The Apple International School, Al Qusais – THE REVIEW
The Apple International School is an Indian/Filipino school with teaching based on a limited English National Curriculum to Year 8/KS3 only.
In her introduction to prospective parents by The Apple International School’s Principal, Pranjala Dutta Das, sets the scene for the school asking prospective parents to join with the school to “brace ourselves for the era to which the milestone of ‘Concept Revolution’ directs.”
It is “essential” she says, for “schools to help students build the skills of applying the given information/knowledge on various platforms so that their cognitive skills are chiseled.” She confirms that the issue is that children must be ready to face “the fancy future, head on.”
In her welcome letter to children she clarifies that: “We [AIS) are different and so shall be your child – a product of the Gen Next- suave, witty and aware. And yet humble and inculcated with vital life skills and values which are the very essence of education.”
Mrs Das was formerly Principal of the CBSE curriculum based Mohali campus of Oakridge International School in Punjab, India prior to taking up her role at Apple in November 2014.
In 2018, Ms Dutta Das was replaced by a new Principal, Jaya Menezes. Unfortunately, the introduction to the school remains identically incomprehensible.
As of 2023, the school is still advising parents that it is “ranked the best schools [sic] in Dubai.”
Facilities are described as including a spacious campus; library; a science laboratory; a play area (with a “kinder club”); a free flow area; an outside learning area with a sandpit; a reading corner; a book store; a canteen; and a clinic. The school also states it has audio-visual facilities.
Year 8 education consists of teaching in English; mathematics; combined science; Arabic; Islamic Studies; ICT; geography; UAE Social Studies; French; Urdu and PHSE. This is a very limited curriculum for students who will need to leave the school to further their education to (I)GCSE and beyond. The school advertises no defined slipstream for children to further their education and prospective parents should consider whether a through school will provide a more secure option for their children.
The school is owned by IQRA Education, a privately held group of K-12 schools and pre-KG nurseries in Dubai and Sharjah which include the Indian Academy schools in Dubai and Sharjah. It advertises its flagship school as the Oxford School which we review here. None of its school’s achieve the minimum expected “Good School” rating from the Dubai Inspectorate. The schools are owned by the Lahir family which has a background in construction through its Indian KOOL Home Builders and Gama Constructions companies. All the schools are strategically and operationally managed by Nabil Lahir, Director and CEO of IQRA Education and the company is chaired by Abdul Lahir Hasan, A Civil Engineer.
KHDA Inspectors awarded the school an Acceptable or Weak rating, its lowest award prior to placing a school in special measures, for some seven years. The Acceptable rating has been secured consistently for four years. This followed historic unacceptable ratings in 2009/10 and 2011/12. In 2016 the school secured a Good rating and against the odds has maintained this for three years.
The KHDA have historically identified concerns in the following areas:
- Despite advertising itself as an English National Curriculum school, not all teachers have a full understanding of the National Curriculum for England or are able to effectively implement the expectations of the curriculum in lessons
- A significant number of teachers require the school to invest in their professional development in order that they are able to meet the needs of students
- Few students in any phase are educated to think independently and creatively generate ideas
- Technology use in the school is unstructured and chaotic leading “often” to students producing “restricted, irrelevant and unsuitable research information”
- At FS stage less than half of all the children are tested leaving teachers no way of benchmarking their progress or making adjustments so that they can learn effectively
- The school has no marking or assessment policy
- The expectations of teachers assessing students’ work remain unclear
- Most teachers in FS phases do not have an appropriate Early Years teaching qualification.
- More than half teachers at FS stage are new with very high levels of staff turnover
- The school does not have an effective number of teaching assistants to cope with the large class sizes
- Classroom floors are “commonly littered with paper and debris”
- There is insufficient investment in resources
- The use of technology is infrequent and not meaningful
Positives in the school are centred on the caring atmosphere provided by the school, ensuring that whatever the limits of teaching, students at Apple international School are safe, looked after and happy. This is an important success for the school, but are outweighed by significant failings elsewhere. Children themselves are also praised highly for their developed sense of responsibility, although this is suggested to have been achieved against the significant odds they are faced with.
At the time of it last formal inspection in 2020, KHDA inspectors notes:
” Facilities have improved since the last inspection, but not all staff are qualified in the subjects they teach.”
In terms of assessment data, this relied on by the school to judge its performance for children, KHDA inspectors note:
“..data does not provide a fully realistic view of students’ attainment levels. Assessment rubrics include students’ attitudes to work rather than a measure of their knowledge and understanding of each strand of the curriculum. […] In most years, students’ acquisition of knowledge is stronger than their understanding and application. […] Students’ books show recording of a range of facts, but many students do not retain this information for a long time.”
In terms of pupils being “safe,” KHDA inspectors, as of 2020, confirm that:
“Bus transportation remains safe. Dispersal is now safer and less congested with the use of separate entry and exit doors and having security staff on duty in strategic places. Evacuation drills are practised regularly across the school.”
Feedback to our sister school site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from parents at Apple International School suggest that all is not entirely happy, although it is arguable that the school’s relatively new leadership team needs time to bed-in.
Because of its Acceptable rating for so many years, under KHDA instruction, the school had only been able to increase fees by inflation levels. This should not hold a school back however, and many schools in the emirate have been able to move up rankings by accurate self assessment, and then a rigorous implementation of planned improvements.
Whilst it has now secured a good rating, curriculum breadth remains narrow, leaving, in our view, the future looking distinctly “fancy” free…
Bottom line, there is so much that remains confused about Apple International School, notwithstanding significant improvement, that we are not currently able to recommend it, without significant qualification, for parents. There are new buildings, and investment in the fabric of the building, but where it matters – investment in qualified, proven teachers, teaching the subjects in which they have expertise, there are too many questions. The same holds true for understanding the ambitions of the school, which, although conveyed in the English language, are incomprehensible, and the reliability of assessment, which does not align with reality on the ground. Finally, we are concerned that the school should be advising parents that it is the “best schools [sic] in Dubai” – it simply isn’t.
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Good - but limited curriculum
NA - Year 10 only
YEAR 1: 10,545
YEAR 2: 10,545
YEAR 3: 10,570
YEAR 4: 10,570
YEAR 5: 11,688
YEAR 6: 12,723
YEAR 7: 13,384
YEAR 8: 15,291
YEAR 9: 17,916
YEAR 10: 19,500
National Curriculum for England
GCSE (limited curriculum to Year 10 only)
(1) interactive session for FS
(2) Entrance test for year 1 and above
Al Qusais 1, Dubai
Filipino (largest nationality)
Significant Indian student body
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 90
+971 (0) 4 263 8989
• Low fees
• A happy, caring school with children developing their own accomplished sense of personal responsibility with the odds against them
• High staff turnover
• Inadequate support staffing
• Lack of professional development
• Unqualified teaching staff
• Changes to leadership that need time to bed-in
• Lack of investment and poor strategic and operational management by parent company
• Extremely confused nonsensical school mission and expressed values
• Limited curriculum breadth
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