Cambridge International School, Dubai
With just over 2,500 students (up 160 over the 2011/12 academic year) Cambridge International School, located in Garhoud, is a well established GEMS school teaching to children from KG to Year 13.
Almost 80 different nationalities are represented among the student population, and according to the school itself no one nationality dominates the student body. However, the largest single demographic is Indian (according to the KHDA).
Students are taught by 132 full-time teachers in 72 classes – giving an average classroom size of 34 plus – very high for a GEMs UK curriculum school. Plans for a new facility to address the issue of class sizes is said to have been put in place over the last academic year (but clearly is not yet in place).
Ranked ‘Good’ by the KHDA for three years in a row, Cambridge International has some Outstanding features according to the education regulator.
The KHDA singles out the Post 16 age group curriculum, the relationship the school has developed with parents, the quality of its special needs provisions and the opportunity for vocation based education: The school has recently introduced Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) level 2 and level 3 vocational qualification in a range of subjects at secondary and post-16 phases respectively. Every year the school says it “looks to further develop the pathways that we have on offer to our students” – see the Q and A. Parental engagement is also said to be a strength of the school.
For recommendations, the KHDA notes the Primary phase as one where a focus on improving teaching would benefit the school, and clearly its students, as a whole. As with nearly all KHDA reports Arabic and Islamic studies are recommendations for further improvements.
The National Curriculum for England is the school’s core curriculum. Students are entered for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and/or GCSE examinations at the end of the secondary phase and GCE Advanced level examinations at the end of the post-16 phase.
The school helpfully publishes the university destinations of its students (although this has not been updated for 2012). Perhaps reflecting the mixed nationality of its student body, the school’s alumni spread across the four corners of the world. The biggest single destination is the United Kingdom, and students end up in good quality ‘Red Brick’ schools (Manchester, UCL, Leeds) as well as more vocational former Polytechnics (Portsmouth, Kingston, etc). A large percentage of students go to UAE based campuses of global universities (Bolton, Waterloo, Heriot Watt University, American University, etc).
The school also publishes its exam results – but for some reason these do not seem to have been updated for 2011/12. This is quite unusual for a GEMs school… However, the A’ Level A* to B pass rate in 2012 according to GEMs Education was a highly respectable 52%.
There are a large range of facilities available for students of all ages to use. A large covered swimming pool, cricket nets and playing fields complement the indoor sports arena and multi-purpose hall. A separate, well-equipped, grassed playing area is available for students from Kindergarten to Year 2.
The school has five ICT labs (with over 180 computers available for students), two art studios, a music studio, two well stocked libraries, a multi-purpose sports hall, and a standard sized football pitch with all weather AstroTurf.
Feedback from parents to Which School Advisor has been mixed. The school is currently falls below average in terms of an overall recommendation from parents in the WSA School Survey. Satisfaction levels for academic performance are also below average. The school has an above average satisfaction level amongst parents with children at the school for good feedback on progress, and school discipline.
Tuition fees for the school are very, very affordable for a school following a UK curriculum, ranging from 15,327 AED per annum for KG grades, to 20,810 AED for Years 12-13. There are a number of other fees paid annually that cover medical, computers, etc which add another 1000 plus AED to the school fee. Fundamentally however CIS must be ranked as one of the best value, good quality UK based schools in Dubai.
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