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Repton School Dubai, Nad Al Sheba 3 – The Review
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Review

Repton School Dubai, Nad Al Sheba 3 – The Review

by January 16, 2016
Strengths

• The only option for parents currently seeking an established, British, full or weekly, boarding school education for their children in Dubai
• Outstanding academics across English, Mathematics and Science at all levels of educational provision
• Interesting architectural and design environment with premier league academic, sporting and broader cultural facilities
• Broad-based, multi-cultural student body
• Particularly outstanding, world class teaching provision “across the board” at Foundation Stages
• Outstanding senior management
• Consistently improving school with strong, focused, pioneering and visionary leadership
• Outstanding Sixth form options including the vocationally/academically balanced International Baccalaureate Career related Programme (IB CrP) (offered since September 2016)

Weaknesses

• Arabic language attainment and provision weak, but this is true of all British schools. It is, however, improving - and their is investment being made in Arabic subjects.
• High fees
• Competition with offshore, European boarding schools
• Lack of advertised scholarship and bursary provision
• Some relative weaknesses in technology provision to support independent learning

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

• Repton bears the price of heavy scrutiny and expectation.
• At its price seen to need to outperform the competition in all areas of operation.
• Strong academics, boarding-infused culture, impressive school architecture and planning, in parts beyond outstanding teaching
• A high quality and empowering school experience

A
Our Rating
B
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Updated July 2017 – Repton School Dubai results, fees and context

Image showing turreted buildings and entrance archway of Repton School Dubai

Repton School Dubai polarises views. Positively, for the second year, it has now, justifiably in our view, secured the KHDA’s second award of Outstanding (2015, 2016) after 6 years of consistent and impressive improvement as a “Good” school. However, Repton is also within a whisker of being the most expensive school in Dubai, measured in comparable day fees, this placing significant pressures on the school to also provide an education that is no less than exceptional, and one that should arguably be available to all children that meet its qualifying criteria for acceptance. Only GEMS World Academy (GWA), reviewed here, two of the Kings schools, reviewed here and here and Swiss International Scientific (SISD), reviewed here, charge fees at this level currently, although all are without  an equivalent boarding option except SISD which will launch boys’ boarding in September 2017 and girls’ boarding the following year in 2018.

Prospective parents should note that, following the publication of SISD boarding fees (January 2017), Repton School Dubai would seem to offer, relatively, extraordinarily good value for its boarding provision. We have conducted extended visits to both schools to understand what the circa 100,000 AED higher annual base boarding fees at SISD offers prospective parents over Repton, but this will remain, to some degree, blurry until SISD launches its boarding (boys-only initially) in September. This said, the schools are fundamentally different beyond their shared boarding offer. Repton offers a hybrid but very British education with the International Baccalaureate Diploma offered at Sixth Form following English National Curriculum IGCSE, whilst SISD is resolutely Swiss in character and offers dedicated all-through International Baccalaureate provision.

Repton School Dubai status as an increasingly well-established boarding school from Year 6 will place it at the top of the list for parents requiring a Dubai-based, British orientated boarding school education for their child(ren) – if only because there is no choice. The school is currently the only British boarding option within the UAE (although Cranleigh will come on stream in Abu Dhabi 9n 2017-18). The boarding school foundation of the school, we feel, has wide ranging impacts on the whole school giving Repton a very distinct and special offering for its day school (and weekly boarding) counterparts that cannot be matched by its competitors also operating within the “premium plus” sector of education within the emirate.

Prospective parents should note that Repton School Dubai differentiates itself from its UK prestige namesake by offering the International Baccalaureate rather than GCE A’ Level. Whilst this sits well within the international context of Dubai schooling, whichschooladvisor argues that a school of this calibre would be well placed to offer an option at 16 for either route (in parallel streams), so enabling it to better meet the different needs of children at this age. It is telling that this has not been offered, although it is likely that the school would argue that the IB, when contextualised within an English National Curriculum education to 16, offers the best of both worlds. We tend to take the view that a parallel stream offers choice – and choice is the bedrock of being able to meet the needs of individual children. This is arguably even more important given that Repton Dubai does not currently offer the International Baccalaureate Career Related Programme (IB CrP) – an alternative to the pure Diploma, and which balances vocational and academic elements, we believe, very successfully. Our view is that this should ideally be offered as par for the course in all IB schools.

Fees themselves top DHS 100,000 for day students and DHS 161,000 for full boarding placing Repton on par with UK boarding schools; heady competition. The Repton School Dubai weekly boarding option, however, offers parents intent on a boarding school education and considering a UK based alternative, much to weigh in the balance.

As a premier school, Repton School Dubai facilities match the best in Dubai. The school has extensive sports facilities, for example, with 3 Sports Halls  and associated sports courts and equipment (including a small climbing wall.) A large Astroturf external sports area compliments these with 2 Rugby pitches and 3 courts for netball, tennis and a plethora of alternative games.  There is an additional large Astroturf area for general sports and recreation as well as a striking 6-lane 25M pool with dive blocks.

Functionally, Repton School Dubai divides up provision very successfully between the four phases of provision: early Years and Primary, Middle, Secondary and Sixth Form.

A map of the Repton School Dubai campus

Early Years and children in  Years 1 to 3 at repton School Dubai are educated on the ground floor with access and comprehensive use of the outside space allocated to each of the (bright and colourfully decorated) classrooms.  Years 4 to 6 are on the first floor. Early Years divides teaching between 6 classes of 20 children, each with a Teacher,  Teaching Assistant (often Mums) and Classroom Assistant. Children have access to a pool, splash pool the broader sports facilities and a large Clinic with resident Doctor who works across the whole school. The Library is split by age, with a spiral staircase to the upper level for Years 3 to 6.  We really liked the addition of ‘Prop Bags’ for the younger ones – a large draw string canvas bag with not only the book, but a range of props (for example, including puppets) to extend and bring to life the subject matter of the book through other materials.  The children can book these out and take them home.  Years 5 and 6 have their lessons in the same format as the Secondary with movement to specialist teachers in dedicated subject classrooms.

At Secondary phase, the proportions are good – with real attention to detail in the layout. Corridor spaces are wide, open and light.  Humanities take up one corridor, Sciences another, MFL another – there is a clear sense of separation between each specialism. The Art facilities at Repton School Dubai are extensive and include 3 kilns, a photography area, dedicated Ceramics Studio and countless opportunities for glass slumping and gel flex modelling.  There is an iMac Lab with apple products. Special Educational Needs facilities are managed by 3 staff and the school has invested in an Educational Psychologist. English classes are deliberately designed with small groups of students. Drama rooms are on two levels and during our visit (February 2017) a production of ‘Annie’ was being arranged. The rooms are well equipped with lighting rigs and are clearly lived-in and loved.  Some might say that might say that the first ten years of the school have taken their toll – but we liked the character. It is worth noting that  phones are not permitted in classrooms, and can only be used with permission. IGCSE classes are typically around 20 students.

Repton School Dubai Sixth Form uses 3 levels of the Library area and has access to its own gym, common room space and specialist resources (including a Careers Advice facility and dedicated Pastoral Care.)  Students can bring their own laptops at 16+ but spares can be booked out of the school if required. Both work and relaxed spaces are well proportioned. IB students set up their own committees and typical class size does not exceed 10 students.

Boarding at Repton School Dubai deserves special mention. It’s fair to say that Repton has pioneered boarding in the Emirates. It certainly infuses every part of the school – one of the great positives of a boarding school is the sense of family and home it brings – certainly to British schools. Day students and weekly boarders add their own twist and contribute to this overall sense of a shared  school that has a life beyond the traditional  end of school day. Boarding fees at Repton are calculated very transparently, essentially weekly or full boarding fees are added to the standard day fees. Other options, for example enhanced EAL, visas, private medical insurance, school transfers and so on are additional and charged for as required. The approach is very different to Swiss Scientific which charges a fixed standard rate to all boarders whether or not, for example, they require specialist extra EAL, or UAE visas or medical insurance (which most children do not).  Clearly the benefits of this approach at Repton School Dubai are that parents will only ever have to cover costs necessarily required by their child(ren), but they will, conversely, need to be aware that the advertised boarding costs are not necessarily fully inclusive for all children. In terms of boarding facilities “on the ground” parents should not expect the advertised bells and whistles of a four star hotel (Swiss Scientific’s ambition) – instead we found something much more aligned with a lived-in, very loved home. During our visit we learned that the Boarding girls had taken the initiative to prepare a meal for themselves at least once a week – a nice social event. One future we really like is the move to dormitories rather than twin rooms. There is a real conviction here, based on experience, that younger boarders in particularly benefit from the sense of community that comes from dorms rather than the isolating impacts of shared rooms.  Again, this is a major difference in approach to Swiss Scientific which argues that children need need their own space.

Repton’s top-end  pricing, to some degree unfairly, inevitably results in concentration on the school’s weaknesses. Expectations are high. These include some parental concerns, for example, about the size of the school for some students (despite a very high staff to student ratio of teaching provision). On this note, we feel, it is simply a business equation that the size of role will always impact positively on the quality of provision for a school which re-invests its income in high calibre teachers and facility improvements (as with the development of the new Arts Centre). Smaller schools have the trade-off that funding is much tighter. In terms of facilities, we like the “lived-in” feel of the school too – it is very far from being a kind of designer bells and whistles style hotel where children might live in fear of actually using the facilities.

REPTON_PROSPECTUS_AMZ

It is also worth noting some further features that we think are important.

First, Repton’s stand-out transparency and communication for parents. It is extraordinary that a number of schools, including Tier 1s, continue to be hesitant, for example, in publishing examination results. Whilst these should absolutely not, we believe, be the sole focus for parents in considering a school, they are part of the picture – and an important one.  Repton publishes its IB results in full, and for the last five years. This is creditable. Repton’s students score well, and in some cases outstandingly. The school is also improving year-on-year as the Diploma beds-in and expertise grows.

Second, we think a school often reveals its character very indirectly. A good example is subject choice. Schools focused entirely on results and league tables often restrict subject choice – and the first options to disappear (or even to have been offered in the first place), are those like Drama. Repton School Dubai is quite opposite. Drama, for example, is central to the curriculum at all phases – with both Cambridge IGCSE and IB Theatre given pride of place and recognition. Drama is a very good example of a whole child subject; it is a link discipline that not only develops vital skills in self expression, confidence and relationship building – but also cross curricular skills in approaching subjects from different angles. It is a subject also valued by universities. Subject choice provides prospective parents, we believe, a necessary balance to just looking at examination performance.

Third, whilst Repton School Dubai is academically selective, this is a school that looks for potential. Repton does carry out rigorous assessments – but parents should not be dissuaded from applying if their child(ren) are not this side of being a genius. For Repton, it is much more about working out the fit of children to the school and whether it will be able to offer the education and environment that they will need to thrive. This is not, resolutely not, a hot house school. As above, nor is it hung up on examination results – the whole child is the core focus of which academic results are very much part of the bigger picture. Our advice is that if you do apply to Repton School Dubai, one thing the school will be looking look for is a passion in each child to be engaged with the school – and to contribute. Do not be fearful of the assessments – rather see them as a way of you and your child(ren) too seeing if the school will fit. It is also worth noting that the school offers excellent provision for Special Educational Needs (SEN), English as an Additional Language (EAL) – and works to nurture those children that are particularly gifted, whether academically, or in other areas including sports and the performing arts.

Fourth, do not expect a school that is “stuffy”! Repton School Dubai, partly because of its fees, and probably in no small part because of its cache, we know does cause some worry amongst parents that the experience for children will be somehow “austere.” On our independent visits to the school, and those of our sister site’s team on whichschooladvisor.com, we found a school very different to this. Our view is that it would be better to describe Repton School Dubai as dynamic and energetic. There is a real buzz about the school – children are engaged and inspired – and this really does come across.  This is a warm school – and our feedback from parents, teachers and students reflect this. we particularly like the comment from one parent that spoke with us who said: “My children learn at Repton because they are happy. It makes all the difference.” It is also telling that a significant number of teachers and school leaders choose to educate their own children at Repton School Dubai.

Fifth, we actually really like the choice of “uniform” in the Sixth Form. Young men and women wear smart suits – and it’s something that simply works. There is a real sense of purpose that comes from this, a quiet confidence and recognition of a bigger world to come. There is also a sense of aspiration that cascades down to the younger children that the school is ultimately there for them as they grow into young adults and that their hard work and investment will be rewarded as they grow with the school.

Sixthly, parents will find that tours at Repton School Dubai are managed by IB students. We like this – you really do get a genuine sense of the school from the children who have traveled its journey. We found too that it was much easier and more comfortable for many parents to ask questions and get a real sense of the school beyond the prospectus or the inherent limitations of what, sometimes, teachers and leaders can say transparently.

Finally, and impressively, Repton School Dubai now (since September 2016) offers the Sixth Form option to study for the International Baccalaureate Career-related Diploma (IB CP/IB CrP). We, and our sister site whichschooladvisor.com,  have long campaigned for all IB schools to offer this outstanding and vocationally balanced alternative to the purely academic International Baccalaureate Diploma. Through provision of the IB CrP, Repton School Dubai is now able to closely match its Sixth Form offer to the individual needs, potential and ambition of its students. Prospective parents should note that the IB CrP is very well respected by top tier UK universities and provides an equally powerful university pre-qualification for graduate study. The CrP also has the added benefit of opening up for young men and women the opportunity of direct entry into industry.

Results are top tier:

IB Diploma Results
Repton School Dubai %
2016 % of students who passed the full Diploma 95.8%
2015 % of students who passed the full Diploma 97%
2014 % of students who passed the full Diploma 90%
2013 % of students who passed the full Diploma 80%
2012 % of students who passed the full Diploma 71%
2011 % of students who passed the full Diploma 65%

 

IB Diploma Year on Year Results
World Average Repton School Dubai
30 34
30 34
30 33
30 31
30 30

 

Repton School Dubai – Bottom line?

The unique atmosphere of Repton School Dubai, genuinely unmatched elsewhere in the sector, creates a very special school with a draw that, for parents able to afford the fees, may be irresistible. In its combination of a British Boarding school style experience, and the flair and ‘feel’ that comes from its Arabic-infused location, strong academics, world-class facilities, architectural environment and mixed cultural student intake, Repton genuinely does fire the imagination.  Unsurprisingly the school deservedly secured elite whichschooladvisor good school status in 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18. We just wish Repton School Dubai would equivalently lead on scholarships and bursaries. This is a school, we feel, whose children would really benefit from all the positive impacts that come from welcoming students from the broadest possible socio economic backgrounds. Perhaps this would be a fitting way to celebrate the school’s tenth anniversary.

Highly recommended.

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Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Outstanding

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Outstanding

2016/17 Rating Secondary / Middle

Outstanding

2016/17 Post 16 / High

Very Good with outstanding features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Outstanding

Type of school

Private (For profit)

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Nursery: 52,863 (Day)
Reception: 58,270 (Day)
YEAR 1: 59,754 (Day)
YEAR 2: 59,754 (Day)
YEAR 3: 61,697 (Day)
YEAR 4: 62,191 (Day)
YEAR 5: 70,221 (Day)
YEAR 6: 70,221 (Day) 136,221 (Full Boarding) 130,721 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 7: 83,604 (Day) 149,604 (Full Boarding) 144,104 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 8: 85,867 (Day) 151,867 (Full Boarding) 146,367 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 9: 88,048 (Day) 154,048 (Full Boarding) 148,548 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 10: 97,527 (Day) 163,527 (Full Boarding) 158,027 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 11: 99,507 (Day) 165,507 (Full Boarding) 160,007 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 12: 103,325 (Day) 169,325 (Full Boarding) 163,825 (Weekly Boarding)
YEAR 13: 103,325 (Day) 169,325 (Full Boarding) 163,825 (Weekly Boarding)

Curriculum

National Curriculum of England
International Baccalaureate (Diploma)

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
Edexcel
International Baccalaureate

IB DipM Pass Rate

2016: 95.8%
2015: 97%
2014: 90%
2013: 80%
2012: 71%
2011: 65%

IB DipM Average Grade

2016: 34
2015: 34
2014: 33
2013: 31
2012: 30

IGCSE A* to C

91%

IGCSE A* to A

54%

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

20

I/GCSEs offered

Geography
History
English
Mathematics
Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry)
Business Studies
Economics
Art
Music
Drama
Information Communication Technology ICT
Design and Technology
Physical Education
Spanish
French
German
Mandarin
Arabic

Selective

Yes
Notes:
(1) Each child is assessed individually "in the round" - and the potential of each child is taken into consideration on application
(2) All assessments are age appropriate
(3) A mix of written, paper and computer-based Cognitive Ability Tests (CATs) are used - children applying for Year 7 onwards take CATs which are computer based.
(4) The assessment process takes 1 hour for Nursery and Reception applicants, 1.5 hours for children applying for entry into Years 1-2, and between 2 and 2.5 hours for children applying for entry into Years 3-6.
(5) Sixth form entry to study for the International Diploma requires a minimum of six grade Bs at GCSE/IGCSE or equivalent. "All applicants will be interviewed and must demonstrate participation in wider school life."
(6) Repton has established systems for identifying Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) as well as Gifted and Talented (G&T) children. Whilst academically selective, the school is fully inclusive and does not discriminate on grounds of SEND, EAL, gender or nationality.

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

2111
Notes:
(1) Emirati: 268
(2) Special Educational Needs (SEN): 151

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:10

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

14%

Year opened

2007

Location

Nad Al Sheba 3, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)

Gender

Mixed co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Evolvence Capital (Mr. Khaled Almheiri)

Admissions Telephone

+971 4 426 9393

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

100%

Attainment Sec SEM

93.3%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

80%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

93.3%

Progress Post-16 SEM

86.6%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

40%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

Not applicable

Islamic St. Primary Results

70%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

70%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

50%

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

100%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

80%

SEN Provision

100%

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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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities