Very Good Schools - The New Place to Be

Although the new Very Good rating was only introduced in 2015/16 as the new Unified Framework was rolled out across the emirates, it’s only this year that the category has really began to fill out.
Very Good Schools - The New Place to Be
By David Westley
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The 2017/18 round of KHDA inspections has seen an enviable number of schools move up to Very Good ratings, from Good. The ratings band has almost doubled in numbers from last year, rising from 14 to 27. 

Of the 13 school increase, three represent a fall from Outstanding, while a much more substantial ten schools move up from Good.

Those moving up into the Very Good category for the first time are: Foremarke, GEMS World Academy, Jumeirah Baccalaureate School, Kings Al Barsha, Lycee Francais International, Nord Anglia, Safa Community, Universal American School and Victory Heights Primary School.

Also See

How to read the KHDA reports
Which School Moved Up? 2018's School Movers
The KHDA Ratings 2017/18 Complete Table
Schools Rising, 10 Years of Results

The schools have amassed an impressive haul of improved indicators, with Kings' Al Barsha improving on a staggering 38 counts, Nord Anglia 37, Safa Community 35 and Victory Heights up on 30 indicators. Good news too for GEMS World parents who have waited patiently for the 64,414 AED to 111,813 AED school to move on and up after 8 years at a Good ranking.

The French community in Dubai should be revelling in an abundance of joie de vivre this morning with another French school, the Lycee Francais International moving up to Very Good. It recorded improvements in 24 indicators this year.

The Lycee Libanais Francophone Prive- Dubai also had an impressive report with maths, English, leadership and language instruction all considered Outstanding. In addition, the Arabic and Islamic provision at the school is considered almost all Good with Islamic at Foundation level rated Very Good.

French schools manage to offer a highly rated education at largely affordable levels. Both schools have fees ranging from 25,000 AED to 55,000 AED.

Improvements everywhere

Innoventures owned and managed Raffles World Academy improved 21 indicators this year with 15 of these across core subjects and learning skills. Interestingly, the school’s Arabic and Islamic provision is considered Good throughout.

Parents at Safa Community School will also be celebrating today, with a staggering 35 indictors improved at their child's school since last year. This is only the second inspection for the team at Safa and it highlights the considerable work which must have been put in across the school.

The same applies for Victory Heights which improved every single core subject indicator, as well as those for teaching for effective learning, assessment and curriculum indicators this year.

The most improved school in the Very Good rating band this year however is Kings’ Al Barsha with an impressive 38 indicators up on the 2016/17 inspection.

The Foundation at the school is clearly Outstanding throughout, with the majority of this year’s improvements across the Primary and Secondary sections.

Kings' only just pipped the always impressive Nord Anglia International School Dubai which improved in 37 indicators. These were predominantly across the Primary and Secondary sections.

Taaleem has overall had a very good inspection cycle. It has the only school to rise to Outstanding in 2017/18 - Dubai British School.

The school group's Jumeirah Baccalaureate School has seen improvements in 24 indicators this year with the most consistent improvements in science progress, teaching for effective learning, assessment and curriculum design.

Uptown, another Taaleem school saw an improvement in seven indicators this year, bringing much of the Diploma Programme indicators up to Outstanding.

The UAE's largest school group, GEMS Education, also has a good representation in the Very Good banding. GEMS Wellington Academy remains rated Very Good for another year - although much of the schools Foundation level is considered Outstanding, the school’s Arabic and Islamic provision (predominantly Acceptable) requires attention.

Not all Very Good schools recorded an overall rise in indicators.

Possibly one of the biggest surprises of this year’s inspection reporting is the fall from Outstanding to Very Good for JESS Arabian Ranches.

The school saw a drop in five Post-16 indicators this year from Outstanding to Very Good, however the drop from Outstanding to Very Good in the school’s self-evaluation and improvement planning is more likely the culprit for its overall fall in rating band.

Dubai International Academy (DIA) also fell from Outstanding to Very Good with a drop in 15 indicators. The drop was primarily in Science provision, teaching or elective learning and leadership. However, the inspection team also noted a fall from Outstanding to Very Good in the school’s ‘self-evaluation and improvement planning’.

Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) appears to be another school which may well have fallen foul of the ‘self-evaluation and improvement planning’ indicator, as almost all of the school’s report remains Outstanding. Again, it would seem work is required or Arabic and Islamic provision, although DESS has shown improvement on last year.

Jebel Ali School retained a Very Good rating however, within the report it would seem the school had dropped 19 indicators in total.

Much of these were lost in the core subjects for Primary and Foundation, which fell from Outstanding to Very Good. Almost half of all Arabic and Islamic indicators still rated Weak this year.

Universal American School was another to move up from Good to Very Good. The school only increased 10 indicators, as much of the KG and Elementary provision was already considered Very Good and Outstanding. Arabic and Islamic still require improvement, with eight indicators considered Acceptable.

Horizon English School and Deira International School also have predominantly Outstanding provision. Yet again, Acceptable ratings in some of the Arabic and Islamic indicators appear to be holding them back.

The School of Research Science seems to have no such issues, with all but one Arabic and Islamic indicator considered Very Good or Outstanding.

Also See

How to read the KHDA reports
Which School Moved Up? 2018's School Movers
The KHDA Ratings 2017/18 Complete Table
Schools Rising, 10 Years of Results

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