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British Columbia Canadian School, Dubai Investments Park
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British Columbia Canadian School, Dubai Investments Park

by Jon WestleyDecember 24, 2016
Strengths

• Emirates REIT build
• Family ownership with proven deliver of the British Columbia all-through curriculum
• Proper accreditation
• AP parallel stream provision
• Committed launch Principal
• Very good school transparency
• Promise of genuinely inclusive entry and significant investment in SEND and EAL

Weaknesses

• Potential teething problems of any new school
• Premium fees with steep, if consistent, increases from the KG starting point. Parents will have high expectations

Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
33%
In my Top 5
58%
Shortlisted
17%
A possibility
17%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

“BCCS Dubai in DIP Dubai Investments Park will be our company’s flagship school. Our company has been in the education business for over a decade, currently operating 2 schools in Egypt, and launching 2 more schools in 2018 in New Cairo.” Karim Mostafa, Vice Chairman of British Columbia Canadian School Dubai

An ideal candidate for the British Columbia Canadian School is a student who values education for its true essence and not a desire to memorise facts and figures for an exit exam. BCCS students will include the full spectrum of abilities and will be students who will develop into life-long learners that value the process of learning as well as the mark that comes at the end.” Shawn Merke, Founding Principal, British Columbia Canadian School Dubai

Updated February 2017

The British Columbia Canadian School (BCCS) is set to open in September 2017 set in 25,000 square metre grounds within Dubai Investments Park (DIP). The school will significantly broaden choice for parents for families within the Green Community, Jumeirah Golf Estates, International Media Production Zone, Dubai Sports City, Discovery Gardens, Jumeirah Village Circle and Jebel Ali Village for whom the school should be easily accessible. The school will be the sixth to open in DIP after Al Nibras Private School, Greenfield Community School (reviewed here), The International School of Choueifat (reviewed here), The Children’s Garden (reviewed here) and Dovecote Green Primary School (reviewed here).

The school will phase its opening, eventually offering full all-through provision for children from 3 to 18 years across separate foundation, primary and secondary schools. We have been advised that facilities will include both a landmark sports centre and theatre auditorium. Given that this will be the flagship school of the owners, the unique features of the school and given the heritage of REIT (see below), there is a lot of promise here for a Tier 1 premium school for prospective parents seeking the very highest standard of Canadian education for their children.

The school will be completed as a single build.  All construction will be completed by August when the school opens, including all facilities.  As the school grows through the grades the internal fit-out will be completed to allow for flexibility in responding to the needs of children and the curriculum.

The British Columbia International School Dubai is the second Columbia school opened by the Egyptian Mustafa Tawfik family owned company, the first, the British Columbia International School Cairo, having opened in 2005. The school in Cairo is well thought of, has grown slowly without a rush to profit and is fully certified by the Ministry of Education, Columbia in Canada. Feedback to our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is that the ethic of inclusivity works well in creating a very positive and happy school environment for its children.

 

Students graduating from the new Dubai school will be awarded a High School Diploma, The British Columbia Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma), accredited by British Columbia as an offshore school.

In a global context, however, for prospective parents more important is the school’s parallel stream Advanced Placement courses which hold strength both in the US and UK for access to Tier 1 universities.

Currently AP courses are offered in its sister school in European History, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Micro economics and we would expect these to be offered in the Dubai school when it launches in 2017.

Our Guide to the central importance of Advanced Placement within the context of High School Diploma accreditation can be found in our Canadian Curricular Guide here. This same issues apply to the awarding of US High School Diplomas and our Guide can be found here.

SchoolsCompared has been given the commitment that: “The AP options for Dubai will cover a wide range of subjects and will be determined depending on the interests of the student cohort within the school.”

The British Columbia Canadian School will be the first Canadian School to offer the AP as standard when it launches which places it, in our view, as a very important school for parents seeking a Canadian education for their child(ren) and the broader Canadian school context more broadly where it will set a new benchmark.

For prospective parents there are a number of other features too that should give some confidence in the new school above these key strengths of accreditation, AP provision and proven school management.

First, the school is being developed on a leaseback arrangement with Emirates REIT which has developed the outstanding infrastructure and buildings for the Jebel Ali School in Damac Properties’ Akoya project reviewed here.

Second, there are benefits from a school organisation that is smaller scale and 100% family owned. The investment, as a rule, carries with it a personal stake that can be powerful when contrasted with the much larger business operations of the bigger school groups for whom one school can become just another in a grand web of business interests.

“BCCIS was started by a family and family values remain the core of our philosophy. From the groundkeepers to the graduating senior to the BC teacher from Vancouver, we are all one, and we all share a home at BCCIS.” British Columbia Canadian International Schools

In our dealings so far with the company one thing that does shine through is a very genuine commitment to the education of children, and also a real commitment to the inclusive approach offered by the British Columbia curriculum over its Canadian alternatives. There is a genuine belief that comes across that the school believes it is going to make quite an impact when it launches.

Third, the school will open (see above) with defined spaces for each of three stages of education, foundation, primary and secondary. This is an expensive approach to school delivery within an all-through, but it is one that allows schools to nurture very different, age-appropriate cultures and environments for children. It is an approach here that has been adopted by the BCCIS owners following experience garnered at their founding school which has seen development of separate schools since its launch in 2005. Originally the school educated just 27 students in a single school at launch, and has gradually expanded to educate more than 800 children across three independent schools within the grounds.

Whilst the the Dubai school will have clearly defined spaces and buildings within the same school grounds rather than having, for example, an entirely separate Early years school, the school is committed to maintaining clear separation of ethos and approach at each phase which we believe is important.

We know that in the Emirates many parents choose at the younger ages to keep children educated at dedicated pre-schools even if this does carry disruption later. BCCS hopes to mitigate this whilst maintaining clear separation of children by age.

Finally we note that the school is very serious in its commitment to only recruit high calibre teaching staff. It is currently recruiting and stipulates that it will only consider applicants who are British Columbia certified and who have a minimum of two years teaching experience. The salaries and package on offer by schools in their recruitment, although rarely disclosed to parents, is important too in identifying how serious a school is to recruiting qualified, experienced and committed teachers. We understand that teachers are being offered minimum starting salaries of $40,000 (US) and housing which is an upper mid-tier salary in the UAE at this level. We also particularly like the commitment to provide three professional development days per year.

It is worth finally making a note on Canada’s Performance for International Student Assessments (PISA) scoring which are significantly above the OECD average. Whilst the value of PISA scoring remains subject to some disagreement, it does provide one way of benchmarking the performance of children in different countries and within differing curricular. Canada’s latest scoring (2015) can be found in the graph below:

Canadian students as a whole secured seventh place worldwide in PISA 2015 scoring in Science, reading and Mathematics behind Singapore, Japan, Estonia, Chinese Taipei, Finland, and Macao China.

Importantly, however, the British Columbia curriculum as a whole outperformed all other Canadian variants in 2015 and PISA ranks British Canadian students at age 15 (Grade 10) with the best reading skills of any students across the 72 countries measured worldwide. British Columbia students secured third place in Science and eighth place in Mathematics. What this means for parents practically is that the British Columbia curriculum, properly taught and executed, offers some of the highest student outcomes for children in the world – and it is worth bearing in mind that PISA includes the highly regimented school curricular approaches of China and Korea in its grading.

Bottom line?

It is far too early to provide any more than an outline view. But stand-out for us are two features of the school beyond those basic features of any school we would expect including proper accreditation. The first is AP provision within a Canadian School. This is a very important benchmark for Canadian Schools across the Emirates. We would like to see the subject choice significantly expanded, but by establishing parallel stream provision the school is making a clear marker in the sand that we would hope other Canadian schools will now follow. Second, the openness and passion of the Founding Head, Shawn Merke, in sharing his vision for the school and his ambitions for its children is quite something and we think prospective parents will be inspired. How vision will translate into bricks and mortar and final delivery only time will tell – but at the very least the combination of family owners with proven commitment and experience of delivering this curriculum and UAE REIT build holds promise.

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Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review

COMING SOONGo

Average Cost Per Year

KG1: 40,000
KG2: 45,000
YEAR 1: 50,000
YEAR 2: 50,000
YEAR 3: 50,000
YEAR 4: 60,000
YEAR 5: 60,000
YEAR 6: 60,000
YEAR 7: 70,000
YEAR 8: 70,000
YEAR 9: 70,000
YEAR 10: 80,000
YEAR 11: 80,000
YEAR 12: 80,000

Curriculum

British Columbia Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma) - Province of British Columbia, Canada

External Exam Boards

British Columbia Ministry of Education

Selective

Fully inclusive

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published (new school)

Number of Students

1,285
Notes:
(1) Phased launch with 300 role on opening

Teacher to Student Ratio

Projected to be 1:10 - 1:15 based on BCCIS

Largest nationality teachers

Projected Canadian

Year opened

September 2017

Location

Dubai Investments Park, Dubai

Student composition

New school
Notes
(1) Canadian (largest nationality) projected

Gender

Mixed co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Mostafa Tawfik (Mostafa Morsi) (Chairman)
Karim Mostafa (Tawfik Mostafa) (Vice Chairman)
Emirates Reit (sale and leaseback)

Admissions Telephone

[email protected]

Web Address
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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