Horizon Private School branch is a US curriculum school catering mainly to Emirati and native-Arabic speakers, located in one of the newer housing areas off-island.
Update: Horizon Private School Branch has been rated Very Good by ADEK in the 2018-19 inspection round. The ADEK report will be uploaded once available.
The story so far...
Horizon Private School (branch) - HPS-Br. - was founded in 2008 and offers a KG1 to Grade 12 US curriculum, to some 1,900 students. The school is located in Khalifa City A, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, close to the newer residential areas and to Abu Dhabi airport. The original school is a Ministry of Education curriculum school for local families.
The school's very recently redesigned website offers a range of reasons for parents to choose HPS-Br., based on Academics (see What about the curriculum?), Culture and Heritage, Above and Beyond, and Care and Trust.
The school informed WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that its USP is its ability to offer
"an affordable world class education, reinforcing the national identity of the Emirati students within international environment".
Further, the school states that it is:
The majority of students attending the school, according to the 2016-17 ADEK inspection report are Emirati (some 57%), followed by students from Jordan (9%), Egypt (8%) and the USA (5%). Overall, there are some 47 nationalities who attend the school, offering real multi-national mix. There is a slightly higher ratio of boys to girls at 10:8.
This is an inclusive school. Approximately 2% of pupils are identified with a wide range of SEND requirements.
Students are supported by around 135 staff and a further 20+ teaching assistants. Staff are from a mix of nationalities including the USA, Canada, Middle East, UK, and Ireland and are qualified, professional and experienced educators with a minimum of a Bachelor Degree and Teaching Diploma. The school website states that "teachers are ambitious and seek to maximize the potential of every single child in their care, aiming to create an enduring desire for learning, whilst encouraging young people to extend themselves beyond their everyday interests and perceived capabilities".
Average class sizes vary between 20 to 30 students. With a staff:student ratio of 1:17 in KG and 1:14 in other phases, this is a relatively low level that should permit good individual support for students. Staff turnover, at 22%, is towards the high end of average for the UAE (which ranges from 20-22%). Replacing one in five staff members annually could potentially lead to some disruption and lack of stability.
HPS-Br. offers a twelve-year American curriculum based on the Virginian Common Core State Standards. This curriculum allows the students to discover their strengths and weaknesses and plan for the future. It gives them the opportunity to understand how they best learn and to choose their paths carefully. The medium of instruction is English in all grade levels. From KG1 to Grade 12 the school focuses on English, Arabic and French. French is embedded in the curriculum as a third language. The school has a particular focus on Science subjects.
The core curriculum helps in strengthening the foundation, while electives and AP courses are offered to help students enhance and expand their knowledge. As part of the curriculum, students are prepared to sit for the SAT and IELTS/TOEFL examinations. It is also mandatory for all students in Grade 10 to take the PSAT exam.
The school's Guidance Counsellor guides the students in choosing their courses based on their college and career goals, interests, and academic performance. In addition, for students in High School, some 13 Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered for College entry. AP classes are optional for students based on their academic ability. Students are required to meet minimum standards before it is determined whether they are able to take the course or not. Horizon Private School (Branch) is a test centre for AP examinations (for HPS students only).
The Guidance Counsellor also assists students in their application process and ensures that they meet entrance requirements by arranging campus college representative visits, and university fairs, as well as providing the administrative support required (such as transcripts, registration for Standardized tests, assisting students with preparing their personal statement/college entrance essays, and organising recommendations from teachers, counsellors or the Principal).
The school is accredited by AdvancED, a US-based accreditation organisation that provides accreditation to US curriculum schools operating overseas. The most recent ADEK report notes that "Most students in Grade 12 perform at the highest level in their Advanced Placement tests and their SAT assessments". Most students in Grade 12 achieve very good results in their SAT’s with 82% achieving above the 400 mark in writing and over 64% in critical reading. Graduates in 2016 performed better than US norms with 94% achieving 400 or above in Mathematics.
HPS-Br organises a number of overseas visits for students - these have included trips to France, Monaco, Italy, Singapore, Indonesia and the United States of America.
The ADEK report also notes also that the curriculum offers "a wide range of extra -curricular activities reflecting students’ interests, as well as curricular choices, especially in the higher grades". To allow a range of over 50 different extra-curricular activities to take place, normal curriculum times are modified slightly on Wednesday afternoons to enable students take part in "interesting and exciting cultural, sporting and academic activities". More interesting options include Sports Academy, Ballet and Dance Fusion. Unfortunately, the school's website is less than informative about these options.
What about facilities?
The school is located in a modern building with a good range of facilities. These include a football field, an indoor swimming pool, an indoor basketball court, three kindergarten playgrounds, indoor kindergarten gyms, two music rooms, chemistry and physics laboratories, and a multipurpose hall.
What the inspectors say
In the 2018-19 inspection round, HPS-Br. was rate Very Good overall, an improvement from the previous inspection when it was rated Good. This is clearly an endorsement of progress throughout the key performance areas, and one of which HPS-Br. can be justifiably proud, bringing the school to one performance level below the Outstanding rating.
The ADEK inspection team commented that "the overall performance of the school is very good and has improved since the last inspection. Achievement is now very good due to very good teaching across the school. School leaders have implemented well-considered development plans and have responded effectively to all the recommendations of the last inspection report. As a result of the very good leadership, the strong teaching over time, effective assessment procedures and a highly effective curriculum; students are making very good progress overtime leading to at least very good outcomes by the end of grade 12". Given the historic weakness of some schools offering a US curriculum, which is often regarded as less rigorous than others, this is a very positive endorsement of the school.
Four of the six key performance measures have improved compared with the previous inspection and, notably, these relate to Student Achievement, Teaching and Assessment, the Curriculum and Leadership and Management - all six key performance measures are now rating Very Good.
Overall, Students' Achievement was found to be good in Islamic education, Arabic as a first language, social studies and other subjects and very good in other core subjects, with most groups of students making very good progress over time in almost all subjects and phases. As a result, students’ achievement in the High School phase is very good in all subjects.
Student's personal and social development and their innovation skills were found to show highly respectful behaviour and relationships, resulting in a positive learning environment. Effective teaching in all phases of the school promotes very good achievement, though teaching in Arabic as a first language is less strong overall. The school’s well-structured internal and external assessment helps with the rigorous monitoring of students’ progress. The quality of the curriculum was also deemed to be very good. It is balanced and provides very good progression throughout the phases. This leads to students making very good progress overall. Inspectors also praised the wide range of curricular and extra-curricular choices, and the strong links with UAE culture which promote students’ learning, particularly in the High School phase.
The strengths of the school were found to be:
The main areas of improvement identified for the school were to:
There is clearly much that is Very good about the quality of education being provided at Horizon Private School Branch and this is reflected in the ADEK report from 2018-19. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com looks forward to seeing the results of the next inspection in two years from now. We can only assume that HPS-Br. will continue to strengthen its teaching and assessment and the delivery of the curriculum, and to support the needs of the diverse range of students to whom it caters. If the school can continue to improve at the pace it has achieved over the past four years, we would fully expect to see elements of the school's performance rated Outstanding in the not too distant future.
Tuition Fees are average to high based on ADEK's evaluation. They range from AED 22,700 in KG to AED 42,600 in Grade 12. Additional fees of AED 4,500 for transport, AED 1,500-AED 6,000 for books and AED 700-1,000 for uniforms apply.
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