Reach British School is a co-educational school in Abu Dhabi for FS1 to Year 12. First opened in 2014, it has since grown rapidly to over 1,450 students aged 3-18, from over 60 different nationalities.
Reach British School (RBS) was founded in 2014 and was purchased by ISP, International Schools Partnership, in January 2016. ISP now has more than 45 schools in 12 countries which educate over 45,000 students. Other ISP schools in the UAE include Aspen Heights British School in Abu Dhabi, and The Aquila School and Nibras International School in Dubai.
Reach British School is a member of the British Schools of the Middle East, which ensures Reach is committed to continuous improvement against rigorous educational standards.
The school's mission is stated as follows:
“To help young people lay the foundations for life-long success. Our school delivers tried and tested educational programmes to prepare students for entry into the best international universities. Investing in children is the key to our success.”
Reach British School teaches from FS1 to Year 13 (aged 3 - 18 years) with Year 13, the final year group, having opened in September 2020. The school teaching is co-educational. Reach was one of the last schools to be permitted to offer a fully mixed environment by ADEK which now requires that students are separated by gender from Year 5 onwards.
The school currently has approximately 1,650 students, 51 percent of whom are Emirati, whilst Pakistani students represent 8%, Egyptians 7%, and Indian students 4%. 65 other nationalities are represented, including expat-Arab and Asian families and a small number of Europeans. There is a slightly higher percentage of male than female students at 55.5% male: 44.5% female. The capacity of the school is 2,100.
The number of classes, in common with most new schools, is heavily weighed towards the Early Years and Primary sections of the school with an average 6 per year group, whilst in the Secondary school, the number of classes ranges an average of three per year group in Years 7 to 10 and then one each in Years 11, 12 and 13.
RBS' Principal, Dene Bright, joined the school two years ago. There are some 104 native English-speaking teachers from the UK, Ireland, Scotland and South Africa, the United States and Australia who bring with them many years of UK and international school experience. The school says it has a great blend of experienced and less experienced teachers who are well supported by the Senior Leadership Team in order for them to deliver 'amazing learning'.
Teacher turnover was 20% in the last academic year, which is average for international schools in the UAE.
Under normal circumstances, average class sizes are 25-30 (on the high side but in keeping with the mid-range fees charged by the school) with one teacher and teaching assistant in FS1 to year 1, and a teacher and shared teaching assistant in years 2 and 3. With the current Covid 19 requirements, there are 10 students per class in FS1, 20 per class in “Bubbles of 10" in FS2, and from Year 1 onwards 15 students per bubble. The overall teacher:student ratio is 1:20.
RBS teaches the National Curriculum for England, leading to IGCSE in Years 10 and 11, and will see its first cohort of Year 13 A Level students take their examinations in June 2021 (assuming that public examinations go ahead and do not follow the school assessed route of 2020).
The school says that it offers 'a broad comprehensive UK curriculum with a strong focus on Maths, English and Science'. FS students follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, whilst students in Years 1 to 6 follow the National Curriculum for England. Core subjects taught for students in Key Stages 3 (Years 7-9) and 4 (Years 10-11) are Maths, English and Science, Social Studies, Arabic and Islamic. In Key Stage 3, students study a range of Foundation subjects including Art, Physical Education, History, Geography, a Modern Foreign Language, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Physical Education (PSHE).
Students in Key Stage 4 prepare for IGCSE examinations at the end of Year 11 which include English, Maths and Dual Science as compulsory IGCSE subjects and then select three other subjects from a list of options, including ICT, Business, History, Geography and Modern Foreign Languages. In Sixth Form (Years 12-13) students choose two or a maximum of three subjects at A Level.
Reach offers a range of extra-curricular activities based around creative, academic and sports activities.
The school conducts an entry assessment for all students, with international bench mark testing is also provided across the school. SEN students are supported with individual learning plans and work closely with the SEN support team which is led by an experienced Head of Inclusion.
Support for students of Determination is generally offered without additional fees, when required, parents are requested to provide a shadow teacher.
There is a strong demand among the students for English as an Additional Language support, and the school has ensured that additional recruitment has taken place to cover this requirement.
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com were very pleased to see that Reach British School was willing to share full details of the school's IGCSE results for the first time. We believe that whilst academic results are not the be-all and end-all of education, they remain an important factor for any families considering a school for their child.
The school provided both its IGCSE results for 2020, and also the first set of AS results for their year 12 students.
There was a cohort of 20 students for the 2020 IGCSE examinations (which were teacher assessed as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic). These students sat a total of 122 examinations, and achieved 17% of exam entries at Grade A*/9-8, 28% of entries at A*-A /9-7, 43%of exam entries at A*-B /9-6, and 71%of exam entries were graded A*-C /9-4. 55% of students achieved 5 A*-C/ 9-4 grades including English and Maths.
The first AS cohort consisted of 8 students who together took a total of 11 examinations. Of these, 45% of exam entries were graded A*-A, 82% of exam entries were graded A*-C, and there was a 100% pass rate at A*- E.
These are clearly small numbers of students initially, but the AS Level grades in particular are encouraging, though it seems that most students are taking only one subject.
The school is located on a large site in Baniyas East, close to the E11 highway towards Mafraq. The school is constructed around a central courtyard, which is shaded.
The school offers a separate specialised Early Years Foundation Stage building with its own indoor and outdoor play areas, and separate buildings for Primary and Secondary offering spacious, well-equipped classrooms with large windows to let in natural light, and well stocked libraries for Primary and Secondary. Specialist facilities include dedicated science laboratories and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) suites as well as art rooms and music rooms. There are two school canteens – one canteen for girls and one canteen for boys, which serve healthy meals and snacks from 7:30am to 2pm every weekday.
Sports and outdoor facilities include a heated 25m indoor swimming pool featuring the latest UV water purification technology, with dedicated separate changing rooms and weekly swimming lessons for Year 3 and above, a large multi-purpose indoor sports hall, and two more smaller halls to accommodate dance, drama and gymnastics, and a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Recent improvements have been made including the addition of an astro turf football field, a newly resurfaced multi-sports pitch for athletics and basketball, and a newly resurfaced central play area. There are age-appropriate shaded play areas across the campus.
A new welcome area and administration block has recently opened and further upgrades are planned for the 2020-21 academic year.
What the inspectors say
The most recent Irtiqaa report (2018-19) rated the school as Acceptable for the second time, following the significant step up in 2016-17 from its previous band C6 rating in 2014-15, which deemed the school's performance as unsatisfactory and "in need of significant improvement."
Summarising the position following the 2018-19 inspection, the report notes that the school has grown considerably since opening in 2014 through gaining new year groups. Recently there has been a high turnover of students and teachers, with around 70% of students and 50% of teachers new to the school. Students enter with low English language skills. School leadership structures and personnel have also changed considerably since September 2018 and include new senior and middle leaders.
Most students’ attainment is in line with expectations in nearly all subjects. Children’s achievement in the Foundation Stage (FS) is above expectations overall. Teachers understand the curriculum and deliver lessons which most students find interesting. The curriculum supports students’ acquisition of knowledge but is less successful at developing students’ learning skills. School leaders support students’ attitudes and behaviour well through consistent promotion of the school’s vision. They understand the school’s strengths and areas for development through inclusive self-evaluation processes.
Only one of the six key performance standards has improved from the previous inspection - that of Students Personal and Social Development and their Innovation skills - which is now rated Good overall. However, this does not provide a true picture of the improvements made by the school.
Summarising these, the inspection team found that
In terms of the strengths of Reach British School, inspectors found that:
1. Children’s achievement in FS, particularly in AFL and students’ achievement in Arabic language, social studies and mathematics.
2. Students’ understanding of Islamic values and their respect for Emirati heritage.
3. Cross-curricular links between subjects and the links made in lessons to UAE culture and society.
4. Arrangements to keep students safe and the quality of the premises and facilities.
5. The management of the school day to support students’ learning.
As far as recommendations for improvement are concerned, the inspectors stated the school should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to read the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
Unfortunately, the Parent Survey which ADEK has recently made available through the TAMM website is not currently available on-line. The school has established a Parents' Council and the inspection report notes that:
'The parents’ council provides views about the quality of provision to school leaders and governors. Parents receive regular and informative information about school events and their children’s achievements through innovative electronic portals. However, parents are not yet fully engaged as partners in their children’s education.'
The WhichSchoolAdvisor,com survey has received a very limited number of responses with an overall rating of 2.8 out of a possible 5. 80% of children enjoy going to school at 'least quite a bit' and 60% of parents who responded a satisfied with the academic performance of the school.
Parents are generally satisfied with the level of feedback from the school and its disciplinary policy. However, 60% have also considered moving their child to a different school and whilst 80% of parents partially agree that fees are value for money, the remainder do not agree - not a single parent wholly agrees. Similarly 60% of parents would recommend the school to other parents, but 20% would not.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Reach British School and would like to share your experience with other potential members of your community, please do so by completing our Survey here.
For expat families seeking to have real access to and involvement with local families in a UK curriculum school, Reach British School offers an interesting opportunity. However, whilst the school is clearly improving under its new leadership and the involvement of ISP, it still has some way to go before its move into the higher performing bands. It will be interesting to see how the school is judged in 2020-21 and whether it has been able to make that step up which would show that it really is able to provide a good standard of British education at an affordable fee.
Fees for Reach British School currently range from AED 22,800 for FS1 and 2, rising to AED 26,600 for Years 1 through to 6, AED 32,900 for Years 7 - 8, Years 9 and 10 are AED 39,800 and Years 11- 13 AED 46,800.
Fees are paid in three installments, per ADEK rules. The school also offers transportation, which costs an additional AED 5,000, covering the bus journey both to and from school.
The school has recently launched a scholarship programme to attract and support talented secondary students who show a passion for and potential in their chosen field. It is aimed at Year 7 to Year 12 students who demonstrate excellence.
Successful scholars will receive up to a15% discount on tuition fees (For Year 7 & Year 8), a 20% discount on tuition fees (For Year 9 & Year 10), a 25% discount on tuition fees (For Year 11 & Year 12) and 30% discount on tuition fees for Year 13.
Only new students are eligible to apply and applicants will have a written or practical assessment and an interview with the Scholarship Committee.
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