Jumeira Baccalaureate School is a private pre-KG to Grade 12 school which was established in September 2010. The school is located in the heart of Jumeira 1, one of the best locations in the city, on the former site of the American School of Dubai. The school is operated by the Taaleem group.
Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS) was founded in 2010 on the site of the original American School of Dubai. Although Jumeira Baccalaureate School's building is over 40 years old, a lot of effort and investment has gone into bringing it back to life and providing a much lighter and more modern feel. The school originally opened to largely Secondary students, who transferred from Taaleem's Uptown Primary School, prior to the all-through Uptown School opening subsequently. Nowadays, it is an established all-through school catering to children from pre-KG to Grade 12 and offering the International Baccalaureate Curriculum from Grades 1 to 12.
The school states that its Vision is "To prepare all of our students for the innovation age by igniting their passions, purpose and curiosity through challenge and high expectations. Our students will be responsible, confident, and independent learners who are respectful; they embrace and celebrate diversity and have awareness of the environment. They strive to reach excellence whilst maintaining happiness and well-being."
The student body presently numbers 820. The largest nationality group of students, according to the 2018-19 KHDA report, is Emirati (some 300 students representing well over 35%). The remainder represent a fairly even spread of Dubai's population makeup, with students coming from over 60 different countries.
There are 89 teachers at the school, the majority of whom are from the UK. There are also 25 teaching assistants and the teacher to student ratio is 1:9 which is very respectable. Teacher turnover has stabilised over the last year at 14%, slightly higher than the 10% of the previous year, but significantly improved compared with 26 percent in 2016-17. The average for Dubai is between 20-22% in international schools - a concern when this indicates lack of stability within a school. JBS seems to have settled in this respect.
All students learn Arabic from KG1 and there are five Arabic language TA’s trained specifically to work with ESL students. Children arrive at the school speaking a wide range of some 30 different languages.
The school says it is strongly committed to supporting children with Additional Learning requirements and SEND provided they can access the curriculum. The Head of Inclusion, Ben Viljoen, is responsible for training staff across the school – this support is not treated as an “add-on”, but integrated into everyday teaching. Some 89 students (over 10%) have been identified as in need of additional learning support as Students of Determination. Provisions and outcomes for Students of Determination, according to the 2018-19 KHDA inspection report, are Very Good.
The school follows a varied curriculum 'designed' very much for international students. We think it is very well thought through. From Kindergarten, students follow the International Baccalaureate Organisation's (IBO) Primary Years Programme (PYP).
Intended for children aged 3 to 12 years, the programme focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. Students participate in four to six 'Units of Inquiry' per year. To ensure that children acquire a broad base of knowledge, the Units of Inquiry are developed under six 'organising themes' - Who We Are, Where We Are in Place and Time, How the World Works, How We Organise Ourselves, How We Express Ourselves, and Sharing the Planet.
The six subject areas of Language, Social Studies, Personal, Social and Physical Education, Mathematics, Science and Technology and the Arts are woven into the Units of Inquiry to provide a trans-disciplinary approach to learning. In the last year of the PYP, students participate in the PYP Exhibition, showcasing their development through their engagement with the PYP. Pre- KG and KG 1 are taught with English as the primary language, but students also receive regular Arabic lessons as well as exposure to Arabic culture, games, music and language.
The middle phase students follows the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP). The MYP (initiated in 2011) provides a framework of learning that encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers and focuses on eight particular subject groups: technology, physical education, arts, mathematics, sciences, individuals and societies (Humanities) and a minimum of two languages. Along with English and Arabic students are also able to undertake French as their secondary language starting from primary school.
The MYP emphasises intellectual challenge, encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and to the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement, qualities that are essential for life in the 21st century. In their final year students, also undertake an independent personal project to demonstrate the development of their skills and understanding.
Senior High students in Grades 11 and 12 work towards the International Baccalaureate Diploma (DP), and the more vocational IB Careers-related Programme (IB CP). The IBCP was specifically developed for students who wish to engage in career-related learning while gaining transferable and lifelong skills in applied knowledge, critical thinking, communication, and cross-cultural engagement. The programme leads to further/higher education, apprenticeships or employment. IBCP students undertake a minimum of two IB Diploma Programme (DP) courses, an IBCP Core consisting of four components and a Career-related study. IBCP students also participate in practical work placements at local companies to give an insight into a ‘real-life’ working environment.
Unusually for schools in Dubai, who often combine the IBCP with the BTEC (Business & Technology Education Council) qualification in a specific subject - Business, Sports and Arts tend to be the focus - JBS offers the BTEC National Diploma Subsidiary Diploma in Information Technology (IT). The course is purely coursework based, enabling students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through practical work rather than through examinations.
The majority of JBS students still undertake the IB Diploma Programme, which is widely regarded as the Gold Standard for university entry, not only in Europe, but also in the UK, USA and Asia and Australasia.
The IB Diploma Programme curriculum is made up of the DP Core of the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) and six Subject Groups. The Extended Essay requires students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the DP subjects they are studying. Theory of Knowledge is a course on critical thinking, where students inquire into the nature of knowing and deepen their understanding of knowledge as a human construction.
Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Programme. Creativity encourages students to engage in the arts and creative thinking. Activity seeks to develop a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. Service with the community offers a vehicle for a new learning with academic value.
The final component is the six Subject Groups of Language and Literature, Language Acquisition (learning a new, or continuing an existing language), Individuals and Societies (Humanities), Sciences, Mathematics and The Arts. All students must study one subject from each of the first five groups, although they may choose a second subject from the first five groups in place of the Arts subject. It is the breadth and depth, and the research and inquiry focus of the IB Diploma Programme that has seen it develop it into the most highly regarded university entrance qualification in many Western countries.
However, JBS has also made a particular effort to pick out the best practices from the UK curriculum and transfer them to the PYP and MYP – particularly in regard to tracking of student achievement and subject content, as well as following the “connectivity” requirements of the IB programme.
A unique feature of the school is its French language programme for native speakers. This is a selective programme for students in Pre-KG to Grade 5. Children are provided with intensive French lessons every week, supported by extracurricular French language activities, based on the French National Curriculum. Small classes are taught by native French teachers to develop advanced French grammar, spelling and reading skills. Students may continue studying French during MYP, the Diploma Programme and Career-Related Programme, alongside benefiting from dedicated mother-tongue activities from Grade 6-12.
The school states that it also places positive education, well-being and innovation at the forefront of its curriculum. Taaleem as a group has always been particularly devoted to ensuring that its schools were as inclusive as possible. A more recent development has been the link between JBS and The Developing Child Centre (TDCC) in a programme involving two transitional classrooms at JBS. The provision of the programme is aimed at children between the ages of 4-8 years who are not currently able to access mainstream schooling due to learning, communication, behavioural or adaptive functioning needs.
Students are provided with significant support from trained and certified educators and specialists (4:1 student to educator ratio) in classrooms of no more than 12 students. This new approach aims to provide a successful stepping stone into the International Baccalaureate programme and to help children develop independence and school readiness within the JBS nurturing school environment.
JBS offers a wide range of activities to students through an Extra-Curricular Activities programme which include Swim Squad, Yoga, Football, Basket Ball, Rugby, Desert Dance, Karate, Kung Fu, Tennis, Choir, Arabic Singing, Drama Club, Orchestra, Chess, Robotics, World Scholars, Maths Club; Arabic Reading, Quran Club and Francophone French to name but a few. Sports activities that are offered on a paid basis include tennis, football, swimming, cricket, rugby, and climbing.
What about academic results?
Students in Grades 11 and 12 at JBS have the option of taking either the full IB Diploma programme (IBDP) or the associated IB Career-related programme (IBCP). WhichSchoolAdvisor.com strongly advocates that all schools should provide details of their students' attainment in core exams, and JBS has shared their information with us since 2017.
2016-2017 was the third year in which students graduated from JBS with the IB Diploma and the first year for students completing the IB Career related programme with BTEC. Students achieved a 100% pass rate for both programmes, with an IB points average of 32.4 (2.1 percent higher than in 2015-16) with 66% of students achieving more than the IBDP global average of 30.07, and 21.4% reaching a score of over 36 points (versus the world average of 20%). Notably, JBS students also achieved 12 bi-lingual IB Diploma qualifications. Students taking the Career related programme who also achieved a BTEC qualification achieved a 100% pass rate and were awarded two Distinctions, four Merits and five passes.
In 2017-18, 17 students took the full IBDP and achieved a very creditable average score of 32 points (slightly lower than the previous year's), but also above the UAE average of 31.41. 16 students took the IB Career-related programme. The global average IBDP score was 29.78 for 2017-18, and any mixed ability school that achieves above this average is doing very well indeed! One student achieved 41 points, placing him or her in the top 7% of IBDP students globally, and 3 points higher than the top achieving student in 2017.
In 2018-19, IB CP Programme graduates achieved a 100% pass rate and DP graduates achieved a 96% pass rate. The overall average score was 33 points, which was above the global average of 29.72 and a full point higher than 2017-18. The highest individual score was 41 points. This year, student numbers were not confirmed.
The JBS campus sits on approximately eight acres of prime land with excellent sporting and outdoor facilities including a grass football field, swimming pool, two large gymnasiums, two roof top tennis courts, and track and field areas with changing facilities. Performing arts facilities include a multi-purpose auditorium, designated music/drama and visual arts rooms. The school also offers a separate two floor library/ media centre and shared play areas for younger students.
Classrooms within the Primary and KG sections are all at ground floor level, in the original main entry building to the campus and are light and open with external access. Students in the Middle and High School sections are located in separate buildings, with Grades 2 to 5 on the Ground and First Floors of the 'Bacc' building which has also been extensively renovated and extended, and includes two Science labs and a Science Prep room. The top floor of the building is for the exclusive use of High School students for Arabic and Foreign Languages and there is also a Visual Arts studio here. The 'S' building is used by students from Grades 6 to 12 and includes a full range of specialist rooms such as ICT labs, science labs, a Product Design Studio, a dance studio, PE Hall and a cafeteria.
The school is also home to the region's first installation of a hydroponic container farm on a school campus. In collaboration with Madar Farms and the school's food supplier, the farm is made from a recycled shipping container and students and staff at the school are using the farm to grow pesticide-free premium leafy greens for use in school meals.
The KHDA report for the 2017-18 academic year rated the school as Very Good, after six years of Good ratings. This was an important step forward for JBS, elevating its performance to the second highest rating from the Dubai School regulator. It also meant that it was one of now four IB curriculum through-schools performing at the same "Very Good" level - including its sister school, Uptown School, Mirdiff. JBS retained the Very Good rating in the 2018-19 inspection process.
The 2018-19 KHDA report highlights what the school does best, noting that the school:
Students' achievement has not seen the same level of improvement in 2018-19 as it did in 2017-18, when nine measures improved to Very Good, with attainment and progress in English at the DP level having been raised to Outstanding. 2018-19 has clearly been a period of consolidation, and, in fact, there have been some movements backwards in terms of ratings - notably for Arabic as an Additional Language in PYP, which has slipped to acceptable for attainment and good for progress. Mathematics progress in the DP section has also fallen one rating to Good.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills are clearly a strength of the school. Ratings are almost exclusively Outstanding with the exception of Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures in KG and Primary, which are rated Very Good.
Teaching and assessment retained its rating of Very Good across the board, whilst Curriculum design and implementation remained Very Good across KG, PYP and MYP phases and Outstanding in the DP programme. Where substantial and important improvement was noted is in respect of Curriculum Adaptation, which is Very Good in the KG section, and Outstanding across the rest of the school.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students is an Outstanding feature of JBS, with both key measures of Health and Safety, and Care and Support rated at this level.
Unsurprisingly, given the overall rating and those of the key indicators, Leadership and Management measures are predominantly rated Outstanding. In particular, the relationship between the school and parents and the community, Governance, and Management, staffing, facilities and resources achieved the highest rating again. The effectiveness of leadership and the school's self-evaluation and improvement planning are rated Very Good.
In terms of areas for improvement the Inspection team's recommendations were that JBS should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise that you do, so that you see the detailed reasoning behind the ratings - you will find it here.
The current KHDA inspection report is very positive in its comments about the relationship between the school, parents and the community noting that parents are "extremely happy" and acting as real partners with the school. The KHDA's pre-inspection survey received responses from 157 parents, 97% of whom were happy with the quality of education provided by the school. Approximately 25% of parents are involved with school activities more than once per month. Most think their children are kept safe and are happy at school. Parents feel that teachers help their children learn effectively.
164 Grade 6 to 9 students participated in the KHDA's Well-being Census. On most measures of social and emotional well-being, students feel the same as others in Dubai. Emirati students in the school feel safer and have a greater sense of belonging than Emirati students in other schools. Participation in sports is higher than other Dubai schools.
In the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey, 87% of respondents are fully satisfied with their child's academic achievement, and similarly high numbers are satisfied with feedback provided by JBS. A significant 84% now agree that they would recommend Jumeira Baccalaureate School to another parent although, despite this, 26% have considered moving their child to another school. However, they believe their children have a real sense of belonging at the school, but are more critical of the level of fees with only just under 40% believing that they represent value for money based on student attainment.
That said, the number of responses to the survey is still relatively low. If you are a parent, teacher or student at Jumeira Baccalaureate School, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our rolling survey.
JBS tuition fees remain at the same level of 2016-17. Fees begin at AED 56,131 per year for KG students. There is a flat rate of AED 72,970 for students from Grades 1 through to 10. Years 11 and 12 pay AED 84,197. Fees are paid in three installments. An application fee of AED 525 is payable for new students. On offer of a place, a registration fee of AED 7,000 is payable within 7 days to secure it. This fee is deducted from the first term tuition fees.
The fees noted above are for tuition only. Additional activities and external examinations, are subject to additional charges. JBS also offers a sibling discount of 10% on tuition fees for the third (youngest) and subsequent child in each family for the 2019-20 Academic Year.
Note JBS offers a debenture scheme through Taaleem for corporates who want to guarantee places at the school for their employees. It costs AED 100,000 and depreciates over 15 years to 10 AED, but guarantees a place at the school. Naturally, over time, this will make entry into the school more difficult for those working for companies with no debenture system in place.
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