Regent International School, Emirates Hills – The Review
Updated December 2019 – 2019 KHDA ratings, links to Sunmarke School Dubai, 2017-18 SchoolsCompared.com visit and new flagship SchoolsCompared.com A- rating for overall provision, launch of Senior School and A’ Level provision
“Regent International School has been serving families within the community of The Greens (and far beyond) for over 25 years.
We are a well-established and much-loved Early Years and Primary school with a nurturing ethos underpinned by a Positive Education philosophy and the highest expectations of all of our pupils. We pride ourselves on achieving the school vision of enlightening every child and empowering every member of our learning community in order for all of our pupils to excel academically and socially. The pupils are truly the heartbeat of our school and their passions and interests form an integral part of our outstanding and unique curriculum.
Over the 25 years, Regent has evolved and developed into the caring and successful thinking community that it is today, with a focus and priority on developing philosophy for children and critical thinking through the development of thinking tools and good quality dialogue.
We are developing enquirers, problem solvers, entrepreneurs and communicators who will gain the skills to thrive in our ever-changing world. Furthermore, through our Values in Action Curriculum, we are developing the skills of self-awareness, empathy and compassion, which leads to increased well-being and emotional intelligence.
At Regent, we inspire minds and build character!”
Gaynor Dale, Head of Whole School. Regent International School Dubai.
Regent International School [RIS] is located in Emaar’s Greens community next to Barsha Heights.
Established in 1993, in 2016-17 its owners, Fortes Education, took the decision to build a new school for its secondary children that would see them move from Regent to the flagship Tier 1 Sunmarke School in September 2016. Our review of Sunmarke can be found here.
The aim was that children in FS1 – Year 6 would have sufficient room to benefit from an outstanding, focused Early Years and Primary education. After many years of growth, and with demand outstripping supply, the existing full phase FS1 – Year 13 British school had simply outgrown its campus.
From September 2016, Regent International School had the opportunity to build within the existing Regent framework and campus a new dedicated FS-Primary, the school in many ways started by its founding owners the Mankani family originally, but with all the benefits of almost a quarter of a century’s experience behind it.
The new aim was for a seamless slipstream for children to move from Regent International School to the new landmark campus of Sunmarke from Grade 7.
As of December 2019, Regent International School has now formally announced its major redevelopment programme which includes an extended multipurpose hall, new Applied Science Lab, upgraded classrooms, new Early Years Library and extended sports facilities.
These will establish the foundations for re-opening of its Secondary School. Year Seven will open initially with phased launch to Year 13 in subsequent years. It is anticipated that children at Regent International School will continue to have a choice of secondary slipstreams between remaining at Regent International School or moving to its sister school Sunmarke International, this depending on the better fit to each individual child. Regent International School will focus on traditional British GCSE and A’ Levels, where Sunmarke offers an extended choice of curricular across GCSE, A Level, BTEC and the International Baccalaureate’s Career-rekated and Diploma Programmes.
Regent is currently accepting applications for Year 7 for the academic year 2020-21. Tuition fees from Year 7 to 13 at Regent International School will range from a much lower AED 55,900 in Year 7 to AED 64,900 in Year 13 compared with its Sunmarke sister’s fees which range between AED 82,898 and AED 98,441 for the equivalent provision to Year 13.
Regent International School has consistently scored a “Good” rating from the KHDA inspectorate, whilst achieving, individually, both “Very Good” and “Outstanding” scores in English, Mathematics and Science. In the Regent International KHDA report for 2018 we are hard pressed to understand why the school did not secure at least a “Very Good” rating with weaker scoring limited only to Arabic subjects provision (a generic weakness of the majority of English-language schools), Governance and planning (the former both securing a “Good rating.”
Our view, based on our own visits, comparative school data and feedback from parents, teachers and children, is that Regent International School more than warrants at least a “Very Good” rating and we believe the KHDA review justifies this even on its own terms.
Although Regent international School has missed an Outstanding rating in leadership, facilities and governance, this will have been in no small part caused by the considerable pressures of planning a new school in concert with running an existing one. This pressure should dissipate as Sunmarke comes on stream and beds in – and Regent International School, as a dedicated Primary, is given the freedom to focus on specialised provision for its younger children.
Following our 2017-18 visit to the school, it was clear that the decision by the school’s owners to separate out FS to Year 6 provision with the establishment of Sunmarke was delivering in extraordinary ways to the benefit of children. We certainly, on the basis of our visit, expected the school to achieve at least a very good rating at its next KHDA inspection, notwithstanding our comments above about its already operating at at least this level for children. This it achieved.
Simplifying our findings somewhat, what we found was a school with a very clear determination to establish itself as one dedicated to the specific needs and demands of its younger role. A very simple example, the use of age appropriate quotations in the reception area, is extended across the school, the aim being to set the scene for students of the opportunities and ethical framework of the school, and to nurture an inspirational school environment in which children are encouraged to question and build a love of learning for its own sake.
Today, however, it’s very much a case of back to the future with the re-establishment of secondary school provision and a complete change of model from the promised slipstream to a separate and independent Sunmarke.
Uniqueness of Regent International School in the UAE: Positive Education
Much of the background to Regent International School culture has been forged in the relationship the school has developed, through its owners, with the prestigious Geelong Grammar School, arguably in Australia’s top-five schools. Regent has leveraged its own variant of Geelong’s “Positive Education” model of teaching and school culture, an educational approach which, broadly speaking, seeks to empower in each child the confidence of their own inherent gifts and capacity to learn. One aspect of this, nurturing emotional intelligence, is increasingly being seen as the critical differentiator of the highest achieving leaders in business and industry. The stakes could not be higher.
Underpinning the approach is that no child should ever be left behind, or doubt their capacity and potential to achieve. In many schools, the impact of a teacher, rather than child-led, authoritarian approach to learning, results, the approach argues, in many children doubting their own abilities – this in turn creating a self-fulfilling cycle in which children achieve poorly against their potential. One tool of the approach adopted at Regent International School, mindfulness, for example, has been integrated at Regent for many years and is only now becoming a component of the Dubai Inspectorate of School’s toolbox to drive up standards across the emirate’s schools.
We found other examples of the approach in the (genuinely inspiring) display boards used throughout the school. Good examples range from a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ Board to those encouraging a “Growth Mindset”, how to “Float away from Failure – Sail to Success” and a “Positivity Patrol”, each made by a student from each class. Another inspirational initiative has been the development of a series of “Dear Stranger” messages posted in open envelopes along the walls and corridors of the school. Children were encouraged to open them to discover messages of support and affirmation.
More on the global network that underpins Positive Education, together with a large number of inspiring lesson plans examples that bring the philosophy underpinning Regent International School (and its slipstream Sunmarke School), can be found here. It is worth noting that a significant number of KHDA faculty are represented within the Positive Education Board and staff.
Regent international School Leadership
Regent International School Principal (“Head of Whole School”), Gaynor Dale, has two decades of experience behind her, of which, rarely, thirteen years was drawn from a single school, the UK OFSTED rated “Outstanding” Robin Hood Primary in Leeds. Mrs Dale rose through the school from an initial appointment as a 28 year-old key stage two teacher to become the schools’ Deputy Head, then Principal, the latter post held for three years until her appointment at Regent in 2016. By all accounts Ms Dale is a hugely inspirational Head, deeply committed to her children – and appointed in no small part because of the close mirroring of her educational approach with that of Regent (and in particular her belief that it is only in a happy school that children can meet their potential), her proven levels of commitment to the school under her care and her achievements in the UK. Outstanding school OFSTED status in the UK is very much the exception…
Of her many drivers, a key focus at Regent International School has been in developing Special Educational Need (SEN) provision (a rare weakness of the school identified by the KHDA prior to her appointment). Provision for SEN today is strong with 3 dedicated centres and 8 full-time staff specifically focused on SEND and English language Learners (ELL). Approximately 5% of the children are identified with a SEN need. 50% of children have some moderate degree of English as an Additional Language requirement. The school’s approach is to integrate SEN provision within the as much as possible to ensure that no child is left isolated, and that all children recognise that strengths and weaknesses are very much part of the human story. This builds on a whole school approach that seeks to nurture confidence and shared respect.
EYFS provision is an outstanding feature of what has always been a school recognised for its genuine inclusive intake. For parents of children with Special Educational Needs and/or with English as an Additional Language, Regent International is, we believe, a school that performs, and this is recognised in a strong “Very Good”rating from the KHDA in this area (2018)
Mrs Dale has also sought to empower staff in developing their own ideas, the latter resulting, as one example, in investment in Virtual Reality (VR) technology within the school as a means to enhance each child’s passion for learning and seeing the world from different perspectives. She has also introduced enhanced measurement of student flight paths so that each child’s progress can be understood, recognised and protected (this to ensure that no child is left behind.)
Regent International School currently provides an education for 1000 students. Capacity of the school is around 1200 students. 76 nationalities are currently represented. Class sizes are capped between 22 and 26 students according to year with dedicated Teaching Assistants for all classes from FS1 to Year 2. Between Year 3 and Year 6, TAs are shared between classes according to identified need.
Facilities that specifically drew our attention during our visit included the 2 dining areas; 2 Multipurpose Sports Halls; the (fabulously welcoming and welcoming) library; a Radio Broadcast Room for children between Years 4 and 6 (a podcast is available on the school’s website which brings this to life); and a Wellbeing Room. As a whole, facilities at the school are excellent including 75 individual “Activity Rooms”; specialist laboratories for individual Sciences; ICT labs; design and technology labs for food technology and specialized robotics/programming; art studios; performing arts studios for dance and movement; music rooms; drama and rehearsal spaces; fine arts rooms, prayer rooms and libraries matched to individual phases.
Sports facilities at Regent international School include, as above, a multi-purpose sports hall (which doubles as a theatre for performances); multi-court “Sports Decks” for ball games; 2 heated swimming pools including a learner pool; and (heated) shaded outdoor “Play Zones” for each phase including an EYFS Play Zone and outdoor pitches for games and athletics.
One standout feature that shows how facilities are being used to build relationships with parents is,the “drop-in “period now set aside each Thursday for parents to speak with teachers about their child’s progress. The school conducts regular workshops and the now ubiquitous on-line communications portal is used to good effect. More importantly, communication with parents is seen as integral to good schooling.
Other impactful features of Regent International School that deserve mention are:
- Very strong physical connections throughout the school reinforcing Positive Education and whole child development. Examples are legion but including a Happiness Hallway (“10 Steps to Happiness”) and “Flourisg Points”we recommend parents experiencing on visits to the school. “The use of related Thinking Tools in classrooms is having a direct and significant impact on standards.
- The new (inspirational) nursery now opened in the Foundation Wing identity has been thoughtfully physically separated from the main school to ensure that younger children can develop at their own pace and with education directly targeted to their needs. This investment is a direct response to the wishes of parents.
- A big focus on Science is very evident and from Year 1. Science Stars displays in corridors are used to great effect. STEAM is subject to significant investment and recognised by the KHDA in both its Very Good and Outstanding awards at FS and Primary phases respectively.
- Dedicated Music and Information Technology facilities are fully resourced and impressive.
- Investment in a new Head of Arabic with a proven record of securing outstanding results is expected to see significant improvements in an area in which all English language schools have difficulty.
Another significant development within the school (that stems from the investment in Sunmarke) has been the development in 2016-17 of an entirely new teaching framework, defined by Regent International School as “MultiSmart Learning.” This holistic new approach has seen a root and branch re-design of the curriculum and individual lesson planning to embed each of 8 linguistic, mathematic, kinesthetic, visual, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and human values elements into every lesson, regardless of subject. The approach, which incorporates Positive Education philosophy, aims to transform the FS and Primary learning experience for children – and it is an approach that the school also hopes will result in outstanding improvements in Arabic core subject provision too (another limited weakness of the school historically identified by the KHDA, but which is pretty much shared by all non-Arabic schools in the emirate.)
Our summary – The SchoolsCompared.com Bottom line 2018
We really liked this school. There was something to be said for a school being able to offer dedicated FS-primary provision and to some degree the re-opening of Secondary School provision will be seen by some parent as a setback. However, the guarantee at the end of the journey of seamless transition to Sunmarke, the school’s then slipstream senior school was not without considerable financial cost and dislocation. Regent International School is now, in this context, in embarking on a journey with its own Secondary School provision to A’ Level in a place, much better able to focus on each child’s whole, all-through school journey – and at much lower cost than the Sunmarke alternative.
Parental frustrations at the distance of Sunmarke from Regent and the higher cost of fees have in this way now been addressed. In terms of logistics, this will really help difficulties faced by parents of siblings with children at both schools.
This aside, what stands out at Regent International School is an ethic of learning rooted in the belief that every child has the capacity to make a genuine difference – and it is this individualised focus that shone through above all for us on our visit. Children are genuinely happy, inspired and engaged. The decision of the school’s new Principal, in moving to Regent International School from the outstanding UK school she led and which had become her home and vocation, is telling too of the real potential of the school and its very distinct ethics and ambition for children. It clearly took something very special indeed to attract her – and which we clearly found evident on our visit.
Regent International School comes recommended – but there is are qualifications and concerns. We do have some serious qualifications on the shape and value of its secondary school provision to come, its cost and the impacts on parents who were advised they were joining a dedicated Early Years Primary only school. Stability and clarity of planning is not a positive stand-out feature of the school historically – and we have been through all this before with the chaos of Sunmarke. Back to the Future may work as a film – but not a school. Real lives are at stake. We do need these issues resolved. And quickly.
Good with Very Good and Outstanding Features
Good with Very Good and Outstanding Features
Good with Very Good and Outstanding Features
Good with Very Good and Outstanding features
NA - see Sunmarke School slipstream OR launching Regent Secondary from 2020
NA - see Sunmarke School slipstream OR launching Regent Secondary from 2020
YEAR 1: 51,083
YEAR 2: 51,083
YEAR 3: 51,083
YEAR 4: 51,083
YEAR 5: 51,083
YEAR 6: 51,083
YEAR 7: 55,900 (New Regent Secondary School on stream 2020)
YEAR 8: 55,900 New Regent Secondary School phased launch from 2021
YEAR 9: 55,900 New Regent Secondary School phased launch from 2021
YEAR 10: 61,900 New Regent Secondary School phased launch from 2021
YEAR 11: 61,900 New Regent Secondary School phased launch from 2021
YEAR 12: 64,900 New Regent Secondary School phased launch from 2021
YEAR 13: 64,900 New Regent Secondary School phased launch from 2021
British - National Curriculum for England
See Sunmarke School
Fully inclusive including SEN
(1) Capacity: 1200
(2) SEND: 40
(3) Pre-K: 96
(4) FS1: 118 students
(5) Emirati: 8
FS1: 22 students per class
FS2: 22 students per class
YR1 -YR2: 24 students per class
Year 3- 6: 26 students per class
(1) "The school retains the right to exceptionally increase the ratio to 1:30 when the situation warrants."
(1) 2016-17: 7%
The Greens, Emirates Living Community, Emirates Hills, Dubai,
British (largest nationality)
(1) 86+ nationalities
+971 4 360 8830
• Opportunity to focus on dedicated FS-Primary provision
• Excellent facilities
• Leadership delivering on the potential to be an “Outstanding” KHDA school, with the distractions of Sunmarke behind them
• Outstanding Special Educational Needs [SEN] provision cross spectrum including Gifted and Talented children [G&T]
• Outstanding English as an Additional Language provision [EAL]
• Highly committed, passionate and effective teachers
• New MultiSmart learning, curriculum design and lesson planning
• A fabulous, much-loved Hills community school
• Capacity, commitment and potential in abundance to gain that elusive KHDA “Outstanding” rating
• Positive Education drives a whole child focus on the education of individual children and the formative development of soft skills
• Opening of new Secondary School focused on a pure English National Curriculum with significantly lower fees than its alternative Sunmarke slipstream
• Positive Education philosophy underpinning school can be over complicated in some explanations.
• New Secondary School provision throws up the potential for all the inevitable teething issues of a school in phased launch - although this is being mitigated by phased launch.
• Students seeking an extended curriculum offer over A' Level will need to transfer to Sunmarke with the associated increase in fees.
• Confusion over published information on fees. The school has applied for KHDA fees of up to AED 95,811 in Year 13. It advertises fees, however, of AED 64,900 - these relatively good value. This confusion has the potential to worry, mislead and confuse parents. Which fees too do we benchmark? At AED 95,811, based on the published offer, the fees do not represent good value. Our advice is that parents must to secure in writing a commitment from the school on the fee structure throughout the lifetime of their child's education at the school. We do suggest that Regent International reduce their published agreed fees with the KHDA to remove this unnecessary confusion and its resulting worry for, and capacity to mislead, parents.
• Lack of published breadth of subject provision and curricular at GCSE and A' Level - parents are now making a considerable leap in the dark.