Raffles World Academy, Umm Suqeim 3
• Breadth of facility and ECA provision
• IB Curriculum well suited to high achievers
• Cambridge-backed (I)GCSE curriculum
• Breadth of (I)GCSE provision across Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences, languages and Performing Arts
• High profile governors
• Cross cultural student intake
• Shared staff-student celebration and appreciation of student work
• School operating around 10% above student capacity
• Opacity around student attainment in examinations
• Highly dispersed fee structure does not fit well in any single category
Updated December 2016
Raffles World Academy was established by Emaar Education in 2006 following negotiation with Raffles Campus, a school management company in Singapore, which eventually led to Emaar purchasing the company and “Raffles International” brand outright in 2007.
The Raffles brand was rolled out to the then “Raffles International School – West Campus”; “Raffles International School – South Campus”; “Raffles International School – North Campus”; and “Raffles Nursery.”
As part of the purchase, Ng Boon Yew, the founding chairman of Raffles Campus Singapore, moved to Dubai to set up and run the UAE schools as the chief executive of Emaar Education.
In 2010 Raffles Campus was sold back to its original owners. At the same time Emaar Education completely outsourced management of all its schools to Innoventures as part of its withdrawal from active management in the education sector in order to focus on its core property business.
Despite losing the Raffles Campus link, the schools nevertheless retained the brand name.
In 2010, as Emaar transferred management, there were widespread impacts on the schools under the umbrella, with a number of original staff losing their jobs and significant changes including the loss of the school’s all-girls campus. Some parents withdrew their children and felt that with the change of management and loss of original Raffles link the school’s no longer reflected the Raffles values that had initially attracted them.
The irony in all this is that the Raffles International brand, developed by Raffles Campus, shares no links with the world famous Raffles Institution that initially attracted parents to the school.
Each school was renamed in 2012:
- “Raffles International School – West Campus” became Raffles World Academy;
- “Raffles International School – South Campus” became Raffles International School;
- “Raffles International School – North Campus” became the Collegiate American School;
- Raffles Nursery became Raffles International School Nurseries and numbers 8 Raffles International Nurseries across Dubai including the founding nursery in Umm Suqeim and nurseries at Arabian Ranches; Dubai Marina; The Springs; Dubai lakes, Hattan Gardens; Emirates Hills; and Town Centre.
Innoventures Education itself today runs not only the Raffles schools but also its original Dubai International Academy, which it opened in 2005, and Burj Daycare Nursery which it launched in 2012.
None of Innoventures Education’s schools achieve KHDA “Outstanding” status. All, including Raffles World Academy, are KHDA “Good” schools, the minimum level of educational provision that the Dubai Inspectorate expects in its schools to operate effectively for parents.
In the context of this complicated history, it is far easier to understand the schools as separate institutions and review them in the context of their individual development and provision since 2010 when they were effectively “re-booted” by Innoventures Education.
Raffles World Academy has been rated a KHDA “Good” school for four consecutive years since 2011. It currently provides mixed, co-educational education for 1977 students of which the largest nationality is Arabic, although the reality is a very mixed population in which no obvious nationality dominates. The school stretches over a 30,000 square metre campus in Um Suqeim and currently exceeds the owners advertised total school capacity for 1800 students.
The curriculum is a hybrid, merging International Baccalaureate Primary Years Provision [PYP] with Cambridge International certified (I)GCSE and later International Baccalaureate Diploma level study in the post-16 phase.
Raffles World Academy is not transparent. It publishes no information on the examination successes of its students for either (I)GCSE or the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The result is that parents are not able to benchmark the school’s provision in regard to academic attainment.
The lack of transparency means that we can only provide somewhat compromised information to prospective parents lacking in supporting data:
- The school’s options at (I)GCSE are reasonably balanced between the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences and Performing Arts. Unlike weaker schools, Raffles does provide options for children across the spectrum of talents and fairly meets the needs of its students.
- All (I)GCE provision is backed by Cambridge International, arguably the most prestigious of the awarding bodies.
- The school does not operate dual stream GCE A’ Level, International Baccalaureate as WSA argues would make most sense for a school – if it can afford it (a big if…). The English National Curriculum is dropped entirely after (I)GCSE. At Post-16 all children must sit for one or more International Baccalaureate subjects, although not all children need to sit for a full International Baccalaureate Diploma.
- All children who remain for post-16 provision, whether full International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates or those sitting individual courses can qualify with an in-house award: “The Raffles World Academy High School Diploma.” The value of this diploma is not clear and its “High School” name implies an American accreditation at odds with its hybrid British/IB provision.
- Raffles published no information to enable parents to understand the number of children who enter for, or complete, the full IB Diploma
- The school invests in high quality teaching staff, the largest single nationality of which is British
School facilities are described as “outstanding” by our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. These include a cafeteria; “open and spacious” library set over two floors (“housing more than 27,000 volumes in multiple languages”); wide corridors giving a sense of space and freedom; AV equipped classrooms; Auditorium; Art rooms; computer clusters; prayer rooms; Music rooms; individual atriums in each section of the school for events, exhibitions and activities; Individual Science labs; IT Labs; tutorial rooms; dance studio and a theatre. Sporting facilities include a soccer field; two swimming pools (one shallow learner pool); a sports hall and dedicated courts for basketball, tennis and Badminton.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com describes an “extremely happy school with clear evidence of inspired children and teachers and students very proud of their work: “…the classrooms were [fabulously and richly] decorated with the children’s art and project work […] one year 3 classroom had an area of proudly constructed, elaborate and rather large junk vehicles on display. The happy and slightly less than perfect offerings spoke volumes of the effort and enjoyment the children must have had in constructing them.”
Extra-curricular Activities [ECAs] offer breadth and quality across tennis; swimming; basketball; football; music; model United Nations; drama; painting; technology and clubs for pottery/ceramics; Interact Club (Junior Rotary); Duke of Edinburgh; dance and theatre. The school has a range of paid-for activities including gymnastics; Russian language; boxing; karate; KidzArt; ballet; maths classes by WhizzKids; and hip-hop and jazz dancing classes.
School fee structure is somewhat odd, falling into three categories. Running between 27,981 AED at FS phases to 78,347 AED in Years 11 and 12, the school traverses uneasily the gamut of value, mid-tier and premium fee structures in a single school. This is extremely unusual and as WhichSchoolAdvisor.com notes runs the risk of parents entering the school and being unable to afford the fees in later phases. Whatever the rationale, a more condensed fee structure would benefit parents.
Raffles Head, Julian Williams, is British. A graduate in economics from the University of Wales, he completed his teacher training at the University of Birmingham and was a specialised teacher of economics and law prior to developing more than 14 year’s global experience as a Head working in Malawi, Colombia, China and the UAE.
A consultant in EAL and SEN/G&T education, he holds a Masters in school leadership. He originally joined Innoventures Education in 2011 as Quality Assurance Director and was appointed Principal of Raffles World Academy in 2012. Mr Williams sparked controversy in 2014 when he requested parents to dress appropriately. For many his decision to somewhat courageously put his head above the parapet reflects his commitment to respecting the cultural norms of the UAE and the considerable cultural diversity of his school.
KHDA Inspectors score the school as “Outstanding” in the areas of its (I)GCSE and International Baccalaureate provision; student’s sense of personal, cultural and environmental responsivity across all phases; dedication to the care and safety of its students; parental links; facility provision and governance. Its governing body includes its owners and a mixed who’s who of Dubai business leaders, including Abdulla Majed Al Ghurair; H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash; Toby Hoare; Hamdi Osman and Avishesha Bhojani. Governors are particularly praised for their increasing financial investment in the school with the caution that this must be ongoing if the school is going to improve.
KHDA weakness essentially amount to the school doing what it does but better if it is to reach the status of an “Outstanding” school.
Bottom line is mixed.
Parents expecting a shiny glass and steel Tier 1 will be disappointed. They shouldn’t be, in substance this is a genuinely good school. Without transparency of published information, academically how good is unclear however.
In terms of curriculum, clearly the IB Diploma suits all-rounders academically. For those that are not, an incomplete International Baccalaureate Diploma is precisely that and an alternative school certificate arguably does not have the bite.
Elsewhere, however, in its mix of a genuinely cross-cultural student and teaching body, leadership aspirations for the school and its students; whole-child student dynamics and a curriculum that certainly has the depth to push high achievers, Raffles World Academy delivers.Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
YEAR 1: 43,426
YEAR 2: 43,426
YEAR 3: 43,426
YEAR 4: 52,380
YEAR 5: 52,380
YEAR 6: 52,380
YEAR 7: 59,096
YEAR 8: 59,096
YEAR 9: 59,096
YEAR 10: 65,812
YEAR 11: 78,347
YEAR 12: 78,347
YEAR 13: NA
Primary: International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme [PYP]
Senior: National Curriculum for England (I)GCSE O' Level
Post 16: International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBD]
International Baccalaureate Organisation [IBO]
Cambridge International Education (CIE)
(1) Students sit a fixed number of 8 (I)GCSE O' Levels
(2) Students sit 5 core subjects in English language, literature, mathematics, combined science and a language
(3) Students choose from 3 optional subjects
(4) All subjects are certified by Cambridge International
(5) The school provides confusing information whether Global Perspectives 0470 is available as an option
English – first language (Core)
English – additional language (Core)
English Literature 0486 (Core)
Combined Sciences - Biology, Chemistry and Physics 0654 (Core)
Arabic (Core language option)
French (Core language option)
Mandarin (Core language option)
Business Studies (Option)
Physical Education (Option)
Art and Design (Option)
(1) "Our programmes meet the needs of students who fall within the normal range of abilities. We have limited learning support resources within the school."
(2) "We accept students from any nationality and from any curriculum who are able to demonstrate that they have the ability to successfully access the IB curriculum and who will contribute in a positive way to our school."
School also has an "on-going admissions policy" and "admits students throughout the year dependent on availability of places."
Not publsihed (WSA projected LOW)
(1) School advertises its maximum capacity as 1800 students
(2) School is running approximately 10% over limit but the KHDA reports no cases of over-crowding
Note: "No single nationality stands out either amongst the students or the staff." (whichschooladvisor)
(1) Innoventures Education took over management of the school from Emaar in 2010
(2) School was re-launched as Raffles World Academy in 2012 (from Raffles International School – West Campus)
Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai
Arab (largest nationality)
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 84
Note: "No single nationality stands out either amongst the students or the staff." (whichschooladvisor)
Emaar Properties PJSC
Managed by Innoventure Educational Investments LLC (IVEI)
+971 (0) 4 4271 300
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