United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Warqa / Newlands School

Newlands School Review

Newlands School is a British Curriculum school operated by well-known Beaconhouse Education which opened in Al Warqa in Autumn 2017.
Parents' Rating
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3.4 out of 5 based on 21 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Acceptable
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 25,500
Annual fees
AED 19,200–31,800
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
2017
School year
Aug to Jul
Principal
Mr Matthew Edwards
Owner
Beaconhouse Group
Community

Nearby nurseries

2km • Montessori curriculum
2.1km • EYFS curriculum
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Newlands School
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Acceptable
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 25,500
Annual fees
AED 19,200–31,800
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
2017
School year
Aug to Jul
Principal
Mr Matthew Edwards
Owner
Beaconhouse Group
Community
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Newlands School is a British Curriculum school operated by well-known Beaconhouse Education which opened in Al Warqa in Autumn 2017.

The Story so Far...

Newlands School, operated by the Beaconhouse Group opened in September 2017, initially from FS 1 through Year 6 with a Secondary school that has now expanded to include Years 7 to 10 and will add Year 11 in September 2022, with Year 12 (lower Sixth Form) in September 2023, ultimately offering an all-through education to Year 13. 

The Beaconhouse group has over 315,000 full-time students in eight countries and was established in November 1975 in Pakistan as the Les Anges Montessori Academy with 19 toddlers. Beaconhouse has since grown into an international network of private schools, offering education to students all the way from birth – through its partnership in Pakistan with Gymboree Play & Music – to post-graduation, through Concordia Colleges and the Beaconhouse National University. 

The group operates in the UK, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Oman, Pakistan and Belgium in addition to the UAE. In addition to Newlands School, the group also operates the US curriculum Beaconhouse Al Khaleej International School in Sharjah and the UK curriculum Beaconhouse School in Al Ain.

The school's Mission is:

To "enable(s) every child to achieve their potential. Students gain an excellent quality British education in a values-based, internationally-minded environment so that they may understand, contribute to, and succeed in an ever-developing and competitive world".

The vision is for the school to provide:

  • opportunity and challenge
  • a commitment to continuous improvement
  • a route to university and lifelong learning.

Newlands is located in the heart of Al Warqaa 1 neighbourhood. . Capacity of Newlands, when fully open, will be 1,200 students.

In June 2022, the KHDA's DSIB inspection team issued the Inspection report for the 2021-22 academic year for Newlands School.  Last inspected in 2019-20 due to the Covid 19 pandemic, when it achieved an Acceptable rating, Newlands School has been awarded the same rating - the minimum required - in the latest inspection round.  

Principal Matthew Edwards joined the school in March 2021. He leads a team of 70 mainly Pakistani teachers with 28 teaching assistants in support. Teacher turnover, at 39% in 2021, is significantly above the UAE average of 22-24% and there has clearly been a significant change to the nationality make up of teachers at the school (who were predominantly from the UK according to the previous inspection report o February 2020.  It may well be that some of this turnover in staff also includes new staff joining the school as it has opened additional year groups, but this is none the less very much on the high side (and obviously included the previous Principal). The fact that the school has now welcomed its third Principal in the four years since opening suggests that all has not been well at the most senior level.

According to the school's second KHDA inspection report (in May 2022), the school had close to 740 students, a figure that has remained static although the school has opened two further year groups, with the majority nationality group being Pakistani, including 38 Emirati students.  The school includes students and staff from 60 nationalities.  With a teacher:student ratio of 1:11, we would expect teachers to be able to provide focused support to groups and individual students.

Smaller Class Sizes, Best Practice 

The ethos of the school is based on "best practice" which is the educational term for pedagogy and methods that are tested through research and proven with data. As the school notes, "Evidence has shown that students learn best when they have home, peer, teacher and school support that is focused, accountable, sustained in quality, supported by data and aligned with the student’s ambition to achieve." 

What about the curriculum?

Newlands School is committed to offering a "high quality British education" with class sizes that are smaller than competitors, coupled with fees that are price pointed in a way to "make it possible to study the full English curriculum without facing the burden of those high charges at Dubai’s most expensive schools," as the school's website explains.

The school follows the National Curriculum for England, including the Early Years Foundation Stage for Foundation Stage children. Children follow the UK curriculum from years 1 to 9 and then embark on their IGCSE subjects, undertaking a ‘core’ programme consisting of English Language, one science and one humanities subject (geography or history). Students also have at least four options available to them to supplement this core, with subjects including further sciences, modern foreign languages, a further humanities subject and an arts subject (drama, music, art).

After completion of their IGCSE students who join Years 12 and 13 (Sixth Form) - due to open in August 2023 - may study BTEC, AS-levels and A-levels - the school has not yet specified which subjects will be offered.

The school has a focus on innovation that is built into the curriculum as well as offered through cross-curricular opportunities. The focus on innovation and creating an innovation mindset is one that the KHDA has been steadily focusing on so the implementation of this ethos at the founding of the school indicates that it has become an inherent part of the school culture.

What about support for students of Determination and those with Gifts and Talents?

Newlands School says that it is "an inclusive school that caters for the diverse population of Dubai".  

The 2022 KHDA inspection report notes that "While support for students of determination is good, support for those who are gifted and talented is less consistent." The inspection rating for the Provision and Outcomes for Students of Determination improved to Good in the latest inspection round.

The school has a team of qualified, special education staff who conduct assessments at the admission stage, in cases where the parents identify potential learning difficulties, and after teacher referrals, where students’ difficulties have emerged through normal classwork. 

The school support students, once admitted, with a range of special needs including behavioural, social and emotional; communication and interaction; sensory and physical; medical conditions or health-related disability; learning difficulties; gifted and talented, and disabled.

The support involves addressing gaps in the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, early difficulties caused by adopting English as an additional language, mild dyslexia and dyspraxia, certain forms of autism, mobility difficulties and manageable difficulties in hearing and sight.

Students who are not proficient in English are identified on admission and a teaching programme put in place and agreed with their parents – with the target of bringing them to proficiency for their age group within the first term.

Students with specific talents – including sports, music or particular skills – will receive support in clarifying those talents so that the school can work with the student and his/her parents in finding the right long-term coaching and support. Gifted students – identified as those performing in the top five per cent of students in a particular cohort – are identified through teacher assessment and by benchmarking students against international test results. They will receive support from a teacher with training in recognising and supported giftedness.

The school does not clarify whether additional fees are payable for SEN or G&T support.

What about the Facilities?

Newlands was originally constructed as an‘Arabic style,’ school and therefore was designed for boys and girls to be segregated.  Some modifications to the building have taken place to allow for mixed-gender use.

Facilities at the campus include: 

42 standard classrooms, Activity Rooms, four science labs with three of them as specialist labs (for secondary physics, chemistry and biology) and 1 general lab for primary, one specialist room for computing, coding and ICT, specialist art, media and music rooms. There are external play spaces of more than 1,100 sqm including separate areas for FS, primary and secondary.

The Foundation Stage layout features a separate entrance, ground floor location, and separation from the rest of the school including immediate toilet access, and access to the outside FS play area.  Linked classrooms with corridors provide space where supervised activities can ‘spill over’ for free flow in addition to an Activity Room. 

All primary classrooms from Years 1-3 are also located on the ground floor, including an Activity Room. The school also includes a library/learning centre and a staff development/training centre.

However, according to the 2022 inspection report "many classrooms are too small and outdoor areas are not easily accessible in the FS."

The school also includes a Special Needs base and resource centre and the entire building has been designed to aid the mobility of students with physical disabilities.

Sports facilities include a multi-purpose hall, an outdoor football pitch and cricket net and a 10×20 metre swimming pool with changing facilities

The school's neighbours include the Rajnagiri/Primus Indian School (with 1,500 students) and Sharjah American International School ( with 1,600 students), which means the management team at Newlands has needed to work on imaginative logistics to achieve a seamless drop-off and pick-up schedule.

What the inspectors say

The school stated that it was pursuing British Schools Overseas Accreditation (BSO) whereby it would be inspected following the standards of the UK regulator OFSTED in conjunction with the KHDA inspection.  We are not aware that BSO accreditation has been achieved.

With no physical inspections by the DSIB teams after March 2020 until September 2021, Newlands, in common with all UAE private and public schools, participated in the Distance Learning Evaluation and received the second of three ratings - that of Partially Developed. Read the report here.

Newlands was one of only two new schools due for inspection in 2019-20 whose inspection by the KHDA's DSIB inspectors actually took place. The inspection, held in February 2020, shortly prior to the cancellation of inspections as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, resulted in the award of an Acceptable rating.

In May 2022, the school received its second inspection by the DSIB team and was again awarded the Acceptable rating. However, as is so often the case, the overall rating by no means tells the full story!  In reality, many aspects of the school's performance were rated Good, with 23 key performance measures improved to at least Good.

Inspectors defined the strengths of Newlands School as:

  • Secondary students’ progress and attainment in English and science, and their progress in mathematics. Primary students’ progress in English and science, and the progress of Foundation Stage children in science.
  • Students’ personal and social development, including their attitudes and behaviour, which are good across the school and very good in the secondary phase.
  • The use of assessment to influence learning and the curriculum, and effective health and safety and child protection procedures.
  • The leadership of the principal and vice-principal who oversee well-focused self-evaluation, and ensure supportive, impactful partnerships with parents. 

Whilst there had been clear improvements in the Assessment element of Teaching and Assessment, and to the quality and delivery of the Curriculum, teaching remained an area in need of further improvement - and this had impacted Student Achievement as a result.  As a result, progress and attainment in the FS section was largely Acceptable in English, maths and Science, whilst in the Primary section, progress and attainment in English, and progress in Science had improved. Maths was found to be under-resourced by the inspectors. Further improvements had been made in the Secondary section than the lower part of the school.  Perhaps more of an issue was the rating for Arabic and Islamic Studies which remained Acceptable across the board.

Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills were rated at least Good in Primary and Secondary, but mainly Acceptable in FS, whilst the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support remained Good across the school.

In terms of areas of improvement, the inspection team recommend that Newlands School should:

  • Improve rates of students’ progress and raise their attainment in all subjects and phases by:
    - improving the quality of teaching and learning; sharing the very best practice that exists in the school,
    - ensuring that teaching in Islamic Education and Arabic is adapted to meet the needs of all students, and
    - implementing the curriculum more effectively in the Foundation Stage.
  • Ensure that the governing board includes representation from all stakeholders, and that the premises and resources more effectively support curriculum implementation and effective teaching and learning.

If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings and the improvements that are required - you will find it here. 

The Buzz

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a reasonable number of responses from parents to our Survey, though it should be noted that respondents' children were solely in the FS and Primary sections - there were no respondents with children in the Secondary section.

Overall, parents rated the school 3.4/5 - an approval rating of 68%.  Just over 80% of parents were satisfied (68%) or partially satisfied (14%), leaving almost 1 in five parents dissatisfied with the level of academic achievement.  40% of parents believe that additional outside tuition is required for their children and a third of parents had considered moving their child from the school.

Parents were largely satisfied with communication and disciplinary policy.  68% of parents agreed that the fees they pay represent value for money, though 18% did not. Despite their reservations, 73% of parents would recommend Newlands to others, though 23% would not.

If you are a parent, teacher or student at Newlands please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey.

No pre-inspection survey was carried out by the KHDA for the 2022 inspection round, but the inspection report notes that "The school is successful in engaging parents in their children’s learning. The views of parents are actively considered and addressed. Parents declare that they feel as involved in the life of the school as they wish to be. They also confirm that communication has improved considerably, receiving regular updates through informal and formal procedures. The school actively involves itself in the community and uses links with a school in Pakistan."

Our View

It would seem that Newlands has not had the smoothest start - a not uncommon problem with new schools, but one that we would have expected to see avoided here, given the Beaconhouse group and its experience standing behind the school.  There is no question that with a third Principal having taken up the reigns in its fourth year of operation, the stability at the top that the owners had no doubt hoped for, has taken time to achieve.  It would seem with Mr. Edwards at the helm, it really is a case of third time lucky...

However, the school clearly has a solid base from which to develop and the outcome of the second inspection indicates that Newlands is on the right track.  No doubt the leadership team is working hard to ensure that the improvements required by the DSIB team are being implemented. 

The fact that the inspectors think highly of the leadership team is very positive - "The principal and vice-principal are highly effective. They know the strengths and weaknesses of the school, and these are articulated well through the extensive development plan. Relationships across the school are strong. Morale is high." This augurs well for the continued improvement of the school.

At the fee level at which Newlands operates, parents can reasonably expect a solid, though no-frills, UK curriculum-based education that is clearly showing significant improvement under the current leadership. 

What about the Fees?

Fees at Newlands School start at AED 19,200 for FS1 and rise to AED 31,800 for Year 11. These fees can be paid in three installments at the beginning of each term. A sibling discount is being offered in the current academic year.

The school charges an additional fee for learning resources (textbooks, stationery, online learning resources, assessments, library fee, and laboratory fee). The fee is 1,200 AED per student in FS 1 and FS 2, 1,750 AED per student in Years 1 to 6 and 2,000 AED per student in Year 7 to Year 11. The fee is due with the first payment for Tuition Fees.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Newlands School is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:

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