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United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Mirdif / Uptown School

Uptown School Review

Uptown School, owned and managed by Taaleem, is an IB based, Mirdiff located school. This year's KHDA Report has Uptown School moving from Good, where it has sat for the last three years, to a Very Good rating, the second highest KHDA rating for a school, the only school this year to make this move.
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Uptown School

At a glance

School Type
All Through
Year Opened
2012
Annual Fees
AED 54,703 - 83,852
Annual Fee Average
AED 68,500
Inspection Rating
Very Good
Principal
Christopher Bromham
Owner
Taaleem
Curricula Taught
Community
City
Dubai
Main Teacher Nationality
British
Main Student Nationality
Emirati

The Story for Far 

Uptown School, a member of the Taaleem family of schools offers exclusively the International Baccalaureate curriculum.  The maximum number of students per class is 25 with most Secondary classes averaging around 18 per class. The school has held IB World School status since 2009.

What do the Inspectors Say (2016/2017)

There are currently 1377 students at the school, ages 3 - 18 years. This year's movement up to Very Good is based on four key findings from the KHDA report:

  1. Students are very enthusiastic learners and make good or better progress in all subjects. Teaching is Very Good in the KG, PYP and DP.
  2. Students’ Outstanding personal development and sense of social responsibility.
  3. The very clear strategic direction set by the governing board and the principal alongside the excellent facilities and resources and the Outstanding partnerships with parents.
  4. The school’s Outstanding curriculum and support for all students, including those with SEND, and the excellent arrangements for keeping students safe and promoting healthy life styles.

This improvement in teaching, students' personal development, and leadership is part of what has brought Uptown School into the Very Good bracket. 

Furthermore, the report shows improvement in student attainment and progress across the board but specifically in math in MYP and PYP sections as well as progress in the KG core subjects of English, mathematics, and science. 

Teaching and Assessment has also made gains at Uptown School with Teaching for Effective Learning and Assessment rising to Very Good for the KG, PYP, and the DP sections.  Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills are also almost Outstanding across the board. 

Students at Uptown are motivated self-directed learners. As the report notes, "When given the opportunity, students are innovative and enterprising. In all phases, most are adept at finding things out for themselves." 

The social responsibility and innovation skills is also ranked as Outstanding. As the report notes, "From the KG onwards, students demonstrate a high level of responsibility and commitment to school life. They actively participate in many worthwhile initiatives both inside school and outside the school... Students show an excellent work ethic [and] most strive to complete their work to the highest standards." 

As for areas to improve, like most schools in Dubai, focus needs to be paid to the school's Arabic and Islamic Education department. The report recommends that the school, "ensure that teaching is consistently of a high standard, to raise attainment and accelerate progress in students’ learning in Arabic as a first and additional language and also in Islamic education."

Overall, Uptown School's focus on innovation and student achievement all led by a capable and inspiring leadership team has pushed the school into the second highest level of schools in Dubai.

What do the Inspectors Say (2015/2016)

The school has had its first KHDA rating since its move to its new location. Its Primary School had been rated consistently Good by the education regulator - and the "new school" has picked up from where the Primary left off. It too has been rated Good by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB).

Total enrollment for 2015/16 is 1417 students (up from 1052 in 2013/14). An impressively diverse 81 nationalities are represented in the student body, but the single largest grouping of students at the school is Emirati who, in the school's last KHDA report, accounted for one fifth of students.

Faculty and staff number 144 (up from 120 in 2013/14), and teachers account for 107 of these. The school has a low teacher to studio ratio of 1:13.

The primary section follows the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). The secondary section follows the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) with the International Diploma Programme (IB DP) commencing in 2015 academic year with its first Grade 11.

According to the school's latest DSIB evaluation, the school has continued its good progress and attainment across core subjects at Primary and KG (which has adopted the UK's EYFS framework) levels. In fact the school does a lot well. Attainment and progress now vary from acceptable to very good across the phases and subjects. Learning skills are mostly rated good. Students' personal development, their social responsibility and their innovation skills are said to be outstanding. Teaching is also generally good while curriculum design and implementation is now outstanding across most phases.

The school is very well led - "the principal and governors had, in most respects, a clear view of the school's strengths and what needed to be done to further improve performance..."

Students make good or better progress in most subjects particularly in the Primary Years Programme (PYP).  Students demonstrate strong leadership skills and care very much for their community and the environment. There is a positive and productive partnership with parents and the community while the governing board had provided state-of-the-art facilities and resources to enhance learning.

On its to do list the school needs to "increase the rate of progress in all subjects in all phases by ensuring greater consistency in the quality of teaching in line with International Baccalaureate (IB) principles". It needs to improve the use of assessment to inform planning and improve teaching. It also needs to develop the skills of middle leaders in holding teachers to account for students’ achievement.

What about Facilities

The school’s relatively new location offers considerably more space for students with the facilities separated into buildings for KG, Primary and Secondary on one campus. The school says it is now able to offer a more diverse range of performing arts, athletics, extra-curricular and academic opportunity to enrich the development of each student. Its arts program includes a violin ensemble, junior and senior choirs, percussion band and MYP rock band ensemble. Students also parrticipate in the World Scholars competition and Model UN academic teams. The move to the new campus has allowed for formation of a competitive dance team and expansion of sports teams with junior and senior swim squads, football teams and girls netball teams which compete in the Dubai Athletic Schools Sports Association (DASSA).

Key strengths of Uptown include the highly positive attitudes and good behaviour of its students, which contributes significantly to "the harmonious climate within the school’s multicultural community". It also has a safe and supportive environment for all students, "including those with special educational needs", and an "outstanding, principled and insightful leadership".

A fairly significant one-fifth of students have been identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN). As with (almost) all schools in the emirates, SEN provision comes at an extra cost to parents. According to the school, there are a "limited number of seats for Special Education Needs (SEN)" and "support is offered to students who may require it to access the stringent curriculum".

Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com on the primary school is notable for the use of the word "happy". The school does seem to have created an inclusive environment that appeals to parents, teachers and most importantly to its pupils, who for the most part, look forward to going to school.

What about Fees? 

Fees for 2016/17 start at 57,001 AED rising to 87,374 AED. They are paid each semester, with two semesters per calendar year.

New students pay a non-refundable 500 AED fee at the time of application. Once the seat is offered, 7000 AED is required to reserve the seat until full tuition payment is made. This fee is deductible against the first semester tuition.

Note: the school operates a debentures programme through Taaleem.

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