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Kings’ School Al Barsha, Al Barsha 3 – The Review
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Review

Kings’ School Al Barsha, Al Barsha 3 – The Review

by July 9, 2016
Strengths

• Emirate’s first RSA Opening Minds structured curriculum
• Scholarships
• Outstanding breadth and quality of facilities
• School leadership deeply committed to the school
• Committed owners
• Focused schooling for academic children
• Premium fees are lower, in their spread across phases, than competitor Tier 1s offering significant value
• Dyslexia support

Weaknesses

• Inherent teething problems of a new school in launch phases
• Strict academic entry guidelines will leave some children and parents disappointed
• Very limited Special Educational Needs provision (although the school is very transparent on this)

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

• Kings’ has every possible foundation in place to be a benchmark for outstanding Tier 1 premium all-through school provision when it launches its full EBacc programmes in 2018-20

A-
Our Rating
B+
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
44%
In my Top 5
30%
Shortlisted
19%
A possibility
11%
Pass
0%
No way
4%

Updated July 2017 – Kings’ School Al Barsha First KHDA Inspection and Sixth Form A Level breadth of provsion

Kings’ Education in the UAE comprises three schools:

Kings’ Dubai [KD]: the KHDA Outstanding founding FS1 to Year 6 English National Curriculum preparatory school located in Umm Suqeim 3 and established in 2004.

Kings’ Nad Al Sheba [KNAS]: an FS1 to Year 6 English National Curriculum preparatory school with planned eventual phased launch to provide the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Kings’ Al Barsha [KAB]: the Kings’ all-through English National Curriculum school offering RSA Opening Minds structured provision through (I)GCEs and GCE A’ Level. The school is the current secondary slipstream for both Kings’ Dubai and Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba preparatory schools. Like Kings’ Nad Al Sheba, the school was established in September 2014.

Kings’ School Al Barsha is currently undergoing its phased launch to all-through provision. Kings’ Al Barsha’s dedicated Sixth Form will open this year (September 2017).

Investment in the school to date has been some $5.3 million according to our latest information.

The background to the opening of Kings’ School Al Barsha follows the establishment of one of Dubai’s highest rated schools, Kings’ School Dubai (informally known as Kings’ Dubai) in 2005. Kings’ Dubai is the only school in Dubai to have achieved an Outstanding ranking from the KHDA for nine years in a row – since Dubai’s regulator began inspections. It also achieved outstanding in every category of the BSO (British Schools Overseas) inspection conducted in October 2014. Expectations for Kings Al Barsha are as a result extremely high.

My father had a vision – to create an institute which would compete with the world’s finest. Whenever I go to Kings’ and see how children are taught with a smile, enjoying learning – it makes me very proud. We have big dreams for Kings’. This is the beginning of a wonderful journey. Faris Al Baker, Vice Chairman, Kings’ Holdings LLC

The school was launched with a second Kings school in Nad Al Sheba. The original plan was for the Nad Al Sheba and Kings’ School Al Barsha schools to be differentiated by their post-16 curriculum, the Nad Al Sheba school offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma and the Al Barsha school A’ Levels. The original Kings’ Dubai preparatory (which offers education to Grade 6 only) would provide the slipstream for each.

The sheer ambition of launching two all-through schools simultaneously has seen the original plan moderated, at least temporarily. As it stands Kings’ Dubai and Kings’ Nad Al Sheba both now function as British preparatory schools offering an English National Curriculum to Year 6. Both schools now feed pupils through to their shared Al Barsha slipstream for Year 7 – Year 13 secondary and post-16 schooling/Sixth Form. It is likely as Al Barsha beds-in and reaches capacity, the Nad Al Sheba school will again revert to the original plan of offering all-through schooling culminating in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. This is unlikely to be before 2019-20.

All three schools share an architectural and learning identity, this on the basis that if something is working at an outstanding level, you don’t change it. As the school beds-in, there is considerable interest on the degree to which the success of Kings’ Dubai can be replicated to an all-through school.

Facilities at Kings’ School Al Barsha are Tier 1 premium – and outstanding, including a fully digital campus; Black Box Theatre; a plethora of dedicated labs for Science, IT and Art; Music rooms; 2 libraries by phase; Design Technology centres for Textiles and Resistant Materials; Food Technology facility; Media Centre; Art Blocks; a recording studio; landmark multi-space auditorium and theatre opening to inside and outside audiences; Apple TV equipped classrooms; Both FS and Primary indoor and shaded outside play areas with free-flow; dedicated break-out areas outside classrooms; Secondary Learning Support Department (with a core specialism in Dyslexia); 2 clinics; MAC suite; dedicated Parent’s Cafeteria with a terrace and meeting area; and 3 dining halls (one for each school).

Sporting facilities at Kings’ School Al Barsha, on completion, will include a landmark outdoor 25 metre competition swimming pool; two further swimming pools (one 25 metre beginner, one 25 metre Primary); sports halls; competition running track; 4 Astroturf multi-sport pitches; football pitch; rugby pitch; basketball and Netball courts (specialist hard rubber); Cricket Academy with cricket square, indoor and outdoor nets, practice facilities and a cricket pavilion; Field athletics centre;  7 tennis courts including clay and grass surfaces; Primary Gym; Secondary Sports Hall including indoor cricket nets and a volleyball court; and 2 (large) fitness studios.

The Drama provision at Kings’ School Al Barsha is strong and there is extensive use of Kings’ Black Box theatre. There are plans to extend its use further through ECAs, twilight and weekend classes. Science labs are focused around specialist areas (Physics, Chemistry and Biology.) Technology Labs provision extends across distinct facilities for Music, Food (including commercial vegetable cultivation) and Design Technology (including 3D/laser printing and Computer Aided Design (CAD)) respectively. Technology subjects are focused on inspiring children with the links between learning, industry and life more broadly with a focus on context rather than theory in isolation. The Art facilities are stand-out with a ground floor ceramics studio (including 4 pottery wheels and kilns) and first floor art space that is expansive with large windows and natural light.  We viewed some extraordinary large-scale art installations and the whole space carries an exciting sense of purpose.

Kings’ School Al Barsha sports facilities include an excellent indoor court area, extensive pitches and outdoor netball, football and rugby spaces.  The Competition pool is currently being completed (February 2017). The grandstand area for spectators is double aspect with one side overlooking the pool, and the other overlooking the external courts.  There is a cardio gym area with 8 plus treadmills and other work out and cardio equipment as well as a balcony area with punch bags and weight equipment. The overall impression is of very comprehensive sporting provision that meets, and in some places exceeds the best of Tier 1 standards. As facilities reach completion, student athletes across all specialisms will be exceptionally well served.

Image showing a young child enjoying herself whilst balancing in a test of courage, concentration and physical dexterity

The Kings’ School Al Barsha Library has been well designed with pod spaces for group study and individual study within the main body. The design of the library, in our view, is very appealing with lots of defined reading and desk spaces that match very high quality breadth of provision with an inspiring welcoming feel, a balance many schools find difficult to achieve.

Kings’ has set aside a dedicated, quite intimate canteen and meeting area for parents set in a bright and sunny corner – on our visit it was buzzing which is suggestive of high levels of engagement with families. We believe more schools should invest in these sorts of link facilities to strengthen community links more broadly.

At 2 million square feet, the Kings’ School Al Barsha site is vast, giving the school the capacity to strengthen further its facility provision in the future as the school grows to capacity and evolves.

Sports include netball; football; rugby; athletics; swimming; discus; long jump; triple jump; javelin and shot put; cricket; boys’ and girls’ basketball; and Rounders.

Extra/Co Curriculum Activities [E/CCAs] include Netball; drama; table tennis; hockey; “Fun Robotics”(chargeable); Fencing(chargeable); quiz club; rugby club; Mandarin & Chinese(chargeable); velocity fitness(chargeable); athletics; Arabic poetry; Debating Club; Science, Arts & Movie Club; Quran Club; Martial Arts Club; Arabic Arts Cub; Google Sketchup Design Club; Spanish Club; Arabic for beginners; an invitation only French support/catchup club; and visiting speaker programme. Music is a stand-out feature of the school:

All children are allocated to one of the four school houses on joining the school at Foundation Stage.

Kings’ Founding Principal was Bill Turner who joined the school after three years as Middle and High School Principal of the (outstanding rated) GEMS World Academy in Dubai, this following four years secondary teaching at the Al Khor International School in Qatar. Mr Turner was instrumental in developing the RSA Opening Minds competency approach to teaching subject knowledge within the school.

Alan Williamson, Kings’ School Al Barsha Principal since 2016, is a history and Russian language graduate from Glasgow with a two-decade career in Scottish schools stretching from the Anderson School in the Shetland Isles to ten-year’s work at Hawick High School from which, as Rector, he secured a life-changing scholarship partnership for his students with the Tier 1, British Independent, Rugby School, the hub of a town made famous as the birthplace of rugby. Rugby is one of Mr Williamson’s passions and early in his career he worked as a Premier Division rugby referee representing his town and country at rugby internationals in France and South Africa. Mr Williamson prior to his move to Dubai headed up the 1400 role Lasswade High School in Midlothian. He is known for being particularly passionate about Special Educational Needs and that no child should be left behind.

Mr Williamson, is focused on delivering the Kings’ vision to deliver to the “Best in every child” and is structuring the school around inclusiveness and high attainment.

“Kings’ School Al Barsha is an educational community, centred around positive outcomes for young people. The school’s vision and values embrace the challenges of academic excellence, responsibility and leadership, emotional awareness and participation in a wide variety of activities within and beyond the classroom.”

Alan Williamson, Principal, Kings’ School Al Barsha.

 

The RSA Opening Minds programme is a first in Dubai and fundamentally structures the whole curriculum – and, through this, the whole child focus of Kings’ School Al Barsha approach to teaching.

Opening Minds is not an alternative to the teaching of subject knowledge – rather it is an alternative way of delivering it and moderates the pressures (and increasing impetus in British schools) to focus only on teaching subject knowledge to the detriment of holistic child developmental.

The RSA Opening Minds curriculum features five categories of competences: learning, citizenship, relating to people, managing situations and managing information. The approach focuses on developing children’s understanding and inspiring action rather than the basic transmission of knowledge and facts.

Because subject boundaries are much less defined than in traditional curriculum teaching, the whole school is structured with much greater links between departments so that subjects are three dimensionalised and joined up.

The RSA approach depends on very high caliber teachers, but, successfully implemented, resolves a fundamental weakness of the English National Curriculum over its International Baccalaureate counterpart. In many ways, notwithstanding Kings’ outstanding facility provision, the approach should be seen as a major plus in prospective parents calculation of the benefits of the school for their child(ren).

Sixth Form

Following our visit we note a number of significant developments in the evolution of Sixth Form Provision at Kings’ School Al Barsha which, as above, will open in September 2017. Kings’ students have been consulted on several aspects of the Sixth Form and have elected to wear business dress rather than a uniform. The logo and colours have been adjusted for use for the Sixth Form too with the aim of further developing a sense of Sixth Form identity. Facilities themselves are located within the main school block rather than being sited separately and a number are in development a dedicated Sixth Form Common Room and kitchen area.

Academically all Sixth form students will now complete the UK Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which is broadly equivalent to half an A’ Level. The qualification requires independent research and development, generally in an area of study or practical application in which each child is personally invested and inspired. We like this qualification– it is one that should find resonance with all children and acts very much as a bridge between A Level and graduate study – as well as enabling those students who are more vocationally or practically skilled to develop these talents in ways that the more purely academic and exam based A Level cannot. The EPQ is a one element of a raft of activities and programmes designed to build broader skills within the critical Sixth Form period. These also include the Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) Gold award and a focus on building capacity in young enterprise through industry links and work experience.

Kings’ School Al Barsha subject options extend to 24 subject options have been confirmed. Subject breadth is exception and include the spectrum of Design and Technology options, Sociology, Psychology, Drama, Music and Fine Art. Science subjects are equally well represented. At this stage it is anticipated that the Sixth Form class sizes will be capped at around five students and in its inaugural year the school is expecting to launch with between 40 and 60 children. Our A Level Guide can be found here. Our hub Sixth Form Guide can be found here. The exceptional breadth of A Level offer tat Kings’ School Al Barsha to some degree balances the obvious lack of BTEC alternatives, something we would like to see addressed in future years. Our view is that T Levels, and technical stream education more broadly, are likely to become intrinsically important in future years and Kings’ is missing a trick in not preparing for these through BTEC. We also think BTEC enables schools to much better meet the individual needs, ambitions and abilities of all children.

Scholarships

On a final note, Kings’ schools have offered a dedicated scholarship programme since August 2016.

In February 2017 the latest scholarship programme was launched for academic year 2017/2018. The programme is  is now open to GSCE and A Level students demonstrating excellence in academia, sport or the expressive arts and offers up to 50 percent fee-remission. Awards are open to both current Kings’ School Al Barsha students and external candidates. Applicants will need to demonstrate excellence in academic subjects such as English, Mathematics and the Sciences and/or in the fields of Sport, Music or Drama alongside a significant Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) score.

Prospective GCSE scholars (applying in Year 5 onwards available for Years 6-10, aged 10-16 years) must have a high CAT score and/or demonstrate excellence in a particular subject with supporting evidence, such as positive reports from their subject leader or coach, awards won or teams participated in, shared alongside their application.

The GCSE scholarship is on offer for a maximum period of six years when joining in Year 6 – although applications can be made for new students seeking entry into later years. Those securing the Award will be considered for an extension of the award to cover A Level study at Sixth Form.

The Kings’ School Al Barsha scholarships aim to offer talented children whose parents would not otherwise be able to afford the fees, the opportunity to join the Kings’s family. Applications are invited from children who are talented in one or more fields including Science, Mathematics, the Arts including English – and the Performing Arts including music. Applications are invited in February each year and decisions are made by April.  For more information see: here or contact 00971 (0) 4 256 6900.

This provision of scholarships, something we and our sister site whichschooladvisor have long campaigned for, further strengthens what is already a ground-breaking, genuinely outstanding level of investment in, and delivery of, tier 1 education in Dubai.

We recommend that prospective parents ask the school about scholarship provision at the time of application and/or visiting the school.

Bottom line

In terms of an overall view of the school it is still too early. Kings’ School Al Barsha remains in the process of its full phase opening and, importantly for a comprehensive verdict, prior to its critical opening of post 16 Sixth Form EBacc provision. What we do know, however, is that subject range on offer (with 24 plus A Levels) matches the best breadth of subject provision of any school in the Emirates. We are particularly impressed to see the inclusion of psychology which our research shows to be a highly valued bridging subject by universities conjoining the Arts and Sciences, as well as a plethora of really interesting A Levels like Photography rarely offered. Kings’ School Al Barsha is also providing the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and all language A Levels will be considered on an individual basis.

Prospective parents cannot automatically extrapolate from Kings’ Dubai outstanding provision to Year 6 that the same will hold true for all-through provision at Kings’ School Al Barsha – although we think everything is on track, a view supported by significant parental, teacher and student feedback to our sister site whichschooladvisor.com.

Albeit through circumstance rather than design, Kings’ School Al Barsha is absorbing very powerful slipstreams from its feeders, with students immersed in the Kings’ approach on joining.

In May 2017 the KHDA published the results of the school’s first inspection awarding Kings’ Al Barsha “Good School” status. This is the usual review grade for any new school on its first inspection and prospective parents are advised that this should not be read as an implication that the school is not firing on all cylinders. A KHDA Outstanding rating is certainly the ambition for this exceptional school on subsequent inspections.

Stand-out features of the school, as of May 2017, already in place to Year 11 include:

  • Outstanding personal development of children
  • Outstanding FS Curriculum establishing the strongest possible framework for later academic and whole child development
  • Close and highly-supportive relationships between each child and teaching faculty
  • Outstanding child protection
  • Outstanding governance – with very high levels of financial investment in the school
  • Outstanding community engagement with very positive and close relationships with parents
  • Particularly supportive relationships for parents with children who are identified with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
  • The school is of the highest quality with extensive specialist facilities – and facilities are being continuously improved and expanded as required to meet the ambitious vision for the school

In conjunction with outstanding school leadership, steadfast, genuine and passionate support from the school’s founders, an extremely rich, unique (and radical) whole child centred RSA backed framework – and absolutely stellar facilities, the picture is highly suggestive of a school that is going to deliver.

Recommended.

Prospective parents should note that Kings’ School Al Barsha is undergoing a phased launch and scoring is based on whichschooladvisor data and published school information. Scoring tables reflect a school on first inspection and comparison with schools on their second inspections or later should take this into account.

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

Request School Information

 

 

Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good (Note: First Inspection)

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Good with Outstanding features (FS Outstanding) (Note: First Inspection)

2016/17 Rating Secondary / Middle

Good (Note: First Inspection)

2016/17 Post 16 / High

Launching September 2017

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

School in launch

Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2016-17

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 50,200 (52,007)
FS2: 50,200 (52,007)
YEAR 1: 52,500 (54,390)
YEAR 2: 52,500 (54,390)
YEAR 3: 57,200 (59,259)
YEAR 4: 59,000 (61,124)
YEAR 5: 63,700 (65,993)
YEAR 6: 63,700 (65,993)
YEAR 7: 76,700 (79,461)
YEAR 8: 79,700 (82,569)
YEAR 9: 82,600 (85,574)
YEAR 10: 88,500 (91,686)
YEAR 11: 94,400 (97,798)
YEAR 12: 94,400 (100,300)
YEAR 13: 94,400 (100,300)
* ( ) = 2018 fees

Curriculum

RSA Opening Minds
National Curriculum for England:
(I)GCSE
GCE A' Level

External Exam Boards

RSA
OfQual
Cambridge International
Pearson EDEXCEL

IB DipM Pass Rate

Notes:
(1) Please refer to Kings' School Nad Al Sheba which plans eventual phased launch of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. This is currently on hold as of 2016-17 with provision to Year 6 only.

IB DipM Average Grade

Notes:
(1) Please refer to Kings' School Nad Al Sheba which plans eventual phased launch of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. This is currently on hold as of 2016-17. This is currently on hold as of 2016-17 with provision to Year 6 only.

Number of A Levels offered

24
Note:
(1) Phased opening 2017-19

A Levels offered

Arabic
Art and Design Fine Art
Biology
Business
Chemistry
Computer Science
Drama
Design Technology
Economics
English Literature
French
Geography
History
Information and communications Technology (ICT)
Further Mathematics
Islamic Studies
Mathematics
Music
Physical Education
Music Technology
Photography
Psychology
Sociology
Spanish
Notes:
(1) Further languages by agreement
(2) Extended Project Qualification

A Level A* to A

Phased opening 2017-19

A Level A* to C

Phased opening 2017-19

IGCSE A* to C

Results published 2016-17

IGCSE A* to A

Results published 2016-17

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

20+/Equivalent
(All children sit 10 GCE O' Levels for the English Baccalaureate [EBacc]). The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a performance measure for schools, awarded when students secure a grade C or above at GCSE level across a core of five academic subjects – english, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language. It is not a qualification in itself.

I/GCSEs offered

English Language & English Literature (Double Award) [Core]
Mathematics (Double Award) [Core]
Science & Additional Science (Double Award) [Core]
Arabic [Language Option 1]
French [Language Option 2]
Spanish [Language Option 3]
Computer Science [Humanities/Science Option 1]
History [Humanities/Science Option 2]
Geography [Humanities/Science Option 3]
Triple Science (Further Additional Science) [Humanities/Science Option 4]
Physics (included in Science plus Additional Science(s))
Chemistry (included in Science plus Additional Science(s))
Biology (included in Science plus Additional Science(s))
Art - 3D ceramics [Creative/Aesthetic Option 1a]
Art - 3D sculpture [Creative/Aesthetic Option 1b]
Art - 2D painting & drawing [Creative/Aesthetic Option 1c]
Drama [Creative/Aesthetic Option 2]
Design Technology - Product Design [Creative/Aesthetic Option 3]
PE [Creative/Aesthetic Option 4]
German
Mandarin (Under review for introduction in 2017-18)
Russian (Under review for introduction in 2017-18)

Selective

Yes
Notes:
(1) All applicants will sit a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) [Years 3-9] and produce a piece of creative writing. Students will require around two hours to complete the assessment. For overseas applicants, this can be arranged at their current school.
(2) CATs include Verbal, Non-verbal, Quantitative and Spatial reasoning multiple choice questions, in a series of small timed tests.
(3) The creative writing will be based on a choice of topics provided on the day [Years 1+]
(4) To qualify for an offer at Kings’ School Al Barsha, applicants will be required to demonstrate a good level of academic potential, with a CAT score above the required threshold appropriate to their age.
(5) Kings' welcomes applications from children with Dyslexia. Applications should include their most recent Educational Psychologist's report and IEP.
(6) Kings' accepts children with Special Education Needs [SEN] and provides Shadow teacher support if required though the number of places is limited
(7) Although Kings' does NOT offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language, it does accept children with English as a Second Language [EAL] provided other test results (CATIV) show that the child is academically able
(8) FS selection will involve play based observational assessments grading communication, interaction and the ability to follow instructions

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Capacity: 1700 - 1800
Notes:
(1) Current intake on phased launch: 800+
(2) Secondary phase currently circa 600 students (capacity of 800) [February 2017]
(3) Year 7 circa 130 - 150 students [February 2017]
(4) Year 11 circa 40 students [February 2017]
(5) Total role May 2017: 1367 (to Year 11 only)

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:10
Notes:
(1) Maximum of 20 students in FS1
(2) Maximum of 24 students other phases including GCSE/IGCSE
(3) Maximum of 12 students for A' Level

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

22%

Year opened

2014

Location

Al Barsha 3, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality): 40%
Total nationalities: 64+
Emirati: 45
Special Educational Needs: 60

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Kings' Holdings
(A partnership between ANC Holdings LLC and Flag Holding LLC)
Tayeb Al Baker, Chairman, ANC Holdings LLC; Faris Al Baker, Vice Chairman, ANC Holdings LLC; Ahmed Ali Al Sarkal , Managing Partner, Flag Holding

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 356 6900

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

93.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

60%

Attainment Sec SEM

60%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

Opening September 2017

Progress Nur SEM

93.3%

Progress Pri SEM

60%

Progress Sec SEM

60%

Progress Post-16 SEM

Opening September 2017

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

30%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

40%

Islamic St. Primary Results

40%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

40%

Leadership

60%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

66.6%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

73.3%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

73.3%

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
2 Comments
  • Mo Bravo
    September 28, 2016 at 1:31 pm
    Strengths

    Full school years available from FS1 to A-levels

    Weaknesses

    Extremely small car park for number of children in 2016-2017 academic year, leading to danger congestion and traffic movement.
    Poor communication
    Lack of stability with management team. 3 Primary heads and one acting primary head in last two years
    second head teacher in two years
    Not a parent friendly school

    Kings’ has a great brand in the UAE with its first school. However Kings’ Al Barsha has so far failed to live up to the values and quality.

    School drop off and pick up are always contentious points in Dubai and no school can perfect this due to the roads outside. However, with plenty of land / sand around, Kings’ Al Barsha have more opportunity than most to ensure a smooth entry, parking and exit. Unfortunately no matter how many times they look at it, they simply can’t get the car park and the school roads to work. They have chopped and changed walls into entrances and exits numerous times, which shows the desperation. With a school built to cater for 1800+ pupils, you would imagine they consulted on car parking for parents and buses as well as the staff. Unfortunately with short of 800 pupils, the car park can’t handle the numbers, so tho is likely to only get worse.

    There is now a bus service however the fees for this are ridiculous.

    On the staff front, there have been some changes which would raise the question of discontent. In its first two years of operation the Primary school has had 3 different heads and one acting head. The Secondary school is on its second head. Many of the teaching staff have changed.Whilst this is to be expected, perhaps not such large percentages. From the opening just two years back, more than 60% of the teaching staff have left the school.

    Parental engagement is certainly something the leadership frequently talk about as important, however this is often just to impress. There is a lack of cohesive communication and rapport between staff and parents. The so called parent group has failed twice and been disbanded.

    Facilities are good, although sports pitches and swimming pools took a long time to open. The school now has nearly everything in place. One sports surface did not last more than three months but a new surface is being put down. The science labs are fantastic and the blackbox theatre is great. The Auditorium should be open soon.

    ECA’s are plentiful both paid and none paid. Spaces are limited and popular ones go quickly.

    Administration however is currently a major weakness of the school. They simply can’t cope and do not appear to have the right people in these roles. The amount of mistakes made are in double digit percentages and should not be happening when associated with a brand that has such an ‘outstanding’ record. Attendance records are lackadaisical. No matter if you phone the school, come in and leave a note with the reception, nurse and teacher that a child is ill, they are just as likely to be registered as attending or absent without a valid reason.

    Communication – another weakness. In the efforts to ensure that there is no human interaction and contact they have striven for the use of technology. This started with messages that they would only use the school communicator and not e-mails but subsequently use emails and the school communicator, they then have created numerous portals for various uses from homework, to school photos, to ECA sign up, parent / teacher meetings etc. Last year you needed to remember 4 – 5 websites and the logins to keep up to date.

    The contract – the new KHDA contract was not sent to all parents as the school suggested and then the follow up and threats of suspension obviously upset many parents. The KHDA clearly states do not sign if you are not happy. However if you approach the school to discuss it they claim it is not able to be changed at all and this is a KHDA mandate. There is supposed to be a list of all the costs for the year, but this school leaves it blank and can’t give you a reason as to why it is blank.

    Kings’ Al Barsha is a big brand, with a lot of expectation and a lot of promise. So far, aside the teething problems of any new school, it has struggled to cope and deliver the quality that it promises. Poor communications and a willingness to work with parents at the root of many of these issues.

  • November 22, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Dear Mo Bravo/Parent,

    Thank you very much for taking time to review Kings’ School Al Barsha. We really appreciate your detailed feedback.

    Kings’ offer the same strong values based education to all pupils across our three schools. Whilst Kings’ School Al Barsha is a fairly young school, we share the same ambitions and follow the same guiding principles as our outstanding founding school Kings’ Dubai.

    As you know, Kings’ School Al Barsha is a through school offering the English National Curriculum and structured provision through GCSE and A’ Level. Our school roll is in excess of 1400+ already (full in most years with significant waiting lists). The focus remains on delivering continuous improvements across all areas of our school. We most certainly welcome and are always looking forward to receiving constructive feedback from our parents and staff to help guide us on our journey to excellence.

    To address your specific points, we have made significant progress and continue to deliver further enhancements to our car parking facilities at the school. The feedback to date from parents regarding the recent improvements made to entry, exit points and the car park has been overwhelmingly positive. As you will be aware the road infrastructure in the surrounding area remains a challenge that is out with our direct control, but we continue to lobby the matter with the relevant authorities to expedite change. Nevertheless, the positive parent response exemplifies that Kings’ will always comes up with strategic and creative solutions to such challenges.

    As you noticed, Kings’ School Al Barsha now offers bus services to our pupils through the largest school bus provider in Dubai. However, like all the other schools in Dubai, KIngs’ doesn’t set the fees for bus service. The bus fees is independently decided and implemented by the school bus provider.

    We are proud to have successfully recruited the top staff from the UK throughout our three schools in Dubai. At no time has Kings’ lost 60% of its staff. In fact, it is quite uncommon that in a transient city such as Dubai, Kings’ is proud to have retained our best teachers. Our overall staff retention benchmarks are also high and favourable against other premium schools in Dubai. We understand that earlier this year, Kings’ experienced some significant changes in our senior leadership, all of which were determined by individual circumstances out with Kings’ influence. The strategic appointment of Alan Williamson as Principal at Kings’ School Al Barsha has helped reinforce the stability of our teams, both in terms of leadership retention and development. This is along with other senior hires such as Rebecca Gray, Primary Headteacher and the retention of our former CEO, Kevin Stedman, in an advisory capacity. Without any exception, our experienced team is fully committed to long-term improvements at Kings’ School Al Barsha for greater parent satisfaction.

    We appreciate your acknowledgement of our fantastic facilities. Following the completion of our sporting provisions, you can see our world class facilities being utilised to host high profile tournaments from across the region, testament to the calibre of not only our facilities, but also our programmes and staff . We will continue to go from strength to strength utilising these outstanding facilities that are accessed by children of all ages attending our Schools.

    At Kings’, we understand that just like any other school, there will always be challenges facing us in meeting the needs of all parent preferences. In order to meet such challenges, we follow an open, transparent approach to parent communication with very strong links. In fact, Kings’ School Al Barsha has recently completed its second year having highly successful class link system. Our parents utilise this system actively and overall our staff share a great rapport with our parents. We believe in giving our parents direct access to the leadership to enable more opportunities for face-to-face communication. The feedback we receive for all these interactive parent-staff engagement opportunities is extremely positive and encouraging. Our parents have told us that they appreciate the steps that we have taken to enable enhanced communication via email to meet their needs. We will continue to listen and explore other ways to improve the two-way flow of communication.

    The school is currently expanding its administrative staff across all three stages – foundation, primary and secondary – to facilitate better parent-staff engagement.

    Like all the other schools in Dubai, Kings’ follows the mandates and policies as set out by KHDA. Our control on such matters related to KHDA policies and contract is very restricted.

    Kings’ School Al Barsha is still a relatively new school and we are well on the way to overcoming the teething issues that are associated with all new schools. We remain committed to delivering the highest standards of education to our wonderful families that entrust us with their children everyday. We have a solid school leadership focused on delivering positive change at all levels, genuine and passionate support from the School’s founders, an extremely rich and unique child centred approach to learning. This combined with stellar facilities and an highly engaged parent community, suggest of a school that is going to deliver.

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