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Al Salam Private School. Al Nahda 2, Al Ghusais – The Review
Academic
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Review

Al Salam Private School. Al Nahda 2, Al Ghusais – The Review

by August 11, 2019
Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

Rating FS

Good

Rating Primary / Elementary

Good

Rating Secondary / Middle

Very Good

Rating Post 16 / High

Good

Type of school

Private, for profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Nursery: 23,000 (8:00 AM - 1:00PM)
FS1: 16,580
FS2: 17,020
YEAR 1: 17,525
YEAR 2: 17,930
YEAR 3: 18,135
YEAR 4: 18,785
YEAR 5: 19,045
YEAR 6: 19,690
YEAR 7: 22,175
YEAR 8: 22,990
YEAR 9: 24,485
YEAR 10: 25,510
YEAR 11: 29,130
YEAR 12: 30,690
YEAR 13: 33,400

Curriculum

National Curriculum of England

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
Edexcel

Number of A Levels offered

0
(10 AS Levels offered)
Promise of A Level provision from September 2019 at new Al Salam Community School

A Levels offered

Currently AS Levels ONLY:
English Literature
Chemistry
Physics
Biology
Mathematics
Information and Communication Technology [ICT]
Geography
Accounting
Business Studies
Economics

A Level A* to A

AS Levels ONLY
35% (2015)

A Level A* to C

AS Levels ONLY
60% (2015)

IGCSE A* to C

99% (2015)

IGCSE A* to A

73% (2015)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

16

I/GCSEs offered

English Language
Mathematics
Information and Communication Technology [ICT]
Biology
Physics
Chemistry
French
Arabic
Business Studies
Accounting
Economics
Environmental Management
History
Travel and Tourism
Islamiyat
Global Perspectives

Selective

Yes

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1266

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:16

Largest nationality teachers

Indian

Teacher turnover

9%

Year opened

2002 (evolved from 1985 villa nursery)

Location

Al Nahda 2, Al Ghusais, Dubai

Student composition

Pakistani (largest nationality)
Emirati: 213
SEND: 174

Gender

Mixed co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Private

Admissions Telephone

+971 4 267 9594

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

60%

Attainment Pri SEM

46.6%

Attainment Sec SEM

80%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

60% (English is not taught)

Progress Nur SEM

60%

Progress Pri SEM

60%

Progress Sec SEM

80%

Progress Post-16 SEM

70% (English is not taught)

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

40%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

60%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

60%

Leadership

80%

Community

80%

Facilities

60%

Quality of teaching

60%

Student personal responsibility

90%

Quality of curriculum

75%

School Governance

60%

SEN Provision

80%

Strengths

• A very good standard of secondary education with outstanding Year 11 results in Science, Mathematics and English
• Investment in coding skills from a young age - rare in a school at this fee level
• Ambitious, new school leadership
• For many children, the school offers outstanding value for money when value is measured restrictively against student attainment, particular;y at GCSE.
• A Good standard of Arabic subjects provision, rare in English National Curriculum schools with an inspiring reflection of Arabic culture and Emirati culture
• A small school by Dubai standards
• Very low fees, particularly for an English National Curriculum school
• Promise of A Level provision from September 2019
• Clear commitment to SEND
• Relatively low teacher turnover (9%)
• As the school returns to Primary-only provision in September 2019 we will revisit our review

Weaknesses

• Complete lack of any Post 16 provision in English
• Facilities lack the “bells and whistles” and some basic facilities increasingly expected by parents
• Some parents will be concerned at a relative lack of British teachers within a British school
• Current lack of A2 subject provision and inherent Gifted and Talented [G&T] child pathways
• Relatively weak formalized performing arts provision although there has been strengthening of provision in music
• Weak sporting provision
• Deterioration of school transparency

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

• A KHDA Good school
• WhichSchoolAdvisor.com “Seriously affordable British Schools in Dubai” status
• Visionary leadership with, as importantly, the capacity to improve the school
• For parents with limited means, particularly of Arabic and Pakistani children, seeking an (I)GCSE heavyweight British education only to AS Level, Al Salam Private School still comes top five in the UAE.
• Arguably a school that understands, and delivers to the needs of, its target parents - and in this context it's hard to critique. On it's own terms its hugely successful and impressive.

B
Our Rating
B-
User Rating
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Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
26%
In my Top 5
48%
Shortlisted
9%
A possibility
9%
Pass
0%
No way
9%

Updated August 2019 – Al Salam Private School provision, move to return to original vision of a dedicated Primary School from September 2019, transfer of Middle, Secondary and Post-16 provision to new Al Salam Community School from September 2019, KHDA 2019

Established in its current form in 2002 as a near full spectrum nursery to secondary school (current provision is only to KG12/AS Level), Al Salam Private School, based in Al Nahda 2, traces its roots back to 1985 as a micro villa school.

Map showing location of and directions to Al Salam Private School in Dubai

The school is currently (2019) rated Good with Very Good and Outstanding features by the Dubai Inspectorate of schools and has held its Good School rating consistently for the last eight years.

Offering a British education aligned with the English National Curriculum, Al Salam has a fabulously warm, structured environment premised on 4 “Houses”: Windsor, Tudor, Norman and Stuart. Other British influences are found in the school’s election by peers of Head Girl, Head Boy, School Captains, School Vice Captains and Prefects.

School facilities at Al Salam include a science laboratory, computer lab, canteen, library, covered play areas, multi-purpose hall, 3 playgrounds and fully equipped nurse’s clinic with a full time school doctor and two full time school nurses.

Whilst Al Salam Private School does not advertise itself as selective, prospective parents should be advised that entrance requires some hurdles. Prior to admission in FS1, students must have attended Nursery for at least 6 months and must undergo a play-based interview. Entrance between FS2 to Year 10 requires a written entrance exam in English, Mathematics and Arabic to assess their academic ability, followed by an interview with a required passmark of 85%. The school is, however, unambiguously and genuinely SEND inclusive.

Al Salem Private School has had a number of outstanding historical strengths in the areas of examination performance, transparency, continuity and strength of school leadership, whole child development and fee structure value.

This should be balanced with our noting that Al Salam Private School’s low level of fees limits its ability to invest in a number of areas including British teaching staff; post-16 subject choice; A2 provision; facilities (which are relatively basic); and SEN, compared to Tier 1 English national curriculum schools in the sector. Over the last two years the school has also significantly reduced its transparency in the publication of examination results and broader curriculum offer. 

The SchoolsCompared.com Visit 2017-18

It is impossible to understand Al Salem Private School without reference to its instrumental, exceptionally highly though of founder and current CEO, Sue Johnston. We visited Al Salem Private School immediately after Mrs Johnston’s departure from the school as Principal, a role she had held for some three decades.  At the time of our visit, school leadership had passed to Mr Kausor Amin Ali, a Sheffield graduate with considerable experience in UK education prior to his appointment as Chair of the Board of Governors at Al Salam Private School in 2016. We understood from Mr Ali at the time of our visit that Mrs Johnston, whilst retaining engagement day-to-day with the school strategically, would focus more on future planning for the school, and potentially the opening of a new school. This was at the time very much off the record.

As of May 2019, we can confirm the planned opening of a new all-through school, Al Salam Community School, in September 2019. As our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor, commented: “The expansion of Al Salam’s brand of education is a significant achievement for the sector in Dubai, as no other stand-alone school, with an average of fee of AED 23,000 has expanded to open a second campus in the past five years.”

During our SchoolsCompared.com visit, we felt that the founding  school did require further investment, particularly in the number of teaching faculty for children. This said, we noted stand-out examples of SEND provision and were very impressed with the clear ambition of Mr Ali and his planning for the school’s journey ahead under his leadership.  

From February 2019, school leadership has passed to Craig Dyche-Nichols, who brings almost two decade’s experience in education, eight of which have been in the UAE. Latterly, Mr Dyche-Nichols was school Principal of Oaktree Primary School and previous experience included his role as Head of Middle School at GEMS Cambridge International in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Kausor Amin-Ali will has moved to take up the role of Founding Principal of Al Salam Community School. 

At this point Al Salam Private School will return to offering Primary education only, in our view, a level of provision which will fit much better with the constraints and level of facility provision at the current site. 

Al Salam Private School Examination Results

The school’s achievement of excellent examination performance has, historically, competed with the best Tier 1 schools, particularly at (I)GCSE and in post-16 Mathematics:

IGCSE Results2015-162014-152013-142012-13
% A*- C98.1%99.2%99.1%100%
% A*- B91.3%89.5%92.1%91.8%
% A*- A72.2%73.0%72.4%62.3%
 % A* 36.1% 40.1% 40.7% 32.1%

 

AS Results2015-162014-152013-142012-13
% A – C77.2%93.2%65.2%79.5%
% A – B64.9%79.5%92.1%59.1%
% A42.1%61.4%34.8%25.0%

 

Al Salam Private School, however, has not published its examination results for the last two years following its change of school leadership, although we understand, informally from the school, that examination performance has been maintained. Examination performance is by no means the only metric for defining a school’s success, or ability to deliver for children. Subject breadth, the ability of a school to provide for each child’s needs, potential and ability, child welfare and happiness, child progress and achievement above expectation (something much more measurable in academically inclusive schools), whole child development, the calibre of teaching faculty and leadership, and the ability of a school to both protect mother tongue languages whilst delivering skills in the core school language of instruction, SEND provision for the most vulnerable children of determination  – all these areas combine to present a true picture of a high performing school. 

Al Salam Priviate School Bottom Line? The SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2019

A highly nurturing and unique school culture that stems in part from the villa nursery grounding of the school and fees that run up to 25% less than those of Dubai’s most expensive schools are probably the key defining features of this school.

Our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor notes:

“… for many parents the school is likely to not even be ‘on their radar,’ this little gem is long established, small and highly affordable with an exceedingly active SEN department and predominantly non-UK teachers. The school’s dazzling IGCSE results in 2015 spoke for themselves, sitting as they did only a fraction below those of Dubai College.”

Al Salam Private School is a complex school, however, to judge. In many areas it falls significantly short of its competition. Those weaknesses, where they fall in the area of “bells and whistles,” will for many parents be less important. Other weaknesses, particularly in the breadth and range of Post 16 subject provision will be of greater concern. As above, on our last visit we also found a school that we felt required greater investment, particularly in the availability of faculty.

The best schools in this sector offer continuity in the teaching of English which is dropped at Al Salam. From September 2019 the school plans to open all-through provision to Year 13 and full A’ Level which will, dependent on outcomes, and breadth of subject choice, potentially alter our view of provision. Frustratingly, for a school recognised by us historically for its high levels of transparency for parents, none of this information is currently published.

Given the lack of published information currently, all we can offer is an historical, rather than current, view.  In academics, but also transparency, leadership, charitable whole child activities (HUGS (Help Us Give Support)), extra-curricular activities and engagement – and particularly in value for money, Al Salam Private School once operated at a high level, in some cases outperforming schools, in results, where many would not anticipate the school even being in the running. Today, however, the school does not publish any information on subject breadth or the curriculum, or provide details of examination performance, this making a current verdict difficult.

The bigger picture here is the complex balancing of outcomes and afford-ability.  Al Salam is a for-profit school. It has none of the abilities of the not-for-profits to re-invest and it’s fee income is limited. There will inevitably be trade-offs and ROI here is an individual issue.  Families will have to determine whether trade-offs here, and balancing strengths, will meet the needs of their child (ren). At the least, what we can say, is a good school rating at this fee level is some considerable achievement and that both school leadership and ownership is driven by ambition for the children under their care. 

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

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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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