United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Barsha / Next Generation School

Next Generation School Review

Next Generation School, located in Al Barsha, opened in August 2016 and teaches an American Common Core inspired curriculum in conjunction with an Islamic education.
Parents' Rating
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3.4 out of 5 based on 24 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Acceptable
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 35,000
Annual fees
AED 26,500–40,500
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
2016
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr David Kinkead
Owner
Mr Fahad Al-Rajhi
Community
Main teacher nationality
United States of America

Nearby nurseries

0.8km • EYFS curriculum
2km
2.5km • EYFS curriculum
2.7km
3km • EYFS curriculum
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Next Generation School
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Acceptable
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 35,000
Annual fees
AED 26,500–40,500
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
2016
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr David Kinkead
Owner
Mr Fahad Al-Rajhi
Community
Main teacher nationality
United States of America
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Next Generation School, located in Al Barsha, opened in August 2016 and teaches an American Common Core inspired curriculum in conjunction with an Islamic education.

The story so far...

Founded in 2016, Next Generation School defines its curriculum as "American Islamic," offering "a comprehensive educational experience that cultivates, nurtures, and combines academic excellence with Islamic values, provides a comprehensive Arabic language program, and fosters civic responsibility to develop successful and contributing members of a global society." 

In the 2021-22 academic year, the school was open from pre-KG to Grade 9 and will add Grades 10,11 and 12 over the next three academic years.  Classes are mixed-gender from pre-KG to Grade 3, with students segregated into single gender classes Grade 4 onwards.

The school currently has just over 1,000 students (half of the school's capacity) who together are from over 40 nationalities. The largest nationality group is other Arabs (at 35%), though more accurately, Emirati students account for 24%, Egyptian and Pakistani students each make up 12% and Jordanian students a further 10.5%.  The other nationalities from which students are drawn are extremely wide, including Australia, Canada, France, India and the US to name a few.

On opening, the school was led by inspirational Principal Dr Sheryl Steinberg Abukar who sadly passed away in January 2019. Read our interview here with Principal Dr Abukar, where she explained the curriculum at Next Generation School in detail and what the school was seeking to achieve. 

Today, the school is led by Principal David Kinkead.  Mr. Kinkead is described as a true international educator, having worked in four countries as a teacher and a leader in IB, UK and American curriculum schools. An American High School graduate, David went on to gain his Law degree, LLB (Hons) from the UK before moving into education with his PGCE from the University of Sunderland. David has been based in the Middle East for over fifteen years, first at the British International School of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and then in Dubai at GEMS World Academy. 

In 2020-21 NGS underwent the NEASC ACE accreditation ensuring that it is educating its students to a standard that is recognised in the United States and which ensures that the High School Diploma that the school will eventually issue to its graduating students is recognised internationally. And in June 2022, the KHDA's DSIB inspection team issued the Inspection report for the 2021-22 academic year for Next Generation School.  Last inspected in 2018-19 due to the Covid 19 pandemic, when it achieved an Acceptable rating, Next Generation School has achieved the same rating -the minimum requirement - in the latest inspection round. 

Students - the majority of whom are nationals of various Arab countries and also includes 210 Emirati students - are supported by a total of approximately 80 teachers who have been attracted to the school from across the world. According to the latest KHDA report, the largest nationality is Egyptian. As per the KHDA requirements, all teachers have a minimum qualification of a Bachelor of Education or Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).  Teacher turnover in 2021 was 18%, below the UAE average of 22-24%.

Teachers and students are supported by 53 Teaching Assistants (known as Learning assistants, as their focus is on assisting students with their learning). Learning assistants support 1 to 1 or in small groups at times also running pull out sessions.  The teacher:student ratio is 1:13.  Class sizes range from a maximum of 20 and a low 22 in the remainder of the school.  As a relatively young school, there are an average of 4 classes in each Elementary grade, reducing to three for Grades 5 to 7 and 2 in Grades 8 and 9.

What about the curriculum?

NGS follows the New York State Standards in its Early Years section with the wider school following the New York curriculum of NGSS- Next Generation Science Standards and NGLS – Next Generation Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Maths. Further subjects include Arabic for first and second language speakers, Islamic for Arabic and non-Arabic speakers, UAE Social studies, Quran, Innovation/STEAM, Art, and Physical Education. In the future, with the expansion of high school, French will also be offered.  Teachers offer specific classes in Innovation – standalone sessions where students solve real world problems, Quran – small group Quran sessions with Quran specialists, and Reading – small group timetabled reading sessions.

A focus of the school is on delivering an American curriculum with an Islamic thread, taught using the inquiry model. The school focuses on "weaving the Islamic values" into all that its teachers and students do.

The inquiry model allows students to address major questions linked to social justice themes, allowing them to question and dive deeper into the units of inquiry. In addition to embedding the Islamic thread, the school also focuses on innovation and problem solving through posing real world problems and allowing the students the opportunity to solve the problems in innovative ways.

NGS opened its first High school class in 2021-22. Students have the option to explore a range of academic pathways from a range of humanities, arts and engineering.subjects.

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

NGS has a full intervention team that looks after the varied needs of students including
Students of determination, students who require support with English as an additional language (EAL) using the WIDA EAL programme, and students designated as gifted and talented (G&T). Five students have been confirmed as Gifted &Talented and a further 10 have been identified with specific gifts or talents.

In addition, students who require Reading intervention (specific intervention for low readers), Math intervention (specific intervention for those low in mathematical understanding) or Arabic intervention (for those still acquiring Arabic language) are also supported. Approximately 100 students fall into these last three categories.  

As in accordance with the KHDA requirements for SEND, NGS fulfills the requirements the student to teacher ratio with four full time Student Of Determination teachers and two learning assistants. There are also two full time teachers in EAL with one learning assistant, and a full time teacher in reading intervention with two learning assistants. 

Should a student require a full-time Learning Support Assistant, NGS is able to support families in arranging this support through known agencies.  No addition fees are made for the provision of additional support other than that for a full-time, dedicated LSA. 

According to the 2022 DSIB inspection report, "Despite a strong commitment to inclusion, the weaknesses in leadership impacts adversely on the quality of provision and outcomes for students of determination. The identified student needs are not reflected as targets in their IEPs. This has impeded the lowering of barriers to learning for students of determination. Support for students with gifts and talents is underdeveloped." 

What about the facilities?

Facilities are impressive given the school's pricing. They include an Environment- friendly campus fully covered with solar panels, a Z space – used for innovation, coding and robotics, two full science labs, two art studies, a design technology room and a Radio station, Video studio and Maker space, in addition to spacious classrooms with interconnected technology.  There are separate cafeterias, prayer rooms and libraries for boys and girls.

Sports and outdoor facilities include a very large gym, spacious pool, five outdoor pitches, great external play areas and playgrounds including a KG play area, a running track, Ice rink, Green space, and Botanical gardens.

What the inspectors say

NGS underwent its first Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau inspection for the KHDA in March 2019 and was rated Acceptable.   The inspection took place two months after the passing of the Principal, and was led from the school side by the then Vice Principal - not an ideal situation by any means.  Despite these circumstances, the school achieved an Acceptable rating - the minimum that Dubai schools are expected to achieve by the KHDA. At the time of the inspection, the school was open to students from KG to Grade 7, with a roll of over 1,300 students - the largest proportion Emirati. 

The latest DSIB inspection which took place in May 2022 again rated the school Acceptable.  At this point, although the grades that were open had grown (to Grade 9), the number of students had reduced to 1,006.

However, as is so often the case, the overall rating does not tell the whole story.  In fact, there had been a number of improved ratings in terms of Student Achievement, in some cases from Weak to Acceptable, but with only five improved ratings to Good (and four of these were in the KG section).  Overall the majority of ratings for this key performance standard were Acceptable, and there was a worrying downgrade to Weak in attainment in English in both the Elementary and Middle sections - joining the Weak rating in the High school section from the previous inspection.

The inspection team described the strengths of Next Generation School as:

  • The improved provision and outcomes in the KG
  • Students’ personal development and their understanding of Islamic values and Emirati culture
  • The good arrangements for keeping students safe and for promoting healthy lifestyles
  • The positive relationships and partnerships with parents.

Ratings for Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum improved to Good in the KG, but again remained Acceptable across the other three sections of the school.  These two key performance standards are vital to the improvement in Student Achievement, and it is clear that these are the standards where improvements must be made rapidly.

There were a number of improved ratings for students' Personal and Social development and their innovation skills - but again, not within the High school section. Students' Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures was rated Very Good across the school - the only key performance standard to reach this level of rating.  Health and safety, including arrangements for child protection/ safeguarding improved to Good across the school. 

Leadership and Management was largely rated Acceptable, with the school's self-evaluation and improvement planning - the process by which schools identify their current status and plan improvements and developments - improving to Acceptable from Weak, and the relationship between the school, parents and the community also improving to Good.  However, Management, staffing, facilities and resources was downgraded to Acceptable - with the inspectors stating "..the sufficiency of staff is a major concern in the lower elementary grades because of oversized or split classes."  Inspectors commented that whilst "Learning resources are adequate.. older students make creative use of open spaces, as classrooms may not allow room for all activities."

In terms of areas of improvement, the DSIB inspectors recommended that NGS should:

  • Raise attainment to be at least good in all subjects.
  • Improve the effectiveness of teaching in all subjects by ensuring that:
    o teachers’ expectations of what students can achieve are consistently high
    o learning tasks are appropriately challenging, and the best use is made of the available teaching time
    o effective use is made of questioning to check students’ understanding and deepen their thinking.
  • Ensure that improvement planning is sharply focused on raising attainment, has clear and measurable success criteria and specifies the action needed to achieve success.
  • Improve provision and outcomes for students of determination by strengthening the leadership of inclusion and by matching work and support in lessons more closely to students’ needs. 

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 actions that are required - you can find it here.

The Buzz

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a little over 20 responses to our School Survey - a relatively low number for a school of this size.  Those parents who have responded, rated the school 3.4/5 - or an approval rating of 68%.  Views from these parents were somewhat mixed.

62% of parents felt that their children enjoyed going to school 'a tremendous amount' and had a strong sense of belonging.  The same percentage of respondents (and presumably the same parents) were satisfied with the academic performance of the school and had not considered moving their children to another school.  However, 42% of parents felt that they needed to provide additional tuition outside school - well above the UAE average of 30%.

The same 62% were satisfied with the level of feedback from the school, and 58% were satisfied with the disciplinary policy and its implementation.  67% of parents would recommend the school to others, but a significant 24% would not.  Concerns around the value for money represented by the fees paid may account for some of this dissatisfaction - whilst 57% agreed that they did represent value for money, 19% disagreed completely with this statement. 

If you are a parent, teacher or student at Next Generation School, please share your opinions and experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey.

No pre-inspection survey was carried out by the KHDA ahead of the DSIB visit, but according to the report, "Parents are supportive and welcome the information they receive...Parents have a voice in the school. They are pleased with the improved methods of communication and say that all enquiries receive prompt responses. Parents find school reports useful but with room for improvement. Parents are content with the steps the school has taken to reach out to the community. 

Our View

Next Generation School was one of the first newer schools to open in the Al Barsha area that had a clear focus on providing an American education with a strong Islamic focus.  Its offering appealed to a broad range of nationalities and the state of the art new building was clearly an attraction.

It is evident that the school has been successful in terms of its religious focus, with students' Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures achieving the highest overall ratings within the inspection report.

Without doubt, the Founding Principal, a West Coast American with a gentle personality who moved herself and her family to be at the forefront of the school, was a highly motivating factor in attracting local families in particular.  With her loss, there was clearly a period where the overall direction of the school was missing for profoundly sad reasons.  The new Principal, who joined the school just a year ago, clearly has a significant task on his hands to ensure that the required improvements are made, so that it is the broader education of students, in addition to their Personal and Social education, that achieves the same high outcomes.  It is clear from comments in the inspection report that changes for the better are being made.

What about the fees?

Fees are very much mid-tier, starting at AED 22,500  for pre-KG and rising to AED 42,500 for Grade 10. Sibling discounts are available and vary from 5-15% depending on the number of children. 

There is an additional application fee which varies from AED 200 to AED 500 depending on entry grade and an Educational resources (Books) fee which ranges from AED 500 in pre-KG to AED 2,850 in Grades 7-10. 

There is an additional transportation fee that is dependent on the distance from the school.  

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Next Generation 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:

If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.

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