Repton Foundation School Abu Dhabi, located on Reem Island about 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Abu Dhabi, has - impressively - achieved a Very Good rating from ADEK's inspection teams in both its 2015-16 and 2017-18 reports. It is a for profit, and selective school, the Foundation and Primary school feeder to the Junior and Secondary school (Fry campus) which opened in 2017. Both schools are under the same ownership as the longer established, and Outstanding rated, Repton School Dubai.
The Story so Far
Repton Foundation School, (Rose Campus) Abu Dhabi, is located on Reem Island and a short distance away from its sister Junior and Secondary School, Fry campus, which after several years of delay, opened in September 2017. Both schools follow a programme of study based on the National Curriculum for England, starting with the Early Years Foundation Stage in Nursery. The Junior and Senior School school will eventually open up to Year 13 and will offer IGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, in line with its older and longer established sister school in Dubai.
Repton Foundation School Abu Dhabi opened in September 2013. In addition to Repton School Dubai, rated Outstanding by the Dubai-based regulator, the KHDA, Foremarke Dubai is also part of the same partnership between Repton School, Derbyshire, UK and Evolvence Knowledge Investments (EKI), a Dubai-based investment company. Representatives of Repton School, UK and its International Board, hold three of the seven places on the Board of Governors in the UAE. All UAE-based schools are also inspected by representatives of Repton UK on a regular basis.
The school is a member of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS).
Repton School Abu Dhabi is very clear in terms of what it offers to its students:
"Academically selective and with high aspirations, we are a school that never loses focus of the individual child. Building on over 450 years of Repton education in the UK, Repton Abu Dhabi combines the best of the British system with the dynamism of the UAE. It is supported by an exciting and broad extra-curricular programme taking full advantage of our first rate facilities. We feed a natural curiosity for learning to equip your child with a solid foundation on which to build their future dreams".
Gillian Hammond, Principal, Repton School Abu Dhabi.
And whilst the school may stress the history of the UK school, its vision is very reflective of the dynamism of the UAE and of the demands of the current world - "To inspire, empower and equip our pupils to learn, collaborate and innovate, ready to successfully engage in our ever more digital world".
Currently 40 plus nationalities are represented at the school, with Emirati students predominant at 18% followed by UK passport holders at 12% and Americans and Indians each representing 9%. The majority of students live within the immediate vicinity of the school, and on Abu Dhabi island, but the school also offers bus services to areas further afield including Khalifa City.
The school has grown at some pace. In 2013/2014 Repton Abu Dhabi was home to just 70 students. In 2014/15 260 pupils were housed in one of the four classes in FS1, six in FS2, four in Year 1 or the two in Year 2. Currently, the student population has doubled to 500 students up to Year 1, with years 2 to 6 now being part of the Junior School campus. Both campuses have Inclusion Departments led by experienced UK specialists, and offer a wide range of support strategies including one to one and group support. They also work with external agencies such as Speech Therapists, Psychologists and Learning Support Assistants as needed.
The newly organised Foundation School has a total of 8 FS1, 10 FS2 and 7 Year 1 classes and a total of some 500 students. Maximum class sizes are on the small side as you would expect from a premium UK curriculum school, with 20 pupils. The school has a teacher to student ratio of just 1:15, ensuring individual attention is available to students. There are 49 members of the teaching staff (34 teachers and 24 teaching assistants), with all teachers have a teaching degree or degree plus PGCE (the vocational teacher training qualification). "No exceptions are made", Repton AD informed WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.
Class Teachers are experienced in teaching the UK National Curriculum / Early Years Foundation Stage and are from the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland). Children from FS1 to Year 1 also benefit from the provision of a Teaching Assistant assigned to each class. Starting in FS1, children are also taught by Subject Specialist Teachers who come from both the UK and as far afield as Jordan, New Zealand, Belgium and Canada.
The vast majority of teachers are recruited from the United Kingdom and the school seems to have good retention policies in place. Only three of the school's teachers left after the first year - a relatively low and healthy number for a new school. Even after its fifth year the school's turnover rate was 10% - about half of the average rate across the UAE. All schools in Abu Dhabi have to offer every member of staff 25 hours CPD a year - a key to retention. The school says it "easily achieves this" through pre-term INSET and monthly training sessions.
What about the curriculum?
The school follows a British independent school curriculum which incorporates elements of the English National Curriculum but allows highly skilled teachers to develop a curriculum for an international environment. English and Mathematics are the central elements in the curriculum. There is a strong emphasis on specialist teaching in subjects such as Arabic, Science, Music, Swimming and PE. Homework is set to support and extend the children’s learning.
In the Foundation Stage, the programme encompasses Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Physical Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. In Year 1, greater emphasis is place on the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Arabic. UAE Social Studies (Civics) and Islamic Studies are offered from Year 1.
There is a very strong focus on technology with Repton Abu Dhabi being the first Apple Distinguished School in the Middle East. From age 3 onwards, students are provided with their own iPad, and technology is integrated across the curriculum. Coding is a timetabled subject, and students are also exposed to resources such as interactive Spheros, Beebots and drones, and have access to robotics challenges.
iPads are also used to collate, assess, and comment on homework to help students meet their individualised targets. Technology is designed to blend with, and enhance, traditional and contemporary subjects and methodologies. However, the school's screen time policy is aimed at ensuring that the use of technology is focused and strategic.
In addition to academic subjects, the school also offers a range of school trips, extra curricular activities (ECAs) and after school clubs. The school runs over 40 clubs for week. These range from mini movers to drama and karate to model making. Students are offered at least one excursion a term, including theatre shows, UAE heritage visits, science experiments, and robotics challenges. ECAs cover a wide range of opportunities for students offered by teachers, and an external supplier. Repton Abu Dhabi is a member of ADISSA (Abu Dhabi International School Sports Association).
What about facilities?
Facilities at Repton Abu Dhabi are very good. Its building has been designed "specifically as a Foundation School" and "therefore everything is age appropriate". Repton Abu Dhabi also says pupils benefit from their own smaller setting for their introduction to formal education, rather than being a small part of a large school. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com found classrooms light, airy and well equipped, although the school building itself is on quite a narrow plot with limited outdoor space and a number of apartment buildings under construction close by.
There are two large communal halls centrally located on the ground and first floors, which are used for assemblies and performances on one level and for PE activity on the upper floor.
There is an outdoor area on the first floor of the school (above the indoor swimming pool) which is marked out for sports activity for use during the winter months. Students now have access to the much larger facilities of the Junior and Secondary School close-by.
What the inspectors say
In the 2017-18 ADEK inspection which took place in March 2018, Repton Foundation School was again rated Very Good for the second time. At the time of the inspection, Year 2 students were still based at the school - they have now been relocated to the Junior School at the Fry campus.
Overall, inspectors noted the strengths of the school as:
The key performances standards rated by ADEK showed Outstanding ratings for the Personal and Social Development and for Innovation skills of the students, together with the same rating for their Protection, Care, Guidance and Support.
In terms of Academic achievement, attainment and progress in the Foundation section of the school were rated Very Good for all core subjects (English, Maths, Science, Art, Music and PE), whilst the same rating was given to these subjects for Years 1 and 2. The ratings for Islamic and Social Studies, and Arabic as a first language, were rated Good in terms of attainment and Very Good in terms of progress. Arabic as a second language was rated particularly well as Very Good across both measures. Learning skills were Very Good across both sections of the school. According to the regulators, "the large majority" of students make better than expected progress and the majority of students attain levels above curriculum standards.
Inspectors noted that "The overall quality of students’ achievement is very good. The large majority attain above curriculum expectations and make better than expected progress in lessons. Learning through English is new to approximately seventy percent of students when they start school. The large majority makes very good progress from their starting points in all subjects, because teachers’ expectations help them to settle quickly into school routines . All groups of students make similar rates of progress". Repton Foundation School deserves particular note for the fact that "Students’ overall achievement in subjects taught in Arabic now matches their achievement in all other subjects". This is a rare finding in international schools in the UAE and will no doubt contribute to the popularity of the school among the local Emirati population.
Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills, were also found to be Outstanding in relation to these two key criteria, and Very good in relation to their understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and World cultures. The inspection team commented that "The overall quality of students’ personal and social development and their innovation skills is outstanding. Students ’understanding of Islamic values and Emirati and world cultures is very good. They have very positive attitudes towards one another and staff; their behaviour is always exemplary".
The quality of teaching is generally "very good" according to the school's inspection report. Repton Abu Dhabi uses comprehensive assessment processes and thorough analysis at all levels to inform planning for learning and effectively meet the needs of all students. Teachers were found to have very thorough subject knowledge and "they plan skillfully and creatively when introducing new learning.They use specialist indoor and outdoor spaces very successfully so that students have the best chance of learning well".
The Inspection team noted in respect of the curriculum design and its implementation that "The quality of curriculum design, implementation and adaptation is very good. The curriculum has a very clear rationale, to promote , in the words of the school mission statement, ‘the best for every child’ through personal and academic achievement . The curriculum is fully aligned with UAE priorities such as innovation in learning, and with the English National Curriculum".
In line with the overall inspection rating of Outstanding for the key performance standard of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of its students, staff and students were found to be "fully aware of the rigorous procedures for keeping everyone safe. Supervision is exceptionally effective". Inspectors were particularly impressed by the provision for students with SEND requirements noting that "School leaders have developed comprehensive systems for identifying students who are gifted and talented and those who have SEN. Accurate identification leads to highly personalised challenge and support. As a result, all students have the best chance of improving their personal and academic achievement".
The final key performance measure of Leadership and Management was also rated Very Good across all five criteria. In particular, inspectors found that "The overall quality of leadership and management is very good. The headteacher and leadership team set a very clear strategic direction, supported by all, with an unyielding commitment to an inclusive ethos and community involvement. School leaders use their thorough knowledge of educational best practice to improve the school further".
Repton Foundation School Abu Dhabi gives an overall impression of a happy, nurturing environment (the school's nurturing environment is a "key strength" of the school according to ADEK). The building itself is somewhat lacking in character compared with other schools within the same group, but this factor pales into insignificance when the overall attainment of students, and the core deliverables of the school, are clearly of such a high standard.
What about Fees?
Fees are in the top-tier for Abu Dhabi, ranging from AED 55,000 in FS1 and FS2 to AED 61,000 in Year 1. Parents considering enrolling their children at Repton Foundation, with a view to them moving on to the Junior and Secondary School, should be aware that fees there range from AED 61,000 in Year 2, rising to AED 65,000 from Years 3 to 8 and AED 69,000 in Year 9 (the highest year group currently). There is also an AED 500 book fee each year and a re-registration fee of 5%. Humpty Dumpty Nurseries currently act as feeders to the school.
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I took my child out after just 1 term and was not at all impressed. I would certainly not recomend.
Could you please give me more details as i liked the ambiance of the school and was hoping to have my daughter admitted?
Would appreciate learning your experience.