Kings’ School Al Barsha, Al Barsha 3 – The Review
• Emirate’s first RSA Opening Minds structured curriculum
• 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
• 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)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good (Note: First Inspection)
Good with Outstanding features (FS Outstanding) (Note: First Inspection)
Good (Note: First Inspection)
Launching September 2017
School in launch
Under review 2016-17
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
RSA Opening Minds
National Curriculum for England:
GCE A' Level
(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.
(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.
(1) Phased opening 2017-19
Art and Design Fine Art
Information and communications Technology (ICT)
(1) Further languages by agreement
(2) Extended Project Qualification
Phased opening 2017-19
Phased opening 2017-19
Results published 2016-17
Results published 2016-17
(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.
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]
Mandarin (Under review for introduction in 2017-18)
Russian (Under review for introduction in 2017-18)
(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
Capacity: 1700 - 1800
(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)
(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
Al Barsha 3, Dubai
British (largest nationality): 40%
Total nationalities: 64+
Special Educational Needs: 60
(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
+971 (0) 4 356 6900
Opening September 2017
Opening September 2017