Hor Al Anz located Queen International School is a FS - Grade 12 school providing education in English for approximately 1,200 students, boys and girls aged three to 18 years. The majority of pupils are Arab nationals.
Queen International School (QIS) was established in 1998 and offers the UK National curriculum from FS1 to Grade 12.
The school's website states that its Vision is:
"to meet each child's needs educationally, emotionally, and socially. We envision a school where children are educated through a collaborative effort among parents, faculty, staff, students, and the community. Our school environment encourages children to take risks and become creative producers without fear of failure. Through cooperation and a unity of spirit, challenges become opportunities where achievements are recognized and celebrated".
Its mission statement says that
"Queen International School is committed to active, reflective, creative learning. We believe learning is maximized when it takes place in an environment enriched with support, encouragement and assistance. We celebrate the pursuit of lifelong learning and are committed to nurturing high self-esteem and respect for others. We believe that everyone can learn become better thinkers and independent learners. An integral part of our learning process will have our school community learning how to ask questions, solve problems and make thoughtful decisions".
The school has recently undergone two very significant changes. Firstly, after five years of receiving an Acceptable rating (the minimum requirement) from the KHDA's DSIB inspection teams, in 2016-17, QIS was able to achieve a Good rating - the target for all Dubai schools by the regulator. This rating was solidified in the 2017-18 inspection which took place in February 2018.
Secondly, some six weeks prior to the inspection, the school announced that a new Principal would be joining, replacing the previous Principal and Director, Ms. Malaka Abdul Moneim Khalil, who has retained her Director position. The new Principal, Ms. Lesley Davies, is an experienced UK curriculum Head, evidently brought in to the school to address one of the main concerns expressed by the inspection team - that of a lack of direct experience of the National Curriculum in England among the school's 70 teachers. For more details, read our What the Inspectors say section below.
The school has a relatively low teacher to student ratio with 1 teacher to 17 students, although concerns had been previously raised with regard to the number of students in Foundation classes. Staff turnover, at 18%, is slightly below average for international schools in general in Dubai, although turnover at Indian schools does tend to be lower.
What about the curriculum?
Queen International School follows the National Curriculum for England, preparing children for the London Board Examinations at IGCSE and GCE AS Level. The medium of instruction is English. In common with a number of UK curriculum schools educating predominantly Arab and Emirati children, it does not offer the usual final 13th Year/Grade, since many students will go on to local universities or colleges where AS level is treated as equivalent to the local High School leaving exams. The school offers IGCSE exams in Grade 11 and then AS examinations, but not full A' Levels (A2s).
QIS follows the Early Years Foundation Stage for beginners, the Cambridge Primary syllabus from Grade 1 to Grade 6, the Cambridge Lower Secondary Programme from Grade 7 to Grade 9, eventually preparing students for the IGCSE in Grades 10 and 11, and in Grade 12 GCE AS examinations from the University of Cambridge Examination Board.
The school does not provide a great deal of information about the subjects taught but does appear to have some focus on ICT, English, Science and Maths for which it organises focused Weeks. QIS states that "Information and Communication Technology is an essential part of the curriculum at the Queen International School from Grade 1 onwards. ICT is introduced as a tool to enrich students’ knowledge base, problem-solving and communication skills. Students are also exposed to a variety of other practical applications of ICT, including the Internet that is vital in today’s technology-oriented world. All the labs are equipped with multimedia tools that provide ample opportunities for students to acquire mastery in ICT skills. Videotapes, audio cassettes, multimedia projector, smart board, overhead projector, document camera and educational CD-ROM’s are available in a well-equipped multimedia centre".
The school also has both Biology and Chemistry laboratories which are used for practical sessions for IGCSE students. QIS describes the labs as spacious and offering modern and excellent equipment, where students are encouraged to use their analytical and creative skills through research and experimentation. Apart from the Middle and Secondary School, students of the Primary School also have regular laboratory sessions. This is aimed at offering younger students the opportunity to use their analytical and creative skills also.
Outside of the regular classroom subjects, the school offers a limited range of Extra-curricular clubs including ICT, Art, Environment, Literacy, Maths, Science and Sport. A complaint from parents and students noted in previous inspection reports was the lack of interesting extra-curricular activities and clubs.
What about academics?
Despite the fact that its students apparently perform extremely well at IGCSE (according to the KHDA), QIS does not publish its exam results. This is a great pity, since examinations are clearly an important measure for any school, and we, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, believe that parents should have access to such information, but also, if a school is performing well, it should be possible to recognise and celebrate this fact.
The DSIB inspection team from the KHDA had much that is positive to say about Queen International School. The team defined the strengths of the school as:
These achievements were reflected in the ratings given for Students' Achievement, where the vast majority of ratings were either Good or Very Good. With a strong contingent of Arabic speakers in the school, ratings for Islamic Education and Arabic as a first and second language were almost all entirely Good (let down by an Acceptable for post-16 attainment in Islamic Education), but counterbalanced by the very strong performance in Arabic as a first language, rated Very Good for both measures in Primary, and also Very Good for progress in Primary as a Second language.
Whilst English and Maths were broadly rated Good in Foundation, Primary and post-16, students' achievement was rated Very Good for both subjects in Secondary (although Maths had fallen from Outstanding in fact). There were no post-16 students studying English. The real highlight, though, was with regard to Science, which although rated only Acceptable in Foundation, was found to be Very Good across the remainder of the school and retained an Outstanding rating for Secondary attainment. Students' learning skills were found to be Good. The inspectors commented that "Students achieve consistently outstanding results in IGCSE examinations which is the trend of the previous three years. Students’ knowledge and understanding in key subjects are strong, but less so in scientific and mathematical literacy and skills development".
Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills were also well thought of by the inspection team. Personal development and the Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures were rated Very Good in Primary, Secondary and post-16, although Good in Foundation for Personal Development, but Outstanding for the second measure. Social responsibility and innovation skills were rated Good across the school. The inspectors found that "Students' personal and social development are very strong, especially their understanding and appreciation of the UAE heritage and culture. Innovation and entrepreneurship skill development and understanding of other world cultures are not as strong".
Whilst the quality of teaching for effective learning was described by inspectors as good across the school, they found that "there is a strong emphasis on the development of students’ knowledge and application. Teachers, in their lesson planning for individual student learning, use some assessment data, leading to most lessons being well planned. Learning technologies and other resources to support students’ learning are limited, restricting independent learning opportunities".
Where QIS is more challenged is in relation to both the curriculum design and implementation, and its adaptation to meet the needs of individual students. All measures were Acceptable. Inspectors reported that although the curriculum "is generally broad and balanced, [it] is not consistently adapted to meet the needs of all students. The school has not ensured all subjects are aligned to the chosen curriculum, rather than to the provided textbooks". Essentially, it seems that the resources used by the school are not aligned with the National Curriculum of England as it is now being taught. The inspectors recommendations focus on this specific concern.
Both the key performance areas of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and that of Leadership and Management are largely rated Acceptable. In relation to the first area, inspectors found that "smaller class numbers in the Foundation Stage have resulted in a safer learning environment. However, adult access into the Foundation Stage area is not fully controlled". Relationships between staff and students were found to be positive, but best practice in addressing and reducing bullying was not routinely used to ensure the well-being of students over time. Inspectors also found that students who were gifted and talented were encouraged to deepen their learning with projects for homework, but in class there were few opportunities for challenge. Inspectors noted that "students generally feel well supported and their physical needs are well monitored and promoted [but] staff resources to counsel students who may be experiencing difficulties are not adequate. Students who stay on into the secondary phase and beyond are advised effectively about future opportunities".
These concerns also impacted the Leadership and Management ratings. The inspection team determined that "the newly appointed principal is committed to the continuous development of the school. The roles and responsibilities of leadership team members are currently under review. The leaders work harmoniously, despite some role overlap. The new, although keen and committed, governing board members do not hold senior leaders to account. School leaders have not developed an improvement plan based on an accurate internal self-evaluation".
Inevitably, with a change of leadership that took place only weeks prior to the inspection, there were obvious gaps in the organisation and the plans for the school. It is to be expected that many of these will have been addressed by the time of the next inspection. Importantly, the inspection team noted that "the principal articulates a clear vision that focuses on improving the curriculum and assessment systems to fully align them with the National Curriculum in England. While the roles and responsibilities are not well distributed among leaders, all are committed to the improvement of the school and have quickly built a positive relationship with the new principal".
Clearly the school, its owners and governors have high expectation of the new Principal. The KHDA report suggests that the inspection team too expects much to be achieved. This is to be hoped for, since she certainly has a sizeable task to accomplish.
In terms of the key recommendations from the inspection, QIS should:
WhichSchoolAdvisor has not yet received sufficient feedback from parents in its survey to add additional comments here. We encourage parents with children at the school to complete the survey found here. Parents who returned the KHDA pre-inspection survey expressed satisfaction with the quality of education provided by the school. However, a few commented on the lack of access to the schools leaders, and insufficient student extra-curricular activities.
Tuition fees at Queen International are relatively affordable for a UK curriculum school, starting at AED 14,381 at FS and rising to AED 26,969 for Grade 12.
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