Now in its fifteenth year of operation Umm Suqeim 3 located Raffles World Academy is home to approximately 1,827 boys and girls studying the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Career-related and Diploma Programmes (DP).
Raffles World Academy was established in 2008 and is a sister school to UK curriculum Raffles International School, and IB curriculum Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, the newer Dubai International Academy Al Barsha and Collegiate International School. RWA offers places from pre-KG to Grade 12.
RWA prides itself on its "diverse cultural base of students and teachers representing over 86 different nationalities."
It is clear from feedback to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey, that RWA is an extremely popular school, with a substantial 300+ parents having provided their views to us.
Among the most recent comments are the following, which are reflective of the views of many:
"The vibes in school are very positive, comfortable and motivating. The school management is very well reachable to guide and resolves issues - if any. We get full support with a positive happy attitude from all teachers and staff. Good blending of activities and academics. We feel a good connection with the school."
"It’s a fantastic school with holistic approach to child’s development. The teaching staff and facilities are extremely good. My child is happy and excited to go to school every day."
The team of teachers and management are amazing, also they are easily approachable. The progress checks of students are periodically communicated to us. And our kids are motivated to achieve further."
"The leadership team values and ethos are seamlessly cascaded throughout the school. All teachers are aligned and have the same approach. Teachers are obviously happy, staff retention is high, so the kids feel like they have a safe secure place in which they can grow."
The school is led by Mr. Timothy Roberts, who joined RWA in 2016 and has clearly been highly influential, with his leadership and support of the governors, in driving improvement in the school's overall performance, which was reflected in its KHDA rating in 2017-18, when it was awarded its first Very Good rating.
The school has repeated this feat, with ever improving ratings, for the fourth time in 2022-23. As is so often the case, the overall rating does not tell the whole story. You can read further details here.
Statistics from the KHDA inspection report indicate that the largest student nationality group among the 1,827 students is Indian (some 25%), whilst the majority of the 225 teachers, teaching assistants and learning support staff are from Ireland and the UK, with additional staff from South Africa and India. All teachers are required to have a minimum of two years experience, together with experience of the IB curriculum.
A teacher:student ratio of 1:11 enables the school to provide individualised support to students. Staff turnover, at 14%, is well below the average for Dubai.
Find out more about the school from our Experience visit report here
Reflective of its very welcoming and international culture, RWA has some 88 Emirati students on its roll and approximately 120 students of determination.
With an average of 140 students per grade, and an average of six classes, the average class size is 23 students, with a maximum of 25.
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 the Middle Years Programme of the IB. Students in Grades 11 and 12 follow either the Diploma Programme (DP) or IB Career-related Programme.
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 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.
Current plans to expand the subject offerings within the school include the introduction of Product Design at the MYP and future plans for the introduction of Design Technology also. Although the school has no specific academic focus - it aims to offer an all-round and inclusive education - RWA cites its Drama Department as a particular strength.
The introduction of the new courses at MYP and the development of Drama are among the key areas of focus for the next academic year.
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.
Students are introduced to technology by their class teachers initially, and from Grade 2, there is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. The school's homework policy is flexible and needs-based. Homework gradually increases until students at post-16 have developed independent learning skills and are able to manage their time demands and workload.
RWA also offers a comprehensive range of both teacher-led and externally offered (paid) co-curricular activities. These include a wide range of sports including Kung Fu (through an external provider) and Volleyball, as well as the usual swimming, football, and tennis; performing arts including music, drama, ballet and dance, and chess. 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.
RWA prides itself on its inclusive offering which includes a variety of learning pathways.
All students applying for Grade 2 and above sit CAT4 tests as part of the admission process. Should scores from these tests not be in the expected range, the admissions staff contact the Head of Inclusion regarding these new applicants.
The admissions department collates data from previous school reports for all students from KG1 to Grade 12 and this information is also provided to the Head of Inclusion, as required. In addition, the admissions team is familiar with the identification procedures followed for students experiencing SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and decides whether the application needs to be passed onto the Head of Inclusion for further assessment. Once assessed, the Head of Inclusion liaises with the Head of Section and/or the Principal to make the final decision as to whether the school can support the student's needs. Should a student require additional assistance, the Inclusion Support Department puts in place the appropriate support.
The English as an Additional Language (EAL) programme is available for students who are in need of English language support in the Primary School and is provided via pull-out or in-class support sessions.
In the Secondary School, students having English as an additional language join the curriculum English Language Acquisition lessons, wherein they are able to work on their English language skills within the Middle Years Programme (MYP) setting. As RWA is an IB continuum school, all staff members are language teachers and trained to cater to a diverse student population.
Students identified with Gifts and Talents (G&T) who have an outstanding ability in one or more areas of intelligence, creativity, academic achievement or special talents and abilities (such as the performing arts or in a leadership capacity), once identified, receive support from individual teachers. This may range from challenging learning objectives, independent research opportunities, and flexible grouping, etc. within the main classrooms.
Students may be assigned individual projects and studies or attend lectures, debates, educational seminars, or participate in educational competitions, providing them with a variety of programmes to solve problems, build leadership, communication and computer skills, and other such enrichment programmes.
The Inclusion Support Team also coordinates and develops resources for the Enrichment Club in the Primary School. This is run as a co-curricular activity (CCA) for Grades 1 to 5. In the Secondary School, Highly Able students in each grade are mentored by various members of staff. The Head of Inclusion coordinates this mentorship programme.
The DSIB inspection team awarded the provision and support for Students of determination a Very Good rating in the 2022-23 inspection. They were fulsome in their praise of the support provided, commenting that:
"An ethos of inclusion pervades the school. Inclusion leaders monitor, review and revise the school’s inclusion policy and improvement plan. Their perceptive reviews ensure that the plans are effective and that the progress of students of determination is assured".
At the time of the inspection, RWA had registered approximately 165 students of determination, with a further 430 English Language Learners and some 130 students with Gifts and Talents. These numbers alone should prove just how genuinely inclusive a school RWA is.
Whilst there is no additional fee for provision of SEN, EAL or G&T support, in the event that a child requires a full-time learning support assistant, parents are responsible for sourcing this resource and for their costs.
RWA students participate in a range of bench-marking tests including PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS, GL and NGRT. MYP students also take the MYP e-assessments. For students considering universities in the United States in particular, High School students can also access SAT. RWA confirmed to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that its students consistently perform above the UAE average in these tests.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is delighted to see that RWA has joined those schools who publish details of their IB Diploma results- something we would very much encourage all schools do.
In 2022, when students returned to full examinations following the Covid 19 pandemic, 54 students were entered for the IBDP of whom 51 passed with an average score of 33 points (a 94% pass rate). Five candidates (or 9.26%) achieved over 40 points, whilst 17 achieved 35+ points and 39 (72.22%) were awarded over 30 points. The highest point score achieved was 43.
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 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.
As a result of the process of results allocation during the pandemic period, there was 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.
In 2019, pre-Covid and the period that IBO now wishes results to be compared to, 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.
Students seeking access to university and further education options are supported by two counsellors who begin to offer support at the end of MYP. RWA hosts numerous university fairs to enable students to find out about a wide range of options.
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 addition of a multi-purpose hall which converts from a 600 seater auditorium to a full size gymnasium with a basket ball court enables students to excel in both arts and sport.
The school also offers a cafeteria that caters to the needs of the diverse nationalities.
After 6 years of a Good rating, Raffles World Academy 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 UK curriculum school, Raffles International School.
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. RWA consolidated the Very Good rating in the first new post-Covid inspection which took place in October 2022.
The new inspection report showed improvements in a range of performance indicators, with 10 of these upratings to Outstanding and one to Very Good. In fact, all but two measures in the KG section are rated Outstanding. The PYP section is rated Outstanding for both attainment and progress in Science. Across the school in terms of Student Achievement for English, maths and science, all but one rating (maths attainment in the DP section) are rated either Very Good or Outstanding.
Commenting on student outcomes, the inspection team noted that "Progress by children in Kindergarten (KG) is outstanding because they are highly motivated and eager to learn. In the other phases, students make better than expected progress in lessons and in internal and external examinations. Progress is stronger in science, where the development of scientific investigative skills underpins students’ performance".
RWA also impresses in terms of Arabic and Islamic Education, where all measures are rated Good - a rarity in international curriculum schools with a diverse nationality base.
Clearly, the two further key performance standards that are vital to Student Achievement also impressed the inspection team. Teaching and Assessment is now rated Outstanding in the KG section and Very Good across the rest of the school. The Curriculum is rated Outstanding for Curriculum Design and Implementation in all sections other than MYP, whilst Curriculum Adaptation remains Very Good in PYP, MYP and DP sections and Outstanding in KG.
Inspectors were particularly fulsome in the praise of the KG section, noting that "The quality of teaching is outstanding in KG, where the learning environments are vibrant, imaginative and stimulate children’s interest".
Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, together with the protection, care, guidance and support of students, retained their Outstanding ratings. Inspectors noted that "Students’ personal development is an outstanding feature of the school. Students are kind, considerate and respectful of their teachers and of one another. They make positive contributions to the school and the community. Innovation skills, enterprise and independence re well developed throughout the school". Support for students of determination was deemed to be very good, whilst care and support across the school are Outstanding. Inspectors noted that the school has very robust systems for monitoring the health, welfare and wellbeing of all students.
The final key performance standard - Leadership and Management - also retained their mix of Very Good and Outstanding ratings. The inspectors commented that "The principal is highly dedicated and effective. Relationships are strong and morale is high. Partnerships with parents and the community are outstanding. The board offers exceptional support to the school".
The inspection team 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 in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you may find it here.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from the Survey has revealed a high number (over 300) of responses with an overall rating of 3.3/5, a positivity rating of 66%.
Children have a strong sense of belonging and enjoy going to school with over 90% either do so 'Quite a bit' or 'A tremendous amount'. Over three-quarters of parents (78%) are fully satisfied with the academic performance of the school, with only a small minority of 3% being dissatisfied. However, as with many parents, there is an increasing trend toward providing additional tuition outside school with over one in four parents (below the UAE average of 29%) sharing this view.
Just under half of families who joined RWA were sending their children to school for the first time, whilst a third had made the deliberate decision to move their child from another UAE school to RWA. 51% of parents believed that their child was receiving a better standard of education than would be received in their home country.
Feedback and discipline are also highly regarded with 78% indicating complete satisfaction with these elements of the school, and a resounding 87% of parents would whole-heartedly recommend RWA to other parents, whilst just 6% disagreed.
One reason for this might well be the response to our statement about fees representing good value for money. Whilst 38% of respondents agreed that they did, 55% felt that they were only partially good value, and 7% disagreed entirely with our statement. This is not an unusual niggle among parents, but those who agreed with the statement were below the UAE average of 51%.
If you are a parent, teacher, or student at Raffles World Academy, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
In the 2022-23 inspection process, DSIB inspectors evaluated a new performance standard - The quality of wellbeing provision and outcomes'. This was found to be at a very high level (the highest rating) at RWA.
The inspection report notes:
RWA operates three Wellbeing Committees - one each for students, staff, and parents. Numerous meetings are held each year to inculcate a sense of community, with the wellbeing of each person central to this. There is an active parents' association, for whom community-focused events are arranged, including Quiz Nights, BBQs, Lads and Dads events and many other opportunities for parents to engage with the school, other parents and their own children.
We asked Raffles World Academy what made the school special. They told us; "the community feel, the relationship with parents, the inclusive nature, and the "soul" of the school".
In our opinion, Raffles World Academy has come a long way in the past few years. Previously, it was always somehow seen as the 'poorer sister' of Dubai International Academy - the first IB World School in the city. Now, both schools are rated highly by the KHDA (Dubai International Academy has returned to Outstanding in the 2022-23 DSIB inspection round), and both are 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.
There is a sharp differential between KG fees and Grade 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 for their full school career. Fees start at AED 31,013 for pre-KG and KG1 and rise to AED 78,408 by Grade 12. There is an increase of roughly AED 8,000 per grade. For the 2023-24 academic year, fees will range from AED 31,943 to AED 80,760.
Whilst there are no discounts for KG students, there are a range of discounts from Grade 1 to Grade 12 which increase in scale as students move through the grades.
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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