Capital School, located in the Al Qusais School District, is an independent UK curriculum school which has been operating for just over eight years. Currently open to year 10, the school has applied for approval to offer Year 11 from September 2022.
Located in the heart of Deira, in the Al Qusais School District, Capital School opened in September 2014 on an existing school site. Located on Baghdad Street, the school is very much larger than it first appears! Initially operating as a Primary School only, it has now grown to include Years 7 to 10 and (from August 2022) Year 11. Subject to approval from the KHDA, will continue to grow organically year on year until it reaches Year 13.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a relatively low number of responses to our school survey - a total of 25 - but parents who have shared their opinions have been largely very positive. They have given the school a rating of 3.9/5 or a positivity rating of 78%.
However, what feedback we have received has been complimentary about the school.
Recent comments have included the following views:
"Teachers are really dedicated and supportive of their students. My children opted for distance learning this year and all their teachers were great in reaching their students from distance. My children’s teachers are exceptional teachers. They encouraged them to do their best and had always been there to guide them with their activities. Arabic and Islamic department are also doing their best . All teachers are hardworking and dedicated."
"Capital School takes responsibility to Muslim students. My son in year 1 had a chance to participate in a Quran competition organized by the school this week. It was his first time to compete and was able to win the trophy. Capital school has strongly improved my son’s Arabic and Islamic knowledge and this is very sincere of a British school to show such interest in the Islamic progress of our children."
"This will be my Daughter's sixth year at Capital School, and she thoroughly enjoys going to school. Her teachers in every year have been exceptional, and have brought out the best in her both academically and personally. Capital school itself has developed tremendously over the years we have attended the school, and my confidence in the future at Capital school is now stronger than ever."
Find out more about parents' opinions of Capital School by reading the Buzz.
Currently, the Secondary school is a small part of the overall school population, but is an area in which the school will continue to invest and grow.
At the time of its fourth KHDA inspection which took place in May 2022 - two years later than planned as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic - the school finally achieved the all-important Good rating, enabling it to continue with its expansion of the secondary school.
At the time of the inspection, just over 510 students attended the school including 27 Emirati students and some 30 students who had been identified as Students of Determination. The largest nationality group within the school was Indian, together Arab nationalities and Pakistanis.
Capital School's mission is to "Provide a safe, nurturing environment which inspires every student to develop a love for learning, embrace challenge and aspire to reach their full potential. We celebrate diversity and aim to create global citizens who are dynamic, creative, independent learners."
The Values of the school probably explain more succinctly the aspirations of Capital School's staff and students:
• As teachers, we are aspirational.
• As a school, we are inclusive.
• As a team, we are collaborative.
• As practitioners, we have integrity.
• As students, we dream big.
In its seventh year of operation, the school had grown to around 650 students, but with the economic downturn and the impact of Covid 19, this was reflected in the loss of close to 150 students in the 2021-22 year, although the capacity of the school is a significant 2,200.
It is not only the student demographic that has changed. Under the leadership of CEO Dr. Pablo Fetter (ex Kings and GEMS), and new Principal, Daniel Sutton, there has been a significant effort to invest in multiple aspects of the school.
Many parents who choose Capital School seem to have several specific goals for their children in common. Most are from middle-class families who aspire for their children to have a genuine British education, taught by British teachers who are native 'Queen's English' speakers, and who thoroughly know and can deliver the English National Curriculum. Many parents hope that their children will go on to study at university in the UK.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com in an interview with the school leadership in January 2021, learned that a particular focus of the school has been, therefore, to invest in a further 20 teaching staff - all UK-trained nationals. Staff compensation has been improved and is now merit- rather than experience -based. Investment has been made in putting in place a strong Middle leadership to ensure ongoing professional support and development of teachers. As Dr. Pablo explained, his team firmly believes that "Capital School needs to deliver quality to be successful, and to invest in order to reap the rewards".
Principal Daniel Sutton, who joined the school in August 2021, is supported by the leadership of the school through the appointment of Vice Principal, Ms. Jasmit Kang (previously at Very Good-rated Raffles International School), Ms. Danielle Davies who was appointed Head of Early Years in 2020 and joined Capital from Very Good-rated Deira International School, Ms. Camille Catherall who is Deputy Head of Secondary and Mr. Simon Longdon who has joined the school as Deputy Head of Primary.
As of the 2021-22 academic year, students were supported by some 41 teachers all of whom are from the United Kingdom or Ireland, 21 teaching assistants and with the Arabic staff providing the MoE subjects. All class teachers in the primary phase and secondary phase have a degree and Qualified Teacher Status. Foundation Stage teachers have teaching qualifications.
Although staff turnover had fallen from 33% in 2018, to 13% in 2019-20 (well under the UAE average of 20-22%), it had crept up again in 2021-22 to 39%. Although some of this figure may include growth related to the addition of staff as the Secondary section has grown, it is still none-the-less higher than the UAE average of 22-24%.
Dr. Fetter, in his introduction, states that 'Capital School wants to ensure that every child in the UAE can access premium British education at an affordable price. We are proud to be the most affordable school in Dubai with outstanding facilities and 100% British teachers.
Further, he says, 'Our ambition is also to be among the best schools in Dubai, thriving with happy students who will become the creative thinkers and problem solvers of the future.'
In June 2021, further evidence of the school's commitment to high standards and continuous improvement was revealed in the publication of its British Schools Overseas Accreditation report.
With delays in KHDA school inspections as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, Capital was very keen to ensure that there was clear evidence of its development since the last inspection in 2018-19. There is no question now that Capital School has shown this, having received a Good rating from the BSO team. You can read the report here. The confirmation of the Good rating by the KHDA's DSIB inspectors in 2022 supports the evident improvement.
Students at Capital School benefit from relatively low class sizes - typically around 18 students, with the largest being 20-21, though a maximum number of 25 is approved. The teacher:student ratio is 1:12 - typical of high performing schools, as this enables teachers to take a personalised approach to both individual and groups of students.
Within the Early Years and Primary sections of the school, there is an average of 4 classes per year group (though FS1 has three and FS2 six). Year 2 has also been popular with five classes in the current academic year, whilst Year 4 has three classes and Year 6, two. The Secondary school remains much smaller with just 30 students across the current three year groups of 7, 8 and 9. This means significant individual focus of these students that they would be hard pushed to find in other schools at this price point.
Capital School - because of its size and capacity - is in an ideal position to expand as demand warrants additional classes. Facilities and resources are already in place; it is only a matter of recruiting additional staff.
Students at Capital School follow the English National Curriculum with some adaptation to suit the international context of the school. Capital School is fully compliant with Dubai curriculum expectations for the teaching of Arabic and Islamic Education. In order to attract children from a broad range of nationalities, it is one of a small number of UK curriculum schools in Dubai to offer a tri-lingual language programme of English, French and Arabic from FS1.
In the Foundation Stage, the Early Years Foundation Stage programme involves activities and experiences for children based on the seven areas of learning: - Communication and language, Physical development, Personal, social and emotional development, Literacy development, Mathematics, Understanding the world, and Expressive arts and design.
In the Primary School, students in Years 1 to 6 follow the English National Curriculum through a topic-based approach. The focus on Literacy and Numeracy is maintained and teaching also incorporates the knowledge of cognitive, social and emotional development of learners, which provides for a more impactful learning experience. The curriculum is strongly supported by the use of ICT and e-learning. Extra language provision is provided for students whose first language is not English.
In common with all UAE schools, Capital, its teachers, students and families have had to adapt to the provision of Distance Learning as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. This has been fully integrated into the school's modus operandi, with 30% of children still participating in Distance Learning in January 2021. Capital School was awarded the highest - Developed - rating by the KHDA when inspections were carried out in May/June 2020.
In the Secondary School, students continue to follow the English National Cambridge International Curriculum framework for learning, which is designed to reflect the needs of a 21st century learner. It sets out how all children and young people will develop the attributes, knowledge and skills they need to flourish in life, learning and work. It aims to raise standards, improve knowledge and develop skills – to raise achievement and attainment.
In September 2021, the school opened Year 10 - the first year of the two year IGCSE programme. Subjects offered include English Language and Literature, English as a Second Language, Maths and Further Maths, Science Dual Award, History, Geography, Computer Science, ICT, Art, Graphic Design, PE and French.
Commenting on the opening of Year 10 at the school and its subsequent expansion to Year 13, Ms.Jasmit Kang, Vice Principal and Head of Secondary told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com: "We are excited that our school continues to grow and that our curriculum is rich and varied to cater to the needs of our students no matter their level of ability. Capital School prides itself on offering a personalized curriculum to support all its students. We are proud of our external results were children achieved Very Good attainment levels across primary and secondary which was supported by our internal data information and formative and summative termly assessments. We look forward to even more success this academic year at Capital School."
Capital School aims to ensure that all learners have access to Positive learning environments, Opportunities for play, sport, creativity and cultural activities, Opportunities to contribute to decision making, Opportunities to develop skills for life and skills for work, and Support that will enable them to make positive transitions at all stages of their learning.
The school intends to offer IGCSE and A Levels, together with BTEC - a more vocational pathway to university entry qualifications - as it moves forwards towards full opening of the Secondary section. It is also likely that Capital will join the relatively small number of schools in Dubai offering ASDAN - a vocational curriculum and qualification for students of Determination.
Capital School has also a growing PE department with specialist staff, together with a Performing Arts team in order to ensure that students receive a broad and well-rounded curriculum. Increasingly, universities and employers are interested to see what students have achieved beyond the purely academic, and both sports and performing arts provide excellent opportunities for students to learn team building skills, develop their individual strengths and abilities, and to develop the confidence to stand out at activities in which they have perhaps not had the opportunity to experience previously.
Read about what we saw during our Experience Visit to Capital School in November 2019 here
Also as part of the overall focus on students following a well-rounded curriculum, Capital School offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities ranging from sports to creative and artistic, musical, academic, computing and coding, to more unusual clubs such as Cheer-leading, the Student Newspaper, Eco Club, Art, Fashion and Photography and the Great British Bake Off Club. Most ECAs are free of charge. There is a small charge for sports clubs (Football, Multisports, Swimming and Gymnastics) as they are sourced through an external specialist.
The school has always aimed to be inclusive, and this is reflected in the approximately 100 students who have additional learning needs and are registered as Students of Determination. The provision and outcomes for Students of Determination was rated Good in the last KHDA inspection report for 2021-22.
The Inclusion team supports students with a range of different abilities. Students who have learnt English as an Additional Language (EAL) benefit from intervention sessions from an EAL teacher. Students with Special Educational Needs receive support from specialist staff including their own Individualised Education Plan (IEP) and intervention sessions. Students who have been identified as Gifted and Talented receive challenge sessions from a Gifted and Talented teacher. All specialist teachers work with class teachers to ensure students are supported and challenged within their classes.
The Capital School building is a large three-storey building on a substantial plot with much larger than usual classrooms, hallways and outdoor spaces. Students have access to very spacious 70-85 sqm (750-900 sq ft) classrooms and dedicated indoor exploration areas for Foundation Stage. Recent investment in the school buildings has resulted in the FS classrooms being upgraded to provide direct open access to the outside areas allowing children to learn outside and to connect to free-flow activities between classrooms.
See more of the facilities and find out about our Experience Visit to Capital School here.
Specialist classrooms include fully equipped food technology classrooms, Art classrooms, two dedicated music rooms, a junior PE hall, a newly refurbished library, and an auditorium. Sports facilities include two swimming pools – a 25m pool for older students and a 12 m training pool for Early Years children. Both swimming pools were upgraded in 2020. There is also a football pitch, basketball court, and gymnasium, and three outdoor playing areas. A recent addition, which will most certainly have been welcomed by students, is the set of three cricket nets!
What the inspectors say
Capital School had now been inspected three times by the Dubai School's Inspection Bureau prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, and had been rated Acceptable on each occasion. Whilst Acceptable is the minimum rating that schools are required to achieve, the KHDA has clearly stated that its expectation is for every school to achieve at least a Good rating. Pressure has been added more recently, with the KHDA openly calling for parents to consider moving their children to schools rated Good.
In June 2021, Capital School demonstrated that the investments that have been made in the school have come to fruition, with the achievement of a Good rating from the British Schools Overseas inspection team. You can read the report here. And in May 2022, the school underwent the DSIB inspection on behalf of the KHDA where it also received a Good rating.
Among the comments from the BSO inspection team that reflect the strengths of Capital School are:
It was not surprising that the owners of Capital School recognised the need to invest heavily in the school, particularly in relation to its leadership and staffing. There is clear evidence that Outstanding schools achieve this rating as a result of the strength and professionalism of the leadership and teaching staff.
This is why the decision to invest in the leadership, teachers and their professional development at Capital School really suggests that the school and its owners are pulling the stops out!
In our discussion with the Senior Leadership team at Capital School, it is the raising of standards across the school and the attainment of an overall Good rating that is very much at the heart of everything the school is doing at the present time.
Whilst many schools would likely be grateful for a break from the annual DSIB inspection regime, the team at Capital School was keen for the inspection to take place, in order to be able to formally show the improvements that have been made. The 2021-22 inspection report - with its Good outcome - was very positive with no fewer than 22 improved ratings across all key performance standards..
Inspectors found the strengths of the school to be:
The vast majority of ratings across all six key performance standards were at least Good, with some Very Good outcomes. Teaching and Assessment was rated Very Good in the FS and Good in the Primary school (though Acceptable in the Secondary section), whilst the Curriculum was rated Very Good in FS and Good in the other two sections of the school. These two key performance standards are the most vital to ensure that Student Achievement improves.
It is clear why the teaching staff has been the focus of so much investment by the school.
Students' Personal Development was rated Very Good across the school, whilst the two remaining indicators - those of Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures, and Students' Social responsibility and Innovation skills, were rated Good.
The ratings for the Leadership and Management of the school were upgraded to Good across all five indicators. The inspection report includes many positive comments in relation to the Leadership and Management of the school.
The DSIB inspection team identified the strengths of Capital School as:
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspection team recommended that Capital School should:
This inspection outcome has been a very positive one for Capital School, allowing it to continue with its expansion plans through to Year 13 and ensuring that current Secondary students have a clear path ahead at the school with the potential expansion of options to provide multiple pathways.
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we always recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings and the recommendations for improvement - you will find it here.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey has received a limited number of 25 responses. They have given the school a rating of 3.9/5 or a positivity rating of 78%. Children have a strong sense of belonging of the school and enjoy going to school. 90% of parents are either wholly 76%) or partially satisfied with the academic performance of the school and 52% believe it offers a standard of education that is better than their home country. Despite these ratings, 29% of parents (the UAE average) believe that they need to provide additional tuition outside of school.
Communication and disciplinary policies and implementation are strengths of Capital school. Those parents who have completed it, are generally satisfied with the school, and all would recommend it to other parents - in fact, 81% would unreservedly recommend Capital School. If there is a niggle, it is the usual one of fees - whilst 57% of parents agreed that they represented Good value for money, a third of parents partially agreed and 10% totally disagreed with statement. This may also explain why 29% of parents had considered moving their child to a different school.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Capital School, please share your opinions and experiences with other potential members of your community and complete our School Survey here.
Unfortunately, no KHDA pre-inspection survey took place in advance of the 2021-22 inspection.
However, feedback within the report notes that: "the school keeps parents well informed about curriculum developments and their children’s progress. Parents benefit from workshops, for example on reading and writing in the primary school. Leaders are now creating plans to engage parents of Year 7 to Year 9 students in discussion about academic and careers pathways. Leaders are establishing links with other schools, and these are having a positive impact on teaching in the school. The governing board has wide representation and is seeking to extend the membership by inviting representatives of the Emirati community to participate. Parents, staff and students have opportunities to report to the board."
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com have been consistently impressed by our conversations with the leadership of Capital School and by the changes and improvements we have seen during visits. Although the school did feel that it was being held back by the outdated KHDA rating from 2018-19, it is evident that parents dis not have concerns in this regard and the commitment and investment that the owners and leadership made and continue to make, shows how strongly they expect the school to develop and succeed.
The BSO affirmation of Capital School as a Good school is one that is clearly deserved and should allow the owners and leadership to move forward with this positive affirmation in place. And the vindication of the owners' and leaders' belief in the school's improvement through the achievement of the KHDA Good rating in 2021-22 means that positive plans and investments can continue to be made.
For parents aspiring to a British Education, in an environment where their children will be taught by British teachers who are versed in the English National Curriculum, with a range of impressive facilities at mid-range fees, we certainly would recommend further investigation.
What about fees?
According to CEO Dr. Pablo Fetter, "We are proud to be the most affordable school in Dubai with outstanding facilities and 100% British teachers." So what are the fees? KHDA Approved Fees start at AED 38,000 for FS1 and FS2, rising to AED 43,000 in Years 1 and 2, AED 53,000 in Years 5 and 6, and AED 58,000 in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10.
However, Capital School is offering substantial discounts across the school for 2022-23, with FS1 fees starting at AED 19,000, FS2 at AED 23,000 and Year 1 to Year 6 ranging from AED 27,500 to AED 38,400. Secondary fees are a flat AED 42,500 from Years 7 to 11.
There is a Registration fee of AED 500 and an Admission Fee of 10% of tuition fees upon offer of a place - the latter deductible against the first year's annual fees.
Capital School is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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