The Renaissance School is a US curriculum school that opened in Dubai Sports City in October 2018. It initially served families seeking places from KG1 to Grade 4 in its first year, before expanding to Middle school and will open Grade 7 in August 2022. The school gives families living in Dubai Sports City, Motor City, Dubai Investments Park and surrounding areas the option of a US curriculum school on their doorstep.
Renaissance School, Dubai, which is located on the edge of Dubai Sports City at its junction with Hessa Street, offers a US Curriculum based on the New York State Standards, for children from KG1 to Grade 7 in the 2022-23 academic year and will continue to add a grade annually (assuming regulatory approval) until if offers full KG-12 provision.
In common with most US curriculum schools in Dubai, Renaissance School will apply for NEASC accreditation which will ensure that its curriculum is meeting the requirements of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and that any High School Diploma subsequently issued to students will be recognised and accepted for College entry both in the US and internationally.
The school is led by Principal, Salma Eid, whose Vision for the students "to provide students with an educational experience that inspires and motivates them to be lifelong learners and caring contributors to the world around them. Our goal is to provide a nurturing environment that meets the individual needs of each student, both academically and socially".
The school Mission and Vision are defined as:
School Mission: Renaissance School is committed to engaging students to connect their knowledge and understanding to develop the whole learner. We value diversity and model acceptance of all cultures within the school, UAE, and international communities of the world.
School Vision: Everyone engages, everyone reflects, everyone learns.
Our Educational Vision is for students to discover their potential by developing good character, by gaining international qualifications, by learning to learn, and by discovering how to be innovative, tolerant and happy in this fast-changing world.
We will value every child as an active contributor and will nurture each student so they are a beacon to others in an ever-changing, complex society.
However, not only does Renaissance School have aspirational statements on which to base its direction, but also a very specific promise to parents in terms of what it will deliver:
We promise that we will provide:
An initial platform of strong literacy and numeracy skills for every child, allied to creativity, imagination, fun and play in the early years
A focus on your child’s strengths while they develop character and skills that will last them for life
A set of life skills, digital skills, enterprise skills and work skills that will equip them to love learning and prosper all their lives.
According to the first KHDA/DSIB inspection report which was issued in July 2022 following the inspection which eventually took place in March 2022, some 550 students were attending the school, of which the largest nationality group was Arab. There is little information about the student mix at the school available, but there appears to be a the strong Arabic focus (including a small group of 14 Emirati students).
At the time of the inspection, there were 49 teachers who were further supported by 26 teaching assistants and one Guidance Counsellor. Teachers come from a range of nationalities - Irish, American,South African, Eastern European and Lebanese as Home Room teachers and Arabic and Islamic Studies teachers are from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. The teacher:student ratio of 1:11 is on the low side which should allow students to receive individual attention and teaching. Teacher turnover, at 25% was a little above the UAE average, but this number also reflects the increase in teachers as the school adds grades.
The curriculum choice is a very specific one, based on the fact that the State of New York has revised its education standards to ensure greater rigour and to foster 21st century skills, in place of the previously used Common Core State Standards.
The Next Generation Learning Standards focus on supporting all learners (language learners, special education learners) while maintaining high quality teaching and learning. The standards provide the school with a framework for English Language Arts and Mathematics in the future and, from the outset, Renaissance School used New York State Standards for English Language Arts. In addition, the school follows the Ministry of Education guidelines with respect to the teaching of Arabic for both native and non-native speakers and Social and Islamic Studies.
Core subjects include Islamic Education / Wellbeing, Arabic Language, English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, Science, Physical Education & Health (PEH), Arts, Technology (ICT / Robotics), Social Studies, Moral Education (the latter three subjects from Grade 1), Music (to Grade 4), World Language (French, in Grades 5 and 6) and Drama (in Grades 4, 5 and 6).
The New York State Curriculum provides a set curriculum up to the end of Grade 8, which means that students in each age cohort study the same subjects, regardless of their background, nationality or level of academic attainment. In High School, the curriculum adds options or electives to a smaller subject core which includes English, Mathematics and Science.
The school aims to have an initial platform of strong literacy and numeracy skills for every child, allied to creativity, imagination, fun and play in the early years. A focus on character building through life skills, digital skills, enterprise skills is designed to equip students for employability. Employment in a digital world of the future is a the special feature of the school and it is investing significant resources into digital technology to ensure that all children are connected at all times, with the aim of encouraging children to become digital experts and authors.
The school views the teaching and learning of Arabic as a key priority and aims to promote the importance of the language every day. Arabic will feature in Assemblies, on posters and in daily presentations, in newsletters and in staff conversation with their students. The school believes that a good level of understanding of the Arabic language by all students, and a high level of fluency for Arab students, is an essential part of studying at the school and in Dubai.
For students for whom English is not their native language, there is an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher employed in the school who works in and out of the classroom with different groups of children.
The EAL Teacher also works with the admissions department to establish students’ language levels on entry to the school. Students with weaker English are identified on admission and a teaching program put in place – agreed with parents – with the target of bringing them to proficiency for their age group within the first term.
This is achieved through support in the classroom, the deployment of additional learning assistants (including from volunteer parents), extra English classes and home extension activities. Each program is individually designed and, as far as possible, in-class and curriculum modifications are made to ensure students with weak English skills are fully included in learning activities. Unusually, the school does not make any additional charge for children who need to attend additional support classes throughout the day.
The range of facilities mean that the school offers a strong program of ECAs, with weekly sessions for clubs and societies generally run either immediately after school or during lunch and other breaks.
Extra-curricular activities are run by the English, Music, PE and Art faculties to ensure there is a level of extra-curricular provision in keeping with a good school. Activities include drama productions (including large-scale plays and musicals as well as smaller-scale productions), music performances, art shows and fashion shows, and a good range of extra-curricular sport. The school also offers some paid-for activities through third party providers. Unusually, KG students will also have extra-curricular options during and after the school day. All students are expected to participate in at least two clubs, societies and activities each term. Tutors guide children to make choices and “try things out”.
This "have a go" approach is evidently part of the culture of the school, whereby students are encouraged to strive and learn the power of taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them. Students do take on bigger challenges from time to time, for example in a school competition or play/performance – giving them the opportunity to try something new, but in the knowledge that staff will always be on hand when things don’t go right first time. The school sees this as a vital step to building resilience.
As part of the school's focus on Innovation and developing Digital skills, every child will learn how to run a business, with the school backing them with the resources and guiding their decisions, so they will understand how to create wealth and jobs. The focus is very much about teaching and developing skills for the future, in addition to delivering the basics.
In line with the KHDA's Inclusive Education policy, Renaissance School has a clear policy for Students with Determination that is reflective of the diverse population of Dubai. In order to cater to the special educational needs, the school identifies students needing added help as soon as possible using a range of tests, hires Learning Support Assistants for children with low to moderate difficulties with parents’ agreement, and provides intervention at a suitable level when a child is identified as requiring added help.
At the time of the KHDA inspection, the school had registered 23 students as students of Determination. The inspection team found that "The governors are committed to an inclusive ethos and hold the inclusion team accountable for student outcomes. The inclusion leader and the learning support assistants provide appropriate support and promote students’ independence. However, curriculum modification and effective differentiation in lessons are underdeveloped. KG teachers are adept at providing differentiated support."
For those students who fall into the Advanced Learner (or ‘gifted and talented’) category, the focus of all classroom practice is to challenge students in their learning, stretching each child to achieve their best. The school’s policy for Advanced Learners - those performing in the top five per cent of students in a particular cohort - is that they receive in-class differentiation which maintains a high level of challenge, identified through teacher assessment and by bench-marking students against international test results.
Students receive support from a teacher with training in recognising and supporting children with academic gifts. In addition, students with specific talents – e.g. in sports, music or other specific skills – receive help in clarifying those talents so that the school can work with the student and his/her parents in finding the right long-term coaching and support.
What about Facilities?
The School is located on a compact, but well laid out, site directly next to the excellent facilities of Dubai Sports City. The school itself has a wide range of physical resources including large classrooms, distinct Kindergarten and Elementary School classrooms, specialist art, media and music rooms, science laboratories for use by Elementary as well as High School students, at least two specialist rooms for computing, coding and ICT, two mixed-use halls and an auditorium, two library/learning centers and a staff development/training area, a Special Needs base and resource area, kitchen, catering and canteen facilities, two 12-metre swimming/learning pools with changing facilities, an outdoor football pitch with artificial grass, two basketball courts, external play spaces and open courtyard spaces internally, additional outdoor space for parking and access, clinics, and two prayer rooms.
In line with KHDA requirements, on-going formative and summative assessments including MAP testing, IBT (standardised international benchmark tests such as TIMMS and PISA) and CAT4 tests to assess students' cognitive abilities are carried out.
Renaissance School should have received its first KHDA/DSIB inspection during the 2021-22 academic year, but this was delayed as a result of Covid 19.
In common with all UAE schools, Renaissance did participate in the 2019-20 Distance Learning Evaluation conducted by the regulators and was awarded a "Not Developed" rating - the lowest of three levels. This should be a major concern - particularly in a school that appears to have a strong commitment to technology.
The inspection report notes in terms of positives:
1. The students’ attendance and their commitments to the distance learning
2. The teachers’ sharing the clear intended learning outcomes and activity guidelines and allowing students flexibility with their tasks deadlines.
However, there is a long list of improvement measures that were advocated by the inspection team:
The full first KHDA inspection carried out by the DSIB inspection team took place in March 2022 and Renaissance School was awarded an Acceptable rating. This is the minimum rating that schools in Dubai must achieve, and comes with some restrictions in terms of the ability for a school to expand and to open new school sections. There is no doubt that Renaissance School will need to improve significantly - with the goal of achieving a Good rating on its next inspection.
As is so often the case, the overall rating does not tell the whole story. In terms of the core subjects of English, maths and Science, students' progress was largely rated Good across the school, but attainment was only Acceptable. Students' learning skills were, however, uniformly rated Good. Arabic and Islamic Education were rated almost entirely Acceptable. The two key performance standards that so directly impact Student Achievement - Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum, reflected similar ratings - though Teaching for Effective Learning was rated Good in KG and Elementary, and the Curriculum design was rated Good across the school. However, Assessment - which drives teachers' abilities to understand each students' performance - and Curriculum adaptation - which ensures that students receive teaching relevant to their ability - were rated almost entirely Acceptable.
Students' personal development, together with their Understanding of of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures, and the Protection, care, guidance and support of students were rated Good across the board. In terms of the final key performance standard of Leadership and Management, the school's relationships with parents and the community, and governance of the school were both rated Good, but the other three indicators were rated Acceptable.
In terms of the strengths of Renaissance School, the inspection team identified these as:
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspectors recommended that Renaissance School should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings and the details behind the recommendations - you will find it here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has also received very limited feedback to its Survey. The small number of parents who have responded have rated the school 2.4/5 - or a positivity rating of 46%.
We have received one parent comment which would appear to support some of the concerns raised by the Distance Learning Evaluation:
"Strength: -good balance of students nationalities -close to home -new facilities Weakness: -new school with new staff -weak communication to parents from principal and head of education -no attention to special requests -lack of extra activities - limited to 5th grade only so far -limited tools for distance learning and late response to COVID 19 requirements."
Given the low level of responses, we would urge parents to treat this feedback with caution.
If you are a parent or teacher at Renaissance School, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey.
The presence of the Renaissance School in Dubai Sports City means that parents seeking a US curriculum school now have a choice between three options in relative proximity. The other US curriculum schools include premium-fee Dunecrest American School at Al Barari, and the longer established and moderately-priced Nibras International School in Dubai Investment Park.
Fortunately, with the end of the Covid pandemic measures, one of the key resources to enable parents to obtain an independent view of a school's performance are now available. Dunecrest also received its first visit from the KHDA inspection team in 2022 and achieved a Good rating. Nibras did not receive a new inspection but is currently rated Acceptable.
The school is currently open from pre-KG to Grade 7. Approved KHDA fees range from AED 35,000 for pre-K and KG, rising to AED 42,000 for Grades 1 and 2 and AED 45,000 for Grades 3 to 4, AED 50,000 for Grade 5, AED 55,000 for Grade 6 and AED 65,000 for Grade 7.
However, in the 2022-23 academic year, the school is offering substantial discounts of 30% on the KHDA fees. This means that pre-KG/KG fees are AED 24,500 with fees rising to AED 45,500 for Grade 7.
A registration fee of AED 500 is to be paid prior to the Assessment of the child. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
On offer of a place, a deposit of 5% of founding parent's fee for siblings of existing students or a deposit of 10% of founding parent's fee for new students is required; this is adjustable against the first term tuition fee.
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