Apple International School, established in 1994, is a mixed gender school located in Dubai in Al Qusais near the Al Bustan Centre. It offers private Primary and Middle school education (FS to year 9) with a UK based curriculum.
Apple International School has been rated Good for the third 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...
After many years of offering education to students in Primary and Lower Secondary school, Apple International School has now opened to Year 9. It has also added FS1 in the Foundation Stage. It offers private Primary and Middle school education (FS to year 9) with a UK based curriculum.
The school currently has 2,078 children on its register, and there are 180 teachers and 27 teaching assistants working at the school. The largest student nationality group is Philipino, whilst most teachers are from India. Student numbers have fallen quite significantly in the past year (down from 2,310 in 2016-17) and this had a positive impact on the staff to student ratio of 1:12 which is on the low side – a positive for students. In addition, teacher turnover at 12% (compared with 10% the previous year) is also well below the average of between 20-22% and represents a growth in the staff numbers. This is a key indicator of stability within the school.
The ethos and vision of the school, shared by all staff, are, according to the Inspectors, the main drivers of its success. The Principal’s message states that
“…We realise that skills of the 21st Century are what we should be looking forward to build in our young ones. This means learning has to have a different meaning now. It cannot be limited to acquiring information and memorising facts. Thanks to the light speed with which technology is moving these days, very soon information is going to be just a blink away from us. Therefore, it is essential for schools to help students build skills of applying the given information/knowledge on various platforms so that their cognitive skills are chiselled and they are ready to face the fancy future head on”.
What the inspectors say
Previous reviews of Apple International School by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com have been somewhat negative due to past KHDA inspection results. However, the latest KHDA inspection, which took place in February 2018, rated the school as Good for the second year. Not only that, but the latest inspection report shows that the school has not only maintained this rating, but achieved significant improvements across a wide range of measures. Almost all performance measures at all phases are rated Good or Very Good. Only Arabic continues to be rated Acceptable, and even here, Arabic as an additional language in the Secondary section has been upgraded to Good. The school has also achieved its first Outstanding rating for Students' Personal Development in the Secondary school.
The KHDA inspectors identified the school's strengths as:
Once again, the KHDA inspection team acknowledges the influence of the Principal – in her 5th year at the school – and the leadership team for the improvements that have evidently been made. In their introduction to the inspection report, they comment that "the principal provides inspirational leadership that is having a significant impact on the performance of the school. Leaders, at all levels, have a strong and strategic vision for the school. Strengths and weaknesses are well known. Relationships across the school are very strong. Partnerships with parents are very good". The KHDA has repeatedly emphasised that the most effective schools are those with excellent leadership. It is truly pleasing to see the level of progress being achieved at Apple International School.
Looking at the key indicators which were evaluated by the inspection team, they found that, in terms of Student Achievement, all English-based subjects (English, Maths and Science) were rated at least Good across all phases, and progress in English in the Foundation section, Maths in the Secondary section and Science in the Primary section had all improved to Very Good. Science attainment in Primary has also improved to Very Good. In Arabic, attainment in Primary section additional language teaching, and both attainment and progress in Arabic as a first language across the school remain rated Acceptable. However, additional language Arabic in the Secondary school has improved to Good, showing real improvement. Whilst this is a subject area that the school (in common with many others in Dubai) will need to continue to address, clearly there is real progress.
Apple International School has also made substantial improvement in relation to Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation skills in the past year. Again, almost all judgements by the inspection team rate these indicators as Very Good. Inspectors commented that "Students’ personal development is very good across the school and outstanding in the secondary phase. Students are well behaved, fully engaged and exceptionally courteous". Further development is needed in the Foundation section in relation to the children's awareness of Islamic values, their understanding of world cultures, social responsibility, innovation skills and care for the environment, adjudged to be Good, but the remaining sections were rated Very Good in this respect.
Whilst the key areas of Teaching for Effective Learning and Curriculum Design and Implementation were largely rated Good, there were again marked improvements in Assessment (rated Very Good now across the school) and in Curriculum Adaptation, now upgraded to Good across all sections. Inspectors noted that "the quality of teaching is good across the school because of teachers’ strong subject knowledge, careful planning, high expectations and strong relationships. Problem-solving and critical thinking are developed well as a result of the school’s focus on learning skills. The use of technology is strong throughout the school. Assessment processes are very good and teachers know their students’ strengths and weaknesses well". These are extremely positive remarks. Their comments in relation to the curriculum were equally positive - "the curriculum is effectively planned to ensure maximum engagement and challenge for students. Curriculum adaptations are used well to support students with SEND as and those who are gifted and talented".
The protection, care, guidance and support of students were also rated Very Good across the board, with all three sections receiving an upgraded rating for Care and Support specifically. In particular, the inspectors found that "support for students with SEND and those who are gifted and talented, are good. Staff sensitively support students’ personal development and well-being". They also noted that "very positive relationships between students and adults result in a happy and productive working atmosphere across the school".
In terms of the management and leadership of the school, inspectors rated the effectiveness of the leadership, and the management, staffing, facilities and resources as Good. School self-evaluation and improvement planning - often an area of weakness as schools try to identify their improvement requirements and strategies - has been upgraded to Very Good, as has Governance. This is also an area that is often found to be wanting by the inspection teams, but at Apple International, "the governing body brings a wealth of experience and expertise. Parent and teacher representatives speak effectively on behalf of parents and staff. Board members meet often and regularly visit and monitor provision and outcomes for students. Consequently, they know its strengths and weaknesses well and offer timely support and encouragement for school leaders".
Whilst owners of schools are often criticised for lack of stakeholder involvement, clearly this is not the case at Apple International and the benefits are evident. However, in their only truly critical comments about the school's resources, the inspectors stated that "resources to support reading and active learning are barely adequate. The school recognises that the science laboratory and the library are not sufficient to serve a growing school population. Not all teachers are qualified or have KHDA approval". These are issues that will require the owners' and leadership's urgent attention prior to the next inspection.
In terms of recommendations for improvement, the inspection team advises the school to
What about facilities?
The school does not provide expansive information about the facilities it provides to enable students to develop their skills, but does confirm that it has a range of good facilities on a spacious campus that includes a library, science lab, ICT labs and an audio-visual facility. We assume that there will be a requirement to expand these facilities as the school continues to develop through the Secondary grades.
Apple International School does not solely focus on the academic, but also offers a range of sports (some including inter-school competitions) such as football, basketball, volleyball and badminton. ECA’s include Public Speaking (involving Elocution, Debate, Recitation) as part of confidence-building initiatives. Music is developed through vocal activities and students can participate in choir, musical and cultural performances, dance and drama – again aimed at improving self-confidence among children. Arts and crafts (including clay modelling) and Art are included in the co-curricular activities. In addition to a range of educational trips, the school offers workshops with a specific focus including Environmental, Multi-Media and Technology as well as general behavioural programmes.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has so far had limited feedback for the school for its survey - although we would have to say so far it is broadly positive. A higher than national average number of parents (88%) would recommend the school, and a majority of parents believe their children feel included and look forward to going to school. It would seem that similar feedback was provided to the KHDA prior to the inspection when over 600 parents responded. A very large majority of parents are satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school, believe that the school is well led, and that school leaders and staff are approachable and listen to their concerns.
The main indicators are positive for Apple International School. As we anticipated in our review a year ago, the school has solidified its Good rating and is now clearly on the road to sustained improvement - this will be a significant boost to the leadership and staff of the school and a motivation for continued improvement.
Fees for the school are in the affordable bracket, ranging from AED 6,334 in FS1, rising to AED 13,350 for Year 9 per annum - an increase of approximately 3.4% over the previous year. The school will, of course, have been constrained over the past years in putting up its fees as a result of its rating. The decision by the KHDA to refuse any fee increases for the 2018-19 academic year will potentially make the necessary investment in resources a challenge for the school.
There are, however, a number of further fees which affect the total cost of attending the school: these include a non-refundable AED 400 registration fee, a non-refundable AED 500 admission fee, an AED 600 per annum activity fee, an AED 225 per term computer fee from Year 1, an AED 250 medical fee, an AED 350 E-Learning Fee, an AED 300 stationary fee (for FS1 and 2) and an AED 15 school registration card fee. Whichschooladvisor.com does not condone this practice, although we believe that any additional fees will be with the approval of the Regulator.
Note: The school is located in a very crowded area with only one exit to Al Doha st. With a school, a driving institute and lots of residents all trying to get in and out by car, student safety has been raised as an issue during the morning and afternoon pick up and drop off periods.
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The school is in unsatisfactory. Admin is poor; fees are high; there is no principal; everybody is a principal; no co ordination; not organised to see children are informed about vacation. In all, total flop. The last principal and teachers were terminated; all new staff.
The rating mentioned in the article is very old. Please update it and update the article also. The Apple International School is a decent school, and has improved considerably over a very short period of time.
Hi Pinto - this is the latest report. The school's current rank from the KHDA is "Acceptable". You are right, the school has improved. It still has some way to go, but is on the right path...