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Dwight School Dubai, Al Barsha South
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Dwight School Dubai, Al Barsha South

by Jon WestleyDecember 18, 2016
Strengths

• Genuinely inclusive IB all-through schooling
• Proven history of international school delivery
• Close relationship with the International Baccalaureate and key player in pilots
• Potential on-line IB subject options will considerably broaden the choice for students
• Outstanding US brand
• Bloom Education backing promising outstanding facilities and build to quality and schedule

Weaknesses

• Confused marketing of a super-campus which raises questions about the need for shared facilities
• Lack of information in all key areas including fees – although this is expected given the early days of the school’s journey and given its 2018 opening
• No IBCP provision at odds with its inclusive school ambitions
• No publicised scholarship or bursary provision

Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
75%
In my Top 5
25%
Shortlisted
0%
A possibility
0%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

“Dwight New York is delighted to extend Dwight’s 150-year commitment to ‘ignite the spark of genius in every child’ to Dubai, where students will be part of one global Dwight family.

Our new school in Dubai will join those in New York, London, Seoul, and Shanghai that share this mission.” Stephen Spahn. Chancellor. The Dwight Schools

 

Background

Dwight School Dubai [DSD] is a non-selective KG to Year 12 IB Curriculum school set to open in Al Barsha South in September 2018 offering all-through US education for children between 3 and 19 years.

The founding school was established in New York in 1872 by Julius Sachs, a member of the Goldman-Sachs family of bankers. Alumni of Dwight schools internationally include Truman Capote, Paris Hilton, Vin Diesel, John Williams, Michael Mansfield QC, Ray Davies CBE, Sir Walter Leonard Allinson and a “who’s who” of notable figures from politics, the Performing Arts, business, sports and the Sciences worldwide.

Although this will be Dwight School New York’s first venture in the Middle East, parents, we believe, should take confidence from the success of other Dwight sister schools already established in London, Seoul and Shanghai.

Importantly too, whilst Dwight is an IB through school, parents should not see Dwight as an academic hothouse, or a school established ground-up to be selective for academic children, as is the case for example with North London Collegiate School Dubai reviewed here.

The average IB Diploma score of Dwight school in London, probably the better reference, hovers around the 30 mark – low for an academic IB school – but creditable for an inclusive one and pretty much perfectly aligned with the worldwide average.

What this scoring suggests, given the bigger picture below, is that Dwight offers genuinely inclusive IB schooling – and that requires significant investment and a very high calibre of teachers.

 

The Super-campus issue

The most important thing that prospective parents should note when considering Dwight follows the somewhat confused marketing of the school. DSD is being marketed as part of a 4,000 student “super-campus” that will also include Brighton College Dubai and the Centre of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and the Arts.

We think this is very unhelpful. As is often the case, great marketing can also often be distracting.

These are separate institutions simply situated in relative proximity. This, after all, is true of many schools in Dubai. Just because a school is situated next to another does not make it a super-campus or add any clear benefits. The only link seems to be the provision of

  • a 600-seat auditorium
  • an IAAF-standard running track

which will be shared by Brighton and Dwight (and which at least arguably confuses issues unnecessarily – many parents would assume each school should have these as standard separately.)

So, our recommendation is that prospective should not be swayed by the marketing of a super-campus.

The focus must be, as with all schools, on whether Dwight School, standing alone, will be a good choice for prospective parents: what defines its offer; what gives it uniqueness and makes it stand out – and what type of children will it best suit.

Brighton College, The Centre of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and the Arts and Dwight School are completely separate institutions and parents should not be distracted by the marketing. There are no planned links between the institutions in any meaningful sense that is relevant for prospective parents.

 

The Dwight School Dubai offer

So, what makes Dwight School special?

This is where the story gets much more interesting. There is actually substance to the opening of Dwight – and an offer that will be of interest to prospective parents.

There are four key elements, we think, that set it apart:

First, its inclusive role. This is resolutely, and genuinely, not a selective school. We are awaiting details of broader SEND provision but expect Dwight to bring its highly successful QUEST programme to Dubai together with its expertise in EAL, something showcased and intrinsic to in all its sister schools outside New York. It should be noted that we would hope that QUEST would be intrinsic to the Dubai school, rather than a paid-for add-on as is the case in its other schools. Parents of children in the UAE’s genuinely inclusive schools, except in very exceptional cases, do not  expect to pay a premium for what should come as standard for schools committed to inclusivity.

Second, Dwight was the first school to offer the complete IB curriculum in the US (although excluding the IBCP – see below). Dwight has a special place in the historic evolution of the International Baccalaureate curriculum worldwide as a result.

Third, Dwight operates a number of sister schools worldwide. This is a school that has a proven history of successful delivery. This will be very important in providing prospective parents some security in choosing the Dubai school for the education of their child(ren).

Fourthly, Dwight Schools in New York and London were two of only 6 original schools (selected from the then 3,700 IB World Schools) to be IB “Open World” accredited to pilot on-line IB course provision worldwide.

What is important about this initiative is that it has enabled Dwight to broaden its curriculum of core IB taught provision by offering internal students supplementary online IB course options. These include:

  • IB Mandarin ab initio (Introductory Mandarin)
  • IB Spanish ab initio (Introductory Spanish)
  • IB Spanish B (Standard Level)
  • IB Business Management (Standard Level)
  • IB Business Management (Higher Level)
  • IB Economics (Standard Level)
  • IB Economics (Higher Level)
  • IB Philosophy (Standard Level)
  • IB Psychology (Standard Level)
  • IB Psychology (Higher Level)
  • IB Information Technology in a Global Society (Standard Level)
  • IB Information Technology in a Global Society (Higher Level)
  • IB Mathematics (Standard Level)
  • IB Mathematics (Higher Level)
  • IB Film (Standard Level)

On-line IB courses are run in association with Pamoja Education – Pamoja have a proven history in Dubai from their historic (and current) partnership with GEMS Education. We are awaiting clarification on whether this on-line extension of subject choice for Dwight School Dubai students will be part of the opening offer and for the complete breakdown of core and online Diploma course subject provision if it does. We will update parents as we receive it.

 

Facilities

Facilities across the 40,000 square metre site will include a 6-8 lane 25M pool, training pool, basketball courts, tennis and squash courts, a full soccer pitch, a 400-meter running track auditorium and a mix of 78 core academic, language, music, performing arts classrooms, specialist labs and centres of learning.

 

Potential pitfalls for prospective parents

If there is one single issue we can pinpoint, outside general advisories about the inevitable teething issues of new schools, it is that Dwight does not currently advertise provision of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP). We think this is an error give the fabulously inclusive of nature of the school. The IBCP was set up by the International Baccalaureate precisely to expand student choice – and particularly to those less traditionally academic children seeking fast-track entry into business, industry, public service and the broader Arts without necessarily attending university (although many students still do). We hope that Dwight re-visits this. One leading school ahead of the curve on this is Greenfield Community School and our review can be found here.

With regards to teething issues, on a positive note, we would expect these to be much more limited that a school opening without experience of international launches. Dwight is very experienced here – and Bloom Education, who are delivering core infrastructure and building, have a very solid reputation in the Emirates for quality and delivery. Assuming that traditional founding discounts are brought on stream, Dwight could prove a high value proposition for prospective parents set on the International Baccalaureate – and the many benefits of truly inclusive schooling. We will be able to address the degree of inclusivity when Dwight publishes full details of its investment in SEND which we hope will be significant – and, ideally, set benchmarks for the sector as a whole. Time will tell.

 

Our view?

Clearly this is a preview, rather than review, and a look at a school someway into the distance. However already Dwight stands out for its expertise in delivering an inclusive all-through IB programme. We like its clear focus on delivering for all children.

We are also fans of its partnership with Pamoja which enables it to broaden subject provision to include on-line options where it does not meet directly subject options internally. If it offers these in Dubai it promises to raise the bar in meeting the interests and abilities of the broadest range of IB students.

 

Go to LAUNCH NEWS on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review

Coming soon.Go
News. Go

Average Cost Per Year

New school.
Notes:
(1) Benchmark fees New York Dwight School New York: US$38,300 (AED140,000) [pre-kindergarten] to $44,549 (AED163,000) [Grades 1-12]

Curriculum

International Baccalaureate KG - Year 12

External Exam Boards

Expected accreditation:
Member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS)
Council of International Schools (CIS)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Accredited IB World School (five0year accreditation visits for the PYP, MYP and Diploma Program.)

IB DipM Pass Rate

New school
Notes:
London Benchmark
2016: Pass Rate 78%
2015: Pass rate 75%
2014: Pass Rate 79%
2013: Pass Rate 78%
2012: Pass Rate 92%

IB DipM Average Grade

New school
Notes:
London Benchmark
2016: Average 30
2015: Average 30
2014: Average 31
2013: Average 32
2012: Average 34

Selective

Fully inclusive

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published: projected high

Number of Students

2000

Teacher to Student Ratio

Maximum 1:20
Notes:
(1) Early Childhood - Grade 12: maximum of 20 students to each class.
(2) Pre-school - Grade 2 all classes include Teaching Assistant

Largest nationality teachers

Note published
Notes:
(1) Expect significant US/UK faculty

Teacher turnover

New school NA

Year opened

September 2018

Location

Al Barsha South, Dubai

Student composition

New school

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Dwight School New York
Notes:
(1) Bloom Holding lease

Web Address

Go
Coming soon: Go

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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