Grammar School, Al Garhoud
• Score well for the personal responsibility demonstrated by its students
• Young children develop informal English quickly
• School has pulled itself from special measures for a second year running
• No school overcrowding in lessons
• Tired, limited facilities
• Academic provision weak
• No published information for parents
• Lack of transparency across every aspect of school life including examination performance
• Sixth form provision weak and limited to Year 12 – school does not confirm curriculum, subject provision, A2 availability or student attainment
• Governors dis-empowered by owners and school Head leaving them without a voice or the ability to intervene financially, strategically or operationally
Updated December 2016
Prospective parents should note that we have been contacted by the Grammar School [December 2016] and our review should be read in conjunction with the following advice by the school:
- The school was purchased by new owners in November 2015
- A new UK senior leadership team, husband and wife, William and Margaret Deacon, took over management of the school in February 2016
- The school has been “completely overhauled” in academics, improvements to infrastructure and in educational and administrative software to aid teaching and learning
- The school has now moved away from grades and introduced the formal all-through UK Year system from FS to Year 13
- The school has now recruited 30 new teaching staff all with teaching qualifications, some UK trained for the first time.
- New national curriculum planning has been introduced
- Every student now undertakes baseline testing using GL and CAT 4 assessment
- Teacher training has been introduced in the afternoon, twice weekly
- The school role has increased by 350 plus new students since September 2016 and a waiting list is in place
- Age appropriate entrance exams have been introduced across primary phases and there are now minimum entry standards for all secondary students.
We are planning an independent visit to the school in the New Year and will update our findings following the visit. The following review reflects provision prior to the changes above.
Grammar School provides no information on its web site to enable parents to make any considered decision about the school. The school does not currently even provide basic contact information for admissions.
Established in 1970 (the KHDA inspectorate publish its founding in 1974), Grammar School offers a British education, based on the English National Curriculum from FS to Year 12 for 993 predominantly Indian and Pakistani students. The school is not transparent and publishes no examination results. It is not clear what level of education is provided to children post-16 and it would seem likely that education is restricted to AS Level as the school only operates to Year 12. Extremely rare for any school in the Emirates within an environment of significant unmet demand, the school role at Grammar School is reducing, at the last KHDA Inspection this by 12% amounting to some 180 students. The resulting reduction in fee income has further strained the school’s financial capacity to meet student needs.
The school’s fees themselves are the lowest of any school in the Emirates currently ranging from 4,434 AED at FS level to 6097 AED for Post-16 Advanced level provision.
Regardless of the level of provision, it is extremely difficult to review Grammar School because its level of fees inherently limits its capacity to educate, whilst, at the same time Grammar School provides at least an education to families who are priced out of the market and for whom, without the school, children would have no recourse to education at all.
It is at least in part for this reason that the Dubai Inspectorate has invested significantly in its inspections of the school, which, for whichschooladvisor, has resulted in the “dubious honour of Grammar School being one of the most inspected schools in the Emirates.” The bigger picture here, is that the KHDA do not want the school to fail, and by placing it in special measures, as it was for a six-year period until 2013, the Inspectorate could invest in developing the school to meet at least an acceptable level of schooling. An acceptable level of schooling places the school just outside special measures.
As of 2016-17, the school had passed two inspections with an “Acceptable” rating. As a rule, this is a rating which should attract the very considerable concern of parents, but in this very limited case, it does represent a success, albeit one that is relative, for a school that faced very serious ongoing risk of being closed under special measures.
This said, Dubai Grammar is inevitably a school that is compromised, and seriously – and prospective parents must recognise this. It simply does not have the fees or capacity to improve beyond its current rating. KHDA rules on increasing fees, which are directly related to a school’s performance under inspection, are likely to see the school’s fee structure remaining at the current, impossibly low levels. The irony of KHDA inspections is that, in the interests of driving improvements in schools, they penalise the schools that in many cases require investment the most.
As it stands, Grammar School does not score even a single “Good” rating in any one of the 52 individual teaching assessments made by the KHDA. In 6 areas it remained unsatisfactory and in 2 areas, relating to Post-16 provision in English, the school simply did not educate children at all. Failures in post-16 Mathematics provision remains a concern.
In the remaining 41 areas of scoring, only in the Inspectors view of each child’s sense of personal responsibility did the school score at the higher “Good” level. In one area, governance, the school remained unsatisfactory because the school’s owners, the D’ Cruz family, had not empowered them with the information or remit to act.
It is only in this very weakly performing school context that any review can speak of the best features of the school; any “best” features are contextual and relative. The school at its best does have a limited number of good teachers, particularly in English. These are balanced, however, by some very poor teaching that does not meet minimal standards of provision. Children’s sense of personal responsibility, as above, is of a “Good” standard. Children at FS level do pick up conversational level English quickly and impressively.
Weaknesses include aspects of teaching, the curriculum, significant staff turnover and areas of Special Educational Needs [SEN] provision. Identified failings occurred in primary Science teachers having a weak understanding of the subject they teach; cases of failure of basic science provision to test theories beyond text books; boys fall behind girls in the teaching of Mathematics at secondary level; teachers failing to take account of the learning needs of both the weaker-ability and most gifted children; the storage of some chemicals being unsafe; younger children not sufficiently monitored leaving school and some school leaders being unaware of their roles and responsibilities.
The most telling single aspect of the school however, is parents and their children – and both groups are positive about the school. Whichschooladvisor feedback is limited – both good and bad. This is telling in itself as generally in bad schools, parents shout loudly.
It is too easy to lambast a school out of its context. In this case that context is a school meeting the needs of parents who cannot afford any more and, impressively, with considerable KHDA guidance, a school that has pulled itself from special measures – and stayed there for a second consecutive year.
Grammar School is not a school that can, however, in any way be recommended. It is one, however, that at least has got itself away from the point of special measures and a not inconsiderable number of arguments for its closure. To progress it needs investment – in time, sustained effort, and in considerable resources.Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
YEAR 1: 4,434
YEAR 2: 4,434
YEAR 3: 4,434
YEAR 4: 4,434
YEAR 5: 4,988
YEAR 6: 4,988
YEAR 7: 4,988
YEAR 8: 4,988
YEAR 9: 6,097
YEAR 10: 6,097
YEAR 11: 6,097
YEAR 12: 6,097
YEAR 13: NA
National Curriculum for England
(I)GCE O' Level
GCE AS Level
Note: Grade 12 only suggestive of AS-Level
Not published (WSA projected LOW)
Note: reducing school role
School claims founding date: 1970
Al Garhoud, Dubai
Pakistani (largest nationality)
Indian: significant representation
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 94
+971 (0) 4 282 4822
(1) English is not taught in the Post-16 phase
(2) Weighted score excluding English: 37.5%
(1) English is not taught in the Post-16 phase
(2) Weighted score excluding English: 50%