Jumeirah College, Dubai is a private co-educational secondary school for students between years 7 to 13 (ages 11 to 18). It is very much at home in Jumeirah, where it has put down strong roots within the community. The school had been due to move to a huge new purpose-built campus on Al Khail Road in late 2013, but GEMS Education rethought that decision "due to the overwhelmingly negative feedback they received from parents regarding the move".
GEMS Jumeirah College has been rated Outstanding for the ninth year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full report has been issued.
The story so far...
Jumeirah College was first established in September 1999. The College provides an education based on the English National Curriculum to approximately 1125 secondary age students from over 50 nationalities (with the biggest demographic being British). Supporting the students are 92 teaching staff including the Principal and senior leaders, and 11 additional teachers or teaching assistants, providing a staff to student ratio of 1:12. This ratio and the student numbers have remained remarkably consistent for well over 5 years, although, inevitably, teaching staff themselves have changed significantly in this time.
Teacher turnover at the end of 2015/2016 was 30% and between 2013/14 and 2014/15 it was 24% - on the high side in Dubai, where the average is 20-22% among a fairly transient teaching population, most of whom have two year fixed contracts. However, it seems that, more recently, stability has also been achieved in even this area, with the staff turnover for the last year down to 14% and the figure for 2018 expected to be no more than 10%. The presence of a strong principal, Simon O'Connor, has provided consistency during this period, enabling the school to retain key staff and thus stabilise processes and delivery.
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Following its most recent inspection in November 2017, and having been exempted from the inspection process in 2016-17, due to its participation in the KHDA's mentoring programme, Jumeirah College has again received the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) inspection rating of Outstanding - a rating it has held for the nine of the last ten years with one Good rating (back in 2009-10) in between.
The school prepares students for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams at the end of year 11, before moving on to GCE AS and A2 levels in order to qualify for both local and international universities. The school has so far bucked the trend of introducing IB into its curriculum offering and has no plans to do so.
95% of Year 7 entrants come from the neighbouring and also Outstanding-rated Jumeirah Primary School. More recent initiatives aim to provide support from the College to Primary students, both in terms of staff and students. JC students mentor JPS students and JC staff provide specialist support to the Primary school, sharing resources (such as Science Technology Support staff). A closer relationship in terms of curriculum delivery in Years 5 and 6 aims to ensure a smooth transfer between the schools. Jumeirah College places a strong emphasis on academic and personal development - acknowledged by parents in school feedback. This is something to take note of if your child is not so academically focused.
JC claims to be non-selective, and in terms of entry to Year 7, this is largely true. Students who join the school from primary schools other than JPS do, however, participate in an entry testing process, and there is no doubt that students joining the school after Year 7 are carefully selected. There has also been some controversy over Year 11 students from JC, who have not been permitted to enter the Sixth Form, having failed to meet its strict entry criteria.
Academically, this is a school that delivers. GEMS Education as a group has stopped publishing the performance in external examinations - but those for JC are still available. That it is able to do so is very good news. Jumeirah College does very well indeed.
In 2017, an impressive 82.7 percent achieved A* to B (an increase of 5.8 percentage points), 19 percent A and 54 percent scored A* to A at A Level - the first time that the College's students had achieved over 50 percent at A*-A. For 2016 A2 (A' Levels) exam results, 46% of JC grades were A* and A, far outstripping the UK average at 25.8%.
For 2017 GCSEs, at Jumeirah College 62% of all grades were at A*to A, with 90% of grades at A* to B or equivalent. Of the cohort, 18% gained all A* to A grades or equivalent and 52% achieved all A* to B grades. 2016's GCSE results also told a similar story with JC outperforming many other UAE schools and the UK average with its 64% A* to A and 98% A to C scores.
In 2015, 206 students sat the GCSE examination from JC in 2015, and over 6 out of 10 grades were A*/A. 60.4 percent of students gained 5 or more A*/A grades, and 30.1% achieved 8 or more A*/A grades. The school exceeded the UK A* average by 20.9%, the UK A*-A average by 42.2% and UK A*-C average by 31.4%. Thirty of its students gained straight A*/A grades
JC has consistently performed above the UK average since 2010, the earliest figures we have had access to. You can find the school's latest examination results here.
In addition, JC has recently won an award from Alps - a UK-based data analysis and training organisation which collects Value-Added data from over 3,000 top-performing UK curriculum schools globally for GCSE and A Level results. All UK state schools data is submitted by the UK Department of Education, whilst private schools globally can opt in to receive analysis of their results and comparisons with other schools' performance. The analysis considers exam performance not only across subjects, but across departments. For the past three years, JC had been among the top 1% of schools contributing to the Alps analysis. In 2016-17, Jumeirah College was found to be top performing A Level school globally. The College has also been short-listed nominated for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Award for the International School of the Year in 2018.
The leadership of Jumeirah College is not complacent about the achievements of the school - quite the reverse in fact. The College has implemented a two year programme aimed at ensuring continuous improvement - it was felt that without such specific recognition of the risk, the College might plateau. This programme is designed to provide a platform for teaching and learning practice, questioning selectivity, enabling students to recognise the key attributes required for success and "teaching children how to be bright". Work by a leading Educationalist - Deborah Eyre - on High Performance Learning is being used as the basis for the programme. In addition, the Senior Leadership of the College is working with several other GEMS schools who are currently offering or shortly due to offer, Sixth Form provision.
In 2019, Jumeirah College continues to be very strong academically, according to Principal, Simon O'Connor, with an excellent track record. It is recognised for its High Performance Learning practice, but is also developing recognition of the broader skill-set required for students to go on to academic and professional success. In common with a number of leading school groups, increasing emphasis is being placed on soft skills, such as presentation and "people" skills. Although probably not appreciated by many outside of the school, the college has always achieved exceptional results in Art, and has a strong involvement in Performing Arts, in addition to the sporting success for which it is known as a competitive player across a range of sports in the DASSA leagues.
In fact, Art GCSE results in 2018 included 21 A*s out of 34 exams taken, with 76% rated A*-A and 100% of results at A*-B. At A Level, the relatively small contingent of students achieved 4 A* and 4 A results - with almost 90% graded A*-A. A tie up with ArtsEd, a long-established 100 year old UK-based College, chaired by Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber, means that Jumeirah College, and its "Street 29" neighbour, Jumeirah Primary School, are among the first Dubai schools who will link with ArtsEd's UAE-based organisation (being set up on the QE2), to provide support for and greater emphasis on the Arts and Performing Arts for students in Dubai.
Facilities at Jumeirah College are good. Each classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard in each room, digital projectors and is connected to a wireless network with high speed broadband access. The school is also equipped with a number of facilities including a video conferencing room for distance learning courses, communication and resource centre, design and technology suite (for graphic design, wood work, metal work and plastics), drama studio, music suites with en-suite practice rooms, art room, science laboratories, indoor and outdoor eating areas. The KHDA inspectors noted that "the premises, including specialist facilities for science, sport, art, music and drama, provide an excellent learning environment. Resources are plentiful, including an excellent library and high specification IT equipment."
Sporting facilities are also available including a multi-purpose gymnasium, swimming pool, tennis courts, netball courts, grass and recreational areas. However, a lack of outdoor sports fields directly at the school (not surprising given its very urban environment) means that competitive sports training and competitions usually take place at JC's adopted home of Dubai Sports City. Just in case there are any injuries during sporting or other activities, the school also has an inbuilt medical centre with two full time nurses and a part time doctor.
Facilities are rated highly by students and parents, and are, in general, available to students to explore their own talents at their own pace. GEMS Education has also acknowledged the need to ensure that facilities are maintained and improved to support the students' study environment, having recently upgraded the Sixth Form Common room and undertaken refurbishment and "beautification" of common and teaching areas. Further plans are in place to upgrade the Performing Arts, Music and Art facilities in line with the new emphasis on these curriculum areas.
What the inspectors say
The latest KHDA inspection report once again rates the majority of key indicators at Jumeirah College as Outstanding. Inspectors defined what the school does best as:
In terms of Students' achievement, all measures for attainment and progress for English, Mathematics and Science are rated Outstanding (Science having improved at Sixth Form to this rating from Very Good previously). Arabic and Islamic education fare least well is terms of both teaching and achievement - a theme running strongly across many of Dubai's private schools, but an improvement to Good for Arabic as an additional language in the Secondary phase (it is not offered in Sixth Form) will be a welcome one. Measures for Islamic Studies and Arabic as a first language are generally Good in terms of progress but only Acceptable in terms of attainment.
In common with its neighbour and feeder school, Jumeirah Primary, all other key indicators are rated Outstanding. Inspectors particularly praised Students' Personal and Social Development, and their Innovation skills, noting that "Students’ behaviour is exemplary; students have extremely positive attitudes and take pride in their achievements. Students’ sense of responsibility and their tolerance and respect for others are commendable. They fully appreciate the impact of Islamic culture on life in Dubai. Students enthusiastically lead a wide range of environmental initiatives and charity events, drawing on their well-established innovative and entrepreneurial skills."
Teachers were found to be "adept in actively engaging students. Their highly skilled use of questions, draws out and extends students’ understanding and prompts them to think deeply and critically." Assessment processes are at the core of Jumeirah College's management focus and were acknowledged by the KHDA inspection team who commented that "the school's internal assessment processes, linked to external and benchmark test analyses, are uniformly strong. Assessment data are particularly well used as a guide to improve teaching approaches and curriculum adaptations, to address gaps in students’ knowledge and understanding, and to devise intervention strategies."
The curriculum of the school was found to include "a wide range of engaging, challenging and enriching experiences. There are numerous opportunities for students to develop entrepreneurial and innovation skills. Options are unusually wide. A wealth of extra-curricular activities and wide-ranging educational visits enhance students’ learning and provide memorable experiences."
The protection, care, guidance and support of students is no less a strength of Jumeirah College. Inspectors noted that "Students’ welfare is paramount. Safeguarding procedures are extensive and highly effective. Students benefit from high quality academic guidance and personal support. Provision for students with special educational needs and/or disabilities is very good. Students appreciate the first-rate guidance about subject options, careers and university entrance."
Around 8% of Jumeirah College students have some form of special educational needs (SEND) requirement. In the latest 2017-18 report, the provision and outcomes for students with SEND has been upgraded to Very Good with the impact of a whole-school review having clearly made inroads into SEND support. "Governors and leaders ensure that inclusion is a key focus across the school. Provision for students with SEND is organised very effectively in response to students’ personal and academic needs. Skilled curriculum modification ensures that any additional help, such as emotional support, is successfully implemented. In their day-to-day lessons, teachers are adept in meeting students’ differing needs."
Overall ratings for Leadership and Management are also Outstanding. Following some criticism in the past about the Governance of its schools, GEMS has generally taken measures to ensure that more external representatives and parents are involved in this aspect. The Inspection report notes that "Members of the local advisory board, which includes parents and members of the local community, carry out their responsibilities for holding the school to account very effectively. They regularly seek the views of parents, students and staff, and respond constructively to their suggestions."
As far as recommendations for improvement go, there is really only one area in which the KHDA inspection team feels JC needs to make more progress - that of the perennial issue of Arabic and Islamic Studies.
This report's recommendations are that JC should raise students’ attainment in Islamic education and Arabic as a first language:
Overall, it is hard to see how much more Jumeirah College can do to improve the quality of the education being offered. According to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey, 65% of parents are satisfied with the level of academic performance at JC, whilst the remaining 35% are partially satisfied. 83% of parents would recommend JC to another parent, although a surprising 13% would not.
In the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, 93% of parents who responded (some 174 families) indicated that "[they] are very positive about every aspect of the school. They are extremely happy with the quality of care and how their children’s well-being has the highest priority. Parents are pleased with the way the school helps their children to acquire skills in using learning technologies for research. They feel that the home/school partnership is a major strength. They acknowledge the impact of the school’s leadership on students’ achievement and personal development."
Perhaps as importantly, feedback from students was also very positive about most aspects of the school, "Almost all say the school is a friendly and welcoming place and that they are happy and feel safe. They are positive about how the school helps them to become independent learners and take on leadership roles."
School fees are top end - no surprise as this is an outstanding school. Fees for 2017-18 range from AED 71,508 for year 7 students to AED 89,385 for Year 13. There is a non-refundable registration fee of AED 500 due at the time of application. If your child gets an offer an admission fee of AED 7,500 is needed to secure the seat. This admission fee is non-refundable, but adjustable against the first term fees.
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