Jumeirah College, Dubai is a private co-educational secondary school operated by GEMS Education for students between years 7 to 13 (ages 11 to 18). JC follows the English National curriculum, offering A Levels at post-16. It is very much at home in Jumeirah, where it has put down strong roots within the community.
The story so far...
GEMS Jumeirah College (JC) was first established in September 1999 and has occupied, renovated and extended its original premises considerably over the years. In 2013, GEMS proposed to relocate JC to a site now occupied by three other GEMS schools in order that the College could expand not only its buildings but, particularly, its still limited grounds for sports. GEMS Education rethought that decision "due to the overwhelmingly negative feedback they received from parents regarding the move". Today, the college has been able to make arrangements to ensure that JC students are active participants in a range of competitive sports in which they perform extremely effectively - skip to here for further information.
The College's Vision is "to create a vibrant learning community that nurtures happy, confident and accomplished students who, through a commitment to academic and personal excellence, progress beyond limits".
The College provides a Secondary and Sixth Form education based on the English National Curriculum to approximately 1125 students from almost 60 nationalities (with the biggest demographic being British). There are also some 81 students of Determination identified with additional learning needs, and a small number of Emirati students (18). Supporting the students are 92 teaching staff including the Principal and senior leaders, and 9 additional teachers or teaching assistants, providing a teacher to student ratio of 1:13. This ratio and the student numbers have remained consistent for well over 5 years, although, inevitably, teaching staff themselves have changed significantly in this time.
Historically, teacher turnover at JC had been on the high side reaching 30% at the end of the 2016 academic year. More recently, greater stability has also been achieved in even this area, with the staff turnover for 2017 down to 14% and the figure for 2018 19%. This is around the average of 20-22% in Dubai among a fairly transient teaching population, most of whom have two year fixed contracts.
Find out more about our impressions and the facilities at JC by reading our Jumeirah College School Experience
95% of Year 7 entrants come from the neighbouring and also Outstanding-rated Jumeirah Primary School. The latest catch-phrase being used to emphasise the closeness of the two schools is the Street 19 schools - both are located within a few hundred meters of each other on this street in Al Safa 2.
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.
Following its most recent inspection in November 2018, Jumeirah College has again received the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) inspection rating of Outstanding - a rating it has held for the ten of the past eleven years with one Good rating (back in 2009-10) in between.
What about the curriculum?
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.
However, the most recent KHDA inspection report (2018-19) does mention that the College is in the early stages of considering alternative pathways to A Level for students potentially seeking a more vocational route. We can see that this may involve offering a (limited) range of BTEC options potentially or perhaps embracing the new T (Technical) Level qualifications due for implementation in the UK...watch this space.
Subjects studied in Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9) include English, Mathematics, Science, French, Spanish, Arabic (for all), Islamic Studies (for Muslim students), Design Technology, Drama, ICT, Geography, History, Music, Art, Physical Education, PSHCE, and Cultural Studies. Core subjects at accelerated GCSE level are studied in term 3 of Year 9.
For GCSE, students select four subjects from the core of English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Science, PSHCE, and Core Physical Education and generally select up to a further four including Arabic, Art & Design, Business Studies, Computing, Design Technology – Product Design, Design Technology – Resistant Materials, Drama, Economics, French, Spanish, Geography, History, ICT, Music, GCSE Physical Education, Psychology, and Religious Studies - Islam.
At A Level, Jumeirah College claims to offer the most extensive range of A Level subject choices in the UAE.
In 2017, the College 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 was 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 - Professor Deborah Eyre - on High Performance Learning was used as the basis for the programme and the college, together with JPS, received full accreditation for the programme at the end of the 2018-19 academic year.
The college is also developing its curriculum in 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. This emphasis will now be complemented by the strengthening of the focus on Performing Arts, through the college's collaboration with ArtsEd (a long-established 100 year old UK-based College under the Chairmanship of Sir Andrew Lloyd- Webber). 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.
The college offers a wide range of extra curricular activities from creative to sports for individuals and teams, including the Duke of Edinburgh International Award scheme. Students are also encouraged to propose new activities and often to run them! And although probably not appreciated by many outside of the school, the college consistently achieves sporting success; it is known as a competitive player across a range of sports in the DASSA leagues.
What about Academic achievement?
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 this is so is very good news. Jumeirah College does very well indeed.
In 2018, A level results at Jumeirah College were outstanding. Students sat over 400 examinations and of these entries, 11% were graded A*, with 41% at either A* or A grade. 77% of grades were A*- B. Two students achieved straight A* grades with just under 20% of the cohort achieving all A*/A grades. 55% of the students achieved no lower than a B grade.
For 2018 GCSEs, 163 students took 1568 exams. 66% of examination papers were graded A*/A or equivalent and 93% of results were A*- B or equivalent. From the cohort, 33 students (20%) achieved all A*/A grades or equivalent, 69% of students achieved 5 or more A*/A grades or equivalent, and 117 students (72%) achieved nothing below a B grade or equivalent. In the new specifications the school achieved 203 ‘9’ grades (18%) and 283 ‘8’ grades (25%), meaning 43% of grades in the new specifications were the equivalent of an A*.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given the very clear academic focus of the college, the college has consistently achieved exceptional results in 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.
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.
For the last three years, JC had been among the top 1% of schools contributing to Alps analysis. In 2016-17, Jumeirah College was found to be the top performing A Level school globally. The College was also short-listed for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Award for the International School of the Year in 2018.
In 2016-17, JC 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, enabling the leadership to determine not only how its pupils have performed, but also the achievements at departmental level.
What about the facilities?
Facilities at Jumeirah College are good. Each classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard and a digital projector 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, a communication and resource centre, a design and technology suite (for graphic design, wood work, metal work and plastics), a drama studio, music suites with en-suite practice rooms, an art room, science laboratories, and 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, not only are all measures for attainment and progress for English, Mathematics and Science rated Outstanding, but Arabic and Islamic education, although faring less well, are rated Good for progress across all sections of the school, with only attainment in Islamic Education, and Arabic as a first language in the Secondary section, being rated Acceptable. The provision of the Arabic-based subjects is a perennial problem in international schools in Dubai, and JC does rather better than most.
In common with its neighbour and feeder school, Jumeirah Primary, almost all other key indicators are rated Outstanding. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the measures for the protection, care, guidance and support of students has been downgraded to Very Good in this report. Without being specific, inspectors noted that a number of health and safety issues needed to be addressed without delay. In addition, concerns about the identification of and support for students of Determination, "ensuring that they are sharply focused on each student's learning needs and targets" were noted. Protocols for identifying students with Gifts and Talents were found to be focused on academic competence rather than on all types of natural ability.
Around 7% of Jumeirah College students have some form of special educational need (SEN) requirement. Following an upgrade to Very Good in the 2017-18 report, the provision and outcomes for students with SEND has been downgraded to Good in the latest inspection. Several issues were found, including a lack of comparative stringency of reporting to senior leaders and governors, a lack of rigorous use of assessment information, and improvement planning that is not securely based on robust evaluation of the department's work. In addition, quality of communication with parents and students varies considerably. Inspectors proposed a range of actions for development to address these concerns.
Despite this slip in SEN provision, overall ratings for Leadership and Management are also Outstanding. The report summary notes that "Senior leaders provide a clear vision for the school and set high standards. They develop leadership qualities in teachers, who in turn promote consistently high quality learning throughout the school. There is a well-designed school improvement process leading to continuous development, such as the recent improvement in teaching in Islamic Education and Arabic". No doubt these skills will be brought to bear in order to influence the provision and outcomes for students of Determination.
As far as recommendations for improvement go, there are two areas in which the KHDA inspection team feels JC needs to make more progress - that of the perennial issue of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and support for students with SEN requirements.
This report's recommendations are that JC should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do - click here.
In the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, 97% of a relatively small group of parents (some 72) indicated that "[they] are very positive about every aspect of the school". Most agree that the school provides value for money.
Perhaps as importantly, feedback from students was also very positive about the school and their lives in general. They are particularly confident about their engagement with school work and almost all report positive connections with peers in school, with school staff and with parents and siblings.
Overall, it is hard to see how much more Jumeirah College can do to improve the quality of the education being offered at least for the vast majority of students. According to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey, 68% of parents are satisfied with the level of academic performance at JC, whilst the remaining 32% are partially satisfied. Not a single respondent is dissatisfied with academic performance. 84% of parents would recommend JC to another parent, although a surprising 12% would not. 36% of parents agree that the college offers value for money, with a further 48% in partial agreement.
If you are a parent, student or teacher at Jumeirah College, please share your opinions and experience here.
As Principal, Simon O'Connor, has repeatedly advised, if you would like your child to attend Jumeirah College, this is far more likely to be possible if he or she joins the college from Jumeirah Primary School. Entry to Year 7 is highly sought after, with the vast majority of places going to JPS students. Competition for the limited number of additional places is fierce and competitive. For students seeking to join the school at a later stage, and for Sixth Form, this is also by competitive entry. The most likely way to obtain a place is to seek entry at short notice in Years 8 and 9 - though this is, of course, wholly dependent on students leaving and the waiting list not being too long.
What about school fees?
As would be expected, fees are top end - no surprise as this is an outstanding school. Fees range from AED 72,988 for Year 7 to 9 students, rising to AED 82,112 for Years 10 and 11, and to AED 91,235 for Years 12 and 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 10,000 is needed to secure the seat. This admission fee is non-refundable, but adjustable against the first term fees.
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