An ICSE school Ambassador is on the way up, having now secured four Good ratings from the KHDA, and a headteacher, governors and parents increasingly aligned on the way ahead.
Ambassador School has been rated Good for the fourth year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full reports have been published.
The Story so far...
One of the very few ICSE schools in the UAE, Ambassador, located in the Al Mankhool area of Dubai, currently has 754 students, a small reduction on the previous year. The school is open to children, girls and boys, in mixed classes, from 5 to 16, or from Grade 1 to Grade 12. KG children attend the associated and highly rated Ambassador Kindergarten.
As a school, Ambassador can clearly be seen to be improving having secured a Good rating from the KHDA for the last three years. For the previous five years it had been an Acceptable rated school.
This is clearly facilitated by the school's impressive classroom teacher to student ratio of 1:12. There is also an assistant teacher in Grade 1 and specialist Music, Dance and Yoga instructors. Ambassador also has dedicated Nannies to assist in daily operations.
Students do well in examinations - the school regularly has toppers scoring in the high 90%s - and leavers head for universities around the world. According to the school's latest statistics, 22% head to India, 11% Canada, 6% USA and, interestingly, 61% opt to stay in UAE.
School leavers have a head for business and marketing courses (40%), Engineering (33%). and mass communications (11%).
What the inspectors say:
The inspection report focuses on the 6 key indicators which include Leadership and Management, Students' achievement, Students' personal and social development and innovation skills, Teaching and Assessment, Curriculum and the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students. The inspectors noted:
"The clear vision and determined leadership of the Principal, well supported by staff, governors and parents, means that Ambassador continues to be an improving school. Standards have begun to improve in Arabic. The generally very good analysis and effective use of assessment data, particularly for curriculum adaptation, is beginning to have a positive impact on outcomes for students, especially in the Secondary phase."
With the exception of Arabic attainment in the middle phase, and both Arabic attainment and progress in the secondary phase, the achievement of students is at least good across all key subjects. It is very good across all phases in Mathematics and Science and Good (in Primary) or Very Good for English. Progress is now good in Arabic, both in the Primary and Middle phases.
The personal development of students in all phases is at least good and in the Secondary phase, it is outstanding. In the Secondary phase, this is also linked to their very good social responsibility and innovation skills. Both teaching and assessment are now very good in the Secondary phase. There are strengths in teaching and assessment in the Middle phase but not consistently across all subjects. Teaching in the Primary phase, although good, is less strong than it is in the rest of the school.
The curriculum is broad and balanced. It is also highly enriched, both during the school day and through extra-curricular activities, beyond the school day. Its implementation is particularly effective across both the Middle and Secondary phases.
The school prioritises health and safety and the safeguarding of students. These are outstanding features of the school. The arrangements for the care and support of students is at least good across the school and it is particularly strong in the Secondary phase.
Recommendations for improvement focus on the need to improve the quality of teaching and assessment in both the Primary and Middle phases of the school, to match the very good practice in the Secondary phase; improve lesson planning across all phases, so that teachers more effectively differentiate learning activities and meet the needs of all groups of students particularly those with special educational needs/disabilities (SEND) and the most-able, and Leaders, including governors, to work with key stakeholders to ensure all school improvement plans are closely aligned to the school's self-evaluation.
The school's mission is also supported by its parents and the community.
Facilities are largely good. The campus is on an acre and a half, the 30 plus classrooms include a Dance Room, a Music Studio, French Centre, Sports Room, and Counsellor’s Room and so on. Facilities are specially designed for the safety of students with every pillar and square inch of the campus being cushioned for impact. Each class room has a smart-class projector, interactive whiteboard, internet facility and spacious lockers and seating.
The School has purpose built premises with child safe interiors, child friendly furniture and amenities that include CCTV monitoring in every classroom.
The school does highlight its performing and visual arts programme, and an enrichment programme of events. The school offers the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and takes part in inter-school sports events. More information on these can be found on the school's comprehensive website.
Fees at Ambassador are mid-range for Dubai, but premium for an Indian curriculum school. This is perhaps to be expected - this is not a typical Indian school driving efficiencies of scale with a large student body, low teacher to student ratio, and minimum out of hours programmes. Fees range from AED 20,695 for Grade 1 and rise to AED 44,140 for Grade 12. Given its proposition, the word value would not be misused.
Note: The model is clearly working: Ambassador is opening up a new ICSE and ISE school in Al Khail for April 2019.
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