Repton School Al Barsha – Updated June 2022 – change of name to Repton School Al Barsha
“I am extremely proud of our achievements here at Foremarke School Dubai. Our pastoral care not only aims to prepare our pupils for any challenge they may face in their future but also shapes them into true Foremarkians; children with common sense, who are aspirational and respectful and most importantly, children who will enjoy their education. Our unique small class sizes set us above all other academic institutions in Dubai, allowing for a truly tailored approach for each child. Additionally, children benefit from specialist teaching from Nursery up to Year 6 and this approach is reflected in our latest academic achievements, which has put us well above international standards in all areas of the curriculum.“ Mrs Zoe Woolley, Headmistress, Foremarke
Since the publication of our first look at Repton School Al Barsha (then, Foremarke School Dubai), the KHDA has published the findings of its inspections conducted in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 – and our team conducted its second visit to the school. Repton School Al Barsha is today graded a KHDA “Very Good” school with Outstanding features – this placing it in the second highest tier of the new 6 point scoring which ranks schools in the categories of “Very Weak”, “Weak”, “Acceptable”, “Good”, “Very Good”, or “Outstanding.” On our visit, when we asked how the school wanted to position itself with prospective parents, we were answered as “a school with standards, a will to succeed, teamwork, a balanced curriculum – and the enthusiasm to get stuck in.” This followed an initial “Good School” rating – the highest grade that has historically been awarded to any school in the Emirates on its first inspection. Its sister school, Repton School Dubai is a KHDA Outstanding school.
KHDA. Inspectors praised the following key features at the time of its first inspection:
- “Very good” facilities and resources
- “Very good” teaching and learning at FS phase– with stand-out Outstanding attainment in English
- Students generally make better than expected progress on their projected flight paths in the core Science, English and Mathematics disciplines with teachers adding value to benchmarked ability and talent on entering the school
- Instances of bullying at the school are “extremely rare”
- Teachers have a good knowledge of the individual strength and weakness of their students
- Foremarke School Dubai is fully accessible to children with limited mobility
- The school is committed to – and delivers, small class sizes
These positives align very closely to our experience on visiting the school – and it should be noted that we were given an open door to meet with teachers and interrogate provision independently.
On our visit, we found the following:
- An exceptionally structured and professional school environment. The culture and feel is very much of a traditional top-end British public school. There is an overriding sense of formality, focus on teaching and a shared common purpose to build an extraordinary school.
- Extremely confident and professional teaching staff. As above, lessons have the feel of a very tradition British public school. This is clearly what the school wants to achieve – and they have succeeded on these terms. Several staff have transitioned from the Dubai school’s “parent”, Foremarke School in the United Kingdom, to the UAE to ensure the British feel of the school, and the value of the brand, is protected and nurtured. This follows through to the three-hours each week dedicated to sports – Lacrosse and Hockey, These less commonly practiced sports in the UAE, are given centre stage.
- Facilities are outstanding. From the Reception to the Coffee Shop (promoting healthy cakes and pastries from “Food Nation” on our visit), first impressions are of a polished school that has left nothing to chance – but is also warm and welcoming. The coffee shop had some buzz about it – this is not a school without atmosphere. Sports facilities are fabulous – it is really only the pool that remains to be completed (it should open early in 2017). Classrooms are of a very high standard, not just in equipment, but also in the design and layout which blends successfully a seriousness of academic intent with the informality needed to inspire the imagination and thought of children. We particularly liked each classroom’s access to (shaded) outdoor areas which are designed to balance formal learning with learning through play. Wellington boots are encouraged during garden time for messy outdoor pursuits, telling of the balance of fun and seriousness.
- Class sizes at Foremarke School Dubai are genuinely small – there is clearly an investment being made here. On our visit we found calm lessons with children interacting and evidently enjoying lessons. Children were also very courteous. The sense that lessons go beyond academics to building a sense of etiquette and values extends to the table manners and calm we found at lunch (the 3 course lunch is varied and impressive by non-school standards). Being a Prep school the abundance of specialist teachers is extremely impressive. Many preparatory schools have generalist teachers, covering multiple subjects. Not so at Foremarke – Mathematics, English, Art, Language and Science are all taught in Years 5 and 6 by specialists who are passionate about their subject. We were particularly impressed by one meeting we had with a Science Teacher in his Laboratory – his enthusiasm for his subject and enthusiasm for what Foremarke is achieving was both transparently genuine and inspiring. We particularly liked that children were encouraged to ask questions that were then answered – the curriculum was open to enable children to explore where their inquisitive minds led them. Too often schools constrain learning by closing down questions where they stray beyond the boundaries of defined limits of what is supposed to be learned at each key stage.
- One other feature of the school we liked, and one which is very telling, is the array of literature on possible UK schools for those parents set on an eventual boarding school. What sets Foremarke apart here is the clear diversity of information – schools, for example include both Bedales (one of the progressive UK schools) and Marlborough (more traditional). This suggests, in itself, that this is a school open to building an education around children individually. It also shows a school focused on children’s future. A review of Bedales by our sister site, whichschooladvisor, can be found here and their review of Marlborough here. We understand that 70% of students who graduate from Foremarke School Dubai, go on to attend UK Public or Boarding Schools.
KHDA Inspectors, however, do draw out some balancing weaknesses. Our visit has given us, and the school, an opportunity to address these.
Repton School Al Barsha today has a dedicated Special Educational Needs (SEN) suite, one core weakness and gap in provision on its opening. It is clear a lot of thought is now being pushed into this critical area and we are comfortable that the issue, one of many inevitable in bedding in new school provision, has now been addressed. A new Head of Inclusion was appointed, Mrs Laura Brown, to cater to the 7% of students who require support at both ends of the academic spectrum, from those children requiring extra support to those identified as Gifted and Talented (G&T).
There is now significant support too for dyslexia (and on a spectrum including dyspraxia and dyscalculia) – as well as Aspergers and Autism. Whilst this will always depend on the individual needs of any child, and its severity, this is a school that has really upped its game to compete at the highest level of provision for all children. SEN children now have individual support from Mrs Brown, or a dedicated Teaching Assistant [TA] assigned to them.
In addition, Curriculum Plus sessions are offered before school for Mathematics, reading and writing including handwriting classes, as well as sessions in social skills. Both a Speech and Language therapist, and an Occupational Therapist attend the school two days each week.
The third critique of the KHDA relates to Foremarke provision in differentiation and challenge for Gifted and Talented (G&T) children, particularly in Science, which they see as less developed than best-in-class schools. We have covered this above – this is a very different school since their inspection. The Gifted and Talented Programme is now run in dedicated groups through Curriculum Plus sessions which run before school and are by invitation only.
Of the two remaining issues, a misalignment of the school’s teaching with the requirements of the revised National Curriculum for England and a general need to improve monitoring, assessment, evaluation and targets for students to ensure each child’s education is better mapped to their individual gifts and abilities, we saw no evidence of either and we thought then that many of these points were just the teething issues that come par for the course for many new schools as they develop their individual identities and bed-in their teaching provision.
As of 2017-18 Inspectors determined a, at time of its third inspection, KHDA inspectors found a Very Good School with Outstanding features, a rating it holds today after its fourth inspection. They noted the following trends:
- Core Science, English and Mathematics provision across both FS and Primary phases has risen to be of a “Very Good ” standard.
- Student value added – the progress each child makes from its expected flight path on entering the school to their eventual attainment over time has risen to “Very Good”” across both phases – highly telling of the commitment of Foremarke School Dubai to inclusion and the investment in small class sizes paying dividends
- The personal development of each child, and their whole child development beyond academics is Outstanding
- The calibre of teaching across both phases is of a “Very Good” standard
- The care of children has risen to be of a “Very Good standard”
In a rare turn of phrase, Dubai inspectors described a school that had a “highly engaging learning environment.” This is genuine praise for Foremarke School Dubai from an Inspectorate not known for their hyperbole.
Headmistress, Mrs Zoe Woolley, was recruited in-house. She brings with her creditable history at Repton School Dubai, initially leading the teaching of Mathematics in the Junior School before taking over management of the Infant School. A mathematician and educationalist by training (UK), Mrs Woolley started her career as a Primary school teacher in London. Management roles in the UK followed across both the public and private sector before her moving to the UAE.
We asked Mrs Woolley what her greatest challenge was moving forward. Her answer was extremely telling. She answered by saying that her absolute priority was her teachers. She wanted to provide the very best level of induction for new teachers and develop highly structured career progression and development for her existing faculty. She wanted to create a school which created a “home” for children and staff in which pride and inspiration in equal measure created a positive environment for both. Her ambition is a school in which teachers and children are so happy, inspired and achieving that they “never want to leave.”
It is rare for a Head to concentrate so much on teachers – but, it is also very impressive because it is teachers (and children) that make a school, not facilities and bricks and mortar.
As of June 2022, it has been announced that Zoe Woolley has been appointed as one of the first female heads in Saudi Arabia and the first female Headmistress of Jeddah Prep and Grammar school in Jeddah, a role that will see her move from Repton Al Barsha at the start of the 2022-23 academic year.
The school announced that:
“Vice Principal Steven Lupton will take over as Interim Principal of Repton Abu Dhabi with the existing senior leadership team including Aran Smith, Acting Vice Principal and Headteacher of Junior School, Stephen Davis, Headteacher of Senior School and Marie Al Nasrawi as Headteacher of Rose campus at Repton Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, in September 2021, Repton Al Barsha had appointed Chandini Misra as the new Head of Senior School to spearhead the school’s expansion into Senior School.”
David Cook, Chief Education Officer for the Repton Family of Schools in the UAE, and Headmaster of Repton School Dubai remains instrumental in the evolution of all Repton Schools. We rate Mr Cook an outstanding school leader and his role in transforming Repton has been instrumental and inspiring.
The moves are being driven by Repton School Al Barsha’s transformation from being on launch the only Preparatory schools in Dubai for students from FS1 to Year 8 with an aim of supporting students wishing to take the UK Public school Common Entrance examination to its evolution as an all-through school. Year 9 opened in academic year 2020-21, Year 10 in academic year 2021-22 with successive years opening in gradual and careful phases. Fees from Year 7 to Sixth Form are fixed at AED 83,000. The school differentiates itself from Repton Dubai in its offering a GCSE – gold standard A Level British education (Repton Dubai offers a GCSE – IB Diploma or IB Career-related Programme education).
Our earliest review of the school began with the statement that:
“With Foremarke School, it is appropriate to start with our conclusion. This is a school that will provide a very, very good education for some children, but not all. Foremarke is an academic school and academically selective.”
Repton School Al Barsha is still a school that strongly focuses on academics. But, it is now a much more balanced and inclusive one. And we like it a lot. We have specifically been asked in this regard to emphasise that the school has changed its approach to admission and does welcome the broad array of children.
The most simple way of understanding Repton School Al Barsha today in its new incarnation is as a premium, tier 1 all-through school focused on delivering a British preparatory education from FS1 to Year 8 followed by all-through Tier 1 Secondary education to International GCSE and A Level.
Repton School Al Barsha has also seen a very significant adjustment to its fees. The school’s KHDA accredited fees in 207 vied for the title of the most expensive in the Emirates (just pipped by GEMS Nations Academy which no longer exists) rising from 90,000 AED at FS-Year 2 phases to 98,000 AED between Year 3 and Year 6. Today, some five years later, school fees range between AED 49,500 at FS1 to AED 83,000 in Year 13.
|YEAR||TOTAL ANNUAL TUITION FEES|
|Year 1 & Year 2||AED 59,500|
|Year 3 & Year 4||AED 64,500|
|Year 5 & Year 6||AED 69,500|
|Year 7 – Year 13||AED 83,000|
Repton School Al Barsha bases its offer on the National Curriculum for England [NCE] but it is very much a bespoke syllabus in which the NCE provides the framework.
Between Years 3 and 4 children at Repton School Al Barsha are immersed in study of English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, French, Art, Drama, ICT, Music and Sport.
In Years 5-6 physics, chemistry and biology are added to core subject provision. Art and Arabic are both taught from Year 1. French is taught by specialist teachers from Reception. The provision of Arabic at this young age is critical to giving children the best possible chance to absorb the complexities of the language – many schools, we feel, leave the teaching of Arabic to late.
In Years 7-8 Repton School Al Barsha broadens the curriculum to offer the spectrum of Design and Technology options supported by impressive and extended labs facilities.
ECA enrichment adds to this exceptional investment in language by Foremarke School School Dubai with extended language provision in Spanish, Latin and/or Mandarin together with peripatetic music lessons and an array of options across culture and sport.
Music lesson are provided privately at the “Foremarke Conservatoire” which operates each Saturday when the school opens specially for a full day of (optional) music-based education.
Repton School Al Barsha core sports are Football, Rugby Sevens and Cricket for boys and Netball, Football and Rounders for girls – as well as Hockey and Lacrosse (discussed above).
Prospective parents should note that full contact Rugby Sevens is taught from Year 4 despite recent medical discussions in the UK that focus on whether, on safety grounds, school rugby should move to its “touch” variant. We would like to see, on safety grounds, all schools, and particularly at younger phases, moving to provision of Touch Rugby only – but this is our view, and one among many. Swimming is being held at the impressive Hamdan Sports Complex, the recent host of the FINA World Swimming Championships, whilst the pool is completed.
Repton School Al Barsha facilities include a landmark 25 metre competition swimming pool; separate Foundation School swimming pool; three netball and tennis courts; two multi-purpose outdoor courts; three multi-purpose sports halls; two junior cricket fields including one grass wicket; four junior sized football/rugby pitches; indoor and outdoor cricket nets; tiger turf and grass pitches; and a (stunning) sports Pavilion with hospitality, changing and viewing facilities. Although the ultra-premium Tier 1s with which Repton School Al Barsha is competing are increasingly seeking to differentiate their swimming provision with Olympics standard 50M pools, it is arguable that for a preparatory school this would simply be overkill. Very few UK cities can afford the luxury of a 50M pool for their entire populations.
Broader academic and arts facilities at Repton School Al Barsha include a fully digital Mac centred campus with 1:1 iPad provision; architecturally stunning buildings and landscaped grounds; 3 Science Labs by subject, 3 Fine Art rooms; 2 music centres; 6 practice rooms; Robert Holroyd Library featuring ionic columns of and a portico window onto the Dubai skyline; and 3 multi-purpose halls offering the breadth of concert, theatre, assembly and broader cultural and sporting facilities for students.
One unusual feature of the school is its decision to mirror UK timings for schooling, this resulting in a later, 8:30 am start for the school. This will particularly benefit parents with children at other schools, enabling them to stagger dropping off their children. We really like the daily opportunity for parent teacher discussion during a 20-minute slot each morning from 8:10am to 8:30am. The school is very keen to invest in parents and build links between school and home.
Repton School Al Barsha operates a house system for pupils only which divides them between six houses when entering the school. The houses are named after former and the current head of Foremarke Hall.
The school’s links with its former home school, Foremarke Hall, in Derbyshire, and Repton School United Kingdom is genuine. Repton UK remains a strong partner in the school rather than a franchise licensee and plays a central role in driving the school’s identity and standards. Prospective parents should note that Foremarke Hall in the UK is Repton’s Preparatory School, and it is interesting that Repton in both Abu Dhabi and both Dubai campuses/schools, have all now been established as all-through schools rather than having Foremarke playing the role of an exclusive natural preparatory slipstream. There is no longer a “Repton” option for those parents who want the choice to place their children in a school that both specialises in, and is dedicated to, (only) early years education. There is a view that separate schooling in many cases allows children to enjoy their childhood in isolation of the distractions that come from combination all-through schools.
One major stand-out feature of all Repton schools is the commitment to scholarships. This is now longstanding and highly creditable. The school’s international inclusiveness and global outlook is another standout feature.
Bottom Line? Repton School Al Barsha The SchoolsCompared Verdict 2022
In our earlier review we thought it too early to provide a considered recommendation. Whilst the school does continue to undergo its phased launch, now to all-through provision through GCSE to gold standard A Level, it is however, no longer in flux.
This is, for us, a school that shines. It has confidence, and staff and pupils are very clearly inspired. We, and our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, are optimistic. This is a school that is proving its mettle and meeting its very clear potential, ambition and trajectory to be an outstanding Tier 1 school – just as is the case with its sister schools in the UAE.
Repton School Al Barsha had already become the first school in the UAE, and only the second school globally, to have been given the status of an IAPS World Hub School, by The Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS). And the school has been assessed positively by Repton UK whose report can be found here. Prospective parents should note that whilst the report is not wholly independent, it strikes a balanced note in recommendation for improvement. Again, however, since the inspection was undertaken, many of the points raised have now been addressed.
With scholarships now in place, we would like to see all Repton schools now publishing transparent and open details of bursary provision for those unplannable situations in which parents find themselves struggling through no fault of their own, including, for example, loss of employment. This has always been a live issue – but post-Covid it is now very much at the fore.
As it stands, however, Repton School Al Barsha is offering a very, very good education to its children. We particularly draw the attention of prospective parents to the small class sizes that remain fundamental to its approach – and in no small part provide justification for its very high fees. But we also draw attention to the Head who has undertaken very significant changes to the school, particularly in the area of inclusion and investment in teachers and children. It really shows.
Repton School Al Barsha is a school that has found its soul. It brings to the education of its children all the benefits of its alignment with the values and British tradition of its UK namesake, but adds the commitment to inspiring children with the cultural frame of its Arabic home, and a new found recognition of the sparkle and heart that comes from a more inclusive approach to admissions. It is a school that finds the best from all these things and becomes more than the sum of its parts in so doing.
Highly Recommended for all it does so well. And for being a particularly inspirational school too…
You can visit the official site of Repton School Al Barsha here.
Very Good school with Outstanding Features
Very Good school with Outstanding Features
Good with Very Good and Outstanding features
(1) First inspection and second inspections
Good with Very Good features
Very Good with Outstanding features
Under review 2020
YEAR 1: 71,100
YEAR 2: 71,100
YEAR 3: 76,500
YEAR 4: 76,500
YEAR 5: 76,500
YEAR 6: 76,500
YEAR 7: 83,000
YEAR 8: 83,000
National Curriculum for England
Bespoke Foremarke IB / UK preparatory
11+ 13+ Common Entrance
(1) Curriculum is academically demanding and designed to extend and challenge pupils. The school will benefit academically gifted children or children with high academic potential.
(2) As part of the admissions process, all children are assessed. Assessments are conducted in English, Mathematics and Reading.
(3) All prospective parents are invited to meet with the Headmistress, Mrs Woolie
(4) Parents must disclose any factor which may affect their child(ren)'s ability to cope independently within a normal school situation.
(5) If a child has learning difficulties and has an IEP, this must be presented as part of the application. Failure to disclose any learning difficulties or medical conditions at the time of application may result in a place being withdrawn.
(6) Any offer made by the school is subject to being able to meet the individual needs of the child.
(8) Significant support is offered for Special Educational Needs [SEN] both through dedicated staff and facilities
(9) Significant specialist support is offered for dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger syndrome.
(10) Both a Speech and Language therapist, and an Occupational Therapist, attend the school two days each week.
(1) Average class size is 17
(2) Maximum class size is 20
(3) 76+ total teaching staff including teaching assistants and supporting staff
2013-14 (phased launch to 2017-18)
Dubai Science Park, Al Barsha South, Dubai
British (largest nationality): 72%
Total Nationalities: 42
English as an Additional Language (EAL): 1%
Special Educational Needs: 5%
Evolvence Knowledge Investments Limited
Evolvence Capital Limited
Foremarke School UK
+971 (0) 4 818 8666
• Academically selective
• Results consistently outperform relative international benchmarks by phase
• Outstanding facility provision
• Strong emphasis on sport (3 hours per week from Year 2)
• Stunning campus and architectural design
• Dedicated preparatory provision offering targeted highly specialist educational provision until Year 8
• In situ home or nursery visits prior to children starting at Foremarke
• Slipstream to Repton in Year 9
• Long-term discounted founding fee structure for all children until 30th June 2019
• Outstanding new Principal
• Outstanding provision for Special Educational Needs
• Very significant investment in teachers. We found hugely inspired faculty passionate about the school and the children under their care
• Founding parents and children have a genuine opportunity to shape the school during its launch phases
• Small class sizes with high levels of differentiation to meet the individual needs of academic children
• Backing of Evolvence Knowledge Investments Limited - a new, but proven, Tier 1 school provider with a bank of flagship schools already operating in the Emirates
• Investment in new facilities including landmark swimming pools, sports pitches and two dining halls (2018)
• Scholarship provision from Years 6 - 8
• High fees - but these have been heavily discounted from those advertised at launch
• Some will question why to apply to a preparatory rather than a through-school given the potential upheaval children will face in slipstreams from Year 9, however there is a strong argument that children benefit from this separation.
• Academic schools do not suit all children
• Ongoing investment needed in Arabic subjects (particularly in encouraging cross curricular links)