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The School of Research Science, Al Warqa 4 – THE REVIEW

The School of Research Science, Al Warqa 4 – THE REVIEW

by August 1, 2019

Updated August 2019 – KHDA 2019 & School of Research Science SchoolsCompared.com 2019 verdict

Children at the School of Research Science in Dubai reading with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Prospective parents should note that The School of Research Science [SRS] moved to landmark new premises in 2014, increasing the student body by 678 from 2047 to 2725 children between February 2014 and September 2015 when the school moved from Al Qusais to Al Warqa.

The new school had an original capacity of 3,000 children and outstanding new facilities compared with an already very good standard of facility provision at the previous school. Total role as of 2019 is around 3,629 children, significantly above the original planned capacity.

Very popular with local families, more than 7 out of 10 students studying at the school are Emiratis. The remainder come largely from Arabic families.

The school is academic, providing the full-phase English National Curriculum from EYFS to GCE A’ Level. The school invests heavily in teaching staff, the majority recruited from the UK. The ethos off the school is resolutely Arabic and Salat, as the second Pillar of Islam, is central to school life. Arabic is spoken throughout the school and, notwithstanding its British curriculum and teaching faculty, the school would not readily suit children who do not speak the language.

Both the girls’ and boys’ sections have their own Musa Ila and Salat Adh-Dhohr is prayed in school. SRS has primary phase prayer rooms and its own Mosque for secondary students – Islamic culture and ethics flourish.

The school’s founders, the Al Shamsi family, set as the mission of the school to create a school for the “future Islamic generation who will be creative, independent thinkers, able to adapt their knowledge and skills to the changing needs of this technological age.”


The school curriculum is modified to nurture and preserve the heritage of Arabic culture across language, literature and history and the school scores “Outstanding” across every phase of the MoE Islamic Studies curriculum.

There are currently 302 teachers supported by 41 teaching assistants delivering an excellent 1:12 teacher:student ratio. Functional curriculum experts are recruited from the United Kingdom, while the board of governors, which provide the school’s direction and context, are largely Arab and UAE based.

Prospective parents should weigh both attainment and progress scoring in the tables and read examination results in the context of SRS being an Arabic school. Whilst other non-Arab schools may report higher overall examination performance and attainment, particularly at younger phases, this will reflect their mixed Arab/Non-Arab school population and not the performance of Arabic students as a group within the school. Child progress here is exceptional. This is an exceptionally high value-added school, fully inclusive with the progress of students outstanding from low baselines.

Whilst resolutely an Arabic school, SRS offers the English National Curriculum to GCE’ A Level, including, impressively, provision to A2 English. This is unusual and ambitious for a school in which English is a second language for students. The vast majority of equivalent schools remove the option altogether. Curriculum breadth of choice is outstanding including Philosophy, Sociology, RE, BTEC Sports Science and the spectrum of core Sciences and English – better than many first language international UK schools. This is not a school hung up on exam league tables, but much more creditably maximising subject choice to meet the needs, ambition, interests, potential and ability of the spectrum of children.

SRS hosted its first cohort of students sitting for A2 Level examinations.

The school does not publish the examination results of children which makes benchmarking difficult.

Both KHDA and British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspections in 2018 and 2015 respectively reflect positively on the school.

The British School Overseas Report on the School of Research Science follows:

School of Research Science BSO

Fees have increased following the move of the school. Fees in 2013-14 ranged from just shy of 23,000 AED rising to just above 43,000 AED. In 2018-19 these have risen to between 34,359 at FS1 to 73,769 in Year 13. This places the school in the lower end of the premium fees sector – but in its combination of Tier 1 facilities; investment in predominantly UK teaching staff; excellent teacher: student ratio; Arabic student body and Islamic cultural foundations SRS offers very considerable value for money with a high ROI compared with alternative English National Curriculum schools, Arabic, British or international/mixed. The high school role is the price parents pay for lower fees – something has to give.

The school’s principal, Nan Billingham, has been with SRS since 2010.

Ms Billingham’s expertise is drawn from five years spent with Cambridge Education as a consultant and Ofsted inspector, this following 16 years’ experience in the UK teaching at The Wesgate School, latterly as Assistant Head. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com feedback from parents and teachers is almost uniformly positive with descriptions ranging from “lovely” to “driven” and “inspiring.”

For both BSO and KHDA inspectorates a defining feature of the school is its ability to deliver rapid academic progress in children entering the school from average starting points, this “accelerating” through the secondary phase. The most telling figure is provided in BOA recording that at secondary phase 90% of children exceed expected progress, and 70% again exceeding projected progress post-16.

This level of added value is exceptional and examination results must be read in this context. We currently only have historic examination data from 2014-15. At this time pupils at the school achieved 86% at IGCSE compared to the UK average of 74%. The percentage of pupils achieving the higher levels of A* and A was 40% compared to the UK average of 18%.

Although in 2014, its opening A2 entrance year, only 10 students sat for A2 examinations (limiting the reliability of this data to guide prospective parents on the quality of post-16 provision), (I)GCSE-level achievement suggests future GCE A‘ Level performance is impressive.

Extra/co-curricular [ECAs] activities are notable for including an emphasis on supporting children through core academic subjects as well as more traditional whole child provision. Activities include Yoga; Etiquette; Gymnastics; Kung Fu; Turkish Language; Chinese Language; Pottery/Ceramics; Food Club; Community Arts; Electronics Club; catch-up Art & DT; ICT/Enterprise; catch-up Economics and Accounting;  History exam skills; Geography exam skills; RS exam skills; Chess; catch-up Mathematics; Core Science catch-up; Creative Writing; Gardening; Duct Tape; Jewellery making; Recycling Model Making; Cartoon Drawing Club; English Homework Club; Arabic Homework; Swimming Club; Football; Ball games; Skipping Club; Healthy Food Club; Cross Stitching; and special programmes designed for identified Gifted and Talented [G&T] children.

The broader Learning without Boundaries [LWB] programme of which ECAs are part include a further extensive sports programme, 30 camping activities annually, overseas trips and volunteering;

School facilities include digital indoor and outdoor classrooms, Art Galleries; 6 specialist D&T Workshops, 3 swimming pools; cafeterias by phase; 2 landmark multi-purpose auditoriums/theatres including 3D cinema provision; landscaped gardens; free-flow FS areas; shaded play areas; football pitches; gymnasium, Performing Arts centres; Mosque; pray rooms; language labs; and conference centre.

KHDA findings are of a “Very Good” school operating with Outstanding features in every area of provision. Significant limited weakness falls in the area of managing data – and area in which many schools have found it difficult to up their games following strengthened demands from the regulator. Data is important because the better a school monitors (and so understands) the progress and attainment of each individual child, the better it can respond to their individual needs. Some parents are also concerned about the pressures of Sixth Form which has had knock on impacts on KHDA scoring.

For WhichSchoolAdvisor.com the bottom line is an overall fabulous, in many ways unique English National Curriculum based Arabic school, offering a rare combination of outstanding facilities, significant investment in teachers; beautiful school buildings and grounds; breadth and quality of academic subject choices at both (I)GCSE and GCE A’ Level; flourishing, inspiring Islamic cultural underpinnnings; committed and investing governors (including the founder) – all combined with some of the best added value schooling available anywhere across the Emirates’ schools.

The School of Research Science bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019

An image of young female students undertaking Lab work in Chemistry at the School of Research Science in Dubai

The School of Research Science is a school operating on the borders of Outstanding” school status in so many areas – and one with the significant remaining capacity to meet its aim to be the best school in its particular sector as it continues to evolve and develop. We just wish the school would publish its examination results – together with the value-added progress data to demonstrate just how credible this school is in its vocation to provide outstanding, inclusive schooling. We also have concerns that the school is running significantly over its published capacity of 3000 children and, to some degree, the downgraded KHDA accreditation to only Good school status reflects this.

Despite its faults, Arabic children seeking to access the highest quality British curriculum schooling in a school environment faithful to their heritage but with a hugely open global critical edge, it is hard to think of a better school. Children are stretched (each child for example must sit a minimum of 4 subjects at AS2 Level) but child progress is absolutely stand-out, subject breadth outstanding (with both extensive academic choices and technical stream BTEC), teaching staff at the top of their game and facilities exceptional.

But the school needs to revisit its capacity to start to put things right.

Recommended with qualification.

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

Rating FS

Outstanding child progress

Rating Primary / Elementary

Very Good - Outstanding child progress

Rating Secondary / Middle

Very Good - Outstanding child progress

Rating Post 16 / High

Good - Outstanding child progress (Outstanding in Science)

Type of school

Private, for profit

WSA Good School

Under consideration 2019-20

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 34,359
FS2: 36,610
YEAR 1: 37,944
YEAR 2: 37,944
YEAR 3: 42,251
YEAR 4: 42,251
YEAR 5: 42,251
YEAR 6: 46,644
YEAR 7: 51,034
YEAR 8: 55,628
YEAR 9: 55,628
YEAR 10: 55,628
YEAR 11: 58,953
YEAR 12: 64,754
YEAR 13: 73,769


National Curriculum for England
(I)GCSE O' Level
GCE A' Level
BTEC (Sports Science)

External Exam Boards

OCR (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA)

Number of A Levels offered


A Levels offered

Health and Social Care
English Language
Business Studies
English Literature
English Language
English Literature
Applied Science
Travel and Tourism
BTEC Sports Science

A Level A* to A

Note: Only 10 students took A Levels in 2014 (first year)
" 100% of students achieved a pass at rates close to the UK average." (BOA)
100% of students awarded grade A–E.
75% of students awarded 2+ A-D
English Literature 100% attained grade A–B
Physics 75% grade A – B
Mathematics s 50% grade A-B
2015 A2 results: not published
AS Levels:
Total sitting AS: 78 students (2014)
A: 25% (2014)
A-C: 55% (2014)
2015 AS results: not published

A Level A* to C

Note: Only 10 students took A2 Levels in 2014 (first year)
" 100% of students achieved a pass at rates close to the UK average." (BOA)
100% of students awarded grade A–E.
75% of students awarded 2+ A-D
English Literature 100% attained grade A–B
Physics 75% grade A – B
Mathematics s 50% grade A-B
2015 A2 results: not published
AS Levels:
Total sitting AS: 78 students (2014)
A: 25% (2014)
A-C: 55% (2014)
2015 AS results: not published


5 or more A*-C: 52% (2014)
Biology: 72% A*-B (2014)
Chemistry: 87% A*-B (2014)
Physics: 83% A*-B (2014)
Mathematics: 67% A*-B (2014)
Arabic: 72% A*-C (2014)
2015 (I)GCSE results: not published


34% 5+ A* and A (2014)
Mathematics: 40% A*A (2014)
2015 (I)GCSE results: not published

Number of I/GCSEs Offered


I/GCSEs offered

Arabic (Core)
Islamic Studies (Core)
English Literature (Core)
Statistics (Core)
Triple Science – Physics, Chemistry and Biology (Option)
Physics (Option)
Chemistry (Option)
Biology (Option)
Law (Option)
Media Studies (Option)
Art and Design (Option)
Geography (Option)
Religious Studies – Islam (Option)
Product Design (Option)
History (Option)
Physical Education (Option)
Business Studies (Option)
Computing (Option)
Drama (Option)
Enterprise (Option)
ICT (Option)
Economics (Option)
French (Option)
Travel and Tourism (Option)


No - fully inlcusive

Waiting list


Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

3,000 capacity
3629 (2019)
3629 (2018)
2725 (2015)

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:12 (2018)
1:13 (2015)

Largest nationality teachers


Teacher turnover

13.4% (low)

Year opened

1998 original Primary School opened in in Al Qusais
2002 Secondary School opened opened in in Al Qusais
2005 Primary School moved next to the secondary in 2005 in Al Qusais
2014-2015 the Primary and Secondary moved to landmark buildings in Al Warqa


Al Warqa 4, Dubai

Student composition

Emirati (largest nationality): 72.5
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 189


Separate stream boys and girls

School canteen



Abdulrahman Al Shamsi
Al Shamsi family

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 601 1011

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM


Attainment Pri SEM


Attainment Sec SEM


Attainment Post-16 SEM


Progress Nur SEM


Progress Pri SEM


Progress Sec SEM


Progress Post-16 SEM


Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)


Arabic Secondary Results (Native)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)


Arabic Primary Results (Add.)


Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)


Islamic St. Primary Results


Islamic St. Secondary Results


Islamic St. Post-16 Results








Quality of teaching


Student personal responsibility


Quality of curriculum


School Governance


SEN Provision



• Exceptional added-value - students achieve outstanding progress in Science, English and Mathematics across all phases
• Outstanding, consistent school leadership with vision and a history of evolving school improvement
• Supporting and empowering school governors including an investing founder committed to delivering the mission statement of the school in full and at an outstanding level
• Capacity to reach outstanding school status
• Beautiful, landmark school buildings, excellent facilities and grounds with investment in landscaping areas internally and externally to create a warm and inspirational school environment for students
• Commitment to Islamic values and broader Arabic culture flourishes throughout the school
• Fully inclusive school entry
• Significant investment in British teaching staff across academic, cultural and sporting disciplines


• Limited teething problems inevitable in the move to new school buildings
• The large 3700 student role will not suit all children more comfortable in smaller community schools

Our Rating
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Arts & Drama
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities

• KHDA “Good” school with predominating Very Good and Outstanding features and exceptional added-value levels accelerating student attainment across all phases.
• A school with the capacity to develop as a benchmark school in the sector with outstanding leadership and a committed, investing Board of Governors.
• Highly recommended.

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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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