Now in its twelfth year of operation Umm Suqeim 3 located Raffles World Academy is home to approximately 1,720 boys and girls studying the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Course and Diploma Programmes (DP). The school moved to a full IB World school from 2018-19 with IGCSE having been halted at the end of 2017-18.
The Story so Far
Raffles World Academy was established in 2008 and is a sister school to Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills and the newer Dubai International Academy Al Barsha both of which also offer the IB curriculum.
RWA prides itself on its "diverse cultural base of students and teachers representing over 85 different nationalities."
It is clear from feedback to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey, that RWA is an extremely popular school, with a substantial 150+ parents having provided their views to us.
Among the most recent comments are the following, which are reflective of the views of many:
"The school managed the situation in the last year and half in an excellent way! The most important thing was that the school remained open during the whole period, there was no panic, enough information to the parents. I am extremely happy with the experience of my child."
"A textbook all Inclusive school and that is great!"
"The school curriculum is great and so is the quality of the teachers. This is a « happy » school and gives confidence to my child as it considers the needs of each student."
Statistics from the KHDA inspection report indicate that the largest student nationality group is Indian, whilst the majority of the 161 teachers and 16 teaching assistants are from the UK and Ireland. A teacher:student ratio of 1:11 enables the school to provide individualised support to students. Staff turnover, at 16%, is below the average for Dubai, and has reduced considerably from 21% a year earlier, although in general, schools aspire to manage this to a lower level.
Find out more about the school from our Experience visit report here
Reflective of its very welcoming and international culture, RWA has some 120 Emirati students on its roll and approximately 130 students of Determination.
What about the curriculum?
The school originally followed both the IB and UK curricula, but this changed from September 2018. Students in KG2 through to Grade 5 currently follow the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), those from Grades 6 to 10 now follow Middle Years Programme of the IB. Students in Grades 11 and 12 follow either the Diploma Programme (DP) or IB Courses programmes.
Historically, a number of predominantly IB schools offered the combination of Cambridge Secondary and IGCSE due to a lack of public examinations at age 16. Results from these examinations are often considered as part of the university application process, particularly in the UK. However, the introduction of the MYP Certificate at the end of Grade 10, which examines English, Mathematics and Science, has led schools to reconsider their position in relation for the need for the IGCSE. In addition, the rapidly growing credibility of the IB Diploma programme globally, has meant that the need for "back up" qualifications is no longer widely felt to be a requirement.
One of the particularly interesting features of RWA, driven by its wide range of nationalities, is its language programme - particularly for native speakers. In addition to French and Spanish, German, Russian, Hindi and Italian are also offered as mother-tongue languages. Non-native speakers study either French or Spanish from Primary school starting with two lessons per week. IBDP students may learn Spanish, French, Arabic or Mandarin ab initio or continue with Spanish, French or Arabic.
RWA also offers a wide range of both teacher-led and externally offered (paid) co-curricular activities. These include a wide range of sports including Kung Fu and Volleyball as well as the usual swimming, football, tennis, and ballet and dance. Teacher led activities include a range of sports, creative, and academic, from Art to Yoga and a host in between. Indicative options can be found here.
What about Academic results?
RWA has joined those schools who do, for the most part, publish details of their IB Diploma results- something we would very much encourage all schools do.
In common with all UAE schools, no examinations took place in 2021 for the second year as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Instead, results were based on Centre Assessed Grades (teachers' predicted grades) and assessments based on assignments marked by IB Examiners.
In 2021, 55 students were awarded the Diploma - a 100% pass rate - with 81.8% achieving 30 points or more, 54.6% achieving 35+ points and 27.3% being awarded 40+ points. The average points score for the cohort was 35.1.
This compares with 91 students who participated in the IB Diploma in 2020. The school did not reveal the pass rate, but advised that 87% of those who did pass achieved 30+ points, 40% achieved 35+ points and 8% achieved 40+ points. The overall average point score was 34 points.
It is very evident that not only has the number of students who participated in the IBDP reduced in 2021, but results are decidedly better in terms of awards of above 35 and 40 points.
Hence a word of warning: there is general evidence of grade inflation - the global IB average score was raised from 31.34 in 2020 to 32.99 points in 2021, a further significant leap from the figure of 29.62 in 2019, when students last took the IB examinations. This appears to be more marked in the UAE, where the average has grown from 2019, when it was 32.26, and 2020 when it was 34.41, to 35.89 in 2021.
We would anticipate that there will be a correction in 2022 when students are expected to sit exams in the usual way. Accordingly, we would strongly encourage families considering results as a factor in their decision about their choice of school, to look at the history over the previous years where possible.
In 2019, RWA provided detailed information about its students' IB achievements. 42 students sat the IB Diploma examinations, whilst 12 participated in the IB Courses programme. Students across both programmes achieved a 100% pass rate - a considerable improvement on last year's achievement - with the average point score for DP students being 33, compared with 31 in 2018.
The highest score for an individual student was 42 points - two points higher than last year's high of 40. Also positively, the percentage of students achieving 40+ points was 7% (3) compared with 4% in 2018, students scoring 36+ points rose to 31% (13) this year from 16% a year ago, and 79% of students (33) achieved 30+ points compared with 62% in 2018. RWA should be very satisfied with the progress its students are clearly making as their IB experience grows.
In 2018, the average point score was 32 points - above the 2018 global average of 29.78, and the UAE average of 31.41. RWA informed us that the cohort achieved an 89% pass rate, that over 90% of 55 students exceeded the world average and 25% of Diploma Programme students attained 35+ points. The top Emirati student at Raffles World Academy attained a total of 38 points and took up a place at Kings College, London, to study Economics. 20 students participated in the IB Courses programme, a narrower version of the IB Diploma.
In 2017, six students achieved over 40 points, included the highest score of 43 points. The global average was 29.9 points, with top-scoring Dubai schools such as Jumeirah English Speaking School Arabian Ranches and Repton School Dubai averaging 34 points.
The last group of IGCSE students took their examinations in June 2018.
You may find the schools accreditation on its IB programmes here.
What about facilities:
Based around the traditional square design of buildings in Singapore, home of the original Raffles brand, RWA is made up of two adjoining buildings set around two very large covered internal courtyards. The design matches that of its sister Raffles International School. Facilities for the youngest students are separated on the ground floor to the side of the main buildings with their own outdoor play areas.
Facilities are Raffles World Academy are good, and include well equipped classrooms equipped with the latest instructional audio-facilities (LCD projector/visualiser/sound system, Tutorial Rooms, a networked Library, a Theatre, art rooms, a dance studio, music rooms, science and computer labs.
The school has ample space, covering 30,000 square metres in total with space for a soccer field, swimming pool, sports hall, basketball and tennis courts and badminton courts.
The school also offers a cafeteria that caters to the needs of the diverse nationalities.
What the inspectors say:
After 6 years of a Good rating, Raffles World Academy last year achieved the step up to a rating of Very Good in the 2017-18 Inspection round. This is the second highest rating available from the Dubai Schools Regulator and places RWA alongside its longer established sister IB school, Dubai International Academy, for the first time. At the same time, Raffles International School, offering the UK curriculum, also achieved the Very Good rating. Given that the inspectors themselves state that the inspection process has become more demanding over time, this is a very positive step for RWA.
In the 2018-19 inspection round, RWA solidified the Very Good rating. In September 2019, the KHDA announced that inspections would no longer take place on an annual basis for schools rated Very Good or Outstanding. Instead, a one day review visit would take place, for which no new report would be issued. However, in common with all UAE schools, RWA did participate in a Distance Learning Evaluation following the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. The school achieved a Developed rating - the highest of three possible outcomes. The report can be read here.
In respect of the 2018-19 inspection report, there were no significant improvements to Students' Achievement, where ratings remained largely the same, with English, Maths and Science rated almost entirely Very Good. All ratings for Islamic education, and Arabic as a first and second language retained their Good rating - a real achievement for an international school, where these subjects are often the significantly weaker. Attainment in KG Science moved up to Very Good, although it fell to Good in the post-16 phase.
Inspectors commented that "attainment and progress are good or better in all subjects across the school. Students' attainment in the IGCSE English Language and Chemistry and in the IBDP English Language A and Literature at both levels, English Literature Standard Level and DP Biology Higher Level was outstanding in the last (2018) external examinations."
Where Student Achievement was a strength, Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum Design, Implementation and Adaptation are usually equally strong since each is so entirely inter-dependent. Teaching and Assessment is now rated Very Good across the board with upgrades in both PYP and Secondary for Assessment. The Curriculum - and particularly its design and implementation - was performing even more strongly in KG, PYP and DP where it was rated Outstanding. Only Secondary remained at Very Good, whilst adaptation of the curriculum to meet individual and group needs was rated Very Good across the school.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills - rated Outstanding a year earlier - achieved the same rating in 2018-19. Inspectors commented that "students' personal and social development, their understanding of Islamic values, Emirati and World Cultures and their participation in community services and implementation of innovative ideas is outstanding in all phases and a feature of the school."
The protection, care, guidance and support of students was also rated Outstanding across all measures across the school. Inspectors noted that "this is an inclusive school that identifies and supports students of determination as well as those with gifts and talents. Counselling services have been further developed to provide improved support for all students."
Unsurprisingly, most measures for Leadership and Management were rated either Outstanding or Very Good. Inspectors found that "the school's leaders and governors have a passionate vision and direction for the school. There is a focus on student well-being and the development of positive relationships between all stakeholders, resulting in an atmosphere of inclusion and care that pervades the school."
Inspectors described the strengths of Raffles World Academy as:
In terms of areas of improvement, the inspection team recommended that the school:
The next challenge for the school will be to see if it can find the elusive formula for improvement that raises its performance to Outstanding. It would seem that the inspection team is firmly placing the emphasis on teaching and assessment practices to drive the further improvement needed, but at the same time, the trick will be for RWA to continue to manage the outstanding aspects already achieved.
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so - you may find it here.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from the Survey has revealed a high number of positive responses with an overall rating of 4/5, a positivity rating of 80%.
Children have a strong sense of belonging and enjoy going to school. Over three-quarters of parents are satisfied with the academic performance of the school, with only a small minority of 4% being dissatisfied. Despite this positive feedback, close to 3 in 10 parents believe their child/ren require addition tuition outside school.
Feedback and discipline are also highly regarded, and a resounding 85% of parents would whole-heartedly recommend RWA to other parents, although just over a quarter of parents had considered moving their child to another school at some stage.
One reason for this might well be the response to our statement about fees representing good value for money. Whilst a third of respondents agreed that they did, 61% felt that they were only partially good value, and 6% disagreed entirely with our statement. This is not an unusual niggle among parents, but those who agreed with the statement were well below the UAE average of 49%.
If you are a parent, teacher, or student at Raffles World Academy, please share your experience with other readers by completing our survey here.
The 2018-19 KHDA pre-inspection survey was completed by a significant 499 parents. 98% stated that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by RWA. They believed their children are happy and feel safe at school. Parents were positive about their children's well-being.
Just over 200 students completed the KHDA's well-being census in 2017. Most students stated that they were happy at school, were optimistic and were able to persevere with tasks. All students thought that they had some connection with adults at the school and indicated that they had a high level of engagement with their school work.
In our opinion, Raffles World Academy has come a long way in the past few years. Previously, it was always somehow the 'poorer sister' of Dubai International Academy - the first IB World School in the city. Now, both schools are rated equally by the KHDA, and clearly highly rated by parents.
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com are interested to see how RWA develops further - it certainly seems to be on an upward trajectory.
What about fees?
There is a sharp differential between KG fees and Year 12 fees at Raffles World Academy, so parents who may be able to afford early years education at the school should seriously assess whether they believe they will be able to keep their children at the school for their full school career. Fees start at AED30,384 and rise to AED 77,562 by Grade 12.
The school says it accepts students from any nationality and from any curriculum "able to demonstrate that they have the ability to successfully access the IB curriculum and who will contribute in a positive way to our school".
Students are assessed based on the grade of entry. The school charges an Assessment fee of AED 1,000 and a Registration fee of AED 5,000 for KG1 and AED 6,000 for other grades. This is refundable against the first semester tuition fees. There is also an annual re-registration fee of 10% of the tuition fees which then deducted from the first semester fees.
Raffles World Academy 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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