Collegiate International School (formerly Collegiate American School) opened in 2011 in Umm Suqeim, and admits children from pre-KG to Grade 12. CIS was the only US curriculum school within the Innoventures Group of schools and has now adopted the IB curricula and pedagogy, using the content of the US Common Core.
Collegiate International School (CIS), known as Collegiate American School until June 2021, opened just over ten years ago and is located on a large campus in the heart of Umm Suqeim, one of the most popular traditional residential areas for both Emiratis and expatriates.
Collegiate American School has always competed with the likes of GEMS Dubai American Academy and the American School of Dubai, both of which are located around the New Dubai area, are priced at a premium level and rated at least Good. In DAA's case, it is rated Outstanding, a rating held for over a decade. The not-for-profit American School of Dubai is probably the most 'American' in look and feel of all of the US curriculum schools in the city.
Price-wise, CAS was the least costly of these US curriculum schools. However, despite this inherent benefit, the school had struggled consistently to both attract and retain students.
In June 2021, owners Innoventures Education announced a change of name - to Collegiate International School (CIS) - and a radical change to the curriculum to be implemented from September 2021.
Like the most popular schools within the group, including Dubai International Academy (both Emirates Hills and Al Barsha) and Raffles World Academy, CIS has become an IB continuum World School, offering the IB Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programmes, but continues to offer the content of the US Common Core curriculum. In order to provide a range of pathways for students, the school will also continue to offer a US High School Diploma option for students from Grade 9 onwards, together with Advance Placement courses.
CIS takes pride at being a truly international school, and currently educates over 600 students from 60 different nationalities. The largest proportion of students are said to come from the USA.
The following parent comment clearly shows that CIS is delivering:
"My sons have been in Collegiate International (CIS)for two years now, one in Grade 9 and one in grade 12. CIS provides excellent curriculum variety that meets my boys academic strengths and weaknesses.
"My son in Grade 12 is doing a combination of IB, AP and high school diploma based on his choice of university major he is planning. As for my younger son, he is into the MYP to prepare him for the full IB.
"Another big advantage of the school is the senior management and how they are involved in the school and have open door policy for parents and students. They always try to be as accessible as they can. Over and above, their feedback / reaction to whatever issue or concerns is immediate and satisfying. My boys have never been happier. I really can’t think of anything but praise to this school and its management."
The change of approach to the curriculum is clearly paying dividends. Since the launch of the International Baccalaureate programmes in tandem with the US Common Core content, the student cohort has increased by 30%, and the school is made more attractive by its fees which make CIS one of the most affordable IB curriculum schools in the city.
The school states that its Mission is:
- To empower students with a holistic, rigorous and international education for success in an ever changing world.
Its Vision is
- To be recognized by the success of our students in achieving their personal goals.
- To make student development the center of all school decisions.
- To aspire to the highest internationally recognized performance standards.
- To build and celebrate a culture based on internationalism.
- To enable staff to become life-long learners through the development of their professional practice.
At the time of the last KHDA inspection in 2022-23, teaching staff were mainly from the UK and with some 58 teachers, supported by 13 teaching assistants. As a result, the school has a low 1:10 teacher to student ratio - offering substantial individual support to students. There had been some significant turnover of staff in the previous year - 27% - compared with 15% in the prior year, somewhat above the UAE average of 20-22%. How much of this loss has been due to planned reduction in staff to address the reduction in student numbers is not clear.
In May 2023, Innoventures announced the appointment of a new Principal, Mr. Jonathan Cox, who had joined the school as Head of Secondary in August 2022. Although holding both Bachelors and Masters' degrees from Kings College London, Mr. Cox has had a varied international career at schools in the UK, Singapore, Cambodia, and Houston, USA. Mr. Cox has taught at British, Australian and IB curriculum schools during his career, and the combination of the United States and IB experience clearly places him in an excellent position to take the school forward.
The school is supervised by a Board made up largely of the owners of the school, but takes input from an Advisory Council which represents parents, among other stakeholders. CASPA is the Collegiate American School Parent Association, founded in 2011. The main objective of CASPA is to support the academics and activity of the school with the vision of "providing a world class education".
Collegiate International School formerly followed the New York State Standards for all subjects, including the Common Core Standards for Mathematics and English. These standards provide students with a rigorous framework that prepares them for life after high school and their studies at university.
The school has retained the same Common Core curriculum content for all students in combination with the IB approach to learning. This means that High School students will have the option to choose the US curriculum option with a view to obtaining the High School Diploma, rather than the IB Diploma. This will be enhanced by the provision of AP courses which are recognised for College Entry in the US. Details of available courses have not yet been provided.
CIS is accredited by NEASC (the New England Association of Schools and Colleges), the Council of International Schools and the International Baccalaureate Organisation now for the Primary Years and Middle Years programmes, in addition to the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme.
Students in Grades 11 and 12 are prepared with the skills needed to successfully enter a university, a pre-professional programme or the world of work. With the switch to the IB curriculum throughout the school - and the IB Diploma as the pre-university qualification - the options of the High School Diploma with or without AP courses, arguably offer a less academically challenging route for Senior students. According to the KHDA report, in the High School, students are predominantly working towards a US recognised High School Diploma.
The school has a particular focus on integrating technology into the curriculum and aims to infuse Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for all students in grades 3-10, with a state-of-the-art STEM lab and specific instruction enhancing the curriculum, which is delivered by a STEM expert. The curriculum includes the practice of programming, virtual reality, and robotics with a STEM laboratory providing students with the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students. The school uses iPads and laptops - replacing in most cases text books. These devices are used, wherever possible, as the medium of learning.
CIS probably also offers one of the widest ranges of extra-curricular activities, including a range of paid provision offering various sports including tennis, gymnastics, karate and yoga, and other activities as diverse as chess, coding, Mandarin, Russian for native speakers as well as numerous others. Teacher-led activities in Elementary range from Zumba, Dance, to a wide range of arts and crafts, Arabic activities, and Glee Club. Middle/High ECA's include a wide range of sports, academic and cultural activities such as Debate and World Scholars, Ted X, film-making, Drama Club, a range of Helpdesks supporting specific academic subjects and GATEway sessions for students who are Gifted and Talented.
Students are assessed using the Measure of Academic Progress Tests (MAP) that provide teachers with real-time data on the individual progress each student makes in language, science, Maths and English. Students identified as Gifted and Talented participate in the school's GATEway programme which allows staff to extend and enrich the educational experience of these students through developing their skills and special abilities. Students identified as requiring some level of learning support are categorized according to their level of need.
According to the most recent KHDA inspection report, the identification of and provision for students of determination is good. Senior managers and the inclusion team demonstrate strong commitments to inclusion through policies, time, investment, and planning. This is an inclusive school that welcomes and provides support for students with a range of needs and abilities.
Non-native English speakers are welcomed at CIS and provided with intensive support to develop their English language skills.
Focus support is designed for students who are less than or up to one grade level below their same-aged peers. Learning Support staff complete a teacher intervention plan to be monitored every 4 to 6 weeks. Students who are more than one grade level behind, not diagnosed as having a disability and where a teacher intervention plan has not been successful, are provided with Learning Support. A learning support plan (LSP) may be developed with the teacher, learning support teacher and parents. Students with Exceptional Needs, who have received a learning disability diagnosis or other diagnosis that impacts their daily participation and progress in school activities, may have external support providers who may attend school with them. Depending on student need, an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) may also be developed.
In 2018-19 and 2019-20, Collegiate International School did not publish its IB results - something that WhichSchoolAdvisor.com was disappointed to see. In July 2021, they did make their results public and it is clear that there has been a significant downsizing in the number of students who have participated in the IBDP programme - with the majority of Grade 12 students presumably instead opting for the US High School Diploma option.
A total of 6 students were awarded the IB Diploma (compared with 27 students three years ago), and achieved a very creditable 35 points average - well above UAE and global averages. All students were awarded 30 points or above, with half achieving 35 points and above. None managed to break through the 40+ points barrier which would have placed them in the top 3% of students globally.
Collegiate International School did issue a press release in July 2018 advising of the results of its first cohort of IB students.
Grade 12 students at CIS sat the first set of IBDP exams in May 2018. For results, please go here.
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com were delighted to see this, since we strongly believe that although exam results are not the be-all and end-all of a school's achievement, they are an important factor in parental decision-making.
The school's statement noted that the school "has also demonstrated strong results and 100% success across all Diploma Programme and courses. Twenty-seven graduates have accepted admissions offers from 13 nations with studies at institutions such as Arizona State University’s School of Business Law and Newcastle University School of Biology and Oceanography.
Unfortunately, aside from the number of students and the 100% pass rate on which they are clearly to be congratulated, no information about the average IB Diploma point score of the school, nor the break-down of students' achievement in relation to the IB scores (schools usually report the percentage of students who achieved above 30, 35 and 40 points) was provided. This makes it impossible to compare with the results of other local schools or the international averages.
The design of the campus is a throwback to the ownership of the site by Emaar Properties, who originally opened the two Raffles schools, together with Singapore-based Raffles Education. Management of the schools was taken over by Innoventures in 2007. The buildings are set out in Singaporean style, based around two large covered quadrangles with wide corridors and traditional ballustrades overlooking the centre, set over three floors.
The school operates on 30,000 square meters of land, its classrooms are equipped with the latest audio-visual facilities (including LCD projector/visualizer/sound system/smart boards), and it offers a STEM laboratory, computer laboratories, a library, art rooms, a dance studio, music rooms, two swimming pools, a sports hall, gymnasium, basketball courts, badminton courts, a football/soccer pitch, a Multipurpose outdoor playground for MS/HS students, a cafeteria and prayer rooms. Given the space it has to work with, most classrooms are spacious.
The school was ranked Good again by the KHDA inspectors for 2018-19 for the fifth year in a row, after two years of being ranked Acceptable. Based on the inspectors' previous comments in relation to the leadership and management of the school, it would seem that this has been an area in need of improvement in previous years. Leadership and Management, deemed by the KHDA to be at the centre of high-performing schools, is now rated Very Good.
As a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, no inspection took place at CIS in 2019-20 or 2020-21. Thus the school retained its previously awarded Good rating. The 2022-23 inspection report again confirms the school's Good rating.
The 2022-23 inspection report indicates that, in many ways, CIS is starting afresh.
This is acknowledged by the inspection team which noted that "the changing characteristics of the student population has seen a drop in overall attainment in some subjects. The school is providing a solid start for children in Kindergarten (KG)".
In addition, they commented that "The senior leadership team is managing a rapidly growing school. Newly-appointed leaders are now developing a new, clearer strategic direction to improve student outcomes. This new vision is taking into account the recent changes in curriculum structure and student profile".
The inspection report find the strengths of CIS to be:
The impact of the change of curriculum, student base and leadership have been reflected further in the report. Where on the last inspection in 2018-19, the then CAS had been well on the way to achieving a Very Good overall rating, the new report suggests that it has gone back across a range of performance standards.
Perhaps most notable among these are Student achievement in Maths (downgraded across Elementary, Middle and High school sections), in English attainment, and Science progress and attainment in KG, and for two ratings in Arabic as a second language. Whilst the majority of ratings have fallen from Very Good to Good, Maths attainment has fallen to Acceptable and Arabic attainment in the High school has fallen to Weak. The DSIB team will clearly wish to see improvements at the next inspection.
The two key performance standards of Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum, upon which Student Achievement is so firmly based, were largely rated Good (with Teaching and Assessment Very Good in KG).
The inspectors commented that "Detailed planning allows all students to learn systematically. The scope and sequence of activities ensures that new learning is built on previous knowledge and skills. [However], Curricular options are narrow and provide older students with limited subject choices.
Curriculum design and implementation in KG retained their Very Good ratings, but the other school section saw downgrades to Good, as did Curriculum adaptation in the High school.
The report notes that "The curriculum is well planned overall and meets the needs of most students. In the High School, it lacks a clear rationale, given the various programs offered. The IB and AP programs attract very few students, and the school does not allocate enough teaching time to ensure students' success."
In terms of the remaining three key performance standards, the school retained its Very Good ratings for all but one indicator (for Personal development in the High school) for Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students retained their Outstanding ratings in terms of health and safety including arrangements for Child Protection, and the Very Good ratings for Care and Support in the KG and Elementary school sections. However, the rating for the latter indicator was reduced to Good in the Middle and High school sections.
The final key performance standard, that of leadership and management saw three downgrades, including that for governance from Outstanding to Very Good. The inspectors commented that "School leaders share a supportive and inclusive vision. It is mostly aligned with the current direction of the school. There have been changes in many senior leadership positions since the previous inspection. The new team needs to work quickly to translate vision into practice with a positive effect on students’ achievements." The inspectors encouraged the governors to work with the senior leaders to confirm and develop their vision for the school.
The areas of improvement for CIS as identified by the inspection team were the need to:
The DSIB inspection team has set out a very clear list of priorities on which the school will need to focus. We have no doubt that the leadership of the school and the governors will do exactly that.
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
According to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey the small sample of parents (18), the school is well regarded by its parents. This number is not statistically large enough to form judgments overall, but among these parents, almost 9 out of 10 (89%) would recommend it to other parents (above the 82% UAE school average).
This is the same percentage for the academic performance of the school, compared with an average for the UAE of 75%. 72% of parents believe that the fees they are paying represent good value for money based on the education being provided (compared with a 51% UAE school average). Parents feel CAS has the competencies and resources to meet their child's learning needs.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at CAS, we would like to hear your opinions and share your experience with potential members of your school community. You can complete our School survey here.
The DSIB inspection team also evaluated Collegiate International School on a new performance measure this year - the Quality of Wellbeing provisions and outcomes. Collegiate International was found to have achieved a Moderate level (the third of four ratings).
Inspectors commented that:
The decision to implement the International Baccalaureate programmes at CIS have evidently created a turning point not only in the school's direction, but also in its ability to attract new families. Effectively, the school now offers two highly regarded international curricula - using the content of the US Common Core and the pedagogy of the International Baccalaureate. And all of this at a considerably more affordable fee level than the majority of other International Baccalaureate schools (including its Innoventures' sister schools).
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com think that students and their parents have a very good additional option for those wanting a more affordable IB curriculum school with clearly defined (and highly regarded) US curriculum content. Clearly the school is attracting new families to it; CIS must now ensure that it gears up to deliver.
Tuition fees at CIS have been in line with those of the top tier schools in terms of pricing. The school has introduced significant reductions compared with those approved by the KHDA making it now one of the least costly IB curriculum schools in the city. Discounted fees for 2022-23 range from AED 30,000 to AED 60,000. For 2023-24, there is an increase to AED 34,980 for pre-KG rising to AED 65,300 for Grade 12.
There is an entrance test fee of AED 525 per student.
Collegiate International 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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