Taaleem owned Greenfield Community School (GCS) is a KG1 to Grade 12 school located in Dubai Investment Park, Dubai. The school was established in September 2007 and offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. It is an "International Baccalaureate World Continuum School".
Greenfield Community School has been rated Good for the sixth year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full reports have been published.
The Story so Far
Greenfield Community School (GCS) is a Taaleem school located in Green Community, founded in 2007, this celebrating its 10th anniversary in the last academic year. The school is an IB World School offering the full IB curriculum, meaning that it is certified to offer all four IB programmes from the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), through to the Diploma Programme (DP). The fourth IB programme the school offers is the IBCP which is the Career-related programme. Greenfield Community School was one of only a small number of schools globally to trial this programme on behalf of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and was the first school in the UAE to offer IBCP to students seeking a more vocational educational route.
In addition to its accreditation with the IB organisation, GCS has recently also received accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS) and NEASC, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, ensuring that GCS will be recognised by universities around the world and, notably, in the US.
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There are currently just under 1300 students at the school from a variety nationalities - some 86 - with the largest number of students being from Arab nations. The 102 teachers that support these students are majority UK passport holders, although they do come from a very diverse range of countries, and the teacher to student ratio is at an acceptable 1:13. A further 37 teaching assistants work with the teachers to support younger student groups and to provide additional assistance to some of the 8% of SEND students with additional learning needs. The teacher turnover rate in 2017 was 29%, a significant increase on the previous year's 12 percent which had been a decrease from previous years. The average teacher turnover in international schools in Dubai is around 20-22% and it is always a concern when a higher turnover is seen on a fairly regular basis - a suggestion that all is not well from a staffing perspective and a concern in relation to stability.
The Principal of the school has recently changed from Andrew Wood, who helmed the school from 2014-17. Interestingly, all stakeholders, including students, were involved in the selection of his successor, Dr. Allan Weston. The most recent (2017-18) KHDA inspection report notes that the leadership team, including newly appointed heads of primary and secondary, has a clear vision for the school. They promote an inclusive and caring ethos, which is focused on student well-being, aiming to develop a positive learning culture across the school. These are positive statements in support of the Principal and his team's aims.
More about the IB curriculum
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-related programme. This 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 "an academic and practical foundation to support both their further studies and specialized training, thereby ensuring their success in the workforce". The IBCP is an innovative programme of study which combines the academic subjects of the IB Diploma, a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma course and a core of subjects which focus on work placements and the skills needed for the work place.
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 about Facilities?
GCS sits on a very large 10 acres site on the southern edge of Dubai Investment Park facing the Jebel Ali-Lebab highway. The school has been designed to reflect its UAE environment with stone-coloured low rise buildings. The school is split into separate buildings for KG and Primary to the left of the campus, sports and shared facilities at the centre and the Secondary campus to the right. 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 and two cafeterias. There are many similarities to GCS's Outstanding rated IB sister school, Raha International School, in Abu Dhabi.
What the Inspectors Say
The 2017-18 KHDA report shows Greenfield Community School staying at its respectably Good rating for the fifth year in a row.
The inspectors note that what the school does best includes:
Overall, student achievement and progress is rated Good or Very Good in almost all core subjects, with the exception of English in the DP phase, which is rated Outstanding. There have been improvements in Maths achievement across KG, PYP and MYP which are now all rated Good. Whilst there have been improvements in progress in Arabic as a first language to Good across the school, achievement remains Acceptable. Islamic Studies is also rated Acceptable across the board. One of the three key recommendations for the school from the inspection team (and progress in respect of these recommendations will be a focus of the next inspection) is to "Improve attainment and progress, in Islamic education through a better alignment of teaching strategies to the needs of all students".
The school will also need to focus on raising attainment in all subjects in the KG and PYP phases, and in Maths and Science in MYP, as a part of their school improvement plan to increase their overall rating to Very Good - which is undoubtedly what GCS should be, based on the ratings of the other five key performance criteria.
In addition to English as the main language, and Arabic for both native speakers and as an additional language, GCS also offers both French and German options from KG2. It also offers an extensive Mother-tongue language programme, in coordination with external providers, that includes after-school lessons in French, German, Turkish, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, Urdu, Russian, Arabic and Portuguese.
Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, are a strength of the school, with personal development rated Outstanding across the school. Indeed all key measures in KG are rated Outstanding, whilst five of the twelve measures are rated Very Good. As the report notes, "Students’ personal and social development is outstanding across the school. Across all phases, their understanding of Islamic values and of Emirati and wider world cultures is very good. Students often act on their own initiatives. Their sense of responsibility and participation in the wider community are outstanding in DP/CP".
It is in the key performance measure of Teaching and Assessment that further progress is required to enable GCS to improve its performance and KHDA rating. Although teaching is noted as at least good across all phases and and had improved to Very Good in MYP, in the KG and PYP assessment remains acceptable and inspectors found that from KG2 to Grade 2, assessments do not always link reliably to the curriculum outcomes. Two of the three key recommendations of the report relate specifically to teaching and assessment practices, which are a high priority for all UAE schools. Inspectors recommended that the school should:
In terms of the Curriculum Design and its implementation, inspectors were clearly more than satisfied. The ratings in KG, PYP and MYP phases improved to Very Good, whilst in the DP/CP phase it was rated Outstanding. The report notes that "Curricular provision across all phases is at least Very Good. In the DP/CP it is Outstanding. Here students access a broad-range of subjects and qualifications, including the full diploma, the careers-related award and a suite of BTEC qualifications. For senior students, the provision for counselling on future pathways is highly effective". These are extremely positive evaluations.
The adaption of the curriculum to meet the needs of individual students was also rated very highly in the DP phase where it was found to be Outstanding, and across the remainder of the school, it was found to be Good. Support and outcomes for students with SEND requirements was rated Very Good - an excellent rating and a very encouraging one for families with children requiring additional support.
Health and safety, including Child Protection was found to be Very Good across all sections of the school, whilst the care and support of students was deemed to be Very Good across the school with the exception of the DP phase where it was Outstanding. In particular, Inspectors noted that "students with SEND are identified and diagnosed effectively. Very able students are accurately identified through a range of information, including assessment data. Students are very well advised regarding possible future education pathways. Students with SEND are exceptionally well supported and guided by staff teachers and the SEND department". However, they noted that staff turnover can sometimes create anxiety amongst the more vulnerable students.
It is in the area of Leadership and Managements that GCS still has progress to make. Clearly there is a dedicated and committed senior leadership team, but school improvement planning, although improving, has evidently not been as strong as inspectors expect. The leadership "promote[s] an inclusive and caring ethos, which is focused on student well-being, aiming to develop a positive learning culture across the school. However, the processes for driving change to achieve their aims are not systematic".
Inspectors rated the relationship between the school, its parents and the community as Very Good whilst the governance of the school was rated Good and praised for their ever more proactive approach to holding school leaders to account. And although the management, staffing, facilities and resources were also rated Good, the inspectors recommended that the school "provide additional training for teacher assistants to become more effective when supporting learning [and should] prepare for future development and change by using additional staff to support key senior and middle leaders".
What about Student Achievement?
Previously, Greenfield Community School did not post exam results but changed this in 2016-17, which is great for parents and students. In that year, the average point score for the DP class was 30 points, which is the international average, and the pass rate was 80%, which was also the international average. There were however some exceptional results with two students achieving 40/45 points, placing them in the top 5% of IB Diploma candidates internationally. One further student achieved 38 points, which placed her in the top 13%.
In 2018, the average point score for GCS students was 31 points (above the 29.9 average globally) with a pass rate of 75%. Ella Hohmann gained 41 points out of 45, which is the highest achieved by any student in the school’s history. Risako Yasuda’s 40 points were also impressive, as this equalled the previous record set last year. Ella and Risako gained marks that put them in the top 5% of students in the world.
The IBCP programme requires students to take a number of Diploma programme subjects, and also a Level 3 BTEC course and further courses relating to core skills. GCS students achieved a 96% pass rate for IBCP and every student passed their Level 3 BTEC.
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.
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. 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.
The change in leadership at GCS was raised as a concern by parents during the KHDA pre-inspection questionnaire, although response rates to the survey were very low. None-the-less, we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com feel that after 5 years at a Good rating, additional impetus is perhaps needed to see the school move forward on its improvement path, and a change at the top may just be the trigger for change. Certainly this will be what Taaleem is hoping.
As of 2018-19 the fees for Greenfield Community School range from AED 41,441 per year for KG students to AED 76,315 per year for grade 12 students - which places the school in the premium end of the Dubai education market.
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I know for a fact that GCS is proud to be currently one of five authorised schools and one of a few schools in the United Arab Emirates authorised to offer all four IB programmes.
The IB Diploma Programme is regarded by many as the “gold standard” for university acceptances and a good performance at Diploma level will open opportunities to secure places in the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities.
GCS mission is to develop a high quality, creative and challenging international education where they foster in each student Staff member and community member an enduring passion for learning while empowering each individual to become a caring global citizen.
GCS Curriculum reflects the internationalism of its community as they provide language lessons in Arabic, and the choice between French or German. Throughout these programmes the student is at the centre of the learning process. The aim being to develop thinking, creative students who respect others and the planet they live in.