Taaleem owned Greenfield International School (GIS) is a KG1 to Grade 12 school located in Dubai Investment Park, close to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Highway to the Southeast of Dubai. The school was established in September 2007 and offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes. It is an "International Baccalaureate World Continuum School" meaning that if offers all four IB programmes.
The Story so Far
Greenfield International School - GIS - (formerly known as Greenfield Community School) is a Taaleem school located close to Green Community in Dubai Investment Park, nestled between the Jebel Ali-Lehbab Road, the Emirates Road and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road - so easily accessible from a wide range of locations.
Founded in 2007, the school celebrated its 10th anniversary two years ago. 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 International 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.
The International Baccalaureate is widely regarded as the most prestigious programme of study available and offered in over 5,000 schools across the world.
In addition to its accreditation with the IB organisation, GIS has recently also received accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS) and NEASC, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, ensuring that GIS students and their qualifications will be recognised by universities around the world and, notably, in the US.
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There are currently just under 1,300 students at the school from a variety nationalities - some 80+ - with the largest number of students being from Arab nations. The 98 teachers that support these students are majority UK passport holders, although they do come from a very diverse range of 60 countries, and the teacher to student ratio is at an acceptable 1:13. A further 36 teaching assistants work with the teachers to support younger student groups and to provide additional assistance to some of the 9% of students of determination with additional learning needs.
The teacher turnover rate in 2018 was 15%, half that of the 29% of 2017, which was a significant increase on the previous year's 12 percent. 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. However, it is also often the case that with changes at the top, some inevitable change elsewhere in the organisation will follow.
Two years ago, the Principal of the school 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 (2018-19) KHDA inspection report notes that "at the time of the inspection, the Principal had been in post for 9 months. He has implemented a methodical approach to improvement planning in which a strategic plan identifies clear improvement priorities to be pursued at every level." It is very evident that Dr. Weston's focus is on overall improvement at GIS - and, we assume - at last progression away from the Good rating that the school has achieved for six years in a row.
What about the curriculum?
As noted in our introduction, GIS is one of a still relatively small number of schools to offer the full IB continuum. Others include sister schools, Jumeira Baccalaureate School and Uptown School in Dubai - both rated Very Good by the KHDA - together with Raha International School in Abu Dhabi, rated Outstanding. In addition, Dubai International Academy, Dubai International Academy Al Barsha and Raffles World Academy (all members of the Innoventures Group) follow the IB curriculum, as do GEMS World Academy and GEMS International School Al Khail.
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). GIS is IB through and through.
Find out more about the IB curriculum by reading our Guides.
What makes the IB curriculum so progressive is its focus on cross curricular links, rather than the traditional subject silo approach, together with the IB Learner Profile which very much aims for students to be Inquirers and independent learners - absolutely necessary in a world that is developing so quickly and where the ability to master new skills is key to success.
Something WhichSchoolAdvisor.com particularly likes is that Greenfield International 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 KHDA 2018-19 inspection report notes that "post-16 and further education pathways are particularly strong where the combination of the career-related programme (CP) and the Diploma programme (DP) provides students with multiple routes to success."
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.
As a school with a large nationality base, GIS also offers a wide range of language options. These include English as an Additional Language for non-native speakers, and all students have the option of learning French or German (beginning in KG1), in addition to mandatory Arabic lessons from KG1 to Grade 9. The languages education at GIS supports the IB philosophy of maintaining students' mother tongue language. GIS encourages students to continue studying their native languages to support their learning and to gain knowledge and understanding about their native culture. The GIS Mother Tongue Programme coordinates with external tutors and organizations that offer after-school lessons in French, German, Turkish, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, Urdu, Russian, Swedish, Dutch and Portuguese.
Beyond the core academic subjects, GIS is also a strong advocate of a well-rounded curriculum that includes Music, Drama and Visual Arts. In addition, Arabic language classes, piano, drums and guitar lessons (through an external provider) and a range of sports activities including Tennis, Football, Karate, Swimming, Gymnastics and Basketball are among extra-curricular activities on offer. Further activities include Choir, STEAM, Environmental Club, Qur’an recitation, Art & Creativity Club, Creative Writing, Poetry Club, French for French Speakers, Model United Nations (MUN), Maths and Physics workshops.
What about Student Achievement?
Previously, Greenfield International 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 GIS 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 record set in previous year. Ella and Risako gained marks that put them in the top 5% of students in the world. The KHDA report for 2018-19 notes that steps have been taken to address lower than expected IB results in Mathematics and Science.
In 2019, students gained the highest scores in the school’s history in the Diploma and Career-Related Programmes. In the Diploma Programme, 93% of students achieved the full Diploma, beating the school’s previous record by over 10% and with an average point score of 32 points, the students also set new records. Two students achieved scores of 39 points with 59% achieving scores above 30 points. Results across all subjects were impressive with students scoring particularly high in English, Biology, German, History and Business Management. There were also clear gains in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
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. GIS students have achieved a 100% pass rate over the past two years.
What about Facilities?
GIS 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 GIS's Outstanding rated IB sister school, Raha International School, in Abu Dhabi.
As part of the school's focus on Well-being, GIS also has two Mindfulness Rooms. Describing the reasons behind this, Principal Dr. Weston says that "At Greenfield International School we provide a balanced education, one that acknowledges that academic success is built on a foundation of happiness, well-being and sound values."
The Mindfulness Rooms are more than just a relaxing environment for students to escape to; they also contain IPads with guided meditation routines, a Gratitude Tree for students to display what they are thankful for, a sensory room with a range of stimuli to engage the senses, a reading area, and a positive affirmation wall.
What the inspectors say
The 2018-19 KHDA report shows Greenfield International School staying at its respectably Good rating for the sixth year in a row. However, with the other members of the Taaleem Group of IB schools now being rated Very Good or above, not only is the pressure from the regulator mounting, but we would expect this to be the case within Taaleem too.
Much of the education that is being delivered at GIS is of a high standard. In terms of the six key performance standards assessed by the KHDA's DSIB inspection team, a significant number of performance measures are already rated at a Very Good or even Outstanding level. However, in the key areas of Student Achievement, Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum - so intertwined that any deficit in one area is invariably reflected in the others - it is evident that too many measures are rated Good for any other overall rating of the school.
In common with many international schools, the ratings for Arabic and Islamic education are largely acceptable, and a concern will be the fall in ratings in Arabic as a first language progress to Acceptable in the Primary and DP sections. English attainment in the DP section also fell from Outstanding to Very Good. All other ratings for Student Achievement remained unchanged.
Students' personal development is rated Outstanding across the school with Social responsibility and innovation skills also rated Outstanding in the KG and DP sections. The majority of other ratings are Very Good. There were no changes to this year's ratings.
Teaching for Effective Learning ratings remain unchanged, being largely Good with the exception of MYP where it is Very Good. Where there has been improvement is in relation to Assessment, which is now rated Good across the school, largely driven by the implementation of sophisticated procedures for tracking both internal and external assessment data. This is a key area of focus of the inspection teams since it is at the heart of teachers' ability to set the correct level of challenge and support for individuals and groups of students.
The other core area, which has such impact on students' achievement, is the curriculum. Its design is rated Very Good across KG, PYP and MYP sections and Outstanding in the DP section. However, improvement is still required to its adaptation to meet individual student needs, particularly in the PYP and MYP sections where it is rated Good. KG improved to Very Good this year, whilst the DP section retained its Outstanding rating.
A strength of the school is the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students - rated Very Good for the most part and Outstanding for Care and Support for DP students. Provisions and outcomes for students of Determination is also rated Very Good.
In terms of Leadership and Management, the ratings across the five measures remained largely unchanged, although the Management, Staffing, Facilities and Resources improved to Very Good, due to the investment in training for teachers which is having a positive impact on the quality of teaching and learning. The relationships with parents and the community continue to improve and strengthen. Inspectors noted that whilst School Leaders and teachers share commitment to IB values and approaches to learning, the quality of Middle leadership varies.
They also commented that "the Board initiated the new leadership structure that is well-placed to improve the performance of the school." This is an unusually positive statement on a leadership change in our experience.
Overall, the inspection team identified what the school does best as:
In terms of areas of improvement, inspectors recommended that the school should:
This is not a long list of recommendations, but the effort required to make the improvements should not be under-estimated. It will be interesting to see how far the school has come when the next inspection takes place relatively shortly, and particularly whether the obvious improvement in teaching and assessment translate through to improvements in Student Achievement - the first priority for any school.
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so - you will find it here.
The KHDA pre-inspection survey received some 220 responses, considerably higher than in previous years. 94% of respondents said that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school and are very supportive of the new leadership. Given that parents had raised the change in leadership as a concern during the previous year's survey, Dr. Weston has clearly made a positive impact. Parents indicated that their children are happy and feel safe at school. However, an area of concern for a minority of parents was the IB Diploma results. Inspectors noted that, in general, their inspection findings support parents' views.
337 students also expressed their opinions through the KHDA Well-being census. The results showed that most students are happy, safe and have a high sense of belonging to the school. Most students indicated that they are supported and valued by their teachers who display empathy and warmth. Students have a high involvement in after-school activities.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, whilst limited, is generally 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.
There are the common Dubai private school grumblings of fees being too high, with around 20% of respondents feeling that they do not offer value for money. And a significant 56% of parents have considered moving their child from GIS to another school - although, clearly they have not followed through on this consideration. Around two-thirds of parents would unreservedly recommend GIS to other parents - the remainder were not sure if they would do so, but none would definitely not recommend GIS.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Greenfield International School and would like to share your experience with other potential members of your community, please do so by completing our Survey here.
What about fees?
As of 2019-20 the fees for Greenfield International School (which include discounts from the approved KHDA fees) 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. Substantial discounts, in particular, are on offer for Grades 9 and 10, bringing them into line with fees for all other MYP students (Grades 7 and 8) - at AED 62,440.
A registration fee of AED 4,000, due on offer of a place at the school, is deducted from the first term's fees. An annual re-registration fee of AED 2,000 is required to secure a place for the following academic year and is deducted from the first term's fees. There is a sibling discount of 10% on tuition fees for the third (youngest) and subsequent child in each family.
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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.