A popular, established and successful school Raha, recently rated Outstanding in its latest ADEC report. Its ambitious new Principal has what he terms ‘a rather long to-do’ list’. With its broad mix of nationalities across the pupils and staff, Raha has a ‘new world’ feel in an environment designed with a semblance to a traditional Arabic village.
The Story so Far
Raha International School is a very popular IB school in Abu Dhabi having now passed its tenth year of operation. It is located in the suburb of Khalifa City A in the heart of the Raha Gardens area – a popular residential area for all nationalities and close to the Etihad Head office and airport. The school will cater for over 2000 students in the coming 2017/2018 academic year.
Designed with the style of an Arabic village in mind, the sand-coloured and double and three-storey classroom buildings surround several large piazzas with wide shaded pathways linking the campus. There are a lot of well-established palm trees and shrubs which help create an authentic garden feeling. There are a large number of open spaces and play areas.
The school has been divided into 3 sections, three separate EY1, EY2 and Grade 1 buildings located at one side of the campus (incorporating a new sports hall topped with a tennis court on the roof).
There is one full size football pitch, two tennis courts, three well equipped gymnasiums, ICT labs, one 25-meter swimming pool and one beginners’ pool and two main libraries. The canteen boasts both indoor and outdoor seating, with new misting fans being installed outside for the warmer months. The classrooms are well equipped with computers and interactive whiteboards as well as appropriate specialist equipment. The class sizes are 24 children in EY 1 and 2 with 7 classes in each grade. G1 to G10 have a maximum of 26 per class with 6 classes across each grade. G11 and G12 have around 22 per class, although this number varies between courses.
The pupils are from a wide variety of nationalities, 82 in total. Some 15% of students are Emirati, 15% ex-pat Arab and the remainder predominantly Western nationals.
Primary students wear white shirts/polos with a skort for the girls or trousers for both. Secondary students wear a white blouse for the girls and shirt for the boys with green trousers. All students have the option of wearing a green hoodie or sweater. Diploma Programme students wear white shirts, black trousers and have the option of a black hoodie or sweater.
The nationality of the teaching staff also varies, coming from the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia and the UAE. Staff turnover is low at approx. 12%. The broad mix of staff and students, our guide suggested, gives the school ‘a new world feel’.
Sport, the Arts and Music are seen as integral to the whole education of the children and there is evidence of creativity around the campus. The school has chosen to follow the IB curriculum as they are convinced that this is the most successful foundation for young people, many of whom go on to university. The new Principal, Mr. Iain Colledge, also strongly supports this view.
What about Student Achievement?
Raha International is one of the few Abu Dhabi-based schools to offer the full range of International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) in Elementary, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Middle School and the Diploma Programme (IBDP) in High School. Seen by many as the "Gold Standard" for university entry, the IBDP has become increasingly highly regarded by the leading Russell and Ivy League universities. Find out more about the IB Diploma programme here.
Some 86 students made up the cohort of students who took the Diploma programme examination in 2017-18 and achieved an average point score of 32.1, above the UAE average score of 31.41. The global average score for IB students worldwide was 29.78 (down slightly from just under 29.9 points in 2017). Any school that achieves above this average is doing very well indeed. The highest award achieved was 44 points - just one off the perfect 45 points available. This high-achiever will be heading to the prestigious university at Stamford in the USA.
In recent years, one student was awarded a full scholarship to US Ivy League Dartmouth College and in 2017 another was accepted to Oxford in the UK to read experimental psychology.
As there are students joining Raha from around the world, the school provides an ‘English as an Additional Language’ (EAL) programme to support students in the English language. This programme comes at no additional cost, unless an Inclusion Assistant is required.
The SEN department, which includes a team of 16 specialist staff, is seen as an important one, as many children need fast-tracking in their English to attain a good understanding or require support because of specific additional learning needs. The school also employs a Full-time Counsellor in the Primary school and in the Secondary school who support students with Social, Emotional and Behavioural counselling. An additional Counsellor in the Secondary school provides Career/University application guidance to our older students. Deputy Heads and Assistant Heads of school address any disciplinary issues.
What do the Inspectors Say?
Overall, Raha International School was found to be an Outstanding school, a step up from the previous rating of Very Good that the school received at the last ADEC inspection.
One of the strengths of the school is student attainment. As the report notes, "standards of achievement in most subjects are very good or outstanding and compare very well to those in other schools following the same curriculum internationally. It is only in Islamic education and UAE social studies that attainment overall does not rise above acceptable." This is extremely impressive when considering that "well over 50% of children entering the Early Years (EY) programme speak EAL."
Students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills is also ranked as Outstanding across the board. As the report notes, "in all sections of the school, students display outstanding social and personal skills. The requirements of the curriculum ensure students take responsibility for their learning. They quickly realise that making mistakes and taking intellectual risks are a necessary part of learning and as a result, students are positive, responsible and confident."
Teaching for effective learning and the effectiveness of leadership are also rated as Outstanding. As the report notes, "Teachers’ knowledge of their subjects and how students learn is exemplary. Teachers expertly apply their knowledge particularly skilfully in science, English, music, art and design and technology. This has a very positive impact on learning and is reflected in students’ outstanding progress."
The strength of leadership and management are clearly intertwined with the success of the school. As the report notes, "this is a school that has been well led and managed over a number of years. The school articulates a clear vision for its students and this influences every aspect of its activity."
The school has a communicator app for parents to keep up-to-date with school activities and there are school buses serving the community with children from EY1 to G12 are allowed to use them. It is difficult to see how Raha International can grow much larger, given the constraints of the site, but there is no doubt that parents will be disappointed if it does not do so. The school is serving its very large and diverse community, and would appear to be doing so very well.
Fees are payable in three installments: Semester 1 in August, Semester 2 in December and Semester 3 in March. Materials are included in tuition fees for EY 1 up to Grade 10. Diploma textbooks for Grade 11 and 12 should be purchased for each course.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information