Pristine Private School, Al Nahda 2 – The Review
Pristine Private School – updated August 2019, KHDA 2019
Founded in 1992 by Shahida Salam, the Pristine Private School, offers an English National Curriculum based education from Early Years Foundation Stage [EYFS] to (I)GCSE O’, AS and A2 Level for students aged 3 to 18 years.
Pristine falls into the medium-large school category and has a feeder from its sister Pristine Rainbow Nursery which provides places to children from 15 months. The nursery, formally opened in January 2011, was the first nursery to be opened in an apartment building in Dubai. Pristine is heavily over-subscribed and attendance at the nursery is the only secure way of prospective parent’s guaranteeing a place for their child(ren) at the school.
The school currently has 1504 students. Student numbers at the school almost doubled in size between 2009 and 2015. Numbers stabilised between 2014 and 2015 after a period of significant growth. In 2013 Pristine became a KHDA “Good” school after 4 years of only achieving an “Acceptable” rating, this following the school’s recruitment for one year of an interim British Head, Peter Winder, a school improvement specialist, in 2012. The “Good” rating has been stable for the last four years, although it should be noted that under the new 6 point KHDA grading scale the school falls significantly short of being graded within the “Very Good” class of schools.
There have been high impact changes to leadership over the period with two changes of Principal between 2013 and 2015, this following the founder’s move from hands-on Principal to executive director of the nursery and school.
The Principal, Shagufa Kidwai, appointed in April 2015, has proovided genuine stability, having been recruited internally after 10 years at the school, initially as the Head of Science (5 years) before moving to Head the Senior School (5 Years). Her exceptional knowledge of the school across staffing, facilities and process, promises further improvements and the school expects to retain its good school KHDA Inspection for 2016-17.
Fees, ranging between AED 10,054 at FS1 to 18,835 in Year 13, are low, notwithstanding the increase in student numbers – and particularly when scored in the context of Pristine’s high quality of facility provision. Facilities include computer and science labs, arts studio, library, multi-purpose auditorium, sports complex with swimming pool and game courts, canteen, clinic, covered sandpits, shaded courtyard play area and dedicated kindergarten play centre with climbing frames and slides. Students from Year 4 are provided with personal lockers.
KHDA inspectors note outstanding performance by the school in 6 key areas including:
- Added value based progress of students at FS level in Science and Mathematics
- The personal responsibility of students
- Student awareness, understanding and appreciation of Islamic values, and broader Emirati and international culture
- Community and environmental awareness, engagement and responsibility
- The exceptional quality of curriculum at Foundation Stage
- Health and safety provision across the school
These strengths have been broadly protected within the school’s latest inspection. Because of the new grading structure, however, and given the overall strengthening of provision across the sector, the schools individual scores have dropped. This is true of many schools under the revised gradings.
Significant school weaknesses are centred on a relatively limited number of areas including those in core Arabic curriculum provision (a generic problem for non-Arabic schools); a high turnover of staff at Primary level (which both significantly limits academic and whole child development and creates catch-up repercussions as children develop in later years); lack of study and group learning space for both students and staff and serious accessibility failings (the school “is not readily accessibility for disabled children with mobility issues.”) SEND provision more broadly is an area that needs attention.
Elsewhere Pristine Private School scores well across the range of provision. For our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, the attainment of the school, when balanced against its fee structure, is impressive. Pristine punches well above its weight. With Outstanding attainment in some areas (Personal attainment and safeguarding being stand-out), this rare for a school with this level of fees, the school is something of a flagship and students, supported by their parents and the school, have much to be very proud of.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com’s critique of Pristine Private School centres on a very significant lack of transparency. Pristine does not publish the examination results of its students, this making it impossible for existing and prospective parents to effectively benchmark the school’s performance. Examination data, both raw and interrogated, should be published as standard by all schools, together with the added value information to provide that data with context and meaning for parents. Without this parents and their children are simply operating in the dark.
Notwithstanding the lack of transparency at Pristine Private School, the school continues to do very well in independent, confidential parental feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. Parents, almost unanimously, would and recommend the school to other parents, are happy with the academic attainment of their child(ren); and praise the school’s communications with them on each child’s progress and activities. This scoring is mirrored by KHDA parental feedback.
Whilst the KHDA does report staff dissatisfaction with salary levels and work pressure, Pristine Private School is (arguably) caught between “the rock and a hard place” in meeting the need for quality schooling within the limited fee income afforded by its fee structure. The same constraints could also be true for students’ calls for greater choice in extra-curricular provision.
In summary, Pristine Private School’s new Principal offers students something rare – an internally promoted Head with a knowledge of the school based on her 10 years’ experience working within it. The level of understanding, care and commitment that comes from this – and the advantages that come from her ability to translate experience into school improvements both over the short and medium term should not be underestimated. Pristine is a very good school, and, as a school that is already touching on outstanding in some areas, one that has the capacity, particularly under its new experienced leadership, to improve even further. An extremely happy, community centred school, Pristine Private School comes highly recommended within its class of provision.
Private, for profit
YEAR 1: 11,372
YEAR 2: 11,372
YEAR 3: 11,372
YEAR 4: 12,033
YEAR 5: 12,033
YEAR 6: 12,033
YEAR 7: 12,716
YEAR 8: 13,154
YEAR 9: 13,921
YEAR 10: 17,056
YEAR 11: 17,974
YEAR 12: 18,835
YEAR 13: 18,835
National Curriculum for England
English as a First Language (Core)
English as a Second Language (Core)
Environmental Management (Core)
Art and Design (Option)
Business Studies (Option)
Development Studies (Option)
English Literature (Option)
Travel and Tourism (Option)
Yes (entrance assessment)
Al Nahda 2, Dubai
Pakistani (largest nationality)
20% Asian (Sri Lanka/India)
36 Special Educational Needs [SEN]
+971 4 2674299
• Outstanding progress of students at FS level in Science and Mathematics
• Very high levels of student personal responsibility and whole child development
• Excellent breadth of student awareness, understanding and appreciation of Islamic values and global culture
• Highly engaged student body; environmentally aware and committed to their communities
• Exceptionally high quality Foundation Stage curriculum
• Good facility provision in a very well maintained and cared for nurturing school environment
• New, extremely knowledgeable school Principal internally promoted after 10 years’ senior leadership experience within the school
• One of very few schools to have a dedicated telephone line for admissions
• Weakness in core Arabic curriculum provision
• High turnover of staff at Primary level
• Lack of learning spaces for students and teaching staff
• Limited accessibility provision for disabled children with mobility issues
• Serious lack of transparency with no publication of academic performance data
• Limited subject options at (I)GCE O', AS and A2 levels compared to Tier 1
• SEND capacity a weakness in provsion