up from 120 in 2013/14) with 109 (up from 89). The school also requires all teachers who do not hold education degrees to have university level teaching certifications in addition to their university degrees.

The primary section follows the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). The secondary section follows the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP). The school opens its complete Year 12 International Diploma Programme (IB DP) provision in September 2016.

Students from Grades 6 to 10 at Uptown follow the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) including subject provision in Arabic Language and Literature or Arabic Language Acquisition; English Language and Literature or English Language Acquisition; French Language Acquisition; Mathematics; Sciences; Individuals and Societies; Physical and Health Education; Design (Product Design and Digital Design); and the Arts (Music and Visual Arts). Muslim students also undertake Islamic Studies (although this does not form part of the MYP Programme.)

In addition, MYP study includes The Personal Project completed in Grades 9 and 10 and the Service as Action [SAA] programme requiring students to take an active part in the communities in which they live including an array of environmental projects and charity initiatives.

Uptown’s Arts program includes a violin ensemble; junior and senior choirs; a competitive dance team; percussion band; and MYP rock band ensemble. Students also participate in the World Scholars competition and Model UN academic teams.

Sports teams include boys and girls U16 basketball, U12, U14, U16 and U18 swimming (with junior and senior swim squads); Desert Dance; U12, U14, U16 and U18 “Aquathon” (Boys and Girls Teams); U12, U14 and U16 Boys Football teams; U12 and U14 Girls Football teams; U12, U14 and U16 Girls Netball; U12, U14, U16 and U18 Athletics (Boys and Girls Teams); U12 and U14 Girls Rounders; U12 and U14 Basketball (Boys and Girls Teams); and U13 and U15 Boys Cricket. Teams compete in Dubai Affiliated Schools Sports Association (DASSA) competition.

Music is heavily integrated within the curriculum with further stretch through Extra Curricular Activities [ECAs]. Students learn the ocarina in KG, the recorder in Grade 2, the violin in Grade 3 and guitar in Grade 6 as part of their music curriculum. Music continues in the Secondary School in classroom and senior ensemble studies. A 90-student choir; 35-student percussion band and lessons in an array of other instruments add to the diversity of the programme.

Other ECAs cover the gamut of academics, sports, Performing Arts, culture, music, crafts. media and general hobbies including Mother Tongue Club; Origami; German Foreign Language; Quran Reciting; Movement to Music; Public Speaking; Chess Club; Football; Badminton; Table Tennis; Basketball; Reading Club; Cursive Writing; Creative Writing; and a Construction Club.

Prospective parents should note that Uptown has an extremely strictly enforced nut-free school policy to protect children who have severe not allergies. No nut products are permitted in school, including includes Nutella chocolate spread and peanut butter. This will clearly be appreciated by the significant number of parents with children who have nut allergies.

It is too early to grade the academic performance of the school fairly or reliably. Inevitably a school of this scale and complexity will suffer teething problems and these, according to KHDA inspectors, seem to align with IB Middle Year phases. Taaleem’s reputation suggests that these will be ironed out quickly to match the “Outstanding” scoring by inspectors of Uptown’s PYP provision. Again, staff turnover and changes to leadership are to some degree to be anticipated as the school moves through its phased opening. The current Principal, Christopher Bromham, is highly regarded and a Mathematics and Sports Scientist by training. He carries impressive international experience including five years as the Assistant Head of Dubai English Speaking College [DESC] and six years at North London Collegiate School’s campus in Jeju, latterly as Vice Principal.

UPS has yet to publish its plans for the Diploma. One question prospective parents should ask is how (and whether) the school will stream students for whom the (extremely challenging) Diploma programme may not be suitable. Other IB schools offer parallel stream alternatives, and where schools are not English National Curriculum schools (which tend to offer a GCE A Level based alternative program), the offer is usually a school branded High School Certificate.

Feedback to our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has improved this year, and the primary school in particular continues to stand-out for for the use of the word “happy” by parents, teachers and students.

Subject to all the provisos that must come with any school in phased opening, because of Taaleem’s reputation, the feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from teachers and students, the breadth and quality of facility provision, and KHDA reporting of outstanding leadership and capacity for improvement, we believe Uptown should make it to the a shortlist of any prospective parents seeking a through IB education for their children.

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the MIRDIF GUIDE on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to TOP IB SCHOOLS on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com

 

Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Very Good

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Good

Type of school

Private, for profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2017-18

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS0: 52,190
FS1: 52,190
FS2: 52,190
YEAR 1: 62,628
YEAR 2: 62,628
YEAR 3: 62,628
YEAR 4: 62,628
YEAR 5: 62,628
YEAR 6: 73,066
YEAR 7: 73,066
YEAR 8: 73,066
YEAR 9: 73,066
YEAR 10: 73,066
YEAR 11: 80,000
YEAR 12: From September 2016
YEAR 13: NA

Curriculum

International Baccalaureate:
Primary Years Programme [IB PYP]
Middle Years Programme [IB MYP]
Diploma [IB DP]

External Exam Boards

International Baccalaureate Organisation [IBO]

IB DipM Pass Rate

Phased opening 2017-18

IB DipM Average Grade

Phased opening 2017-18

Selective

Yes
Notes:
(1) "All students applying to Uptown School are required to be assessed, regardless of age, grade, school or the country they are from."
(2) "Acceptance to Uptown School is contingent upon the results of the placement assessment, student interview and former school reports."
(3) "There will however be a limit to the number of children that we can admit with EAL needs at any one time."

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published (whichschooladvisor projected HIGH)

Number of Students

1251+

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:14
Pre KG/FS0: maximum of 20 per class
KG1 & KG2: maximum of 22 per class
Grades 1-10: maximum 26 per class
Grade 11: "variable depending on subject demand."

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

19%

Year opened

2012

Location

Mirdif, Dubai

Student composition

Emirati (largest nationality) but broad mix of nationalities from 85 countries
Emirati: 239
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 77

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Taaleem

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 251 5001

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

75%

Attainment Pri SEM

75%

Attainment Sec SEM

66.6%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

Phased opening 2017-18

Progress Nur SEM

75%

Progress Pri SEM

75%

Progress Sec SEM

75%

Progress Post-16 SEM

Phased opening 2017-18

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

75%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

62.5%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

Phased opening 2017-18

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

75%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

Phased opening 2017-18

Islamic St. Primary Results

75%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

62.5%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

Phased opening 2017-18

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

75%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

100%

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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Academic
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ExtraCurricula
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Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
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