Based in Dubai Academic City, Lycee Francais International Georges Pompidou serves the French-speaking community within Dubai and Sharjah. The Academic City branch offers education from CP (Grade 1) to Finale and is one of three schools in Dubai offering an all-through French curriculum, the others being the Lycee International Francais (AFLEC) and the Lycee Libanais Francophone Prive. Classes are conducted en Francais, although all students study English also.
After three years of Outstanding ratings, LFIGP has been rated Very Good 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...
Lycee Francais International Georges Pompidou (LFIGP) Academic City serves over 2,040 students - boys and girls - aged from 6 to 18 years, (an increase of over 120 compared with two years ago). The school has its own feeder Nursery and Kindergarden section, based at the original school site in Oud Metha, which accepts pupils from 3 years of age to 6 years. Whilst many schools have experienced reductions in student numbers in the past two years, demand for LFIGP appears to remain strong. Any additional places being made available will be welcome to French families, who routinely select LFIGP as their first choice.
Whilst the majority of teachers and students are French, the school counts upto 50 nationalities among the student body. LFIGP is run by a managerial board elected by a group of 12 parents and is a not for profit school. The 151 teachers are said to be very well qualified, and again, are French in the majority. This translates to a staff:student ratio of 1:14 - a very moderate figure, ensuring personal attention where needed. Teacher turnover is exceptionally low, with no leavers in the previous academic year.
Whilst the location of the school at Dubai Academic City may not be as central and convenient as the original branch in the centre of Bur Dubai, the big plus is the availability of expansive space - both indoor and outdoor.
The newer Primary section of the school (added in 2013) is set at the rear of the site with separate access, but through a secured gate, children also have access to the larger outdoor facilities of the Secondary site where required. The secondary buildings themselves are connected by cloistered, covered passage ways which open out on to green spaces - much enjoyed by the students during breaks in cooler weather - giving the school a traditional appearance on what is, however, a very modern campus. All the usual facilities in terms of specialist rooms are available and there is also a very large modern canteen for the use of students and staff.
LFIGP follows the curriculum set by the French Ministry of National Education, and prepares students for the Diplome National du Brevet (DNB), as well as the French Baccalaureate in the three main streams (Literary, Social Sciences and Economics, and Science) along with international options. The success rates of students in these two exams vary between 97 and 100% yearly, with a majority of students achieving Honours. The school publishes its results on its website, together with the university destinations of its graduates.
At LFIGP, all primary classes are recognised by the Ministry of National Education "International Section" and children have a thorough education in English compared to what is mandatory in France. English begins at Kindergarden at age three and continues throughout Primary school for three hours a week. Whilst the main curriculum follows the French one, half of the lessons are in English. In addition to the planned lessons, students have two hours of additional English per week, most often at the end of the day or at lunchtime.
From 4eme (Grade 8), students can enroll in the “European English Section” to achieve the “European English Section ” in their Baccalaureate diploma. In the 8th and 9th grades (equivalent), pupils follow complementary linguistic and cultural topics. In 2017-18, for example, 4eme students organised a Mufti Day and prepared an educational trip to Ireland. In Grade 3eme, they directed short films on medicine in 2040, performed poems on the issue of gender equality, and participated in an introductory programme for an improvisational theatre, Theatresports.
All students from CP to 3eme take mandatory Arabic, which is available as an option also through to Terminale (Grade 12 ). German and Spanish options are also available for 3 hours per week throughout Secondary school.
Both the Oud Metha Primary and the Secondary are rated Outstanding schools by the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator.
What the inspectors say
According to the most recent KHDA inspection for 2017-18, LFIGP was rated Outstanding for the third year - although this was only its second inspection, due to the school's participation in the KHDA's Abundance mentoring project in 2016-17.
The report shows that this is a school achieving outstanding attainment and progress in English, French, Mathematics and Science in College and Lycee, although there has been a downgrade to Very Good for attainment in English, Mathematics and Science in the Primary section. Similarly, teaching is also said to be Outstanding in the Senior school, but has been downgraded to Very Good in the Primary. Learning skills in Primary reflect this step back.
The "marking down" of the Primary section seems to be due to listening and speaking skills being of a higher standard than written skills for English, whilst in Mathematics, although a large majority of students develop skills and understanding that exceed French national curriculum expectations, their progress is not as developed as inspectors would expect. This seems to be due to a mismatch between individual student achievement and teachers' ability to adapt the curriculum and teaching to the students' needs. It appears that students are not being given as high level of challenge as they have the potential to achieve.
Similarly, in Science, inspectors felt that students were not be as effectively challenged as they should be in the Primary section. Teachers across the school were said to have "high expectations of students’ learning and the progress they are capable of making. They provide challenging work and excellent support. They skillfully develop students’ critical thinking, problem solving and independent learning skills. However, this is not as strong in primaire."
Students display "excellent linguistic skills", with the majority able to speak three languages fluently. Students are also said to display outstanding personal development, "reflected in Very Good attendance and punctuality". Almost all students were found to "display extremely positive attitudes to school and learning. They are mature, courteous and polite, and behave in an exemplary manner in lessons and around school."
Just under 100 students have been identified as having special educational needs. Provision and outcomes for children with SEND requirements were found to be Very Good, inspectors noting that "the school has effective procedures for the identification of students with SEND and personalised support enables them to make very good progress in most lessons."
There have evidently been significant management changes at LFIGP since the previous inspection, with inspectors noting that all senior leaders, including the principal, are new to the school. "They ensure that evaluations of the school’s performance are accurate. Well-constructed action plans are in place to address any areas where improvement is needed. Relationships and communication with parents are excellent." In a particularly positive statement, they also remark that the school is "exceptionally well-managed."
The main concern expressed by the Inspection team in relation to the Leadership and Management of the school was that the Board was found not to have paid as much attention to the provision of Islamic Education and Arabic as necessary. In particular, it seems that the curriculum does not conform entirely to the MoE requirements and that timetabling has been something of an issue. These issues, together with the lower ratings in Primary in relation to Students' Achievement, will most certainly need to be a focus for the coming year.
However, whilst the KHDA inspection rating of Outstanding may be a factor in parents considering LFIGP, the reality is that French-speaking families will continue to rate the school very highly, not least because of the excellent academic results it achieves in the national exams.
96% of the 238 parents who responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey were satisfied with the quality of education being provided to their children. The KHDA reports notes that "children are happy to be in school and developing awareness of the UAE culture. The school is offering effective careers advice for older students and all parents believe that children's special needs are being identified and addressed. Inspection findings support this." The small number of students who responded to the survey "comment positively about the range of technology resources available to support their learning. They believe that teachers want them to be successful in what they do and therefore provide effective academic and careers advice when appropriate."
The school is incredibly competitively priced for an Outstanding rated school - priced at just over half that of the average of its IB or UK curriculum based peers.
Fees start at AED 35,010 for CP to CM2, AED 44,280 for 6eme to 3eme and AED 48,090 for the final three years of Lycee.
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