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Dubai Scholars Private School, Al Ghusais School Zone, Al Qusais
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Review

Dubai Scholars Private School, Al Ghusais School Zone, Al Qusais

by March 5, 2016
Strengths

• KHDA Good School
• Outstanding English, Mathematics and Science core area provision at (I)GCSE
• An established school with brand value in its sector
• Very low levels of teacher turnover suggestive that the school is highly nurturing of its staff

Weaknesses

• Severely compromised and restricted curriculum at (I)GCSE and GCE A’ Level
• No Post-16 Arts provision
• An English National Curriculum school with no GCE A’ Level English provision
• Lack of transparency
• Some misleading marketing to prospective parents
• Older, limited facilities
• Weakness in curriculum and timetabling limits student options
• Confused information on (I)GCSE curriculum

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

• Dubai Scholars Private School is very narrowly focused school that does not offer Arts or Social Sciences within its curriculum.
• For children studying within its limited curriculum it offers excellent results up to (I)GCSE
• As children will develop their gifts whilst at the school, however, many children will be forced to follow ill-suited programmes of study or leave the school.
• On this basis, Dubai Scholars Private School cannot be recommended without very serious qualifications, and then only to a limited pool of students

C+
Our Rating
B+
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
33%
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33%
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33%
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Updated December 2016

Dubai Scholars Private School [DSPS] brands itself as having academic foundations rooted in the “British model for teaching and learning, offering students a rigorous program to progress from one stage to the next supported by classroom interactions that challenge students to think deeply.”

The school is run for profit and, founded in 1976 as a micro primary school operating from a villa in Deira, was the first school opened by the Scholars International Group [SIG] which today owns the Scholars International Academy, Sharjah and the newly established Clarion School in Dubai.

Dubai Scholars educates around 1600 predominantly Indian students each year from FS1 to Year 13 offering the English National Curriculum from EYFS through EDEXCEL structured GCE O’ to GCE A’ Level. The school is selective and “enrolls only the most qualified students from a large applicant pool. Passing the entrance examination is required [… and the school considers] other student characteristics such as prior achievements, extra-curricular activities, special talents and personal qualities.” DSPS “seeks to admit only those students that are best suited to take advantage of what Dubai Scholars has to offer.”

The school’s fees are firmly in the value segment ranging between 13,682 at FS stage through to 24,863 for Years 12 and 13 – although at the pricier end for an Indian curriculum school. The transparency of Dubai Scholars’ fee structure is to be applauded. Writes our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.com: “the structure is simple and clear for parents – without any of the multiple and confusing additions characteristic of a number of other schools in the value sector, which often add very significantly to the misleading headline figure.”

School facilities are adequate and good for the value sector. They include swimming pool; sports field; multi-use gym; playground zoned by children’s age; and FS and senior phase libraries. This said, the school moved to its premises in the early 90’s and is ageing. In the context of a whole school sector in Dubai that is increasingly being driven to up its game by the Dubai government, Scholars’ requires investment across its buildings and facilities provision to keep up.

Scholar International’s CEO, Aparna Verna, took over the running of Dubai Scholars following the death of her parents in a car crash. At just 17 she returned to Dubai in the middle of her High School studies in Mumbai to take over the school, at that time operating across 8 villas. Her inspiring story of resilience and dedication, against the odds, which included surviving breast cancer at 36, is very much part of the story of the school which, with a 40-year history behind it, is one of Dubai’s oldest.

The question, however, is whether the school stacks up. The school itself argues that it is “one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the UAE” offering “an exceptional educational opportunity to all who are admitted to Dubai Scholars.” However, the school is unclear even on the basics.

The nature of Scholars’ provision at (I)GCE O’ Level is confused. On its web site parents are advised that students have two core subjects, English Language and Mathematics with students then needing to choose four optional subjects. The optional subjects are grouped because of the limitations of timetabling

Alternatively, it states that all students must take 11 courses leading to GCE O’ Level with core subjects being in ICT, English Literature, Mathematics, Science and Additional Science (drawn from Biology, Chemistry and Physics) together with 5 optional GCSE subjects and two non-examined courses in Physical Education and Personal and Social Health [PHSE].

Finally, in its most recent publication, Scholars states that “Students … select their options for subjects in Grade 8 and are required to take 8 subjects. Required subjects are Mathematics, English Language and either Islamic Studies (for Muslims) or Environmental Studies (for Non-Muslims). Optional subjects are Hindi or Urdu or French; Human Biology or Economics; Physics or History; Chemistry or Accounts; Biology or Business Studies.”

Because the school is not transparent and does not provide a comprehensive breakdown of student examination performance, the best that can be said reliably is that students will sit a minimum of 6 (I)GCE O’ Levels with a minimum core provision of English Language and Mathematics and a minimum of four optional subjects from a restrictive pool. Further, Muslim students must study Islamic studies with “the intention that this will lead to GCSE religious Studies (Islam)” and Arabic students will study Arabic, again with “the intention” that this will lead to a GCSE.

It should be noted that, whatever the number of subjects students can sit, the subject choice on offer is extremely limited and biased heavily towards the sciences.

Examination results seem excellent but with the qualification that the figures provided by the school are also unclear, based only on children at the school achieving grades A*E and excluding children who do not sit examinations or achieve U grades which would reduce the percentage. Nevertheless, at (I) GCE O’ Level, 65.58% of children in 2015, measured on this basis secured A*A grades and 96.5% of children achieved A*C grades.

The story at GCE A’ Level is much more confused, diffuse and certainly restrictive.

Scholars brands itself as offering an A’ Level programme with a “strong focus on academic development,” claiming that its academic focus is “attested to by being a certified [EDEXCEL] A Level testing centre for the UAE – a privilege given only to schools of the strongest academic achievement.”

It should be noted by prospective parents that being an A Level testing centre for Pearson-Edexcel is subject to a ‘simple application” and Pearson does “not certify that its testing centres are academically high achieving schools.” [Pearson UK, 2016].

This is an unfortunate and misleading claim and parents are advised to look at the schools offer and achievements rather than focusing attention on its being a testing centre.

Scholars also claims that:

“The Post-16 Curriculum contains … a wide range of A Level examination subjects from which students may select a field of study appropriate to their ability, interests and likely choices for higher education.”

This is certainly misleading.

First, students can ONLY choose from 7 subjects, these limited to Accounts; Business Studies; Economics; Physics; Chemistry; Biology; and Mathematics.

Second, on this basis, Scholars’ offers no Arts provision whatsoever. For children gifted in Arts they will have no choice but to leave the school. Prospective parents should note this when considering Scholars – this is not in practice a school that is capable of providing full-phase post-16 provision for all children.

Third, and, tellingly for an English National Curriculum school, no provision for the study of English post-16 is provided.

Fourth, Year 13 is optional and only two subjects can be studied each year. The implication is that GCE A’ Level is provided to AS level, and /or that children can only study for two subjects.

On this basis alone, Scholars cannot be recommended to any parents seeking a full phase FS to Year 13 education for their children. This is because the school cannot provide children with an Arts education at all beyond (I)GCSE.

It is impossible at FS stage to determine whether children will be gifted in the Arts (or indeed wider Social Sciences), and parents who choose the school will be doing so on the gamble that their children will want post-16 provision drawn from a (very) limited range of science and business subjects only.

The likelihood is that parents choosing this school with children gifted outside a very restrictive group of post-16 subject choices will need to move their children to a different school for Sixth form, separating them from their peers, or leave them to study in areas in which their gifts are not developed.

Further, Scholars provides no examination data whatsoever for post-16 students taking GCE A’ Levels either at AS or A2 level rendering it impossible to provide any benchmarking for prospective parents.

In KHDA inspections, putting aside the structural provision of the school, Scholars scores highly, and in some areas outstandingly well, for what it does achieve in the limited areas of provision. Because the majority of children come to the school with English as an Additional Language [EAL], a science-centric curriculum is much simpler to teach and learn from, this limiting the requirements (and costs) of Scholars investing in a broader spectrum, and number of subject teachers.

But, notwithstanding any number of outstanding areas of KHDA provision, given the limitations this is a hard school to recommend.

Putting to one side weaknesses in the breadth of Post-16 provision, Scholars also cannot be recommended without qualification to any parents for its (I)GCSE provision either given the very restrictive choice of subjects even at GCE O’ Level. Children must choose between studying sciences OR business subjects only with no Arts or Social Science provision at all. This is definitively not a whole-child curriculum for all children.

Newspapers in the past have reported queues forming overnight to get children into the school. Little wonder given the lack of capacity in the past in the affordable sector, the promise of a British whole-child education, backed by EDEXCEL, from a well-established, 40-year old school, and at very low fees…

But, prospective parents must look deeper – as with everything in life, the devil is always in the detail and a Scholars education comes with no small number of trade-offs, some serious.

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com

 

Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 13,682
FS2: 13,682
YEAR 1: 15,697
YEAR 2: 15,697
YEAR 3: 15,697
YEAR 4: 15,697
YEAR 5: 15,921
YEAR 6: 15,921
YEAR 7: 15,921
YEAR 8: 16,870
YEAR 9: 16,870
YEAR 10: 16,870
YEAR 11: 16,870
YEAR 12: 24,863
YEAR 13: 24,863

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England
(I)GCE O' Level
GCE A' Level

External Exam Boards

EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

7
Note:
(1) Year 13 is optional
(2) 2 subjects can be studied in each year
(3) Implication is that post-16 provision is to AS level
(4) GCE AS and A2 A' Level results are not published

A Levels offered

Accounts
Business Studies
Economics
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Mathematics

A Level A* to A

Not published

A Level A* to C

Not published

IGCSE A* to C

96.5%
Note:
(1) Figure based on only children at the school achieving grades A*E and excludes children who do not sit examinations or achieve U grades which would reduce the percentage
(2) School does not publish sufficient data to provide data beyond this to allow effective benchmarking

IGCSE A* to A

68.58%
Note:
(1) Figure based on only children at the school achieving grades A*E and excludes children who do not sit examinations or achieve U grades which would reduce the percentage
(2) School does not publish sufficient data to provide data beyond this to allow effective benchmarking

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

19
Note:
(1) Exact provision is unclear
(2) Subject choice is science and business centric
(3) Curriculum design and timetabling limits choice from available options

I/GCSEs offered

Mathematics (Core)
English Language (Core)
English Literature (Core)
Science (Core)
Additional Science (Core)
Arabic (Core Arab students)
ICT (Core)
Islamic Studies (Core - Muslim students)
Environmental Studies (Core Non-Muslims)
Hindi or Urdu or French (1 of 3 options)
Human Biology or Economics (1 of 2 options)
Physics or History (1 of 2 options)
Chemistry or Accounts (1 of 2 options)
Biology or Business Studies (1 of 2 options)

Selective

Yes
Note:
"As one of UAE’s oldest and most respected education institutions, we seek to enroll only the most qualified students from our large applicant pool. Passing the entrance examination is required. We also look at other student characteristics such as prior achievements, extra-curricular activities, special talents and personal qualities. We seek to admit only those students that are best suited to take advantage of what Dubai Scholars has to offer."

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published (WSA projection MEDIUM)
Note: English is an Additional Language [EAL] for most students

Number of Students

1583

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:15

Largest nationality teachers

Indian

Teacher turnover

5%

Year opened

1976

Location

Al Ghusais School Zone, Al Qusais, Dubai

Student composition

Indian (largest nationality)
Emirati: 0
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 73
FS1:175

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Not published

Owner

Scholars International Group [SIG] (CEO: Aparna Verma)
(Also own Scholars International Academy, Sharjah and Clarion School, Dubai)

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 298 8892

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

58.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

91.6%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

50%
Note:
(1) English is not available at GCE A' Level
(2) Student attainment in Science and Mathematics scores 75%

Progress Nur SEM

58.3%

Progress Pri SEM

91.6%

Progress Sec SEM

100%

Progress Post-16 SEM

66.6%
Note:
(1) English is not available at GCE A' Level
(2) Student progress in Science and Mathematics scores 100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

NA
Note:
No Arabic students at the school

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

NA
Note:
No Arabic students at the school

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

NA
Note:
No Arabic students at the school

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

62.5%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

62.5%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

75%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

75%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

75%

Leadership

75%

Community

75%

Facilities

75%

Quality of teaching

68.75%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

68.75%

School Governance

75%

SEN Provision

62.5%

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