Now in its eleventh 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 which also offers the IB curriculum. RWA prides itself on its "diverse cultural base of students and teachers representing over 85 different nationalities." 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 ago, 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?
Unfortunately, RWA does not publish details of its IB Diploma results for the entire cohort - something we would very much encourage it to do. However, 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.
In 2018, RWA provided very little information about the IB results which were published just after the start of the Summer break. However, we do know that the average point score was 32 points - above the 2018 global average of 29.78, and the UAE average of 31.41 - but did not receive details of the overall pass rate or student numbers.
This is a pity, since it is difficult to get a sense of how successful the IBDP programme at RWA is without a better understanding of these two key factors. 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 2019, RWA did provide further 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.
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. Whilst 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 is 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 - is performing even more strongly in KG, PYP and DP where it is now rated Outstanding. Only Secondary remains at Very Good, whilst adaptation of the curriculum to meet individual and group needs is rated Very Good across the school.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills - rated Outstanding a year ago - have 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 is also now 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 are 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.
The 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 believe their children are happy and feel safe at school. Parents are 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, are optimistic and are able to persevere with tasks. All students think that they have some connection with adults at the school and indicate that they have a high level of engagement with their school work.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from the Survey has been limited and responses are mixed. Well over two thirds feel that their children enjoy going to school and the majority are satisfied or partially satisfied with the academic performance of the school. Concerns exist in relationship to feedback and discipline according to our respondents. A little over half would recommend RWA to other parents (below the UAE average) and parents are not convinced that the fees represent value for money.
If you are a parent, teacher, or student at Raffles World Academy, please share your experience with other readers by completing our survey here.
In our opinion, Raffles World Academy has come a long way in the past two 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.
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