Dwight School in New York was the first in the United States to be an all through IB school. Via Bloom Education, the company responsible for the opening of Brighton College Dubai in addition to the two schools of the same brand in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, Dwight School Dubai is now the fifth campus globally, bringing the Dwight expertise and experience for the first time to the Middle East.
Founded in 1872 in New York, Dwight is a leading international IB World School with campuses on three continents. The school was founded in 1872 by Julius Sachs as part of the Sachs Collegiate Institute, Dwight School was first known as "The Sachs School" and has been evolving through mergers and acquisitions New York style ever since.
Dwight School in New York is now owned by the Spahn family who have worked with the school for 50 years. Alumni of Dwight schools internationally, includes: John Williams, Truman Capote, Vin Diesel, Michael Mansfield QC, Ray Davies CBE and a “who’s who” of figures from politics, the Performing Arts, business, sports and the Sciences worldwide.
The Dubai school is co-located on the same site as the new Brighton College Dubai, and shares some core facilities. Ground work on the school plot in Al Barsha South began in June 2017 and was completed on time for the September 2018 opening. The Dubai school is the fifth in the Dwight network after New York, London, Seoul, and Shanghai. The New York school has recently introduced an international online school.
Blake Spahn, vice chancellor of the group of Dwight Schools has committed to an open door policy for Dubai's students into its sister schools:
"When you are admitted to one Dwight school, you are admitted to them all.” Students moving to countries with Dwight schools will be "admitted immediately" and should there be no places available, existing students will be placed at the top of the waiting list. This is not the norm for branded schools.
The original Dwight School is located on Manhattan's Upper West Side and eschews the US High School Diploma in favour of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which it uses for students from ages two through grade twelve.
While far from out of the ordinary here, the fact that forty countries are represented among its US school student body - international students account for one-third of the total cohort - is a source of some pride and actually quite core to the school. Dwight is international in outlook through and through. The same can be expected of the branch in Dubai, and with a current student body from 51 countries, it would seem this goal has already been achieved.
Each Dwight School shares the same commitment to 'igniting the spark of genius' in every child, a common thread that runs across all schools.
The schools share a common Mission & Philosophy. The Mission statement says:
Dwight is dedicated to igniting the spark of genius in every child. Kindling their interests, we develop inquisitive, knowledgeable, self-aware, and ethical citizens who will build a better world.
The Vision of the Dwight schools is: To foster the next generation of global leaders who can thrive anywhere in the world.
'The schools’ goal is 'to nurture that potential to help our students learn, grow and make the world a better place. This done through a commitment to three pillars: personalized learning, global vision and community. The three pillars provide students with the tools they need to ignite this spark, turning passion into purpose.'
Bloom Education has worked hard to line up a strong Senior Management team. The Principal of Dwight School Dubai is David Hutson. Mr. Hutson has been an educator for over 20 years, starting as a Business and Economics teacher and subsequently achieving an MSc in Education and Training Management and the National Professional Qualification for Head Teachers. In addition, he is a certified School Inspector and a Council of International Schools Evaluator.
Following two senior leadership positions in two UK schools, Mr. Hutson moved to Abu Dhabi in 2011, joining Aldar Academies' Al Bateen Academy as Vice Principal, where he subsequently spent six years at the same school as Principal.
Mr. Hutson is supported by Ms. Linda Fussell as Head of Lower School who brings a wealth of in-house knowledge after serving as Associate Director in the preschool and kindergarten division of Dwight in New York. The Diploma Programme Coodinator is Justin Dacanay who has worked as an international educator in Japan, UK, Canada and Korea since 2004, including being part of the founding faculty at Dwight School Seoul and, most recently. This included working at Dwight School London.
Teachers at the school are from 20 countries with the largest nationality group from North America. All teachers have teaching degrees and a minimum of two years of teaching experience.
Although Dwight School Dubai was not willing to share the number of students attending the school, they informed WhichSchoolAdvisor.com the largest nationality groups are 16% American, 8% Canadian, and 7% Indian. There are a slightly higher number of boys than girls at 1.2 male:1 female.
There are currently two classes in each grade and a teacher:student ratio of 2:20 in EY, 2:24 in PYP and 1:24 MYP (where specialist subject teachers will work across classes). The current average class size is 15 with a maximum class size is 19.
What about the curriculum?
Dwight offers the IB curriculum, starting with the Primary Years Programme in KG and moving through the Middle Years Programme, prior to offering the IB Diploma Programme in Grades 11 and 12. It is the second school located in this sector of Dubai to offer the full IB continuum - GEMS World Academy Dubai is located close by and is one of the longest established IB curriculum schools in Dubai.
Dwight School Dubai is organised into Early Years for Pre-K to KG2, Primary Years Programme for Grades 1 to 5, Middle Years Programme for Grades 6 to 10, and has just opened the first section of the Diploma Programme in Grade 11; Grade 12 will open in September 2021.
Core subjects in the PYP are mathematics, science, literacy, social studies, the arts, physical education, and language (Arabic, French and Mandarin). The MYP curriculum requires mastery of eight subjects: Language and Literature, Language Acquisition (Arabic plus choice of French, Mandarin, Spanish or German), Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, Physical and Health Education, Design, and Arts. Islamic Studies.
In addition, the MYP provides 'experiential learning' through Community Action and Service (CAS), whereby, students take planned action and reflect on their personal growth. Students in Grades 6 – 10 are encouraged to engage in meaningful community service, participate in physical activities, and explore their creativity. Dwight School Dubai believes that these are important components of an IB education and personal development.
The MYP culminates with the submission of a Personal Project in Grade 10, an independent, eight-month long assignment that showcases the skills that students have developed throughout the five years of their MYP studies.
In keeping with the school’s mission and the IB curriculum there is a CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) requirement for all students in Grades 11 and 12.
A particular feature of Dwight is the Spark Tank, its incubator programme designed to nurture student innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills beyond the classroom. All Dwight students can participate in the Spark Tank Programme to develop their ideas for new businesses, non-profits, or products.
Dwight is one of the only K-12 schools in the UAE to offer this incubator experience. The school believes that the next “big ideas” will come from the under-18 sector. Spark Tank provides students with real-life experience and essential skills beyond academics and theory, so they can pursue their dreams now rather than at some uncertain time in the future.
Dwight School Dubai also have a particular focus on the Arts which they describe as integral to a Dwight education. Beginning in Preschool with exposure to the fundamentals, and continuing through to Grade 12 with deeper learning in history, theory, and technique, students are exposed to the arts and learn to appreciate them from a global perspective. Opportunities to develop students’ talents and express themselves are provided through music, theatre, dance, and the visual arts.
A particular benefit of the connection across the Dwight Schools is the opportunity for students to perform on campus and at leading global venues. One tradition is the concert at Carnegie Hall in New York, where students have the opportunity to audition to perform alongside their peers from Dwight’s global campuses at this annual concert.
Starting from 2019 this grand music performance went global and will be hosted every other year at a stage in either Dubai, London, Seoul or Shanghai and every other year at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Sports and healthy lifestyles are a further focus of the school. Healthy lifestyles are promoted with the support of School Counselors, a student well-being committee, and student council members. The Behavior for Learning Policy encourages students to listen, speak, participate, and take responsibility for their own actions in a way that promotes respect and good learning behavior.
Dwight School Dubai’s approach to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is one that builds on activities and learning covered in the school’s curriculum and that also relates to the student’s personal interests and enthusiasms. There is a range of after-school activities offered across different subject areas (sports, arts, music, STEAM, etc.) with a selection of free activities that are part of the curriculum and paid activities that are offered through third-party providers.
The World at Your Feet programme offers co-curricular opportunities to students to participate in exchanges, collaborations and study abroad activities that include other schools in the Dwight network. Students at Dwight School Dubai also have the chance to host their peers from Dwight schools in shared activities and cultural visits.
International trips are offered in Upper school for students in Grades 7 and up. Through the Global Dwight Network, students have the opportunity to travel to other campuses in New York, Shanghai, Seoul, and London. Examples of trips are Dwight Network Music Choral, Model United Nations conference, Global Issues Network Conference, Dwight Network Ski trip.
Dwight School Dubai says that "we recognize that students have learning differences and through individual evaluations we try to understand and address these differences. We work collaboratively with students and their families to recognize and remove barriers, which impact their achievement, participation and learning."
Dwight differentiates teaching in all classes but also offers additional support through the Quest Programme which supports students with learning difficulties and students that are gifted and talented..The programme is planned in collaboration with parents and teachers and replaces the need for outside tutors by using a Quest mentor who works with teachers. Students who are English Language Learners are also supported through this programme free of charge.
Similarly, the school tries to recognise and foster each students’ gifts and talents by connecting them with exceptional mentors, designing tailor-made enrichment, providing tutorials and much more. Dwight's Spark Tank programme is in part aimed at its gifted and talented children and aims to develop innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership among students.
Given the non-selective nature of Dwight Dubai, an additional component to run alongside the IB Diploma could be beneficial for some of its students longer term. The IB requires strong all round academic ability to pass with a good enough grade to get into a top-tier university. BTEC, T-Levels and the IB CP would be a vocational way to go, and one we think would provide a valuable alternative pathway for less academic or more career and technically oriented students.
No information is available currently in terms of academic achievement given that the school will not have its first cohort of IBDP students until 2022. However, in common with many Dubai schools, it uses CAT4 external benchmark tests and MAP tests (more commonly found in US curriculum schools) .
Regular Parent conferences take place including two teacher and one student led annually.
The school has been built on the same plot as Brighton College Dubai, whose sister school in the United Kingdom is equally prestigious, and similarly aged (est. 1842). The two Emirate of Abu Dhabi-based Brighton Colleges, in Al Ain and in Abu Dhabi, are both rated Outstanding by ADEK - two of a small number of Abu Dhabi schools to achieve the highest rating. With the team at Bloom Education leading the development of both Brighton College Dubai and Dwight School, the bar is clearly set high.
The combined development has reportedly been given a value of more than AED 275 million with the campuses built across a 10-acre site. Each school will be ground plus 3 floors with facilities spreading across 89,000 square metres of space.
There is pretty much an equal split between the two schools.
Brighton and Dwight are operationally independent but share some facilities, including a 600 seat auditorium and 400 m running track. In addition both schools benefit from a Centre of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and the Arts.
Dwight School offers classrooms equipped with interactive screens, three general and three specialty labs, a Primary Maker's Space, Spark Tank: two-floor facility with a range of machinery and tools including a laser cutter and 3D printers.
Sports facilities include a large Multipurpose sports hall, a 25m competition and shallow training pool, a practice football field and shared competition field complemented with a six-lane track, two multipurpose outdoor courts, an Early Years playground and Primary playground.
Communication is clearly a key focus of Dwight School Dubai. Dwight’s Parents’ Association is a volunteer organisation that provides a focal point for the school community. The Parents’ Association (PA) plays a vital role in Dwight School Dubai’s community building efforts and educational objectives.
The school says that Parent volunteers are essential to furthering the school and the PA’s joint mission to build a responsible, global-minded community and ignite the spark of genius in every child.
From an Academic information perspective, the school holds Parent Information Sessions with the Head of School weekly.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received only a small number of responses to our Parent Survey and do not feel that they are sufficiently representative to comment.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Dwight School Dubai, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
There is no doubt that the opening of both Dwight School and Brighton College Dubai came at a challenging time for premium schools in the UAE. Add to this the impact of Covid 19, and any school is going to have to be able to convince parents every day that they are providing real value for money.
With Bloom Education to back it and their experience with the Brighton College schools in Abu Dhabi Emirate, the ties with the Dwight Schools globally, the prestigious IB curriculum and an experienced team on board in Dubai, we believe that Dwight School Dubai has a lot to offer. We suspect that growth will be slow - and in many ways this is no bad thing, allowing the school to develop at its own pace and to provide very individualised support through its low teacher:student ratio to its students.
Given the prestigious nature of the school, fees are inevitably at the premium level. They start at AED 62,700 in pre-KG, rising to AED 65,500 in KG1 and then AED 76,000 from KG2 to Grade 3, AED 78, 850 for Grades 4 and 5, and rise to AED 86,450 for Grades 6-8. Grades 9 and 10 are AED 90,250 and the final two grades come in at AED 97,850.
These fees are significantly below the eye-watering KHDA approved fees of AED 85.000 to AED 130,000.
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