At a glance
The Story so Far
Greenfield Community School is a Taaleem school located in Green Community, founded in 2007. The school is full IB curriculum meaning that it is certified to offer all four IB programs from the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), through to the Diploma Programme (DP). The fourth IB program the school offers in\s the IBCP which is a career related program. Greenfield Community School is one of the first schools in the UAE to offer this program.
Read our most recent WSA Visit Review HERE!
There are currently almost 1300 students at the school from a variety of passports, the largest of which come from the UK. The 102 teachers that support these students are also majority UK passport holders and the teacher to student ratio is at an acceptable 1:13, with a teacher turnover rate of 12 percent, a decrease from previous years.
Andrew Wood, the principal of the school, hails from South Africa and has helmed the school since 2014. Before that, he was principal of an IB academy in Hout Bay, South Africa.
More about the IB
The 'continuum' is used to describe the structure of three combined programmes, which can be implemented from prekindergarten through grade 12. More specifically, a continuum school will offer the IB Primary Years Programme (ages 3 through 12), IB Middle Years Programme (ages 11 through 16) and the IB Diploma Programme (ages 16 through 19). GCS is IB through and through.
Something WSA particularly likes is that Greenfield Community School also offers the IB Career Certificate (IBCC). The IBCC is an education framework for students aged 16 to 19 incorporating the" vision and educational principles of the IB into a programme tailored for students who wish to engage in career-related learning". It provides "academic and practical foundation to support both their further studies and specialized training, thereby ensuring their success in the workforce".
The IB is an increasingly popular choice as a curriculum, noted for its greater breadth than, for example, A' Levels. It has as much currency as A' Levels with UK university applications, and, arguably, more value for applications to universities in the U.S. and continental Europe.
What do the Inspectors Say?
The 2016/2017 KHDA report shows Greenfield Community School staying at its very respectable Good rating for the fourth year in a row.
Overall, student achievement and progress is rated Good or Very Good in most subjects, the exception being attainment in Maths which is Acceptable in KG, PYP, and MYP program. The school will need to focus on raising attainment in mathematics as a part of their school improvement plan to increase their rating. However, as the report notes, "in mathematics, in lessons, most students demonstrate levels of attainment that are in line with curriculum standards, although there is some variability in the achievements of different year groups... The school’s internal assessments indicate a much higher level of performance but this is not supported by the attainment and progress seen in lessons."
A strength of the school is students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, which is Outstanding at the KG and PYP level and Very Good in the MYP and DP programs. As the report notes, "Students’ mature and positive attitudes can be seen across all phases. They are extremely self-reliant and very responsible in their outlook. Most students are strong advocates of the IB Learner Profile and they respond well to feedback from their teachers."
Areas for focus for future development include the use of assessment as well as teaching for effective learning across the school. The report recommends that Greenfield Community School, "ensure the quality of teaching is at least good across all subjects and phases by:
- adapting teaching to meet the needs of all students more effectively, in all core subjects
- raising teachers’ expectations of students’ attainment and progress, in all core subjects
- increasing leaders’ expectations for the progress of students with SEND."
What about Student Achievement?
Previously, Greenfield Community School did not post exam results but that has changed, which is great for parents and students. For 2016/2017, Greenfield Community School had two students achieved a score of 40 which is the highest score that school has achieved to date. The average IB score at the school is 30 - which is also the global average for the IB Diploma.
Students who have graduated from the school have gone on to study at universities in the UK including University of Portsmouth, University of Brighton, University of Southampton, University of Windsor, University of Greenwich, University of Northampton, and University of Westminster as well as universities in the United States including School of the Art Institute Chicago, Santa Monica College, University of San Francisco, and universities in Canada including Queen’s University and University of British Columbia.
What about Facilities?
Facilities include two swimming pools, auditorium, design technology, information technology and science laboratories, drama, music and art studios, two libraries, tennis courts, gymnasium, sports field, shaded outdoor play areas and indoor play areas, two cafeterias. GCS sits on over 10 acres of land.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is predominantly positive. The school makes it easy for parents - children look forward to going to school. Parents seem positive regarding the progress and attainment made by their children. More below in "the buzz".
As of 2017 the fees for Greenfield Community School range from 42,933 AED per year for KG students to 79,062 AED per year for grade 12 students - which places the school in the premium end of the Dubai education market.
Parents are generally happy with the quality of the education, and with the facilities the school provides. They, along with its students, also appreciate the school's strong community ethic as well as the work it does to build individual confidence and strength. Some however feel that cooperation and working together is at the expense of a competitive spirit that may drive better performance.
There are the common Dubai private school grumblings of fees being too high, and too frequent calls for "additional" payments for non core activities which parents believe should be covered in the school fee.
A committed supporter of the IB curriculum GCS’s credentials as an inclusive school open to a wide variety of nationalities are clear. Now in its tenth year the school is led by an energetic and committed principal who is focusing on developing the school’s reputation for rigour while retaining the warmth and friendliness of which he is proud.
This Taaleem owned school founded in 2007 is located in the Green Community district of Dubai (see WSA Area Guide). The building is modern, well spread out between wide open air spaces and arenas. Vegetation including tall palm trees is well established. The site is close to the main area dedicated to the Dubai Expo 2020 urban development projects for which there are huge plans.
We visited GCS on an open coffee morning which began with an introductory talk by Mr Andrew Wood the head of secondary. He has been in this position and in Dubai for just three years having previously been principal of Hout Bay International School in Cape Town. He explained that GCS will be celebrating its tenth anniversary next year and described it as ‘a happy school with real heart’. Andrew spoke of choosing the school as ‘mainly an emotional decision’ although ‘intellectual issues’ were also crucial.
He described the school as ‘fully inclusive’, ‘thoroughly international’ and ‘a place where students would be challenged’. He felt there is accountability and rigour and is deeply committed to the IB curriculum which is taught at the school. In fact he describes himself as an ‘IB Dad’ since he chose the IB system for his own children who have been very successful.
Several students have left GCS and moved to some top universities in the UK, Europe and UAE. Many of these individual joined the school in KG1 with little or no English and have progressed to the stage where they are studying at universities in their second language.
The school has also embraced a number of BTec courses so that students at sixth form level can mix and match with IB diploma when required. This, Andrew believes, enables them to follow a more academic route or a more career focused direction at this level. We asked about the school’s greatest accomplishments and he spoke of how the school’s spirit and pride were now really strong. He feels the academic standards are ever rising, sports programmes improving and the growth of IB Diploma courses are all areas of success.
Challenges for him have been to grow the reputation of rigour and deal with the location of the campus as there have been ongoing roadwork problems although these are soon to be resolved. The school’s approach to the child is fully inclusive and the aim is that every child does the best they can. The children he explained are well-behaved. He has no discipline issues and they have a well-considered bullying policy.
Andrew’s own specialisms are English and Geography and he keeps his hand in as a teacher by covering some fill-in classes. He is also a keen amateur artist and on his study walls are large canvases of his beloved South African landscapes and two Mussandam seascape paintings.
The curriculum, being IB, is strongly inquiry based with a firm focus on learning skills. Parents receive plenty of feedback on progress in the form of scores and numbers but for some parents it can be an issue that there are no exams at GCSE level.
GCS is well known for its excellent mother tongue programme as there are 80 different nationalities. Only about 44% speak English as their first language. The Head of Languages has developed a link with international embassies in Dubai so students can interact with others from their home countries. In fact within the school groups of parents meet and socialize in their language.
There are 1,300 pupils from KG1 to Y13 and there are vacancies from grade 3 upwards. The 114 teachers, although mainly from the UK and Ireland cover 26 nationalities between them. There are also 37 learning assistants and 25 support staff employed. There are many opportunities to take Inset training within the school and Taaleem provides specialist IB training.
The school is about to publish an opportunity for parents to receive a sibling discount but there are no scholarships available at this point.
Unfortunately we were unable to meet the head boy/girl or any students in leadership positions. Dipika Kalra the leader of the parents association kindly took time to speak to us about the school. Initially she explained she chose GCS as she lives very close by. Her children were at a bilingual nursery so GCS with its strong EAL focus felt like the obvious choice.
She believes it’s a bonus to have so many nationalities within the school and praised the community feel, the warmth and easy interaction between parents and senior management. She praised the IB curriculum but feels that it lacks the rigour of the approach to education in her home country, India. Dipika believes that parent’s evenings of which there are 2 to 3 a year could be more student focused and that in some subjects children should be pushed more. Communication from home to school is reasonable as they have the Communicator system but she believes there’s room for improvement.
There is a 13 strong PTA group who participate in many ways in events such as International Day, Staff Appreciation Day, Lost and Found property and second hand uniform sales. Zaks is the uniform provider and she feels it is acceptable. There is a bus service on offer where required. There are two canteens providing good hot and cold food run by the Slices company.
Clubs and activities are improving in terms of choice as sports have increased with squad training etc. A ski trip was on offer this year. There is a golf team, basketball and drama, art and music are developing. There is no specialist art or drama teacher in primary but children are taught art for six months and then switch to music.
SEN support is strong and she explained how children at GCS are very accepting of special needs children.
We were taken on a guided tour of the KG areas and observed the large colourful classrooms which had plenty of children’s work on display. There are an average of 25 children to a class with one teacher and a learning assistant. There are themed displays in the open areas between classrooms which are changed regularly according to subjects being covered.
Independence is strongly encouraged. Groups of KG1 and 2 appeared to be lively and confident. It was explained that during snack time children were challenged to open their packets and bottles rather than have adults step in to solve problems.
We saw a wide range of outdoor play equipment all covered along with blackboard type walls and wendy houses. There is a football pitch, tennis courts, basketball/netball courts and two swimming pools. A lifeguard is on duty at all times and children are taught by specialist coaches.
There is a library and children are encouraged to donate a book on their birthday as contribution to the stock. Grade 11 children interact well with KG classes as part of their CAS requires them to read with younger pupils.
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