Ignite School is a US curriculum school that opened in September 2018 in Al Warqa. The school's initial aim was to attract 500 students when it opened to Grade 5. In its fourth year of operation, Ignite School was open to Grade 8 with close to 700 students and by June 2023, the school had opened to Grade 9 with student numbers over 1,000.
Ignite School, located in Al Warqa, Dubai, near Mushrif Park, added another option for parents seeking a US school when it opened in August 2018.
The school opened with Elementary levels and is growing the Middle and High schools year on year, having opened Grade 9 in August 2022. It would seem that the school has been held back from opening Grade 10 as originally planned for 2023-24 and full opening to Grade 12 in August 2025 by the current KHDA Acceptable inspection rating. The overall capacity of the school is approximately 2,150 students.
At the time of the school's first KHDA inspection in February 2022 - a year behind the original scheduled inspection date as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic - Ignite School achieved an Acceptable rating. This is the minimum required level expected by the KHDA for Dubai schools - there is a stated aim that all schools should achieve at least a Good rating.
There was no doubt disappointment when the school was again awarded an Acceptable rating on its second inspection in February 2023.
The school has clearly seen some changes since its opening - notably the departure of its Founding Principal, who was replaced in April 2021, by Ms. Wedad S. Sadaa. Having served two years, in early July 2023, the school announced the arrival of the third Principal since its opening, Dr. Gihan Fradi, who joins for the 2023-24 academic year.
Dr. Fradi holds a post-doctoral qualification from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and having held leadership positions in Michigan, USA, moved to the UAE in 2017 as Director of Curriculum and Assessment at the Sharjah American International Schools, prior to joining Athena Education as Group Head of School Improvement a year later.
The 2023 inspection report notes student enrolment had risen to 1,012 of 70 different nationalities of which the largest nationality group is Arab. This is in part explained by the some 244 Emirati students who attend the school - a significant 25% of the total student body.
This will clearly add impetus to the need for the school to improve its KHDA rating without delay, given steps by the KHDA, prior to the pandemic, to encourage local families to move their children from Acceptable schools to those rated at least Good.
At the time of the inspection, students were supported by 63 mainly American teachers and a further 27 teaching assistants, together with a Guidance Counsellor. With the growth in student numbers, this leaves the school with a teacher:student ratio of 1:16 - significantly higher than the 1:12 ratio one year earlier. Staff turnover of 39% was a major concern in 2022, but had improved significantly to 10% in the 2022-23 period.
The school will offer a Kindergarten to Grade 12 education using the New York State Learning Standards and the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards. The school is said to be committed to "providing immersive student learning journeys that nurture student curiosity to develop empowered and culturally agile future leaders".
Ignite is currently a candidate school for accreditation by NEASC - the New England Association of School and Colleges - a requirement of the KHDA to ensure that US curriculum schools are delivering a curriculum that is recognised and accepted by US and international colleges and universities.
At the time of the KHDA inspection, there were 102 students of Determination who had been identified by the school - double that of one year earlier. The inspectors found that the school has a process to support the early identification of students of determination and provides support for them inside and outside the classrooms.
The provision and outcomes for students of Determination were found to be Acceptable, but the inspectors commented that "Overall, the provision for students of determination is mostly effective and matches individual needs. However, some students require more specialized support and programs to suit their individual learning needs and their
Ignite School has been built over a large site spanning 23,000 square meters. Elementary School facilities in an ELC indoor playroom, ENL center, Music studio, Theatre (black box) studio, Art space, Science lab, Makers and robotics lab, Learning support center, Learning resource center (library), IT lab, and 42 'Learning spaces' - which we take to be classrooms.
The Middle and High School sections will have two ENL centers, two Learning support centers, 42 Learning spaces, an Art space, Theatre (black box) studio, Makers and robotics lab, Music studio, IT lab, five Science labs with prep room, a Multipurpose shared space, and a Learning resource center (library) with higher education entry center.
Additional outdoor play, sports and performing arts facilities include a swimming pool (with changing rooms), shaded multipurpose hard court sports, an artificial grass 5-a-side football field field, a dedicated ELC outdoor play area, a dedicated Elementary School play area, an indoor multipurpose sports hall/auditorium, a fitness studio, a Dance studio, grass areas with seating for social activities and an indoor dining area.
Ignite School received its first DSIB inspection on behalf of the KHDA in February 2022 and was awarded an Acceptable rating, the same rating that was awarded one year later. However, as is often the case, the overall rating does not reflect the improvements that had clearly been made during the year between inspections.
Whilst the majority of ratings for Student Achievement remained Acceptable, there had been improvement in the KG section in particular, this also being the case in respect of Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum. Students' Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures had improved across the school to Very Good. However, Arabic as a second language was found to be Weak in the Middle and High school sections - an inevitable concern given the ethnicity of many students. The protection, care, guidance and support of students is now rated Good across the school. Leadership and Management also saw improvements to Good, and Very Good for Management, staffing, facilities and resources.
Overall, the inspectors found the strengths of the school to be:
There were inevitably a wide range of recommendations for improvement. These included the need to:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to find the reasons behind the ratings and the steps to improvement - you will find it here.
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According to the DSIB inspection team, "The partnerships which the school has established with parents are strong... Parents indicate that the school listens to their views and acts upon them. They serve on the parents' council and the quality assurance teams. Most are highly satisfied with the communication with the school. They are happy with the access which they have to their children's learning through the online student profiles. They report that they receive appropriate guidance on how to support their children at home".
The inspection report does not include the results of the pre-inspection survey. In a new initiative this year, the DSIB inspection team evaluated the 'quality of wellbeing provision and outcome' which was found to be at a high level (the second highest of four ratings).
Fees at Ignite School range from AED 29,000 in KG to AED 41,000 for Grade 9, placing them firmly in the Affordable bracket. There are a range of additional fees for uniform, ICT, stationery, and some extra-curricular activities. The school is offering a 5% fee discount, available in most grades.
There are Application Fees of AED 500 (Assessment fees included) and Enrolment Fees of up to 10% of the tuition fees on offer of a place which are non refundable and deductible from the 1st term fees.
In addition to sibling discounts and an early payment discount, the school also offers discounts to Emirates Airline staff of up to 15% and to UAE Government Employees, up to 10%.
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