Regent International School is a private primary school taking students, both girls and boys, from FS1 to Year 6. Originally opened as a through school in the Greens area of New Dubai, RIS reverted to Primary only with the opening of sister (and much larger, newer through-school) Sunmarke, to which students from Year 7 have priority access.
Regent International School has been rated Very Good for the first time, after eight years of Good ratings, in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full report has been issued.
The Story so Far
Regent International School (RIS) was established by Fortes Education in 1993 as a small building in Jumeirah, before relocating to a newer, modern site in The Greens as a through-school, in 2005. Fortes also owns the Jumeirah International Nursery schools and, its newest addition, Sunmarke School, located close by in Jumeirah Village Triangle, to which students from Year 7 have priority, returning Regent to a primary-only school. As the school's website notes, "students graduating from RIS will always have automatic entry to RIS’ affiliate, Sunmarke School, located five minutes away from RIS".
According to the school, the benefit of the return to a Primary only school is that
a nurturing and positive environment helps develop confident and independent young learners. Studies have proven that early childhood education encourages pupil to discover a love of learning in a fun and interactive way. Being a community-based primary school we provide a safe, healthy and happy place where young pupils can gain a sense of self, experience diversity and apply critical thinking skills, which better helps them learn about themselves. Our strength lies in curriculum design and implementation where group activities are planned - this helps young pupils to develop a sense of respect for others, how to collaborate, as well as solve conflicts, and voice their opinions.
With the change to Primary only, student numbers have fallen from around 1,100 to around 950. Student nationalities are predominantly from the UK or India, with a significant influx of children from South Korea recently. Altogether, children from over 80 nationalities attend the school.
Student numbers are relatively balanced across Foundation and Key Stage 1, with 5 classes and 107 students in FS1, a higher number of 8 classes and 186 children in FS2 (providing an option for children to start school at 4+ where parents prefer this), 9 classes in Year 1, and 8 in Year 2 . Average class sizes in Foundation are 22-23, whilst the current average in Years 1 and 2 is a low 17. Years 3 and 4 have 6 and 5 classes respectively, with average class sizes of 21. Years 5 and 6 are smaller in number with a total of 7 classes and 70 students per year group. RIS says that average class sizes are 22 in FS1, 24 in FS2 and Year 1, and 26 from Years 2 to 6. Clearly whilst the school is still growing and adding numbers, some classes have rather lower average students numbers - which can only be a good thing.
A relatively small number of students had been identified with SEND requirements in 2017-18 (some 40 in total). However, RIS states that it is "an inclusive, non-judgemental school, which exercises a positive admissions policy and considers every application on an individual basis. Our role in the school is to determine if and how we can best meet the needs of a wide variety of learners, so that all students can access an appropriate, meaningful, and suitably-challenging education".
Also in line with its change from an all-through school to Primary only, staff numbers have dropped significantly from well over 120 to approximately 70. The school also has some 20 teaching assistants. Teaching staff are well qualified, from the UK, and hold at least a Bachelor of Education or a Bachelor of Arts and recognised teaching qualification (PGCE or QTS). The teacher to student ratio is 1:14, which should enable a good degree of individual support and adaptation of the curriculum to individual student ability. The school employs specialist teachers for Swimming, P.E, Music and Arabic in FS, supplemented in Years 1 and 2 with specialists in Islamic Studies, and in Years 3-6 by specialists in Computing and French.
Historically, RIS had a tendency towards a high teacher turnover rate, 32 percent in 2015-16, but this situation appeared to have improved in the following academic year with the number reducing to 11%. However, recent information suggests that the turnover of staff has increased to approximately 30% - once again considerably above the 20-22% average for international schools in the UAE and always a cause for concern with the need to integrate such high staff numbers each academic year. Having said this, some 17 of the current staff have been at the school for more than three years.
What about the curriculum?
RIS follows the National Curriculum of England with children in the Foundation Stage following the Early Years Foundation Stage programme. "Learning through Play” is well integrated across the curriculum and teaching methodology in indoor and outdoor activities. RIS has specialist teachers for Physical Education, Music and Second Languages such as Arabic as well as Spanish, Chinese, and Russian, who work alongside the class teacher to enrich each child’s learning experience. The Foundation Stage (FS1 and FS2) focuses on seven areas of learning and development: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Physical Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design.
Children in Years 1 through 6, follow the Key Stage 1 and 2 frameworks, which include subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science, Art, Computing, Design and Technology, Geography, History, Languages, Music and PE. This time-tested, broad and balanced curriculum is underpinned by a strong research-driven curriculum in Mathematics and English, and provides students with the depth and breadth to obtain a strong educational foundation.
According to the school the focus of the curriculum is to "equip our pupils for their future lives. We explicitly develop higher order thinking. The pupils are taught the principles of Bloom’s taxonomy, which we personalise in the context of our teaching and learning. Our pupils understand the increasing complexity of thinking that leads systematically to creativity and innovation. Increasingly, as pupils move through school, they independently identify the stages of thinking and self-direct their own pathway of thinking through their activities and tasks. Aligned with this is the development of exploratory talk and philosophy. Pupils are taught to communicate using the skills of creativity, critical thinking, care and collaboration; this develops pupil’s abilities to problem solve and work together in a productive manner and without conflict. These skills of meta-cognition and social interaction are purposefully integrated into our Curriculum meaning that pupils achieve exceptionally well".
RIS has a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) having embedded the use of technology by implementing a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) programme. According to RIS, BYOD supports "teaching and learning methods, establishing greater interactivity, connectivity, collaboration, discovery and processing of information, as well as access to information, and creative thinking and innovation".
In addition to the BYOD programme, students have access to computers in every class; interactive whiteboards; various educational and multimedia software; digital subscriptions, class sets and banks of iPads and tablets, a digital library with thousands of e-books, apps, software, hardware kits and educational tools; printers, scanners, digital and video cameras; and high speed Internet.
Away from the core academic curriculum, RIS has a particular focus on a philosophy of Positive Education which is said to promote all-round spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of children, and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.
The school's website explains that "Positive Education (PosEd) brings together the science of Positive Psychology with best teaching practices to enable individuals, schools and communities to flourish. PosEd drives a person to learn more effectively, and be more resilient, creative, productive, successful and healthy. Research has proven that positive emotions, engagement, purpose, relationships, accomplishments and health are the core building materials for human wellbeing".
RIS is part of the International Positive Education Network (IPEN) that is promoting a paradigm shift in global education by connecting schools, governments and policy makers to the best educational resources to raise the awareness of interconnected nature between a child’s "wellbeing" and "achievement". As part of the Positive Education philosophy, the school has developed a high-impact, holistic education programme called MultiSmart Learning™ that is designed to nurture and unlock multiple pathways to learning. According to the school, students are given a myriad of opportunities in and out of the classroom, through academic study and extra-curricular activity and through personalised instruction and group learning, "to develop multi-disciplinary thinking and a robust growth mindset for learning".
The school offers a wide range of Extra-curricular activities, making use of its sports facilities and classroom space to offer both teacher-led and outsourced programmes including Basketball, Cheerleading, Gymnastics, Football, Martial Arts, Tennis and Swimming. In addition, ECA's such as Ballet, KidzArt, Mad Science, Ace Maths, Robotics, 3D printing, Maker Club, Coding and App Development are offered for an additional fee. Lessons in Mandarin and Russian (native and non-native) are also available.
What about facilities?
There is no question that RIS is a very large school, spread over several floors, with some sports facilities on the roof top. This has been driven by the fact that the overall plot on which the school is based, is somewhat limited. Originally, there was a large outdoor sports field to the rear of the school, but this was subsequently reclaimed by the developer of the Greens. RIS makes good use of the space that is available, however, and its former Secondary school facilities are an added bonus for primary students.
Facilities include 75 activity rooms and an Assembly Hall, specialist laboratories for Science, Digital Technologies (Coding, Programming & Robotics) and Food Technology. a Studio for Art, Dance and Movement, Music, Drama and Fine Arts, an EYFS Library and Primary Library, two Multi-Purpose Sports and Performances Halls, a Semi-olympic Pool and Learner’s Pool, an outdoor astro-turf playing field, an outdoor paved playing field, a roof sports deck with 4 multi-courts and Multiple outdoor Play Zones.
To find out more about our visit to RIS, jump to WSA's Regent Experience
For the 2019-20 academic year, the school has some significant improvements planned to the facilities. These include a major refurbishment of the entire Administration Block that includes the front reception, parents’ lounge, cafe, bursar and transport office, conference rooms, SLT offices, parents’ office, admissions office, assessment rooms, meeting rooms, uniform office, admin office and staff pantry.
There will be enhancements to the Performing Arts facilities, including a revamp and upgrade the Multi-purpose Hall (MPH1) on the ground floor which includes investment in audio and visual equipment for drama and performing arts; additional headphone mics; stage lighting; sound system and speakers; a projector screen with hi-tech software; specialised acoustic wall panels, and a specialised acoustic false ceiling. There will be an upgrade of the play deck on the roof of the school with improved fencing as well as the development of an extra performance and meeting space.
In addition, the outdoor pitch will be enhanced with additional floodlights and new external red rubber flooring.
What the Inspectors Say
Regent International School is currently rated Good by the KHDA (2017-18). This is now the 8th year in a row that the school has obtained the Dubai education regulator's third highest grade.
The inspection report notes that the strengths of RIS are:
RIS is a school that should be more highly rated than it is...certainly, at least, based on Students' Achievement in English, Maths and Science. The ratings in the Foundation stage across the three core English-taught subjects are almost universally Outstanding, as are learning skills for FS children. In the Primary section, ratings are now all Very Good across all three subjects, with improvements in English and Maths attainment, and both measures for Science in this inspection. Learning skills are also rated Very Good. Unfortunately, RIS is let down - in common with many schools - by the progress and attainment in Islamic Education and in Arabic as both a first and second language, which are largely rated Acceptable. Not only has there been no improvement in these ratings, but progress in Arabic as a second language has fallen to Acceptable from Good a year ago.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills also garnered high praise from the inspectors who noted that "students have exceptionally positive attitudes and are very well behaved. They enjoy school, make healthy food choices and consistently show sensitivity towards others. Students appreciate and understand how Islamic values influence contemporary UAE society. They are proud of their own culture. Social responsibility is exemplary in the FS and highly developed in the primary phase". Not surprisingly, the ratings were a mix of Outstanding and Very Good in the FS section and Outstanding to Good in the Primary school.
And so the report continues! Teaching and assessment, the Curriculum design and implementation, and the Protection, care, guidance and support of students are rated Outstanding in FS and Very Good in Primary, with the Primary section earning an Outstanding rating for Health and Safety and Child Protection. It really is hard to understand why the school is rated only Good overall, when there is so much directly involving the children which is clearly Very Good or Outstanding.
Clues to the reasons can be found under the final key performance area of Leadership and Management. Whilst the effectiveness of leadership, and the relationship with parents and the community both improved to Very Good in this inspection, rated the same as Management, staffing, facilities and resources, the ratings for the school's self-evaluation and improvement planning, and governance remained Good. The inspection team commented that "the school has a well-organised approach to self-evaluation that provides leaders and teachers with generally accurate (our emphasis) information on the school’s performance. This information is used well to plan improvements in most areas of the school".
In terms of governance, they noted that "the board provides sufficient resources for the school to deliver a high-quality service in most areas of its work. Its investment in Arabic and Islamic education provision has not improved students’ outcomes". Our emphasis again...and as if to further underline exactly what RIS needs to do, the inspectors, whilst reporting positively on the staffing and resources, commented that "there are no permanent heads of Arabic and Islamic education in post".
The key recommendation for improvement for RIS from the inspection team were:
We can only assume that none of Board and senior staff can have been too surprised at this outcome. Unless the inspection team have other unspecified concerns, we, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, would maintain that Regent International School is rather more than a Good school. We would hope to see this reflected in the next overall rating of the school in 2018-19.
What do Parents and Students Say?
The just over 200 parents who responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey said that "they are very happy with almost all aspects of the school. Almost all are satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. They feel that their children are happy and safe in the school. Almost all parents think the school is well led and the quality of teaching is good". Parents who have responded to our on-going School Survey have expressed similar sentiments, and we have been sent particularly strong feedback from parents with children in the Foundation Stage. If you are a parent at RIS and would like to have your say, please complete the survey here..
What is the cost?
Fees start at AED 43,787 for FS1 up to AED 51,083 for Year 6.
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Can anyone share any insight into the primary school section of Regents? I understand the secondary school is moving to Sunmarke this Sept as are a small number of primary age classes. I'm trying to get a sense of whether the established school is a safer bet for primary aged kids or whether I'm being overly cautious. Thanks
Our move to Dubai was fast and furious, my key concern was getting the kids settled, with an educational environment that was similar to the UK. I have 4 children all are in Regents school at various stages starting from Year 3 to 1st Year in 6th form. Regents. Initially i went for the large brand hoping that this would bring what my kids needed, but soon realized that we had made a big mistake. It was really good fortune that we found Regents, the children are all very happy with their teachers and have a really made some great friends. We have been suitably impressed with Regents. Some key information is missing from the website but all is available on request during the school visits and tours. Regents is a real school, it doesn't have the glossy Dubai feel to it, which is really reflective and characteristic of the Grammar Schools of the UK. It's now a Fortis school with a teaching staff having a very positive impact on the kids. Starting from the headteacher all the way through to the admin staff.
I hope this helps
My family and I have just recently moved to Dubai from the UK and our son wasn't too excited with the move, which is obviously normal for his age. So we made sure to find a really good school for him where he can meet new friends and have good UK education at the same time. My son, now is more active than ever. Regent gives attention to every child as an individual and this has incredibly boosted up his esteem and he is more eager with his studies, joining various competitions. The teachers are all very accommodating. The campus is beautiful, great for kids his age. I was surprised how much Regent helped with our move in Dubai. I hope this helps.
I know your comment above is approxiamately 2 years old. I am looking to send both my boys to the Regent International School in Dubai. I am a resident in Dubai and want to change to a better school for my children. I would be grateful if you could give me your overall feedback about the Regent International School from your experience since your son is attending this school. Thank you, Frances
Hi Frances , not sure if you made your decision to go to Regent school or not. I am considering the school for my kids and looking to see more feedback on the school both from academic and kids personal development. I would love to have your feedback.