Dove Green School, Dubai Investments Park – The Review
Updated June 2019 – SchoolsCompared.com exclusive – Dove Green School KHDA 2019, change to fully inclusive school, change of name to Dove Green School from Dovecote Green Primary School, planned opening of secondary School
“Dove Green School is a wonderful, safe community school based in Dubai Investment Park.
Our school prides itself on developing the whole child.
All of our pupils are taught strong values and ways in which to think for themselves.
At Dove Green School we use a large number of thinking tools that children can use in their learning, so that they can become resourceful independent learners.
Our staff are very friendly and approachable and we adopt an ‘Open door policy’ where parents can meet staff members regularly – and this approach leads to transparency, trust and a strong parent partnership.”
Dove Green Private School has a strong historic relationship with a number of slipstream schools, including Repton and Foremarke schools, through the British Schools in Dubai ( BSID ) network.
We are today moving forward in our plans to gain approval from the KHDA to open our Secondary School which will see us, initially, extend our British curriculum provision to children between the ages of 11 and 16 years of age.
Patrick Affley, Headmaster. Dove Green Primary School
Dove Green School is currently a primary, FS to Year 6 British, selective preparatory slipstream school. Historically a slipstream school for Repton Dubai, Dove Green School offers an English National Curriculum based education for around 320 children aged between 3 and 11 years of age. As of June 2019, the school has changed its name from Dovecote Green Primary School to Dove Green School in preparation for its planned move to all-through schooling. We expect this development to take place in 2020-21.
Dove Green School is situated within the Green Community, Dubai Investments Park One, and is physically linked to the Green Community West residential area. This gives the school direct access for the community’s families to walk or cycle to school. Following its original management by EKI (best known for Repton and Foremarke), Dove Green School is today part of the Study World Education group which includes the UK’s Heriot-Watt sister university in Dubai.
Dove Green School opened with surprisingly little fanfare in 2015. The result has been currently much smaller class sizes than anticipated in a school already committed to a high ratio of teacher:student provision. The current size of role, set against its capacity of around 560 children, offered a rare opportunity for parents and students to make an impact on the development of the school. For many parents, the intimate, community driven feel of the school remains a significant plus.
A very different school ….
When Dove Green Primary School first launched it was established as an academically and SEND selective school. The school was designed for parents seeking a rigorously academic education for their children. As a result it certainly did not suit all students, particularly those from three groups:
- Those for whom English is an Additional Language without age appropriate abilities in written and spoken English
- Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities who require, or would benefit from, specialist intervention and dedicated learning support
- Children who are likely to struggle with the pace and pressures of a curriculum designed ground-up to stretch children academically, both for entrance to Repton, but also with a view to their later IGCSE and stretching International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme [IB DP] study.
This approach has now been completely re-modelled and Dove Green Primary School is now fully inclusive:
“In line with the Inclusion Framework document launched in November 2017. Dove Green School has now changed its admissions policy accordingly.
All our assessments at Dove Green School are now based on an ‘Assessment of Educational need’.
Every effort to accept all pupils, including ‘students with determination’ is made.
The decision is made in conjunction with the parents, with the pupil’s needs and provision central to that decision.”
Patrick Affley, Headmaster. Dove Green Primary School
Links with Repton School Dubai
Further, when Dove Green Primary School first launched, and partly because of its then ownership, the school focused on ensuring children would pass the entrance test to Repton Dubai for Year 7 entry, or by broad equivalence the 11+ Common Entrance for entry to UK independents.
Dove Green Primary School, then, set itself apart by providing the lowest-cost direct route to Repton available in the UAE.
Under new ownership this was, and is, longer the case.
However, fees have remained low for a school aiming for Outstanding School status. As of June 2019, Dove Green School is rated Good with Very Good features by the KHDA, this secured after its second inspection.
The school has strong ties with families of Emirates and Etihad staff for whom corporate discounts are offered on an individual basis.
Facilities are Tier 1 and we rate them as of a very good standard. Do not expect a formal, corporate school. Rather, this is a deeply rooted community school brimming with warmth and a sense of “soul.”
The school itself is designed as an inverted “T”, with the main reception area located at the front of the building, the three teaching blocks located behind – and all areas of the school flooded with natural light. Provision itself includes dedicated car parking; Main reception; main Assembly Hall and Theatre located at the heart of the school; 30 purpose built classrooms with shaded outside access; four astro-turfed areas including one dedicated only for FS children; a very spacious multipurpose gymnasium; upstairs dance studio/chill out space; cafe; parents meeting area; two outdoor swimming pools (one learner/toddler, the other a 20M main pool); Science Suite, IT Centre; specialist SEND Centre with Sensory Tent; garden play spaces including two wooden climbing houses; nature learning area; library; and music rooms. The school today has multipurpose outside football, rugby and athletics pitch.
The school has a traditional British House System: Shakespeare, Rowling and Dahl.
ECAs are extensive including the spectrum of sports, LEGO Robotics; etiquette, extra reading and mathematics, music classes (including drums, guitar, xylophone, violin, piano and recorders) and gymnastics. External providers include Apollo Perellini Rugby Skills Academy and Elite Sports.
The school, rarely, owns its own buses – an initiative to ensure that it can meet the needs of the broadest range of families. Given Dove Green School’s location in proximity with the Abu Dhabi border, the school attracts families from Al Ghadeer.
Sporting provision is a highlight of the school and Dove Green children regularly engage in the development and inter-school leagues across football, netball, swimming, athletics and rugby.
Academically, Dove Green School points to an overarching concern to develop each child’s core expertise in English/literacy and Mathematics/numeracy, this a core of the curriculum across Foundation, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 phases. Impressively, however, this is developed by leveraging and weaving numeracy and literacy across every aspect of the curriculum, including play at younger ages and developed links between lesson, formal prep and co-curricular activities.
Nor is the traditional concentration on the “three Rs” (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) a fall back on traditional learning – the school provides all children with access to an iPad to give core skills context – and broader enrichment is designed to bring the curriculum to life.
The emphasis is very much on the whole child, but one rooted in getting children to levels in the curriculum core in advance of expected levels for their peer groups. The approach is described by Dove Green School as one of a “thinking school” in which children learn independence of thought and action within a broader context of self-discipline, responsibility and reason.
We particularly like the school’s genuine place as a community hub, this focused on sharing its sporting facilities with the broader community (there is a footpath linking the school to Green Community West on its doorstep) after school as well as providing a broad range of community events and festivals.
The school also deserves significant praise for its extensive, hugely compassionate bursary provision, something called for both by the KHDA and H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and offered by far too few schools.
A broad outline of the school can be found in its 2018 prospectus:Dovecote-Green-Primary-School-Prospectus
The school in 2017-18 secured an Acceptable, with Weak and Good features, accreditation by the KHDA. This grading is below the “Good” rating expected by the KHDA of all schools operating in Dubai. The rating proved a severe disappointment to Dove Green Primary School and it argued that new schools needs more time to bed-in to be fairly assessed. Our view then was that it was early days to give an unequivocal recommendation of the school, notwithstanding its ambition.
Weaknesses identified by the KHDA included:
- In Mathematics, the progress made by children at Primary Phase is not consistent and children are making low levels of progress. This is a serious weakness.
- In English, the progress made by children at Primary phase, is held back by the variable quality of teaching. Again, this is a serious weakness.
- In Science, as general across the curriculum, the engagement of each child with technology is limited.
- Primary phase teaching does not encourage inherent child curiosity, or critical reasoning
- School assessment data is unreliable – the result being that the progress of children and the school’s ability to deliver an education matched closely to the needs of children is limited
- Primary phase support of children with SEND is not implemented effectively and the Inclusion team is not properly supported by school management or governance. This is a serious weakness and reflects poorly on the school’s treatment of its most vulnerable students.
- Provision of support for children identified as Gifted and Talented is at an early stage of development and implementation
- Representation from the school community on the Governing Board is limited – a strange let-down in a school aspiring to be a benchmark for best-in-class community education
- School leaders are under-resourced to deliver effectively, this lack of proper resourcing by school governance a significant weakness of the school – and one responsible in major part for holding Dovecote Green Primary School back from meeting the needs of all children effectively.
- Arabic subject provision is not meeting expected curriculum expectations for children
Positives identified by the KHDA included:
- There is an excellent capacity to improve. School leadership has put in place the spectrum of mechanisms required for the school to achieve highly in future years.
- Foundation Stage learning and whole child development is good – with a strong capacity to deliver at a very high level in future years.
- The progress made by children from starting points at FS phase is very good. Parents, in interpreting and understanding KHDA reports should focus on the progress made by children as a key indicator (and arguably more important than attainment) in appreciating the efficacy and strengths of a school’s teaching and learning provision. FS phase progress is arguably the most significant strength of Dovecote Green Primary School identified by the KHDA – and particularly so given its capacity to improve and deliver even more highly for children.
- Personal development of all children is at a good level – and a strength of the school
- FS phase teaching is, at its best, hugely inspirational and the quality of teaching at this phase is strong
There were serious issues identified by the KHDA across Primary phase provision – but these we felt did need to be balanced by parents, and set against the context of a clear capacity to improve equally stressed by KHDA inspectors.
As of June 2019, Dove Green Primary School now has the Good School rating it aspired to. It comes with a number of Very Good School features identified by the KHDA, particularly in the areas of whole child development, the school’s links with parents and the broader community and care of children.
The future is bright, in our view, for Dove Green Primary School – it is, however, taking longer to get the school to where it needs to be, and should be by its own admission, than children, and their families, have every right to expect.
On a positive note, we think that is worth quoting Patrick Affley, Headmaster. Dove Green Primary School, in full when he spoke with SchoolsCompared.com exclusively in June 2018:
“The KHDA inspection identified many Good features of the school – and particularly that Phase one was classed by the KHDA as Good.
Our phase 2 department, however, opened later than Phase 1. Years 1-6 had effectively only been running fully for one full term before inspection.
The inspection team identified good systems in place, that now need time to run to show progress over time in that phase.
Those systems are now facilitating accelerated progress of all pupils.
We have worked extremely hard to identify each pupils starting point to give a clearer indication of progress over time.
Being an Inclusive school can mean that the attainment levels of groups of pupils can be low.
Our focus is to challenge all pupils to make good progress that will ensure that most pupils are at or above curriculum standards for their age group by the end of each Academic year.
Our governing body has been developed and is now a much more strategic group that is embedded in the strategic vision of the school.
Our slow start in phase 2 has been identified.
The very positive and constructive inspection report has given us clear guidance to move in to the Good bracket next year. In order to achieve this we are aiming for all performance indicators up at least one level.
Our aim is to be classed as Outstanding within the next 5 years.”
Patrick Affley, Headmaster. Dove Green Primary School
Bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2018
We like Dove Green Primary School, notwithstanding its delivering on its creditable ambitions for children as a lower pace than families have the right to expect. The fact that it delivers solidly for children at FS phases – and has the capacity to rapidly improve its provision for all children, gives strong justification for its not being discounted by parents despite its poor grading by the KHDA. This is, after all, still a relatively new school.
As with all schools, the fit for any child cannot be decided by a review. Dovecote Green Primary School is, in our view, one that deserves visiting. However, it needs to up its game – and by the time of the next inspection, if it achieves less than a good rating, the infancy of the school will no longer be able to provide fair rebuttal to identified weaknesses in its provision for children.
On our last visit we attended with parents on a school open day. Parents were exceptionally positive about the school with comments including “there is not a school like this anywhere else in Dubai,” “it’s like being back back in the UK – it is like home,”
We expect Dove Green Primary School to meet Very Good School status, with Outstanding Features, accreditation by the time of its next inspection. The link with Repton School Dubai is being rebuilt ground-up, Governance is being significantly strengthened, the capacity to improve is a major strength of the school – and Dove Green Primary School Headmaster, Patrick Affley, in our discussions with him, is clearly on a mission to deliver a top tier education for Dove Green children – and quickly. He, and the school’s new owners, will not want to – cannot afford to – let them down.
Watch this space.
Good with Very Good features
Acceptable, with weak, good and very good features (2017-18)
(1) First inspection
Private, for profit
YEAR 1: 44,000
YEAR 2: 44,000
YEAR 3: 46,000
YEAR 4: 46,000
YEAR 5: 48,000
YEAR 6: 48,000
YEAR 7: NA (slipstream to Repton, Dubai [77,049 AED])
YEAR 8: NA
YEAR 9: NA
YEAR 10: NA
YEAR 11: NA
YEAR 12: NA
YEAR 13: NA
National Curriculum for England:
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 2
Current: 194 (2017-18)
Expected role 2018-19: 300
(1) Maximum class size: 20 children
(2) 17 teachers with 7 Teaching Assistants
(3) 0 Guidance Counsellors
(4) We would expect teacher and TA numbers to increase as the role grows. We have been advised the current Teacher to Student ratio has been decreased to 1:12 (May 2018).
Green Community, Dubai Investments Park, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
(1) External provider delivers hot meals as required
Marketed by Study World Education Holding Group
(1) Dr. Vidhya Vinod, President & Group CEO
(2) Raymi Van der Spek, Chief Operating Officer
(3) Formerly owned by Evolvence Knowledge Investments Limited (EKI) / Evolvence Capital Limited
+971 (0)4 883 7474
• Tier 1 facility provision
• British teacher provision
• Small class sizes and low teacher:student ratio
• Commitment to community
• Whole child focus founded on traditional development of advanced numeracy and literacy
• Opportunity for founding parents to shape a new school in phased launch
• Capacity to deliver a very high standard of education and whole child development for children in future years
• Small school intimacy and strong community ideals
• Highly creditable progress secured by children at FS phases
• Weaknesses in SEND provision
• No bursary or scholarship provision
• Inevitable teething issues of any new school are lasting longer than expected with particular impacts on children at Primary Phase
• Governance is compromised by weaknesses in community representation and lack of required resource investment in school leadership