Cambridge International School, Dubai
With just over 2,513 students Cambridge International School Dubai, located in Garhoud, is a well established GEMS school teaching children from KG to Year 13.
Almost 70 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.
Students are taught by 137 full-time teachers in 88 classes – giving an average classroom size of 29 plus (down from 34 plus last year – very high for a GEMs UK curriculum school). The issue is not staffing – the teacher to pupil ratio is 1:19 – but space. Plans for a new facility to address the issue of class sizes were put in place over the last academic year.
Ranked ‘Good’ by the KHDA for six years in a row, Cambridge International has some Outstanding features according to the education regulator.
Attainment in English is outstanding at primary and secondary, as is attainment at secondary in science. The school is rated Good for maths across the board. Areas of weakness include Islamic education and Arabic where attainment and progress is largely acceptable, and at primary where performance has weakened over the last 12 months now deemed only acceptable pretty much across the board.
Cambridge 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.
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. GEMs Education, the school’s owber, no longer releases the exam results of any of its schools, so it is not possible to say how well or how badly the school fares in external examinations. On average, across the board, its schools do reasonably well however.
For recommendations, the KHDA noted in 2012/13 the Primary phase needed to improve teaching methods. This is also stressed in its 2013/14 report, although the KHDA notes it has seen an improvement in teaching styles, leading to an improvement in pupil attainment. For 2015 the KHDA notes the need to improve students’ attainment and progress in Islamic Education and Arabic; improve students’ attainment and progress in English and science in the primary phase, by improving the quality and effectiveness of the teaching; to Improve the accuracy of identification of children with special educational needs in the Foundation Stage and the quality of provision for them. It also highlights the need to review and confirm the optimum number of students in the school to ensure all have equal access to a high quality teaching and learning environment.
The school no longer publishes the university destinations of its students. The last time it did was in 2012/13 and, 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 UAE, followed by 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).
In the 2011-2012 academic year 79% of students from Cambridge International School, Dubai achieved A* – C (including Math and English) in their IGCSE examinations. This was almost 20% higher than the UK National average of 59.4% for the same year. In the 2011 – 2012 academic year 27% of students from Cambridge International School, Dubai obtained A –A* in their A Level Examinations. This was about 2% higher than the UK National Average of 24.4% for the same year. Results have not been published since.
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 fell 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 affordable for a school following a UK curriculum, ranging from 16,400 AED per annum for KG grades, to 22300 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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