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Fujairah Private Academy, Fujairah
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Review

Fujairah Private Academy, Fujairah

by May 29, 2016
Strengths

• Continuity of outstanding school leadership
• Middle tire, not-for-profit fee structure
• Commitment to child welfare
• Outstanding EAL provision
• Rare, co-educational schooling
• Significant investment in high calibre British faculty
• Small class sizes
• Happy school environment

Weaknesses

• Constricted syllabus
• Lack of transparency
• Demand outstrips supply

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An interesting, hugely warm but oversubscribed school offering a prestigious British education to those parents who can secure a place. For many students, set on graduating to the US, the constricted syllabus will be an acceptable price to pay for the otherwise highly nurturing, individually focused education provided.

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Mooted to be one of, if not the best school in Fujairah, the Fujairah Private Academy (FPA) is certainly its most prestigious. The school is owned by the government of Fujairah, and the rulers of the Emirate play a significant role in school governance. The school’s honorary patron is His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah who founded the school in 1982.

The school itself occupies beautifully designed Arabic buildings, their stone facades carefully designed to blend with the extraordinarily beautiful Hajar mountains that provide their backdrop.

FPA provides an English National Curriculum all-through education to students between FS and Year 13, is fully inclusive, and resolutely not-for-profit. The school currently serves 750 children, 85% of which are Emirati, between the ages of 4 and 18 years. The school is an accredited member of the British Schools in the Middle East Association and has also been awarded British Schools Overseas status by the Department of Education in England. The last BSO Report for the school can be found here.

One defining feature of the school is its long-standing Principal, Ms Jan Brettingham. In post since 2000, Ms Brettingham is described as being robust in her approach to education and highly motivated. She is reported to be highly respected by both staff and students. Tellingly, one former student, who graduated to study at the University of Oklahoma, describes her in glowing terms as “the Principal that built my future.”

The school structures its curriculum around learning Early Years (KG1 & Reception), Primary (Years 1-6), Middle School and Senior School (Years 7 – 18). Rarely, for a predominantly Emirati school, all phases of education are co-educational.

The curriculum at all phases is constricted in subject breadth, this exacerbated by students having to opt for subjects grouped in pairs. Whilst this is designed to focus attention on core subjects and limit class sizes, its impact is to compromise the ability of the school to respond to the needs and talents of individual pupils. Certainly many students will have to forego study in some subjects that ideally they would have liked to pursue. Post 16 A Level study targets the sciences, this reflecting the greater complexity faced by students for whom English is an Additional Language.

School transparency is limited, with significant public information not updated since the time of its BSO Inspection in 2013. This perhaps comes with the territory for a school that is so heavily oversubscribed, prestigious – and well known within Fujairah, that its public profile further afield is not prioritised. Our view, notwithstanding its reputation, is that all schools should provide a basic minimum level of information for prospective parents, this in no small amount to recognise each parent’s role within school life and the importance of a school being accountable and setting clear benchmarks for its provision. The school does not publish examinations data for its students at any phase.

Feedback from all stakeholders, parents, teachers and students is uniformly positive.

The school is steadfast in recruiting from the UK, and insists that all teachers have a B.Ed  or first degree followed by a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), together with (recent) significant experience in teaching. It insists that all teachers are flexible, energetic, tolerant and prepared to work beyond the school day in contributing both to the school’s ECA provision and broader school life.

We particularly like the English public school inspired House system which operates throughout the school – and the school’s ongoing investment in building its alumni, something far too few school in the Emirate’s pay attention to, but which can be hugely rewarding for graduates leaving the school in building their careers and networks.

BSO praise, whilst now outdated, recognises:

  • The outstanding quality of learning environments
  • Exemplary student relationships and behaviour
  • Innovative strengths in English as an Additional language provision
  • Nurturing, family atmosphere
  • Outstanding quality of child welfare, health and safety

The school is rated by the BSO a “Good” school with some “Outstanding” and “Innovative” features.

We have written to the school for further information and clarification on whether there is a future BSO report planned for the school. Given that the Fujairah government has no equivalent to the outstanding public school inspection reporting conducted in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, we feel that investment in independent school inspections in Fujairah is important.

Our bottom line is that the Fujairah Private Academy is a school that balances tremendous strengths, and weaknesses, in equal measure. In its prestige, calibre of teaching staff, class sizes, care for children and governance it competes with Tier 1 schools. However, in its constricted syllabus, it fairs less well, notwithstanding that the rationale is cogent if the school is not going to double its faculty and maintain fees within the current mid tier banding. On this note, the school is transparent in recognising that many students are focused on post-graduate study in the US, for which AS level study to Year 12 in core subjects will, for most universities, be sufficient.

Given, however, the over subscription of the school, and its bursting waiting lists, it may well be too that the decision by prospective parents to shortlist the school for the education of their child(ren), will be a decision leaving both parents and students wide open to disappointment.

 

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, not-for-profit (Government of Fujairah)

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Note:
(1) We have contacted the school for newly updated fees for 2016-17
(2) Historically fees have ranged from between 15,000 AED at KG, rising to between 18,000 AED and 24,000 AED at Primary phase - and between 22,500 AED and 34,300 AED at Secondary phase, per annum.

FS1:
FS2:
YEAR 1:
YEAR 2:
YEAR 3:
YEAR 4:
YEAR 5:
YEAR 6:
YEAR 7:
YEAR 8:
YEAR 9:
YEAR 10:
YEAR 11:
YEAR 12:
YEAR 13:

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England:
IGSCE
GCSE
(International) AS
(International) A' Level

External Exam Boards

EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

7

A Levels offered

Mathematics or Geography
Physics or French
Biology or Economics/Business
Chemistry

A Level A* to A

Not published
Notes:
(1) BSO report that: "In Years 12 and 13, most students select from range of AS and A-level subjects, with mathematics and the sciences being most popular. The very small group sizes mean that teaching is targeted at an individual level. Individual student results suggest that achievement is satisfactory. Five students sat A2 in 2012: the cohort had a 100% pass rate A-E and 44% A*-B grades. Year 12 students who are not entering AS levels are given the opportunity to re-enter GCSEs in order to improve their grades."

A Level A* to C

Not published
Notes:
(1) BSO report that: "In Years 12 and 13, most students select from range of AS and A-level subjects, with mathematics and the sciences being most popular. The very small group sizes mean that teaching is targeted at an individual level. Individual student results suggest that achievement is satisfactory. Five students sat A2 in 2012: the cohort had a 100% pass rate A-E and 44% A*-B grades. Year 12 students who are not entering AS levels are given the opportunity to re-enter GCSEs in order to improve their grades."

IGCSE A* to C

Not published
Notes:
(1) BSO report that: "Over the last three years, the number of students gaining 5 or more GCSEs at grade C or above, including mathematics and English, averages 78%. Standards are particularly high in mathematics, where over 80% of entered students gain grade C or above. GCSE grades for English are mostly a grade or two below those of mathematics."

IGCSE A* to A

Not published
Notes:
(1) BSO report that: "Over the last three years, the number of students gaining 5 or more GCSEs at grade C or above, including mathematics and English, averages 78%. Standards are particularly high in mathematics, where over 80% of entered students gain grade C or above. GCSE grades for English are mostly a grade or two below those of mathematics."

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

9

I/GCSEs offered

English Literature
Arabic (first or second language) or History
Mathematics
Science (Double Award English, Chemistry, Physics)
Geography
French
Art or Economics

Selective

Inclusive
Notes:
(1) All children for entry to Kindergarten to Year 2 will meet with the Heads of Section for assessment.
(2) All applicants for Year 3 - Year 10 will take entrance tests in English, Mathematics - and Arabic for first language speakers.
(3) The school does not admit students into Year 11 because of the restrictions of examination courses.
(4) Students wishing to enter in Year 12 will need to take an aptitude test for the subjects they wish to study to GCE AS or A2 level, and are subject to attainment at IGCSE.
(5) Entrance tests are conducted in March, May and June.
(6) " Entrance tests are diagnostic and not a test of memory."

Waiting list

Yes
Note:
(1) The school is significantly oversubscribed
(2) As of 2016, there are no available places for KG1-Year 4 and the wait list is full.
(3) Year 5 -Year 10 applications may be made for places are open
(4) Applicants for Year 12 can apply after the publication of GCSE/IGCSE examination results in August

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

750

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:11
Notes:
(1) Class sizes between 5 and 15 children

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

Not published

Year opened

1982

Location

Fujairah

Student composition

Emirati (largest nationality): 85%
Other Arabic nationalities: 5%
Total nationalities: 35+
Special Educational Needs: not published

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Government of Fujairah
H.H. Shaikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah (Honorary Chairman)
H.H. Shaikha Sarah Bint Hamad Al Sharqi
Mr George Bajk, Director, Private Affairs, Bureau of HH The Ruler of Fujairah

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 9 222 4001

Web Address
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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