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Ranches Primary School, Arabian Ranches 2 – THE REVIEW 2022
Arts, Music and Drama

Ranches Primary School, Arabian Ranches 2 – THE REVIEW 2022

by March 9, 2022

Updated March 2022 – Ranches Primary becomes one of four flagship premium plus Cognita Group schools with Horizon English School, Horizon International School and The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai. 

Ranches Primary School Background and Summary

Ranches Primary School is, in summary, a fabulous, really beautiful school bursting with the energy and achievement for young children that comes from committed teaching faculty, inspired school leadership and professionalism – in spades. Only seven years old, Ranches has more than earned its place in the top tier of British primary schools in Dubai.  

Getting FS, Primary education right, choosing the right school for our young children, is such an important responsibility for parents. Too often the temptation is to think it is all about what happens later with SATS and IGCSE, then A Level or IB – but everything is set up at this younger age when hearts and minds are so open to learning.

Meeting  inquisitiveness head-on, and individually, gives each child the chance to develop all the parts of their intellect, as well as the softer, but as important parts of being human, from a strong moral compass, compassion for others, ability to empathise, the tools to negotiate conflict – all of these and so many others.

Moreover, setting up the basics of English and Mathematics is critical at EYFS and the early Key Stages – they provide the bedrock for everything that happens later on. Without those foundations, the risk is that children get left behind, not because of any inherent weaknesses, but simply because they do not have the primary building blocks in place on which everything later is built.

It is also true that individual student flight paths, whilst formally set later at the time of SATS, are informally established at a younger age – expectations create a matrix between each child and their teachers, and parents, of what they can (or cannot) hope to achieve. The very, very best schools focus individual attention on every child to ensure that each and every child individually has the capacity, tools – and self-belief, that nothing is beyond them; that they too can make a difference, be someone, succeed, excel.

This is why a genuinely inclusive school like the Ranches Primary School, with its commitment to always ensure that whatever Special Educational Need (SEN) is identified in any child is met with whatever resources are required to meet that need, is so impressive. Parents, able to make the decision to entrust their children’s education to schools like the Ranches, and there are others, can be certain that their child(ren) will be looked after and given every chance to excel on their own journey whatever the twists and turns that may lie ahead.


The school role currently stands at around 730 children between Nursery and Year 6. Graduating slipstream options are extensive including The Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai, as well as Dubai English Speaking College, Dubai College and Fairgreen International School – all outstanding options offering parents a choice of fit to secure the best for their children.


Our experience and visits

Photograph of older child at Ranches Primary School completing his English assignment

It is worth noting that on a recent visit to Ranches Primary School, and without any planning on the school’s part, we witnessed an exceptionally sensitive, sympathetic and kind induction of a new child to Ranches. The welcome and care of the [upset] child was described to us by our team as:

“… really touching; the approach was so sympathetic and encouraging … and personal. It really brought home to me the school’s genuine commitment to the welfare of each child. The child was eased in wonderfully, very sympathetically and the process was clearly going to take as long as the little girl needed.”

If all this sounds somewhat emotive, it is because on inspections we really came away impressed. This is saying something – the competition in this sector of dedicated British primaries is intense. Dubai has some extraordinarily good schools – good news for parents.


School Fees

Younger children playing chess at Ranches Primary School in Dubai on a very comfy fiery orange rug!

There is a catch, however, before we talk more in detail about the Ranches. Cost.

YEAR 2021-2022








Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


Year 4


Year 5


Year 6


This is a premium plus school with fees running between 45,000 AED in Nursery and FS stages to 55,000 AED between Years 1 and 6. There are going to be affordability issues for many parents, notwithstanding that the fee structure is aligned with what you would expect to pay for this level of provision at any of the competing outstanding schools. As it currently stands too, the Ranches does not have either bursary or scholarship provision. However, what the fees do deliver is one of the best Nursery and Primary educations available in the UAE – and we do like the consistency of fees. What we do not have here is the low fee start with rapidly escalating fees seen at other schools. At Ranches the fees are clear, consistent and parents know where they stand. There are two potential ways to reduce the fees, but they will very much depend on circumstances. First, Ranches offers a sibling discount of 5% off second and third children attending the school (rising to 10% for a fourth sibling). Second, the school’s ‘Refer a Friend’ package delivers a fixed 4% discount off the referrer’s child’s tuition. Whilst not guaranteed, on this basis, theoretically at least, two families joining together may be able to strike a deal…  

Worth noting that many parents choose to send their children to Ranches Nursery in order to be certain of guaranteeing a place in Ranches Primary – the demand for Primary places here is very high. Nursery provision is available for the full 5 days. 

Ranches Primary School launched in September 2015 and today it has grown from around 45 children at launch to (as above) today’s 730 strong school role (March 2022) that fills the school with life. The demand for dedicated FS to Year 6 Primaries is very high (many parents are adamant they will not send young children to all-through schools in order to protect the childhood of younger children) – and the offer of a British education founded on the English National Curriculum is a powerful draw here. Ranches here offers the added benefit of inclusive Nursery school provision – this not true of all Primaries. The clear benefit, as well as guaranteeing a child’s place at Ranches Primary, is avoiding the upheaval transfer between separate Nursery and Primary schools with the potential loss of friendships and family links that have usually developed at this point.


Facilities and Sparkle

Facilities are as you would expect for a Tier 1. They include a fully digital campus; central library with phased learning clusters of resources; a plethora of specialist rooms for music and language learning; dedicated Nurture Room; hugely innovative STEM room (for activities related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); further science and computer labs; 2 climate-controlled multi-purpose halls for a wide range of sports and theatre; a pretty, temperature controlled outdoor swimming pool; outdoor play and free-flow learning spaces including a central “Quadrangle” hub for all children to come together; basketball and netball courts; and a prayer room.

Beautiful beagle at Ranches Primary School in Dubai

One particularly lovely feature of the school has come with the introduction by Ranches of two ‘well-being’ dogs – two (beautiful and soppy) Beagles named Arthur and Lucy. These are loved by all the children – and have a particularly important role in child well-being. The Beagles were introduced to the school by Vice Principal Mr Tom Collar.

On our visit we noted the building and layout is light, open and airy – and the use of spare space for STEM was a thoughtful and very valuable initiative. Already there seems to be an awareness amongst the teachers of which STEM discipline the children preferred and gravitated to, and the ease with which they encouraged their friends to come and share the thing that had excited them.

A grassed area called “The Ranch”, together with picnic benches dotted throughout the school and a (beautiful) Garden Area provide lots of varied spaces for children to enjoy their lunch and mingle – the creative approach really adds to the vibrancy of school life. Something of an exclusive, we are told (March 2022) that “top secret” plans are afoot to debut more animal life in the Garden Area – watch this space! 


Outstanding school leadership and teachers

Outstanding quality and breadth of facilities are though, at this level of fees, a given. They are what parents expect. It is however the staff and the leadership of the former Head/Principal, Samantha Steed, that brought the raw materials to life. Today the school is led by Julian Pederick, who has held the role of Principal since 2019. Feedback to has been uniformly positive. 

School Principal Ranches Primary School Dubai Sport

It’s clear speaking with Mr Pederick that securing outstanding status for the much loved school is a vocation. On our visit we noted children each growing a plant for the garden areas, all contributing to its development, rather than having a garden simply presented to them fait accompli. We were advised: “Where’s the learning for children in a school just looking the part, what an opportunity missed!”

Mr Julian Pederick was formerly Vice Principal of Ranches following a career at both Repton and Foremarke. 

The owners have clearly invested heavily in getting the faculty right – and this tiers across the staff body. We like the fact that all members of staff are given a profile online – this is a school intent on hiring great teachers – and as importantly, keeping them so that children develop with consistent teaching staff who know them individually on their journey. It is staff that are the single most expensive cost of any school moving forward and prospective parents should always take care to weight this investment over “bells and whistles.” The school’s purchase by Cognita in September 2021 bodes well for further investment still – Cognita’s Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai (now the natural slipstream for Ranches children) has already secured outstanding reviews from parents.


Potential and capacity for the future

If we have to find fault it is that the design of Ranches Primary School itself is not nearly as inspiring as the best architectural masterpieces rising out of the sand in the UAE. Ranches addresses this through all the usual mechanism of profiling children’s work throughout the school – bringing colour and life to the new walls and nondescript design. As nature and landscaping has evolved the hard edges have certainly softened since its founding too.

With new Tier 1 ownership by Cognita Schools, we know that there are many exciting conversations currently taking place regarding the layout and facilities of the school that will further address this. These will see an increasing focus on sustainability and greening – with more bike racks and allocated scooter parking coming on stream too. As a community driven school, many children arrived each day on foot – and the journey paths are really well done. In terms of future investment by Cognita, we are also expecting significant enhancements to teacher working areas and further investment in technology.    

Prospective parents considering the Ranches are advised to take the time to look at the many films the school has produced to try and bring it to life for them, in a way that a single visit or discussion with teachers cannot do alone. We really like the investment made by the school in producing these materials for prospective parents. These can be found on the Ranches dedicated YouTube channel and Facebook pages. We also think special mention should be made of the outstanding prevention of bullying policy framework, below.

RPS Prevention of Bullying Policy


On our visit we noted teaching staff seemed to be thriving as much as the children. The two we spoke with (both Irish) were relaxed, and confident, – there wasn’t a hint of tension that can sometimes pervade a classroom of young children, especially when they are finger painting!


Ranches Primary School bottom line? The verdict 2022.

Photograph of children at Ranches Primary School in Dubai learning music and playing instruments. Lots of fun!

Ranches Primary School has achieved a “Very Good Good School with Outstanding features” rating from the Dubai Inspectorate of schools – and it’s one richly deserved. it’s a very good rating for a school so relatively early in its life and indicative of the very high quality of teaching, ambition and leadership – and potential on offer here.

Whilst in the general life cycle of schools it remains early days, what we can say, comfortably and without hesitation, is that everything, absolutely everything, is in place at the Ranches for all children to have a terrific, inspirational, happy and meaningful whole child, enriched early years’ education that should set them up for their own individual journeys ahead.  This is a school that works, seamlessly, for children – and worth shortlisting. It’s certainly positive that the warmth and intimacy of a school like Ranches still exists amongst the major corporate schools we’ve become more familiar with.

Well done to all at Ranches for achieving so much.

Very highly recommended.

© 2022. All rights reserved.

Notes for parents

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating


2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating


Rating FS

Very Good

Rating Primary / Elementary

Good - Very Good

Rating Secondary / Middle


Rating Post 16 / High


Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 45,000
FS2: 45,000
YEAR 1: 55,000
YEAR 2: 55,000
YEAR 3: 55,000
YEAR 4: 55,000
YEAR 5: 55,000
YEAR 6: 55,000


National Curriculum for England


Fully inclusive
(1) Comprehensive English as a Foreign Language [EAL] provision is provided
(2) Comprehensive Special Educational Needs and Disability provision [SEND]: " responsive to the growing population of the school and their needs [... every] student should be able to access and derive benefit from the curriculum and educational programmes to realise his or her potential."
(3) Identified SEND provision including Gifted and Talented [G&T]; dyslexia, dyspraxia, Aspergers Syndrome and other needs as they are identified by the school/specialists.

Waiting list

(1) In some Year Groups and Nursery (March 2022)

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

750 (March 2022)

Teacher to Student Ratio


Largest nationality teachers


Teacher turnover


Year opened



Arabian Ranches 2, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)
Genuinely international student body
SEND:10% (including Gifted and Talented) (January 2022)
Emirati: 5 children (March 2022)


Mixed, co-educational

School canteen



Cognita Schools
Managing Director for ME Region: Mr David Baldwin

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 442 9765

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM


Attainment Pri SEM


Attainment Sec SEM


Attainment Post-16 SEM


Progress Nur SEM


Progress Pri SEM


Progress Sec SEM


Progress Post-16 SEM


Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)


Arabic Secondary Results (Native)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)


Arabic Primary Results (Add.)


Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)


Islamic St. Primary Results


Islamic St. Secondary Results


Islamic St. Post-16 Results








Quality of teaching


Student personal responsibility


Quality of curriculum


School Governance


SEN Provision



• Outstanding independent feedback
• Hugely warm and happy school dynamics, commitment to community and vibrant international role



Our Rating
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SEND Provision
Scl Community
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We are particularly struck with the school’s genuine commitment to inclusiveness – and provision to meet all the needs, academic, enrichment and whole child, of every child to ensure they flourish on their individual journeys. A fabulous, happy high performing school with everything in place to secure a place in the top tier of British primary schools in Dubai. Its joining the Cognita family of schools in September 2021 - and the introduction of The Royal Grammar School as its natural slipstream suggest that the best is yet to come. Highly recommended.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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