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The Oxford School Dubai, Muhaisnah 4
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Review

The Oxford School Dubai, Muhaisnah 4

by March 1, 2016
Strengths

• Outstanding Mathematics post-16 provision
• Outstanding personal, community and personal responsibility of students post-16
• The inherently outstanding quality of the English National Curriculum (rendered only "Good" at Oxford)
• Good post-16 levels of teaching
• Recent improvements in parental communication with newsletters aligned to time with 2015-16 KHDA inspection

Weaknesses

• Consistently “Acceptable” standard of schooling only over a 6-year period
• Group wide “Acceptable” schooling with no obvious benchmark for improvement
• Severe limitation of (I)GCSE choices
• Lack of transparency with no published examination data for prospective parents to benchmark the school
• Confused fee structure
• Complete lack of A Level Arts provision for existing students at the school
• Insufficient, in some cases poorly qualified teaching staff
• High staff turnover - 1 in 4 or more staff will leave during the course of one year
• Poor Special Educational Needs provision [SEN]

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

• A school that is hard to recommend for prospective parents. Parents with children of any age with an interest in the Arts are advised to look elsewhere. Parents with children who have Special Educational Needs, notwithstanding the inclusive school entry, will find significantly better schools elsewhere.

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The Oxford School Dubai [OSD] was established “Mom and Pop” fashion by the for-profit IQRA Group within a villa in 1986. “50 students and a tiny villa in Jumeirah” was all we had write its owners. The school followed similar establishment of the IQRA’s villa-based Apple Nursery in 1981 in Karama which started with just a handful of students. Today the group also own the English National Curriculum based Apple International School {AIS], the CBSE based Indian Academy Dubai [IAD]and Indian Academy Sharjah [IAS] and the Emirates Tender Care Nursery, together educating over 6,000 students.

None of the IQRA Group schools in Dubai achieve “Good” school accreditation by the KHDA and Sharjah based schools do not currently have an equivalent inspection authority on which prospective parents can benchmark the quality of school provision for their children. Prospective parents should note that an “Acceptable” rating is the current minimum rating for a school able to operate in Dubai before being placed in special measures.

The Oxford School Dubai follows a British curriculum modelled on the English National Curriculum to IGCSE and A’ Level, educating 2,143 boys and girls from Foundation Stage to post-16 (three to 18 years). This represents a (relatively small) drop in student numbers from 2303 students in 2014-15 for a school originally established with a circa 1500 capacity. The school roll previously ranged in number from between 1440 and 1973 pupils between 2009 and 2013 (1973 in 2013; 1828 in 2012; 1483 in 2011; 1440 in 2010; 1560 in 2009).

The core problems faced by The Oxford School Dubai [TOSD] reside in two areas, the quality, number and consistency of teachers, and the functioning of Special Educational Needs [SEN] programmes.

Without effective teachers, whether in terms of their quality, number or high turnover, children simply cannot learn. Without Special Educational Needs provision, the most vulnerable, or most gifted children, will fall through the cracks. It is fundamentally on these grounds that TOSD has only received an “Acceptable” rating from the KHDA – and worryingly this has been achieved consistently for the last 6 years following a worse “Unsatisfactory” rating in 2008-09.

This said, in both these areas, and others, the school is responding. The issue is whether after 6 years skirting the borders of acceptable schooling TOSD has the existing strategic, financial, leadership or ownership commitment and capacity to provide children with a KHDA “Good” standard of schooling.

In one area of KHDA concern, for example, an identified weakness in IT provision was simply responded to by insisting that all parents immediately buy their children an IPad, or similar existing model.

The action plan drawn up by KHDA demands that the school begins to recruit trained and qualified personnel who are able to teach and which are safe and secure in their subject knowledge. This follows identification by the KHDA and parents of recruited teachers not qualified in their areas of teaching and a simple lack in the numbers of teachers required to teach. Teaching Assistant provision at Oxford does not help; at the last inspection the school identified itself as having only 4 teaching assistants in the whole school.

The current trend in the very top schools is to move towards two fully qualified highly experienced teachers per class. The accepted minimum at least demands one teacher support at NQT level. In an impressively fully inclusive school like Oxford, with classes sizes of 30 students, you would expect this at a bare minimum to have any chance of meeting Special Educational Needs [SEN] provision.

In recent recruitment advertising by the school in both Bangalore and Dubai (following its 2015-16 inspection) no mention is made of any qualification requirements at all. Whilst there may well be a new focus on sourcing quality teachers and qualifications may be checked behind the scenes, this sort of open ended walk-in teacher recruitment does not lend itself to creating certainty for parents that the school is responding.

The issues are compounded by high levels off staff turnover with 1 in 4 teachers leaving over the course of a year. The KHDA are particularly concerned about the impact off the school’s inability to retain staff at KS level where children are particularly vulnerable. A lack of investment in Continuing Professional Development [CPD] has not enabled the school to improve the teaching of those teachers who have stayed the distance.

In other areas the KHDA note a lack of resources to enable teachers to educate effectively, including simple provision of books in the classroom, and a need for a new library to replace the weakness in current provision.

Subject choice at (I)GCSE does at first glance seem reasonable with 4 core subjects in Mathematics, English Information Technology supplemented in options ranging from psychology to Business Studies. However, deficiencies in timetabling mean that choices are clustered so students have to choose from only 4 blocks with 3 subjects in each. In one example this means that a student is faced with having to study psychology to study physics. All the core science subjects are in different blocks.

GCE A’ Level choice is even more restricted, reduced to a choice between just 8 subjects which, extraordinarily for an English National Curriculum school does not include English. English simply cannot be studied beyond AS Level.

The sense of a school foundering extends from this into the fee structure, one of the most unnecessarily complicated of any school in the Emirate. By dividing up fees into 8 different elements parents are left with a bewildering mathematical journey to work out what exactly they have to pay. We have tried to simplify the fee structure (as much as it is possible) with a headline figure below. The irony of students paying if they want to use IT facilities may not be lost on parents who have had to provide children with their own tablets.

The school also has an Alumni section on its web site, an obvious opportunity for a relatively historic school to advertise to prospective parents. However, the section is completely devoid of any content and adds to the sense the the school is simply going through the motions.

Facilities are basic as parents to some degree expect from a value fees’ provider. They include a library; physics lab, chemistry lab, biology lab; It labs; school projector; turfed football/ cricket field; a basketball court; a badminton court, covered play area; general play ground; FS free flow area and an FS play area with a sandpit. This said, standards are being pushed up in the Emirates and the best value fee schools double these facilities in breadth and quality.

Extra-curricular activities are designed to last 8 weeks and are provided externally in Public Speaking (GAACCS); Mad Science (MSC); Abacus Mathematics (Brain Box Institute); Chinese language (Nihao Language Institute); Cricket Club (Indian Academy); Swimming Club (Indian Academy); Football Coaching (Ahdaaf Sports Club).

Internal clubs and activities include Best-from-Waste; a girls only Graft and Craft; Islamic Club; Chess; Food; Dramatics Club; Quran; Eco, Financial Literacy Club; Singing and Choir; Computer; Painting and Art; Creative Writing club; General Knowledge; and a club for “personality development.”

In Oxford’s recruitment of external agencies to supplement internal extra-curricular activity provision [ECA] it deserves significant credit.

One areas in which KHDA Inspectors significantly praise the school lie in its Post-16 Mathematics provision where the school scores an Outstanding rating. The decision to offer such restrictive post 16 GCE A’ Level curriculum, however – one with no arts subject provision at all, goes some way to explaining, and diluting this achievement.

In summary, whilst it is certainly more difficult for value fee providers to meet KHDA thresholds, and particularly so for schools like Oxford that are genuinely inclusive, after six years of identified, sometimes serious failings, in a market that is improving across the board, the Oxford School Dubai must up its game for its students. The market is growing, choice is opening up, and KHDA is pushing quality across all schools. Using brand names like Apple and Oxford does not make a good school and parents, faced with complacency, will eventually have choices.

Schools and owners who do not up their games now will by then risk simply having left it all far too late.

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: 12,319
FS2: 12,319
YEAR 1: 14,265
YEAR 2: 14,265
YEAR 3: 14,265
YEAR 4: 14,265
YEAR 5: 14,265
YEAR 6: 14,751
YEAR 7: 14,751
YEAR 8: 14,751
YEAR 9: 14,401 (Arts) 15,451 (Science)*
YEAR 10:14,401 (Arts) 15,451 (Science)*
YEAR 11: 14,870 (Arts) 16,020 (Science)*
YEAR 12: 18,836 (Arts) 20,186 (Science)*
YEAR 13: 18,836 (Arts) 20,186 (Science)*
*Fees will reduce between 750 AED – 950 AED per annum from Year 9 for students not taking Computer Science

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

8

A Levels offered

Mathematics (A2)
Applied ICT (A2)
Physics (A2)
Chemistry (A2)
Biology (A2)
Business Studies (A2)
Accounts (A2)
Economics (A2)
English language (AS only)
Arabic (AS only)
Islamic Studies (AS only)

A Level A* to A

Not published

A Level A* to C

Not published

IGCSE A* to C

Not published

IGCSE A* to A

Not published

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

15

I/GCSEs offered

Mathematics (Core)
English (Core)
Information Technology (Core)
UAE Arabic Ministry Syllabus (Core non-(I)GCSE)
U.A.E Islamic Studies Ministry Syllabus (Core for Muslim Students non-(I)GCSE)
Environmental Management (Option)
French (Option)
Urdu (Option)
Business Studies (Option)
Physics (Option)
Psychology (Option)
Accountancy (Option)
Chemistry (Option)
Art & Design (Option)
Economics (Option)
Biology (Option)
Travel & Tourism (Option)

Selective

Fully inclusive

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published (WSA projected LOW)

Number of Students

2143

Teacher to Student Ratio

FS 1:25
Year 1 - Year 13: 1:30

Largest nationality teachers

Indian

Teacher turnover

25%

Year opened

1988

Location

Muhaisnah 4, Dubai

Student composition

Pakistani (largest nationality)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

IQRA Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 04 2543666

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

58.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

58.3%

Attainment Sec SEM

75%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

58.3% Note NO ENGLISH EXAMINATIONS/STUDY
[87.5% for Science and Mathematics only)

Progress Nur SEM

58.3%

Progress Pri SEM

58.3%

Progress Sec SEM

75%

Progress Post-16 SEM

58.3% Note NO ENGLISH EXAMINATIONS/STUDY
[87.5% for Science and Mathematics only)

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

50%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

50%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

75%

Leadership

50%

Community

75%

Facilities

50%

Quality of teaching

56.25%

Student personal responsibility

81.25%

Quality of curriculum

75%

School Governance

50%

SEN Provision

50%

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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