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Dubai Carmel School, Al Nahda 2
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Review

Dubai Carmel School, Al Nahda 2

by April 14, 2016
Strengths

• Small, intimate school dynamics with vibrancy in abundance, particularly across FS and Primary phases
• Bijou campus with the charm that newer schools cannot match
• Historic school with more than a decade’s intellectual capital behind its (I)GCSE teaching journey
• School owner and Head with the vocational drive and passion that comes from a school that has been her life’s work
• On-going drive to improve the school including new post-16 AS Level provision from 2016-17
• Value fees
• Genuine commitment to Arab culture and values

Weaknesses

• Basic facilities lacking in breadth and quality
• Degree qualified specialist teachers lacking in the critical teaching qualifications required to meet their potential
• Classrooms at capacity
• Site constrained without room for expansion
• Limited outdoor facilities
• Shortages in some basic areas of required provision including English books and SEN
• School now at capacity with no further room to increase revenue without compromising education
• Low levels of transparency and wholly insufficient breadth and quality of information for prospective and existing parents

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
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Academic
C-
B-
Value
C
B-
ExtraCurricula
D+
C
Languages
D+
C
Sports
D+
B-
Arts & Drama
D+
C
Teaching
C-
C+
Communications
D+
C
Warmth
B+
C
Differentiation
D+
C+
SEND Provision
D
A+
Scl Community
B+
C
Scl Facilities
D+
C+
Opportunities

• A KHDA “Acceptable” school that could be much more. Prospective parents will have to decide whether the trade-offs of an intimate campus are worth the price that carries.

D+
Our Rating
C+
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
0%
In my Top 5
14%
Shortlisted
14%
A possibility
14%
Pass
29%
No way
29%

Updated November 2016

Dubai Carmel School is one of Dubai’s more established Arab schools, although no one agrees when the school was actually founded. The school currently dates its founding to 1995, but the KHDA traces it back further to 1990. Variously elsewhere the school’s routes are traced back to the mid 1980’s. Certainly the school is as far away as it gets from the modern bells and whistles of Dubai’s Elite Tier 1s in appearance and bijou scale.

Dubai Carmel provides an English National Curriculum based all through education from FS to Year 13, although this will culminate in GCE AS Levels rather than full A Levels. This represents an extension of the curriculum in 2016-17 to provide post-16 provision for Carmel students for the first time. The current role is 890 pupils, the largest in the school’s history. Since 2010 the school has grown its role by 168 students. Although 25% growth is small in Dubai terms, Carmel’s campus is compact and restricted and the result is that already compact classrooms are simply too small for the number of pupils.

Growth in student roles in the value sector has followed KHDA restrictions on the ability of schools to increase their fees where they do not meet Good and higher standards of provision. Increasing roles has been the only lever left for schools to increase overall revenue. The trade-off, as here, is a school that has reached a maximum capacity beyond which there is simply no further room to increase the role without overcrowding. In many ways this is a shame as the school brims with the character of its older buildings and is let down by the density of its role.

Current fees, which range between 7,979 AED at FS phase to 13,542 for GCE AS Level provision are on the lower edges of the most affordable in Dubai.

The school introduced (I)GCSE provision in 2007 and the move to AS Level provision builds on a decade’s experience of delivering the English National Curriculum. Carmel lets itself down however, in not providing transparent information detailing the attainment of its students, either current or historic, this leaving prospective parents completely in the dark at its ability to actually deliver the results.

A picture can be drawn, however, to the background under which students are educated. Firstly, the school draws considerably on Egyptian graduates for is teaching roles, but, in many cases, presumably to manage costs, most teachers have no formal post-graduate teaching qualifications. There is a clear difference between a teacher expert in his or her subject field and one with the same core subject knowledge also trained in the metrics of how to actually teach. Telling is the latest summary by Dubai Inspectors:

“The school’s capacity for improvement is hindered mainly by its management structure, teachers’ lack of teaching qualifications and the lack of systematic monitoring and evaluation.”

Second, facilities are limited and basic, but again these are a trade-off for parents in the value fees sector seeking a smaller school and the very different feel and culture that follows. They include an ICT Lab; Science labs; library; its own buses (to help manage costs for parents); a clinic and canteen.

Identified weaknesses include a shortage of English books and practical equipment for children with Special Educational Needs [SE].

Prospective parents should note, however, that this critique is balanced by confirmation from Inspectors that Carmel is a school that works extremely hard with its limited resources to try and improve– and is a school that genuinely cares, with clear passion and commitment, for its student’s welfare and education. This is certainly not true of all schools we have reviewed.

The school’s Principal and owner, Alia Abu Younis, is a good example of a school founder driven by vocation. She is also open to the KHDA which provides exceptional levels of support to schools:

“The KHDA helps us in framing our work and elevating our educational standards. I send my gratitude to everyone who helped and accompanied me on this journey.”

As with many Principals with high levels of investment in their school, however, Inspectors noted that the school’s view of itself is “over inflated” with perception not matched to the reality. This is a double-edged sword. Maintaining a view of strengths against a background of weaknesses limits the capacity to improve. A school Head without a passionate belief in his or her school’s strengths however, is likely to be one that lacks the drive to improve in the face of weaknesses.

The context of the school is as you would expect from one that celebrates its children. There is genuine warmth here and the younger children’s class rooms, colourful and filled with their work, provide a hub for the general sense off vibrancy across the school.

Bottom line? Dubai Carmel School makes it impossible for parents to properly gauge its provision. The school has made efforts with its online information, but has simply not gone far enough. It must open up information transparently across its operational and strategic planning, examination attainment and day-to—day activities. At the most basic level, the school does not publish newsletters, something that children could be involved in producing to celebrate their school. The strongest schools are not scared of advertising their strengths – and weaknesses. As an older school too, Carmel has the wholly unexploited alumni foundations that newer schools can only dream of.

There is so much Carmel can do with its limited resources that will not cost the Earth. Until it does this, the clear ambition of the Head will remain thwarted, and a school that could border the edges of KHDA “Good” school status will remain, as it has consistently for the last 5 years, an “Acceptable” school only. More worrying, Carmel is running out of the levers it does have to increase its revenue further without becoming compromised, something that would be a genuine loss to its existing children and those who will hopefully follow.

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 7,979
FS2: 7,979
YEAR 1: 8,111
YEAR 2: 8,313
YEAR 3: 8,447
YEAR 4: 8,581
YEAR 5: 8,581
YEAR 6: 8,581
YEAR 7: 9,788
YEAR 8: 10,459
YEAR 9: 11,129
YEAR 10: 11,664
YEAR 11: 12,201
YEAR 12: 13,542
YEAR 13: 14,000 (Est.)

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England:
EYFS
(I)GCSE O' Level
AS Level ONLY

External Exam Boards

Cambridge International Education [CIE]

Number of A Levels offered

8

A Levels offered

Note: AS Levels ONLY
Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Biology
Sociology
Economics
Business Studies
ICT

A Level A* to A

Phased AS launch 2016-17

A Level A* to C

Phased AS launch 2016-17

IGCSE A* to C

Note:
(1) School is not transparent and does not publish results
(2) School does publish Cambridge Checkpoint results:
English: 70% A*C
Mathematics: 86% A*C
Science: 92% A*C

IGCSE A* to A

Note:
(1) School is not transparent and does not publish results
(2) School does publish Cambridge Checkpoint results:
English: 30% A*A (A* 11%)
Mathematics: 57% A*A (A* 11%)
Science: 92% A*A (A* 4%)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

17
Notes
(1) 8 Subjects maximum can be taken
(2) Students sit Core subjects and take one subject from each Group - see following)

I/GCSEs offered

Mathematics (Core)
English language (Core)
Co-ordinated Science [Double Award] (Core)
Business Studies (Social Science Option 1/3)
Enterprise (Social Science Option 2/3)
Economics (Social Science Option 3/3)
Information & Communication Technology (Computing & data Option 1/2)
Accounting (Computing & data Option 2/2)
Arabic (Languages/Religion Option 1/4)
French (Languages/Religion Option 2/4)
Urdu (Languages/Religion Option 3/4)
Islamiyat (Languages/Religion Option 4/4)
Physical Education (Free Option 1/4)
Art & Design (Free Option 2/4)
Environmental Management (Free Option 3/4)
Travel & Tourism (Free Option 4/4)

Selective

Inclusive subject to entrance examination
Notes:
(1) Prospective students must pass an entrance exam in English and Mathematics at all phases
(2) Examination pass is relative to age of prospective child
(3) Examination result will be provided within 4 days with an offer of a place if applicable
(4) Students applying for admission to Grade 12 (AS Levels) are exempted from the entrance exam but must have scored at least a C Grade at (I)GCSE in the subject(s) to be studied

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published (whichschooladvisor projected LOW)

Number of Students

890

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:10

Largest nationality teachers

Egyptian

Teacher turnover

16%

Year opened

1990

Location

Al Nahda 2, Dubai

Student composition

Arab (largest nationality)
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 103
Emirati: 143

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Alia Yahya Abu Younis

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 267 5424
Notes:
(1) Grade KG1 – KG2: Ms. Wafa, +971 (0) 4 267 5424 Ext. 210
(2) Grades 1 - 6: Ms. Raja ’a Rebhi Rashid Alashi, +971 (0) 4 267 5424 Ext. 200
(3) Grades 7 - 12: Mr. Wasif Kizilbash, +971 (0) 4 267 5424 Ext. 220

Grade KG 1 – KG 2: Ms. Wafa, +971 (0) 4 267 5424 Ext. 210

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

50%

Attainment Pri SEM

50%

Attainment Sec SEM

50%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

33.3%
Note:
(1) English is not studied at post-16 phase
(2) For Science and Mathematics the weighted score is 50%

Progress Nur SEM

75%

Progress Pri SEM

58.3%

Progress Sec SEM

50%

Progress Post-16 SEM

33.3%
Note:
(1) English is not studied at post-16 phase
(2) For Science and Mathematics the weighted score is 50%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

75%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

62.5%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

75%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

62.5%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

50%

Leadership

50%

Community

75%

Facilities

50%

Quality of teaching

62.5%

Student personal responsibility

75%

Quality of curriculum

50%

School Governance

50%

SEN Provision

50%

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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