Philippine Emirates Private School opened on its current site in Baniyas East in September 2013. The school currently has the distinction of being the only school to be downgraded from Acceptable to Weak in its most recent (2018-19) ADEK inspection - though the rating does not tell the full story.
The Story so far...
Philippine Emirates Private School (PEPS) was originally established in April 1995 on Abu Dhabi Island as PISCO until its forced relocation from a villa, initially arranging for its High school students to be accommodated in temporary accommodation in Mohammed bin Zayed City for two years. The entire school was relocated together to a new purpose-built building in Baniyas East for the start of the 2013-14 academic year.
The vision of the Philippine-Emirates Private School is to prepare learners to become successful learners who are able to develop the skills and qualities necessary for learning, life, and work in the 21st Century.
The school's detailed (and lengthy) Mission statement reads as follows:
The school follows the Philippines curriculum (taught in English) and offers places for students from KG1 to Grade 12. As is often the case with newer schools, the majority of students are in the KG (16%) and Elementary (47%) sections, whilst 23% attend the Secondary school, and only 14% the High School section. The school opened its Grade 12 in 2017-18.
Today the school accommodates close to 1,000 students, although this is a significant drop from previous years. As would be expected for a Philippine curriculum school, 97% of students come from the Philippines, although approximately 0.5% are Pakistani citizens, and an even smaller 0.3% are said to be UK passport holders.
Students are taught by some 52 teachers assisted by 11 teaching assistants. The teacher:student ratio is 1:26 in KG (though teaching assistants would reduce the real number to 1:13) and 1:15 in the remainder of the school. In theory, such ratios should ensure personalised attention and adaptation of the curriculum for students, but sadly, it would seem from the most recent ADEK inspection which took place in 2018-19, that this is not necessarily the case. More details can be found here. A teacher turnover of 39% - so almost 4 in 10 teachers - also tells its own story.
What about the curriculum?
The school follows the Philippine curriculum, taught mainly in English, together with the requirements of the UAE Ministry of Education for Arabic, Islamic Studies and Moral Education.
The curriculum is said to be broad and balanced and follows the requirements of the Philippine curriculum.
PEPS is registered with the Philippines Ministry of Education, enabling students to be exempt from taking validation exams when transferring to other Philippine curriculum schools. Graduating students are administered with the National Elementary Achievement Test and the National Secondary Achievement Test.
From KG to Grade 10, core subjects include English, Maths, Science, Arabic, Islamic and UAE Social Studies/Moral Education, ICT, Philippine Social Studies, Art, Music and PE.
The school offers two options for Grades 11 and 12, one focused on Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM), and the other on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Students follow a core of subjects which include English (including 21st Century Literature from the Philippines and the World), General Mathematics, Statistics and Probability, Media and Information Literacy, Contemporary Philippine Arts from the Regions, Understanding Culture, Society and Politics. Earth and Life Science, Physical Science, Personal Development/Pansariling Kaunlaran, and Health and Physical Education.
Students taking both the ABM and STEM options study from among the following contextualised subjects over the two year period including English for Academic and Professional Purposes, Empowerment Technologies (ETech): ICT for Professional Tracks, Entrepreneurship, Research in Daily Life, Pagsulat sa Filipino sa Piling Larangan (Akademik), and complete a Research Project.
ABM students also choose options from among Business Maths, Fundamentals of Accounting, Business and Management, Applied Economics, Organization and Management, Business Finance, Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, Business Marketing, or carry out a Business Enterprise Simulation.
Students following the STEM option study Pre-Calculus, Basic Calculus, General Physics, General Chemistry, General Biology, and undertake a Research/Capstone Project.
Aside from the academic focus, students at the school also participate in international competitions such as the MaRRS Spelling Bee and the World Scholars’ Cup. Students also participate in IBT (International Benchmark Test of Australia) tests for English, Math, and Science as well as the TIMMS and PISA tests mandated by ADEK.
What about the facilities?
Little information is provided by the school on its less than informative website about facilities. Based on the TAMM website, the school is said to have an outdoor sports pitch, school gymnasium and swimming pool.
Specialist teaching facilities include Science laboratories, an Art room, music room, auditorium, drama room, and library.
According to the most recent ADEK inspection report, the outdoor environment does not facilitate the learning of young children and there is limited availability for the teaching of some aspects of PE. Recreational facilities are limited.
Inspections of Philippine Emirates School have had a chequered history. The school did achieve an Acceptable rating in the 2016-17 inspection round, although concerns were expressed at that time about curriculum failings in regard to the provision of Arabic and the licensing of teaching staff.
The 2018-19 inspection rated the school as Weak, driven fundamentally by the lack of improvement in these two specific areas. In fact, a notice of concern has been issued by ADEK because statutory requirements are not being met. The school is not compliant with the MoE curriculum for Arabic, so that students do not learn the subject at an age-appropriate level And these are not the only areas of concern.
In a very blunt assessment of the issues, the inspection report notes that:
"Overall, the school is weak. Governors and school leaders have not ensured that the school is compliant with regulations about the licensing of staff and the curriculum standards for Arabic. School improvement documents do not identify quantifiable measures to enable leaders to monitor school performance. There has been no improvement in the quality of teaching nor in the rate of progress students make, since the previous inspection. New middle leaders have been appointed but as yet are unclear about their responsibilities. Arabic has declined to very weak and Islamic education to weak."
As always, we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com recommend that parents and prospective parents and students read the entire Inspection report. Often, the overall rating is not a full reflection of how a school and its students are performing. That is most certainly the case with Philippine Emirates Private School, though there are clearly significant and mandatory statutory issues that need to be addressed. However, these may not be as important to parents as they are to the Regulator.
In fact, if we examine the six key performances measures that form the basis of the inspection, the school was rated Acceptable for Students' Achievement, Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum. It was rated Good for Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills.
However, the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students was rated Weak, with the report stating that "policies and procedures for the welfare and safeguarding of students are in place and understood, but a fifth of the staff are unlicensed and this poses a safeguarding concern. As a result, this standard has declined since the last inspection."
In addition, inspectors rated Leadership and Management Weak, stating that "The school remains non-compliant with key regulations, as it was at the last inspection. Governors have insufficient knowledge of the school’s performance. School improvement documents are not sufficiently precise nor do leaders review their progress against targets."
In terms of Teaching and Assessment, most teachers, other than in Arabic and Islamic Education, were found to have sound subject knowledge and pedagogy, though the effectiveness of classroom management and the pace of learning are inconsistent. "Few teachers use assessment in lessons to make adaptations to meet the needs of students. Assessment is not sufficiently systematic or thorough, across the school, for teachers to check the progress students make."
However, despite the negative comments, inspectors found the strengths of the school to be:
The list of improvements required of the school were lengthy and details. The school must focus on:
If you would like to read the full inspection report for PEPS, and we strongly recommend that you do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings (the positives as well as the negatives), you will find it here.
Unfortunately, ADEK does not have any formal process for providing parent, student or teacher feedback. Clearly the latter is a concern, given the very high staff turnover which, at 39%, is double the UAE average in international schools of 20-22% per year.
The inspection report states that "Parents are involved in the life of the school and support various events. Communication is effective and parents receive regular reports about their child’s learning and progress."
If you are a parent, student or teacher at PEPS and would like to share your experience with other potential members of your community, please complete our survey here.
What about the Fees?
As would be expected, fees at PEPS are on the low end of the scale, starting at AED 6,000 per year in KG and rising to AED 15,000 in Grade 11. Fees for Grade 12, which is open according to the 2018-19 inspection report, are not available on the school's website.
However, having said that fees are relatively low, it should be noted that they are the highest among the three Philippine curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi, with the other two schools, The Philippine School and Philippine Global School, both rated more highly by ADEK.
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