With the arrival of school inspections, the UAE is pretty well covered when it comes to the information parents look at when choosing a school. Prices, location, facilities, performance via an inpection report can now be pulled together. However one question we are continually asked is, “which schools perform the best in terms of grades in external examinations".
For this question we do have an answer, but it is a less satisfactory one.
Traditionally, results data has only been obtainable from a combination of a few press releases, and from word-of-mouth (and you can imagine how accurate that is). More recently, some schools have begin to publish their data on their web sites - some like JESS in exceptional detail.
However, unlike, for example the United Kingdom where all data is released by the examination boards whatever individual schools may think, in the UAE there is no such requirement for exam boards. As a result, it is left to schools, and some schools do (usually those with a good story to tell), most do not. Moreover, even when a school does want to participate no two schools publish their results in exactly the same way, making comparisons difficult.
This is the second time we have attempted to compile all published I/GCSE, A-Level and IB results across the country. The first time was in our analysis of the best British schools in Dubai. This time around it is a much more focused view on the results themselves. Have we found it easier this time to get results information? Yes and no... There are some schools that now deliver results information that previously did not, while other groups have taken a step backwards and no longer publish examination results by school.
We would give this feature an A for effort, and a D- for the information we have managed to get so far. (Read on though, there is some fascinating material here!)
Schools do have valid reasons for being reticent to release examination data. It ignores "value add". Schools like Dubai College which have a selective intake, do not need to add quite the same value to achieve their absolutely stellar results (DC may argue this point, and given just how good their exam results are they may have a point). However, there is considerable truth to the statement that a non-selective school will face more of a challenge to get all students to do well in external examinations.
More: Read this excellent piece from the head of Dubai College on why exam results should not overwhelm school thinking
We hope that in years to come, many more schools will be inspired to take part in the project, allowing parents for the first time in the UAE, to compare academic results across schools in each emirate and the country as a whole. Fundamentally we believe parents do know the difference between selective and non-selective, and the more schools take part, the more those with good stories to tell can be celebrated, and those not achieving all they could, given a little more incentive to focus where it matters to most parents.
Next: GCSEs >