Emirates International School Meadows is a private all through school established on September 2005 by the Al Habtoor Group and located in The Meadows, Dubai. The school caters to over 1700 students from a very wide range of nationalities.
The Emirates International School campus at the Meadows was among the first schools to open in the Emirates Hills area, the Meadows development itself being among the first to encourage expatriates to purchase their homes in the UAE, which until this time (in 2002) had been restricted to UAE and GCC nationals only. As a result, EIS Meadows sits at the heart of one of the most multicultural areas of the city, and the choice of the IB programmes is only too appropriate. In line with its historic mix of UK curriculum (EYFS and IGCSE), EIS Meadows has an EY1 to Year 13 grading structure.
Whilst the original Emirates International School Jumeirah celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2021, EIS Meadows had achieved half that age, having been founded in 2006.
The school caters to just under 1,730 students from approximately 80 nationalities (one of the highest numbers of nationalities we have seen) and is split into two sections, one section for Primary and Junior school students and another for High school students. It employs 148 teachers all of whom (according to the KHDA) are suitably qualified for their roles and a further 29 teaching assistants. All staff are qualified to teach students whose first language is not English and lessons and resources are differentiated to ensure active participation. In addition, specialist EAL teachers provide personalised teaching to those that require intensive support.
Commenting on its focus, the school states "At EISM our core aim is to ensure that all of our students are happy, safe and successful in everything that they do. EISM is a learning community where students are ready, respectful and safe in all they do. Students are empowered to think critically and creatively and to show resilience in their search for success. Our inclusive environment and innovative enquiry based international education fully prepares students for their future."
Teachers are mainly from the UK. With a staff to student ratio of 1:12, individual attention and teaching should be a strength of the school. Staff turnover at 22%, is on the higher side of normal for an international school in Dubai (where 20-22% is the norm). The school notes that "EISM is fully staffed and we are delighted that the core leadership of the School remains consistent, as this permits the focus to remain on school improvement whilst maintaining the positive relationship with all stakeholders."
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com through our school survey has been somewhat mixed. Whilst we received many positive comments during the early part of 2020, feedback as the pandemic began to impact schools, became decidedly negative - driven, it seems, by the decision of both the Jumeirah and Meadows schools not to offer a school wide fee discount, unlike many other schools at that time.
Two recent comments, from mid 2021, reflect more positive views of parents.
"You feel the school listen to your needs as parents and the development of my son has been beyond words. I am so impressed with this school that i am moving my daughter there in August. Amazing teachers and fabulous us online app where we can see daily activities and curriculum given to my child. Very happy."
"Strengths are the academic performance. They care about the academics, and their weaknesses [is] not enough extra curricular activities, not enough events, trips, arts, camps.. etc. (in normal times). Kids needs to have more fun learning and that’s why we chose IB curriculum in the first place, although not really applicable in EISM."
Further feedback received via our School Survey can be read under the Buzz.
In the 2011-12 academic year, the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator, improved Emirates International School Meadows' rating by one grade to Good - a level which it had maintained for a further nine years until its improvement to Very Good in 2019-20.
To maintain the same level of rating for eight years suggests that progress on improvements had not taken place at a particularly fast pace, and the effort involved in improving the rating to Very Good - which the school finally achieved in the 2019-20 inspection round - should not be underestimated.
Commenting on the arrangements to support students during the Covid 19 pandemic, EISM told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, "EISM rigorously follows the protocols and guidelines as set by KHDA in terms of Distance Learning and Face to Face. As of 3rd October all students have returned to fully in-school. Any exemptions are approved by KHDA. Should a student receive a COVID-19 positive result or be named as a close contact they immediately revert to Distance Learning and we utilise a hybrid model. Students are then part of the live lesson via Zoom and can maintain their daily structure. This is supported by Seesaw (Primary) and Managebac (High School)."
EIS Meadows, in common with EIS Jumeirah, follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum - it is a continuum school, meaning it offers the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), the Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) and the Diploma Programme (IBDP) for those aged 16 and above. Historically, both schools offered the IGCSE programme in years 10 and 11, but it seems that the introduction of the IB MYP Diploma examinations (EIS Meadows has been an early adopter) has given EIS and its students and families the confidence to follow the IB programmes in their entirety.
Commenting on its curriculum, the school comments "EISM follows the International Baccalaureate programme throughout the school, and this ensures that our students have high quality opportunities to engage with a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum which not only provides them with the skills to become highly successful 21st century global citizens, but also instills in our students the importance of aiming high and achieving academic excellence in everything they do."
In so doing, EIS Meadows joins Dubai International Academy, also located in the Emirates Hills development and the first full IB curriculum school in the city, in offering the full IB continuum.
Competing with A Levels as the Gold Standard for university entry, due to the breadth of the curriculum in addition to depth, its focus on "global citizenship, its cross-curricular and independent, enquiry-based approach to learning, the IB curriculum has become increasingly popular in the UAE in recent years." The Diploma programme, in particular, has been adopted by a number of highly-regarded UK curriculum schools and even, latterly, two Indian curriculum schools in Dubai.
What about academic results?
Like its sister school EIS Jumeirah, EIS Meadows has in the past received considerable praise for the comprehensive provision of external examination data.
This is key information for prospective students when choosing a school, and the EIS schools had been models for others to follow. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com requested the results for 2020-21 and the school has shared these, together with those of the previous two years in our table below. Commenting on the results in July 2021, EISM posted on Social Media; "12 years of IBDP results on positive trajectory of student outcomes...2021 best results ever."
The percentage of results awarded over 40 points increased significantly in 2021.
|Number of candidates||n/a||51||69||56|
|IB Diplomas Awarded||44||44||66||54|
|Average Score of Diploma Candidates||33||33||33||35|
|World Wide Average Diploma Score||29.95||29.62||29.9||32.99|
|Percentage of students completing full Diploma||96%||86%||96%||96%|
|Percentage of students scoring 24 points or higher||96%||86%||96%||96%|
|Percentage of students scoring 30 points or above||67%||69%||70%||81%|
|Percentage of students scoring 35 points or above||n/a||28%||36%||50%|
|Percentage of students scoring 40 points or above||17%||5%||10%||28%|
|Top IB Diploma Score (Maximum 45)||45||42||43||44|
With the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, students did not take examinations in either 2020 or 2021, instead being allocated Centre Assessed Grades together with reviews of assessed work by IB examiners. There is no doubt that there has been considerable grade inflation as a result of this arrangement - teachers and schools inevitably being perhaps more generous in their marking in light of the difficulty faced by students as a result of the pandemic's impact - and this is particularly reflected in the increase in the global average from 29 points in 2020 to 32.99 in 2021.
The school - unusually in our experience - does publish some information about its results for the MYP Diploma programme - a relatively new examination which is largely based on-line and examines the main language and literature of teaching (in the UAE, English), together with Maths, Biology, Physics and Chemistry (or Integrated Sciences), Geography, History (and/or Integrated Humanities).
Notes: A “highly respectable” pass rate at IBDP that would be suitable for entrance into good red brick universities in the UK is around the 34 plus mark. Top-tier universities are officially looking for 38 plus. In reality a 40+ score is more likely to get a student into Oxbridge or Ivy League university.
EISM participates in all KHDA mandated external benchmark testing, including TIMMS and PISA. Students are said to perform above UAE averages in all key subjects. Similarly, the school advised that "The focus on excellent teaching and learning ensures that students consistently achieve above national and international benchmarks in their external assessments at both DP and MYP."
EISM employs a full time Higher Education Advisor who continually works with and supports all students. The school offers complete support in career pathway planning as well as university applications. Students regularly attend University Fairs in Dubai and access top universities around the world such as MIT, Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge.
Facilities at EIS Meadows are in general very good. The school is split into two sections, with the KG and Primary school sections separated from each other to the right of the plot, with the Secondary school located in the main building. There are extensive grounds behind the school.
The Primary school's facilities consist of 65 classrooms with LCD projectors and interactive white boards, two IT suites, a library, a multi-purpose hall, a 25 meter indoor swimming pool, a library, dedicated art, music, drama and language teaching rooms as well as conference and meeting suites for faculty and parents.
Similarly the Secondary school has 6 IT suites with full wireless connectivity across the campus, a cafeteria, Senior student lounge, library, multi-purpose sports hall/gymnasium, dance studio and Weight room, 25 meter indoor swimming pool, two Astroturf sports fields, two art suites, two music suites, a drama room and a language teaching room.
Unfortunately, the location of the school on a roundabout next door to a shopping centre on Meadows Drive does mean that the area around the school can be very congested at peak times. The school does run a comprehensive bus service which is probably the safest way for students, who are unable to walk to school, to arrive and leave safely.
Arguably, EIS Meadows' achievement of a Very Good rating has been a long time coming - eight years is certainly a long time to retain a Good rating, though it must be said that the KHDA's expectations have grown with each year, and to retain any rating shows that a school is not standing still.
However, to make the step up to the next rating is something that, in our opinion, should have happened sooner. The school had previously been rated Outstanding for both attainment and progress for the core subjects of English, Maths and Science for Post-16 education. Two years ago, it dipped from that high.
In the 2019-20 DSIB inspection round, EIS Meadows was one of a relatively limited number of schools that went through the inspection process due to the Covid 19 pandemic. As such, the improvement will no doubt leave a strong imprint on all those concerned. In common with all UAE schools, EISM also participated in a Distance Learning Evaluation shortly after the physical inspection by the DSIB team. It received the highest of three ratings - that of Developed. The report can be found here.
Fundamental to the step up in the overall 2019-20 KHDA rating was undoubtedly the improvement in ratings across the KG/Foundation stage of the school, where all measures for English, Maths and Science improved to Very Good, joining those of the PYP and MYP programmes. Although Arabic (as an additional language) and Islamic Studies retained their Good ratings, Arabic as a first language remained Acceptable, and there will no doubt be considerable encouragement for the school to improve the rating for this particular subject.
In fact, with the exception of the downgrading of Science attainment in the DP programme to Very Good from its previously Outstanding rating, the changes in the ratings for KG/FS section of the school were the only variations for Student Achievement. The DP section retained their Outstanding for ratings for English and for Science progress .
Nor were there any changes to the ratings for Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills, which remained largely rated Very Good, and Outstanding in the MYP and DP sections of the school.
There is little doubt that the achievement of Very Good ratings for Teaching and Assessment in the KG/FS and Primary sections, joining those already awarded to MYP and DP in previous years (and with assessment rated Outstanding in the DP section), contributed to the overall improved rating for the school. The improvement in Curriculum Design and Implementation in the lower two sections of the school to Very Good would also have ensured the improved overall rating.
Ratings for Health and safety, including arrangements for child protection/ safeguarding, retained their Very Good ratings, as did the Outstanding ratings for Care and Support of students. EIS is also rated Very Good in relation to Inclusion of students of Determination.
However, the inspection team has recommended that the school consider alternative pathways for students less suited to following a highly academic programme. Currently, the school (unlike the Jumeirah branch) does not offer the IB Career-related programme (which is more vocational in nature and often linked to the UK's BTEC qualification); nor does it offer the IB Courses programme, which is a scaled down version of the Diploma.
Leadership and Management is now rated almost entirely Very Good, with the exception of Governance, where some concern still remains about the role of the school's Advisory Council.
Overall strengths of EIS Meadows were identified as:
The very effective school leadership and accurate self-evaluation that ensure a continuing focus on improvement in a positive learning environment.
The very good teaching and the thoughtful use of assessment information that underpin students’ impressive achievement, particularly in English, mathematics and science.
The stimulating and engaging environment provided for children in EY that promotes rapid progress in all areas of learning.
The strong partnerships with parents and the very good arrangements for keeping students safe and promoting their well-being and healthy lifestyles.
The inclusive ethos that ensures that all students are provided with excellent care and support and encourages a strong sense of social responsibility.
In terms of the main areas for improvement, the KHDA inspectors identified these as follows:
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to find out the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey has received a relatively limited number of responses, and these were decidedly less positive than the responses to the KHDA. The school's overall parent rating continues to be low, despite some more recent positive feedback.
School-parent sentiment was hit hard by the decision of the schools' management not to adjust fees, as many peer schools did, at the start of the Covid-19 crisis. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a significant number of comments from parents in the past year, specifically commenting on the lack of support from the school in relation to fee payments and consideration for the hardship many parents suffered as a result of the pandemic.
In fact, fees in general are the biggest bugbear for parents, of whom 55% stated that they totally disagree that what they pay represents value for money. Only 12% felt that they were getting what they pay for. 79% of parents said that they had considered moving their child to another school, and only 24% of parents were fully satisfied with the level of academic achievement of the school. 78% of parents felt that they needed to provide additional tuition to their children outside of school!
Over half of the parents who completed the survey (52%) said they would not recommend EISM to other parents...interestingly the response from parents at the sister school in Jumeirah was similarly negative. It is clear that parents at both schools have been very disaffected by the schools' decision not to reduce fees in line with the support that many other schools offered as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.
According to the KHDA inspection survey during the inspection, which took place prior to the start of the pandemic and to home-learning, parents felt that the school provided a family atmosphere where children were supported both academically and personally. They believed that their children were safe in school. They valued the open-door policy and the quality of academic reports that they received.
Over 250 parents responded positively to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, with 91% saying that they were satisfied with the quality of education their children received at EISM.
Of the 520 students responding to the KHDA's wellbeing survey, the vast majority reported that they generally have a sense of belonging, feel happy, optimistic and safe.
In light of the disparate views - many negative - that WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received over the past 12 months, we would urge members of the EIS community to enable us to provide a more balanced view.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Emirates International School Meadows, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com was initially surprised by the less than positive feedback from parents to our school survey. As is often the case, it is the dissatisfied who tend to express their views whilst the satisfied keep their counsel. It seems that fee payments - and the lack of action taken in this regard to support parents during the pandemic - have been a major factor in the feedback we have received.
We do also strongly believe that greater transparency in regard to exam results - not the be-all and end-all of education but a significant factor when parents are making choices - would really help to provide a more positive view of the school.
However, based on KHDA feedback, and that of students and parents to the inspection surveys, (though these took place in early 2020, prior to the onset of the pandemic), EIS Meadows was clearly doing much that is right. We believe that with a return to normality slowly from August 2021, EISM will remain a popular choice for families seeking the IB curriculum in the Emirates Hills and surrounding locations.
We asked Emirates International School Meadows to tell us why the school should be a parental choice and about the plans for the current academic year. They told us:
"Our vision is to become a KHDA-rated Outstanding school by 2025 and to enable our students to excel and thrive in a happy, safe and successful environment whilst providing substantial academic rigour.
We are a wholly inclusive school that demonstrates high levels of commitment to ensuring that all students have access to quality resources which enable them to not only access the curriculum but to ultimately achieve to their full potential. Our teachers use their strong knowledge of each student to create highly personalized learning programmes which ultimately meet their needs and ensure that they make their best academic and personal progress.
We believe in a very strong home school partnership and strive to engage our parents with as many meaningful opportunities as possible to play an impactful role in the life of their child at EISM. We value the contributions of our parent community in ensuring that our students receive the very best educational opportunities."
As of 2021/22 school fees range between AED 26,802 per year for EY1 (FS1) students, rising to AED 35,175 for EY2 and Year 1, and progressively to AED 79,488 for Year 13 students - high end, but on a par for high achieving UK/IB curricula schools.
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