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The British School Al Khubairat , Al Mushrif – The Review
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Review

The British School Al Khubairat , Al Mushrif – The Review

by July 10, 2017
Strengths

• Student achievement at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations are significantly above international standards.
• In the Sixth Form, attainment is consistently above international standards for A‐Level examinations
• Students at both ends of the spectrum, from those in the greatest need of improvement to the talented and gifted, are given exceptional levels of support outside the Arabic curriculum subjects.
• The British School makes a significant and effective investment in the professional development of all its staff with excellent knock-on impacts for the children under their care
• The curriculum is inspirational, broad and exciting providing variety, challenge and interest for children at every level of the school
• Personal development continues to be of a "Very Good" standard. The British School provides a vast array of extra‐curricular clubs and visits across the arts, music and sport
• School resources are outstanding in supporting leadership aims; buildings and facilities are outstanding in reach, scope and quality matching the very high level of investment across the whole school
• Progress and attainment across all phases in English, Mathematics and Science is of an Outstanding level.

Weaknesses

• New leadership continues to bed-in significant change, driven by the best interests of children
• Significant and rapid improvement in the quality of teaching and learning in Arabic and Islamic education is still needed to close the gap in quality with other parts of the school curriculum particularly for students with identified SEND including Gifted and Talented children.
• Increased teacher turnover to 21%, albeit average within the sector and driven by ongoing school improvement action by the Head, is still higher than its historically low levels and too high for an exceptional, stable school
• Increase in staff-student ratios to 1:25 students across all phases
• Relatively weak governance for a school with this level of ambition and achievement

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

• Notwithstanding areas of weakness in Arab subjects, The British School offers children an exceptional education
• New leadership, powerfully committed teaching staff, close relationships with parents and a genuinely inspirational curriculum - academic and enriched, are solid building blocks for an Outstanding school.
• There is no doubt that with its considerable resources, and under its dedicated new leadership, the British School has now started to re-balance the demands of the Arabic and British sides of the curriculum – both of which are now being given the investment in passion, finance and inspiration they, and the school’s children, richly, and seriously, deserve. There are however many areas that need to improve in order that the school can achieve the A1 Outstanding rating that should now be certainly and unequivocally within the school's sights.

A-
Our Rating
A
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25%
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19%
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6%
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Updated July 2017 – The British School Al Khubairat SchoolsCompared.com visit 2017

“The British School Al Khubairat is an amazing and unique school.

It is at the heart of Abu Dhabi and, being nearly 50 years old, is part of the fabric of the UAE.

We are a community school and we are extremely proud of this aspect of our school.

We are all inclusive and believe that we should not limit anyone’s potential.

In fact we openly encourage students and staff to exceed expectations.

Our values are clear; Empathy and Care, Respect and Inclusion, Honesty and Integrity, Endeavour and Resilience – and it is with these values, along with our ambitious Vision, that we genuinely want BSAK to support the development of every student who comes through our doors.

The BSAK experience is hard to put into words, but it is something we hope all students will take with them throughout their lives from being at our school.”

Mark Leppard, Principal, The British School Al Khubairat

Seen by many as one of, if not the, best school in the capital, The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi serves approximately 1838 students across all phases of the English National Curriculum from the ages of three to eighteen years old. Al Khubairat has considerable prestige and, having opened in 1968, is the oldest British curriculum school in Abu Dhabi. The school was originally established on land generously donated by the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today the school continues to enjoy a “special relationship” with the ruling family, being sponsored, since 1980, by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, The President of the UAE.

Image of an Arabic girl in awe at the quality of an Art exhibition at the British School Al Khubairat

The British School Al Khubairat will celebrate its 50th Anniversary next year and sits within an area of predominantly religious buildings with links to the British Embassy.  Formerly it contained “Community School” in its title, and we think perhaps it is regrettable that it has dropped this phrase because community captures much of what is still so special about the school. Built into the mandate of the school is a sense of British-ness and Community – as well as welcoming multi-faith aspect that historically can be seen as underpinning a meeting place and bridge for east and West that still draws parents today.  Tellingly, the British Ambassador has historically always held a seat on the Board of Governors.

In something of a fall from grace The British School Al Khubairat suffered an A3 rating by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) in 2014. For many schools this grade would be respectable but for a school with a history of A2 ratings, the highest currently awarded by ADEC, it was a considerable shock. The rating followed a change of Head and the inspection itself took place under interim leadership, so we recommend that parents are not swayed by what we believe is something of an aberration. As of 2016-17, The British School Al Khubairat has again secured its Band A, High Performing, Very Good School status and is praised for having a significant number of outstanding features by the Abu Dhabi inspectorate of schools (ADEC).

In its 2014 report, Inspectors expressed a frustration that, despite its earlier recommendations, The British School Al Khubairat continued to deliver unsatisfactory standards in Arabic and Islamic education. Whilst this is always the Achilles Heel of British schools, understandably perhaps, inspectors leaves the impression that the British School thinks the best approach is to just ignore the issue, an impression exacerbated by The British School providing no timetabled provision for UAE social studies whatsoever. Our view then was that this was a genuine failure of an otherwise fabulous school. As of 2017 this has been address in its entirety and the view of Inspectors, not known for their hyperbole, is exceptionally warm:

“The new school leadership is now taking decisive steps to improve its provision for Arabic subjects This involves blending Arabic learning and culture across the curriculum for all students, and improving teaching and learning in Arabic subjects. It is an overdue but important improvement initiative that is likely to have a positive impact on learning for all students and, consequently, the overall performance of the school.”

ADEC Inspection, 2016-17

In 2014, instability, following changes of leadership, also impacted on Inspectors view of progress made from Year 11 to the end of Year 12; “comparisons with other schools show a decline in added value over the course of the last three years.” The overall impression of the 2014 inspection was of instability across the school, followed  by inertia. For a school of this importance in the emirate, the verdict was taken exceptionally seriously and has been responded to with considerable passion, commitment and success. The school can certainly no longer fairly be accused of complacency.

BSAK2

Notwithstanding recent turbulence, and the schools subsequent return to securing its A2 rating, the The British School Al Khubairat mix of extraordinary facilities, history, prestige, new leadership, outstanding academic performance and warmth means that we continue to rate The British School as one of the Capital’s premier schools. For parents lucky enough to secure a place for their child(ren) the quality of education and enrichment on offer is at best exceptional and at worse, for the most part, at a level many other schools can only aspire too.

Of its many achievement and innovations, for us it is The British School Al Khubairat planned introduction of BTEC from September 2017 that both deserves special acclaim and appreciation by prospective parents of the forward thinking inclusive drive and dynamics of the school. This provision of technical education is something that we have been campaigning for in Abu Dhabi. We believe it is a critically important qualification for any British curriculum school and certainly for academically inclusive schools. The British School Al Khubairat will be the first (and to our knowledge currently the only) British Curriculum school with developed plans for its introduction. Impressively the Level 3 Diploma will be provided in three subject areas: Business, Sport and Engineering. BTEC has been provided in Dubai for many years, but the BTEC in Engineering we believe will be a first for any school across all the Emirates. Impressive, ground breaking stuff.

Examination performance is an outstanding strength for an inclusive genuinely community-driven school:

 

GCSE RESULTS A*-A A*-B A*-C PASS RATE
2016 48% 77% 96% 100%
2015 47% 76% 94% 100%
2014 47% 74% 91% 100%

 

A LEVEL RESULTS A*-A A*-B A*-C PASS RATE
2016 42% 72% 90% 100%
2015 41% 67% 88% 100%
2014 40% 66% 91% 100%

 

This said, Al Khubairat should be an A1 Outstanding school. Its swift, in many ways remarkable, action to re-secure its A2 rating and planned provsion of BTEC demonstrates that it has both the capacity, innovative ambition and drive to improve. Innovating in cross-curricular integration of Arabic also shows too the quality of its newly structured teaching faculty and leadership. But standards in Abu Dhabi education are improving in the premium sector and the school must not rest on its laurels. This is no time for any return to complacency.

On the basis of our visit (July 2017) we saw little sign of complacency – in fact the opposite. The British School Al Khubairat is alive with change and emboldened strategic vision. Many parents too will be surprised at the hugely inviting, modern entrance to the school. On our visit we were greeted with a hugely impressive Art Exhibition showcasing the work of GCSE students. The standard was very high – and some of the work inspired one of our Inspection team to describe it as “wonderful.” The school enjoys a number of links internationally for its Art programmes, including one that has been particularly powerful, according to the school, with Loughborough University in the UK.

One reason we were so pleased to find such an emphasis on Art follows the well known strengths of the school in Mathematics and the Sciences. These are by far the most popular choices at A Level (and impressively equally by young women). Lesser schools may well have used this as an argument to reduce subject choice – but The British School Al Khubairat has done the opposite by protecting the broadest range of subjects across the Arts and Humanities, this resulting in some very small classes for some Arts students at A Level who enjoy exceptional levels of teaching attention and care as a result.

Photograph showing young women at The British School Al Khubairat playing their instruments in a Music class

Very impressive too is the compulsory British School Al Khubairat ‘Future Leaders Diploma’ sat by all Sixth Form students. The programme is to all intents and purposes a mini MBA programme which arms all graduates from The British School Al Khubairat with a Personal Profile (through which young adult travels a personal journey to understand their strengths and ambitions for the future); serious career and university profiling to ensure that the school never takes its eyes of the ball in helping young men and women meet their graduation ambitions; the Extended Project Qualification (increasingly prized by top tier universities – but also a means by which students can develop their love of any subject without being constrained by the curriculum demands of an individual subject); engagement with a range of programmes ranging from the school’s Debating society to the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE); contribution to a Gobal Citizenship and Service awards (echoing global industry’s recognition of the important of of corporate social responsibility; and a defined business course run in conjunction with Abu Dhabi University.

We really liked the schools investment in alumni programme (Old Al Khubairat School (OAKS)) which will become increasingly important in rooting the BTEC programmes in high calibre, genuine industry work placements and networking.

All faculty at the British School of Al Khubairat are UK trained with a minimum of 3 years experience. PHSE is strong and there is an in-house counsellor as well as a safeguarding team.  On the strength of discussions at our visit, we are confident that pastoral care, whole child curriculum and a recognition that values are as important as academics are all taken very seriously.

 

It’s actually an unusually difficult school to summarise for prospective parents. It has a very different feel to other schools we have visited. There is a real sense of prestige at play – and academic might. We would have liked to have seen the softer edges of the school which we are certain do exist, but our overwhelming sense was of very driven children deeply immersed and passionate in their subjects. One deeply impressive young women spoke of being encouraged to never fear for asking questions that fell outside the syllabus – she expressed gratitude for her Science teachers who allowed her to explore wherever her mind took her on its journey. Deeply impressive stuff.

Our only frustration was that we wanted to discover and feel more of the community and historic meeting of East and West that is built into the fabric and DNA of such an historic and important school. In many ways we expected this precisely because it is a fundamental part of the draw to the school – Brutish values in an Arabic context. We wanted to find a love, understanding and appreciation of Arabic culture to match the passion that is clearly evident across other subjects. However, in our discussions, this seemed an area of strange silence. Of course, our visits of any school are a moment in time. It is also worth noting that The British School Al Khubairat is appointing a new Head of Arabic who will be empowered to instill a love and appreciation of the Arabic world across all areas of the curriculum as well as the core Arabic subject areas. We think this could transform the school and bring to life an area in which it can excel and shine a light.

This aside, there is absolutely no doubt that the school today is once again firing on all cylinders. Following our visit, we were certainly left with the impression that the best is yet to come. And that is saying something.

Photograph of a child at Primary phase in celebratory mood at The British School Al Khubairat

The British School Al Khubairat achieved WhichSchoolAdvisor “Good School” status in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and again this year – the group’s highest accolade.

Highly recommended.

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Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Band A, High Performing, Very Good (A2)

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Outstanding

2016/17 Rating Secondary / Middle

Outstanding

2016/17 Post 16 / High

Outstanding

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Band A, High Performing, Good (A3)

Type of school

Private not-for-profit

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 41,500.00
FS2: 46,400.00
YEAR 1: 46,400.00
YEAR 2: 46,400.00
YEAR 3: 46,400.00
YEAR 4: 46,400.00
YEAR 5: 46,400.00
YEAR 6: 46,400.00
YEAR 7: 62,300.00
YEAR 8: 62,300.00
YEAR 9: 62,300.00
YEAR 10: 62,300.00
YEAR 11: 62,300.00
YEAR 12: 62,300.00
YEAR 13: 62,300.00

Curriculum

English National Curriculum
EYFS
IGCSE
A' Level
BTEC

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
Pearson EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

23

A Levels offered

Biology
Business Studies
Chemistry
Computer Science
Drama
Product Design
Economics
English Language
English Literature
Fashion and Textiles
Fine Art
French
Further Mathematics
Geography
History
Mathematics
Media Studies
Music
Physics
Psychology
Photography
Spanish
Textiles
(BTEC Business Studies, Sports, Engineering)

A Level A* to A

8.8% A* (2013-14)
37.3% A* to A (2013-14)
66.5% A* to B (2013-14)

31% AS Grades A (the highest possible) (2015)
40% A2 A*/A (2015)

A Level A* to C

88% A* to C (2013-14)

92% pass rate at AS (2015)
54% AS A - B (2015)
70% AS Grades A - C (2015)
100% pass rate at A2 (2015)
67% A2 A* - B (2015)
87% A2 A* - C (2015)

IGCSE A* to C

96% A* to C (2013-14)
27.9% B (2013-14)
12.8% C (2013-14)
4% < C (2013-14) 76% A* - B (2015) 93% A* - C 2015) 96% 5 x A* - C grades (2015) 92% 5 x A* - C grades, including English and Mathematics (2015) 68% A*- C in all GCSE subjects (2015)

IGCSE A* to A

55.3% A* to A (2013-14)
29.2% A* (2013-14)

48% A*/A (2015)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

21+

I/GCSEs offered

Arabic A
Arabic B
Art
Business Studies
Computer Science
Drama
Economics
English
French
Geography
History
ICT
Islamic Studies A
Islamic Studies B
Mathematics
Media Studies
Music
PHSE
Physical Education
Science (including Physics, Chemistry and Biology)
Spanish

Selective

Highly inclusive

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1878

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:25

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

5%

Year opened

1968

Location

Al Khubairat , Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi

Student composition

65% British
12% Emirati,
4% Australian,
3% Irish,
3% American
13% other nationalities
33% Muslim
5% Special Educational Needs (SEN)
1.3 % English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Gender

Mixed

School canteen

Yes

Owner

not-for-profit

Admissions Telephone

+971 2 446 2280

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

100%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

100%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

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.)

50%

Islamic St. Primary Results

50%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

50%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

50%

Leadership

75% (2014 interiim leadership)

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

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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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities