RAK Academy Review

Set over four extensive campuses, RAKA boasts over 23 acres of grounds, experienced international teachers, top-notch facilities and sports teams feared by all those unlucky enough to compete against them. Even more astounding however, is that RAKA offers the IB Diploma programme for fees well below half of most in Dubai- with parents paying less than 40,000 AED per year!
Parents' Rating
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2.2 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
At a glance
School phase
All through
Availability 2019/20
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Availability 2020/21
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Annual fee average
AED 31,000
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1975
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Ross Hall
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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RAK Academy
School phase
All through
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2020/21
radio_button_unchecked No data
Annual fee average
AED 31,000
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1975
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Ross Hall
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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First Published:
Tuesday 24 October, 2017

Updated:
Wednesday 24 October, 2018

Set over four extensive campuses, RAKA boasts over 23 acres of grounds, experienced international teachers, top-notch facilities and sports teams feared by all those unlucky enough to compete against them. Even more astounding however, is that RAKA offers the IB Diploma programme for fees well below half of most in Dubai- with parents paying less than 40,000 AED per year!

“Our men and women have the best education. We need to get our young people more exposed to the world and to be armed with knowledge. They could be the vehicles of change that we aspire to. They become the leaders and entrepreneurs that are our best bet to success.” H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Patron of RAK Academy.

RAK Academy is not one, but two schools. The RAKA BC campus offers a British education for primary aged children, while the newer RAKA IB campus houses children from pre-KG through to Grade 12 and offers IGCSE, AS, A level and the IB Diploma.

Despite its size (now over 3,500 students) and popularity, the school(s) remains firmly focused upon the individual progress and happiness of each student and aims, through its unique mix of curricula, to provide learning opportunities and outcomes that meet their individual needs and aspirations. The school’s Principal states “In our relentless pursuit of excellence it is our constant aim: to include, to challenge and to promote the success of all our children at RAK Academy within a friendly and purposeful learning environment”.

In order to ensure that it is delivering academically and educationally in the broadest sense, RAK Academy has completed a comprehensive self-study and international peer review as part of a continuous improvement process under the auspices of the Council of International Schools. In December 2016, the school was awarded full membership of the Council.

 

New RAKA Schools
RAK Academy announced it would be opening two new schools in September 2018. The new locations, both in RAK (Al Rams and Al Hamra) come under the umbrella of RAK Academy and share the same vision as centers of Excellence in Learning at the Heart of the Community. 

Both schools have opened from ‘Pre K’ (UK Nursery) up to ‘Grade 2’ (UK Year 3), and, state on the website, “in subsequent years we foresee the schools accepting admissions up to Grade 5.”

Both new schools have now opened and facilities include; an auditorium, medical center with nurses and doctor’s room, music and technology suites, cafeteria, covered outdoor play areas and an indoor sports area.  Both schools also have internationally qualified teachers with appropriate specialist subjects and trained support staff as found in progressive international schools.

 

The RAKA Vision
RAK Academy has a clearly stated Vision - to be... "A centre of excellence in learning at the heart of the community", and Mission - "To create a culture of lifelong learning, to deliver a broad, balanced and challenging education that enables all learners to succeed, and to create a safe, stimulating and engaging learning environment".

RAK Academy students, as global citizens, are expected to show an open-minded interest in the world and to be respectful, tolerant and understanding of others. They should also be willing to embrace challenge, whilst taking responsibility to achieve their best and will strive to learn the skills and knowledge needed to excel as lifelong learners.

The administration of the school consists of an Executive Principal for the Academy, with each school having a Head of School, with two Deputy Heads. Each grade level has a Year Leader, plus Coordinators for each subject department.

 

The History
Today, RAK Academy is one of the oldest and certainly the largest international school in the Northern Emirates.  For most of the 16 years following its foundation, the total number of students in the school hovered around the 100 mark. However, as the school’s reputation grew and with the patronage of HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, so interest in the school grew from within the local Emirati population. RAK Academy is now made up effectively of 3 schools and  Emirati children make up 60% of the student body.

Growing from the original Primary School, the Secondary School opened in 1994 and the school enrolment as a whole began to grow at almost 20% per year. The Academy now consists of two neighbouring campuses: one offering a British-style curriculum (RAK Academy BC which opened in 2007) for Primary age students (3-11 years) and the other (RAK Academy IB, added in 2006) offering both the International Baccalaureate Primary Years curriculum (IBPYP) and a mixed Secondary curriculum based on the UK and the IB pre-university programmes (IGCSE,  AS/A Levels and IB Diploma). The requirements of the UAE Ministry of Education covering the teaching of Arabic and Islamic studies are also catered for in all areas of the school.

 

Facilities
These include 196 classrooms, 12 science laboratories, three libraries, a three-storey media centre, two theatres, two gymnasiums, two swimming pools, two grass soccer fields, four tennis courts and outside covered play areas, and three cafeterias. The two campuses cover over an astonishing 23 acres in total. There are extensive IT suites on both sites, including over 700 networked computers school-wide and Smart Board technology in most classrooms.

 

Staffing
Teaching staff are recruited mainly from the United Kingdom, although more than a dozen nationalities are represented on the teaching body. All teachers are appropriately certified in their professional area and the average length of stay of teaching staff at RAK Academy is four years.

Unfortunately, the Academy does not provide details of the rate of staff turnover, but based on the above information, this implies a turnover of approximately 25% per year – above average for the UAE. How much of this is due the location of the school and the attraction of more commercialised and perhaps stimulating environments, which might appeal to younger teachers in particular, is hard to gauge.

Although all schools are located in close proximity to each other and have a common Senior Management, each operates separately on a day to day basis. The British Curriculum Primary School (RAKA BC) takes girls and boys from Foundation Stage 1 through to Year Six. Facilities include a swimming pool, theatre, computer suites and library together with outdoor equipment and the sizeable outdoor grounds. The school believes in giving children a comprehensive, relevant and balanced learning experience. It aims to offer a supportive environment, where children are encouraged to learn, play, develop and are challenged to reach their full potential as well-rounded individuals.

Class sizes – a maximum of 25 - and a team of dedicated and approachable teachers ensure an excellent relationship between staff and pupils which combine to give the British Curriculum Primary School a distinctively caring and friendly character. Teaching and learning are based on a sound knowledge and understanding of the learning objectives of Key Stage One of the National Curriculum.

Within Key Stage 2, each class is of mixed-ability and of no more than 25 pupils, ensuring that all children are given individual attention, support and encouragement. Specialist teachers take classes in the subjects of ICT, Art, Music and P.E.  

 

RAKA IB
The opening of the Secondary School in 1994 ensured that families in Ras Al Khaimah had the opportunity to provide their children with a quality international education that would support their ambitions for university and beyond.  It is now a large and diverse community of learners, with students from 100 countries.  The school aims to guide and motivate every student to reach their full potential, both academically and non-academically. This is achieved through the provision of rich and stimulating teaching, a dynamic curriculum, excellent facilities for learning and a very wide range of extra-curricular opportunities.

There are between 6 and 8 classes per year level with a range of facilities which include 60+ classrooms, theatre and music rooms, gymnasium and sports facilities, two computer suites, a huge library and a campus wide wireless network. A further 7 new classrooms and a second cafeteria have been added to the top floor of the school to accommodate the growing enrolment. There is also a coffee shop onsite and a large car park situated at the front of the school.

In addition to class teachers and specialists, the PYP has one full-time Curriculum Coordinator, one full-time Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Coordinator, and a School Counsellor.

The PYP school encourages a range of after school activities including The Arts, Life Skills, Languages, Sports (including inter-school competitions – mainly against Sharjah English School, Australian International School and Ajman Academy) in Cross Country, Football, Swimming, Athletics and Boys’ Basketball), Academic and Indoor pursuits.

Students aged 11-14 years (years 7-9) follow a modified Key Stage 3 of the English National Curriculum. Subjects include Mathematics, English, Science, Arabic: Mother Tongue or Arabic as a Second Language, Islamic or Social Studies, French or English Advancement, Humanities, Physical Education, Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) and once quarterly, Art, ICT, DT and Music.

 

The RAKA BSO 2015 Inspection Report

In 2015, RAKA undertook a BSO inspection. The inspectors found overall, “After a period of turbulence, Ras Al Khaimah Academy (RAKA) is now providing a satisfactory education, underpinned by good pupil care. Overall, the quality of learning and teaching are satisfactory or better. Most pupils make progress in line with their ability: a few do better than that. The senior leadership team has a sound understanding of the strengths of the school and areas requiring improvement. Parents interviewed are happy with their choice of school. The curriculum is broad and balanced, enhanced by a range of extra-curricular activities. The board has moved from providing operational to more strategic support. They are beginning to hold the executive principal to account.”

 

The Curriculum
Inspectors found, "the curriculum is supported by policy documents and schemes of work which demonstrate how pupils of all ages are challenged and supported. There is evidence of planning for progression. Implementation enables pupils to acquire skills in speaking, listening, literacy and numeracy. The broad and balanced curriculum gives pupils experience in a wide range of areas of learning, including linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical, and aesthetic and creative education. The school is in the process of better aligning the PYP and English National Curriculum in the primary school in order to ease transition into Key Stage 3 in the secondary school. Nearly all teachers and most teaching assistants have a good knowledge of the learning, development and welfare requirements."

 

Teaching
"The overall quality of teaching and learning is satisfactory or better, with a few lessons unsatisfactory," said inspectors. "Teaching enables nearly all pupils to make satisfactory progress across the key stages according to their ability, thereby increasing their understanding and skill development in the subjects taught. Across the academy, most lessons encourage pupils to apply intellectual, physical or creative efforts and show an interest in their work and think for themselves. The quality of lesson planning and teaching is better in the primary sections. In the secondary school, planning is weekly rather than for the individual lesson. Overall, suitable activities are planned and delivered; class time is generally well managed. Most teachers across the academy have a sound understanding of the aptitudes, cultural background, learning needs of pupils including EAL learners and prior pupil attainment."

 

Leadership
Inspectors noted, "there is a very positive relationship between the executive headteacher and the board who ensure sufficiency of resources through robust financial management. The school runs well on a day-to-day basis. The executive principal is well supported by his senior leadership team. Through its recent self-evaluation, which takes into account the views of all major stakeholders, the senior leadership team is developing a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. There has been significant development of academy wide policies and procedures.

The chairman of the board, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, and all board members are of high standing and well regarded in the local community. The board oversee school policies and the strategic direction of the school. They do not interfere with the management of the school; there are clear lines of demarcation."

 

The Facilities
According to BSO inspectors, the quality of the premises and accommodation are Outstanding. "The academy buildings are purpose built and well maintained. Facilities include 196 classrooms, 12 science laboratories, three libraries, a three-storey media centre, two theatres, two gymnasiums, two swimming pools, two grass soccer fields, four tennis courts and outside covered play areas, and three cafeterias. The two campuses cover over 23 acres in total. There are extensive IT suites on both sites, including over 700 networked computers school-wide and Smart Board technology in most classrooms. Classrooms are arranged to facilitate highly effective teaching and learning. Furniture and fittings are appropriately designed for the age and needs of all children. The central areas, corridors and classrooms are bright and conducive to learning. This was more apparent in the primary sections and pockets of the secondary school."

 

Exam Results
In 2014/15, 46% of pupils achieved A to C grades at AS level compared to 37% in 2014. Eight of the 15 subjects studied demonstrated value-added. Only 7 pupils sat A2 examinations. From the 9 pupils following the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme, 8 achieved the diploma with an average point score of 30. The highest score was 39 points. The average grade was 4.93, compared to a UAE average of 5.05 and a world average of 4.99. Results were in line with or above expectations in all but one subject.

In the IGCSE, 44% of pupils gained 5 A* to C grades, including English and mathematics.

 

IGCSE Subjects Offered
RAKA offers; English as first language, English as second language, English literature, media studies, global leadership, Arabic first language, Arabic second language, French, biology, chemistry, physics, business studies, geography, physiology, history, art, graphic products, PE, music, ICT, computer science, Spanish.

 

IB Diploma Subject Choices
Subject choices include; English Literature, French, Spanish and Arabic, history, geography, business management, psychology, biology, chemistry,  physics, computer science, design technology, mathematics, mathematical Studies, visual arts, music.

 

University Destinations
RAK Academy students primarily leave for universities in the UK, US, Canada, UAE and Europe. These include; The University of Warwick, Loughborough University, University of Surrey and The University of Southampton, McGill (ranked number 1 in Canada), University of Washington, American University of Paris and The Sorbonne (Abu Dhabi).

 

Sports & PE
Sport is a HUGE part of life at all RAKA schools. RAK Academy is known across the Emirates for its ‘fierce,’ competition when it comes to inter-school tournaments and events. The school’s teams regularly participate and win in swimming, netball, basketball, football, athletics and cricket.

The PHSEBC Sports Academy offers the opportunity for RAK Academy students and children from outside RAK Academy to become members of one of the Sporting Academies. These aim to provide a pathway to success for individuals of all abilities, from beginners through to high performance athletes. Each Academy member has access to outstanding training facilities, highly qualified coaches and a dedicated support network to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed. Swimming, Football and Gymnastics Academies are offered in addition to Athletics, Cross Country, Basketball and Netball which form part of the school’s PE curriculum.

 

Afterschool Activities
The schools offer over 25 options with a total of 450 'spots,' for teacher-led activities, these include; Football and Netball, as well as Dance, Dodge Ball, Fitness & Body Combat, Swimming Training, u12 Football, u14 Football, Cricket, Volleyball, Table Tennis and Badminton. 

 

Post-16 Study at RAKA
The 120- strong post-16 year old Sixth Form cohort can choose either AS and A Levels with a minimum of 2 subjects or to follow the IB Diploma Programme. Students may choose from English, Psychology, Art, Music, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Studies, Computer Programming, Business, Geography, French, Arabic and Physical Education.
Providing students with the option of AS/A Levels or the IB Diploma programme ensures that the interests and abilities of a diverse range of students is catered for. Due to the inevitable additional costs associated with the provision of teachers and resources to support the delivery of two different curricula, RAK Academy is one of only a very small number of schools in the UAE to offer such a choice - something that Whichschooladvisor applauds.

In line with the school’s commitment to counselling and guidance to students in year 9 prior to the choice of GCSE and IGCSE subject decisions, the Secondary School also offers a structured Higher Education Programme, which all students follow. The Programme is based on the belief that students should receive comprehensive, clear, accurate and objective information about the full range of learning opportunities open to them, Impartial advice and guidance (with referral for specialist support in response to identified need) and continuous and managed support.

AS students are given the option of leaving the school after the completion of year 12 and entering university Foundation programmes in the UAE. A Level and IB students are expected to complete Sixth Form at the Academy and then to apply for university places internationally. The vast majority of students choose to continue their studies at university. Students attend universities in the UK and Europe, Australia, Canada, USA and the UAE taking undergraduate courses such as Sciences, Social Sciences, Art and Design, Architecture, Business, Medicine, Media and Engineering. Science and Engineering, Business, Management and Economics were the most popular choices in 2016.

 

The Numbers
While the website is not entirely clear if the fees apply to all RAKA schools or just the all-through RAKA IB, it states prices start at a very affordable 15,500 AED for Pre-K rising to 38,000 AED for grade 12. 

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