School of Research Science, Dubai
Don’t be confused by the name, The School of Research Science is not Dubai’s answer to MIT, but a Good rated UK curriculum K-12 school, adapted to local cultures, with no particular emphasis on science or research.
The school is very popular with local families, with 6 out of 10 students studying at the school Emiratis. The remainder come largely from Arabic families. Located in Al Qusais there are currently 1,641 boys and girls aged from 3 to 18 (up 16% from the previous year) studying at the school.
In the message from the founder, an emphasis is placed on the fact that this is an Arabic/Islamic school – not so much in language or curriculum, but in the roots of those studying at the school. As a result, it “is concerned with preserving the heritage of our culture, its language, its literature, history and especially its Islamic tradition.” It aims to mould a “future Islamic generation who will be creative, independent thinkers, able to adapt their knowledge and skills to the changing needs of this technological age.”
So while the core curriculum is quite traditionally Western, based on the National Curriculum for England and Wales, it sits alongside an “Islamic ethos, designed to “develop our students into young men and women, proud and understanding of their own culture but conversant and sympathetic to that which is best in Western ideas and culture.”
Students take GCSE and IGCSE examinations in secondary school at the end of Year 11. They take GCE A/S level examinations in the post-16 phase at the end of Year 12. Only about 70 students are currently in the post-16 phase of school.
There are currently 138 teachers, “all appropriately qualified” according to the KHDA, at the school. Interestingly, a look at the senior leadership team and board of governers really shows evidence of that split between a Western focused curricula, within an Arab and Islamic context. Functional curriculum experts are clearly drawn from the United Kingdom, while the board of governors, which will provide the school’s direction and context, largely Arab and UAE based.
To the credit of the the school it published the results of students sitting external examinations, so parents who hold academic performance of the school to be important can judge its success. Which School Advisor strongly advises all schools in the UAE to provide information which in most countries is freely available.
The school currently performs less well than the UK average for IGCSE, but it is important to bear in mind the context of the school – one where English is a second language. In total 15% of GCSE results are A* to C, as opposed to the UK average of 69.4%. Results in chart format below.
For AS Level, the school has not published results for 2012, but for 2010/11 it did better with 22% of students getting A-B grades, and 84% A to E. The school does not offer the full A Level (technically known as A2). This may be because the majority of students head to UAE or universities (such as in the US) which do not require the full A’Level results for acceptance.
The school was subject to a British Overseas School’s inspection for 2010/11 for which is was rated largely Outstanding. The report made the note that pupils and students make excellent progress while at the school. “This is because teaching is outstanding overall and students’ are given the support to learn very well. Students start Year 1 below the average for England but as a result of the effective teaching they achieve above the average at the end of Year 6 and at the end of Year 11.”
The BSO’s report also notes “2010 examination results at GCSE are well above average particularly in mathematics where nearly 90 per cent of students achieve the top grades A* – C compared with 58 per cent for all international schools. There is a similar picture with GCSE physics, chemistry and biology. English results at GCSE are less good because students’ English oracy skills are not well developed enough. However, students take the examination that is designed for those who speak English as their first language so it does, nonetheless, represent good progress.”
The KHDA gives the School of Research Science a thumbs up pretty much across the board. The school scores Good and Outstanding ratings for both progress and attainment in the core areas it measures: Islamic studies, Arabic, English, Maths and Science. Only in the Foundation stage does Attainment slip to Acceptable for English and Science. However, in both of these cases Progress of students is judged Outstanding…
Core strengths of the school according to Dubai’s education regulator include students’ understanding of Islamic values and local and wider culture, and “improvements” in attitudes and behaviour in the Foundation Stage and primary phase; high quality teaching, learning and assessment across almost all of the school; an outstanding curriculum; and a strong leadership, helping staff to take responsibility for leadership and improvement.
The school needs to focus encouraging students to take “greater responsibility and have higher aspirations, particularly in respect of attendance and punctuality, and especially the older students”; and involve all staff members further in gathering and analysing assessment data to inform the school’s self-evaluation and improvement planning.
Which School Advisor has so far limited feedback on The School of Research Science in our School Survey. However, in the limited results we have so far for the school, parents would by and large recommend the school to others. The predominant response to questions over academic performance is partial satisfaction. A similar response is given to questions over the quality of interaction with teachers and school in general, and to disciplinary policies. The questionnaire may be found here.
Feedback to the KHDA largely mirrors WSA feedback. Most parents are said to be satisfied with the quality of education. Parents of current students agree children’s progress in Islamic Education, Arabic and English is good. A majority agree progress is good in mathematics and science. A minority have negative views on careers guidance and procedures for dealing with bullying.
Fees for the School of Research Science starts at just shy of 23,000 AED rising to just above 43,000 AED. Full details below. An online application form may be found here.
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