At a glance
NOTE: As Jumeirah English Speaking School Arabian Ranches received an Outstanding rating in 2015/2016, there is no new KHDA report for the 2016/2017 inspection cycle.
The Story so Far
Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS), Arabian Ranches, is one of the most established schools in Dubai, and one of the few non-profit making schools in the region. JESS started with 17 students in 1975, near the Deira Clock Tower and has grown to the two locations within Dubai, Arabian Ranches and JESS Jumeirah.
Read about the latest 2017 IB Results here!
JESS Arabian Ranches is the second branch and was established in September 2005. Since then the school has grown to a size of 1,369 students (over half of whom are from the United Kingdom). The school employs 140 predominantly British teachers. Maximum class sizes are said to be 22 students per class, and the teacher: student ratio is 1:20.
JESS Jumeirah and JESS Arabian Ranches are incredibly popular schools, and the Primary years are difficult to get your child into. The school has waiting lists for all years except Sixth Form (Year 12) but these lists tend to be shorter in the Secondary year groups as new schools have opened around the Arabian Ranches area which has alleviated some pressure on places.
The Debenture System
As a not-for-profit school, all children are required to pay to the school a personal debenture (an interest free loan you make available to the school) over and above school fees. There are two types of debentures available: Corporate and Personal. Corporate Debentures were sold to companies who chose to support JESS on a long term basis by investing in the initial building of the schools. In return for this commitment their employees, (if eligible), gain priority on the waiting lists.
A personal debenture requires parents to pay 20,000 AED, but only after a place is offered. This is fully refundable when the child leaves the school.
On the school's website, it is clearly indicated where the funds go, which is a model more schools could follow.
Seventy percent of fees go to staffing. This is a substantial wage bill and really demands teaching in the school is Outstanding... Fortunate then that that is the case - according to school inspectors...
What do the Inspectors Say?
As of 2015-2016, the school received the Knowledge and Human Development Authority inspection rating of Outstanding - the fifth year in a row, after two years of a Good rating by the KHDA. This rating remains for 2017. The original JESS in Jumeirah is also ranked Outstanding.
Overall, the KHDA is extremely impressed with the school. As the report notes, the school's strengths include: "The outstanding achievement in English, mathematics and science across all phases; students’ exemplary behaviour and positive attitudes, together with their deep understanding of Islamic values and strong sense of social responsibility; the highly effective teaching and assessment in almost all subjects which very successfully developed and extended students’ learning skills."
Specifically, student progress and attainment is Outstanding across the board, save for Islamic Education and Arabic, where progress is being made. English, Mathematics, and Science were found to be Outstanding in both student attainment and progress in all sections of the school.
Also highly ranked is students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills. As the report notes, "Students of all ages show very positive attitudes towards school. They [are] clearly motivated, enthusiastic and resilient learners with high levels of independence and self-reliance skills."
The campus has a warm atmosphere and collegiate environment. As the report explains, "Students’ behaviour was exemplary. Positive behaviour was actively promoted and rewarded, and students showed high levels of self-discipline throughout the school. Older students were exceptionally good role models for younger students. All students were polite and helpful."
Teaching for effective learning, health and safety, and leadership were all also found to be Outstanding.
Provision for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is another area of the school ranked as Outstanding. As the report notes, "The curricular modifications [are] an outstanding match for the individual needs of students with wide ranging abilities. This precision ensured that very high expectations of achievement were maintained and realised across almost all lessons and in all phases."
What about the Curriculum?
The curriculum followed by the school is initially UK based with students up to the end of Key Stage 4 following the National Curriculum of England and Wales, and subsequently the increasingly sought after International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in Years 12 and 13.
From September 2017, JESS will be offering BTEC ‘PLUS’ courses in Art & Design, Business and Sport in their Sixth Form at Arabian Ranches. These new courses are for students who want to work in these fields or who want to go on to study related subjects at university.
As Extended Level 3 Diplomas, they are the equivalent to 3 A-Levels and the ‘PLUS’ means that students can also get an additional qualification such as an ‘A’ level in Art History, a finance diploma or a coaching qualification.
What about Student Achievement?
In 2016/2017 include the school achieved an IB average of 35.3 - exactly the same as it achieved in 2015/16. It scored 2.02 out of 3 for average core points (compared to the world average of 1 point).
Almost one in five students (18.2%) achieved 40 points or more (equivalent to more than 4 A* at A-level) and over half (55.7%) of pupils achieved 35 points or more (equivalent to 2 A* and 2 A at A-level). In total 92.0% of pupils achieved more than the IB world average of 30 points.
At IGCSE in 2015/2016, 21.8% of exams passed were A*, 57.9% of exams passed at A* or A grade, 97.0% of exams passed at A* to C and 92.9% of pupils achieved 5 passes (A*-C) including Maths and English. This was a record year for the school, although previous years have been almost as strong.
Examination results are updated annually on the school's website. You can find details here - Examination Results. WSA strongly believes all schools in the region should be as transparent with the results of their students.
What about Facilities?
JESS Arabian Ranches makes good use of its nine-acre site and its facilities are every bit as good as any of the best profit making schools with 70 teaching areas, Science & ICT labs, Art, Drama & DT facilities, an independent music facility, a 500-seater Auditorium, 1000 sq metre sports hall, two temperature-controlled, shaded swimming pools, equipped playground areas and extensive playing fields.
The focus on sports and JESS' participation in the various school leagues and competitions has recently seen our sister website, www.schoolscompared.com, rate the school as one of the Best Schools for Sports in the UAE. JESS currently has more teams competing in leagues than any other in Dubai.
A 4000sq. m Sixth Form development and extension was completed at the end of 2013. It includes a PE/dance studio, seminar rooms, a senior study hall, an examination hall, a cafeteria and a further auditorium.
What do Parents Say?
Parents at JESS, Arabian Ranches are in general very highly satisfied with the quality of education received. They also praise the school's inclusive nature. Parents would universally recommend the school, with students having a strong sense of belonging, and for the most part really enjoying their time at the school. Perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments of JESS Arabian Ranches is that despite its premium fee structure, parents still consider it good value for money. More here.
Note: If you are a parent with children at the school, add your voice here.
It's not only parents that are happy with the school's general direction: Students and teachers also register high levels of satisfaction at the school. Teachers no doubt benefit from the school's not for profit nature which, in general, usually means more training, and better remuneration. Dubai's not for profit schools in general suffer less from high staff turnover.
What about Fees?
Fees at JESS Arabian Ranches start at 39,030 AED for Foundation Stage 1, and increase to 48,233 AED from FS2 to Grade 6 - these are mid to premium range. Secondary school fees however jump to top end premium, starting at 80,848 AED for years 7-11, before moving to 91,950 AED for years 12-13.
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