Repton School Al Barsha (formerly Foremarke School Dubai) is the partner school of Repton’s Preparatory School in the United Kingdom. Repton is a very well-respected British public school that succeeds both academically and in terms of developing the ‘whole child’. Clearly Repton School Al Barsha has the same aims.
Recently renamed Repton School Al Barsha (formerly Foremarke School Dubai) is a school that continues to draw the WhichSchoolAdvisor team back to find out more about this one of a kind very British Public school. Having initially opened from FS to Year 6, there have been several changes to the plans for Repton Al Barsha's growth, with an initial decision to expand to Year 8, enabling students to remain at the school in preparation for the Common Entrance examination to gain entry to public schools in the UK, and subsequently a decision to open all-through to Year 13.
In November 2020, Dubai owners Evolvence Knowledge Investments announced the decision that Foremarke School would rebrand to become Repton School Al Barsha. This means that there are now three Repton-branded schools in the UAE, with Repton School Dubai and Repton School Abu Dhabi (located on two campuses) making up the triumvirate. The transition follows that of sister school Foremarke Hall in the UK, which has recently rebranded to become Repton Prep School.
The rebranding and its timing will coincide with physical upgrades to the Al Barsha campus and will be fully implemented by the start of the 2021-22 academic year when the school will welcome its first Year 10 students. The lengthy transition to the new brand has been planned to ensure “both parents and students are acclimated with comfort and ease” said a school spokesperson.
Full details can be found here.
Outlining the core focuses of the school, Repton Al Barsha's team explains; "Learning is our core purpose and we will challenge your child in a way that encourages independence and resilience. Repton Al Barsha pupils are taught to explore ideas, reason, explain and justify their decisions. Our commitment to inclusion enables us to strive for success in all areas of the curriculum. Our pastoral care supports positive relationships and attitudes. The school is a warm and happy one, where self-esteem and confidence are developed and grown. We expect the highest standard of behaviour at all times. We are very proud of our pupils and their exceptional achievements, with a particular focus on academic excellence, sporting success and performing arts."
In March 2022, eighteen months after the move towards the re-branding of the school, a further significant announcement was made by the group.
Zoe Woolley, who as Headmistress of Repton Al Barsha, has been responsible for its development from a Primary only school to an all-through environment, together with the supporting the rebranding of the school, is leaving Repton Al Barsha to take on a new challenge as one of the first female Heads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the first female Headmistress of Jeddah Prep and Grammar school in Jeddah, KSA, at the start of the 2022 – 2023 academic year.
Chandini Misra, who joined the school as Head of Senior School in February 2021, will be joined by Repton Abu Dhabi’s Principal, Gillian Hammond as the Interim Principal for the 2022 – 2023 academic year, ensuring a smooth transition for the rest of the current academic year. Miss Hammond brings a wealth of experience to the Al Barsha South campus, having joined the Repton Family of Schools in the 2017-2018 academic year.
On our second WhichSchoolAdvisor.com visit to Repton Al Barsha, there was a distinct focus on its "holistic education" in our conversations with school leaders, teachers, parents and students. As one Year 6 child succinctly put it “our school is inspiring in every way”. High praise indeed!
This is a school designed for pupil numbers in the hundreds, not thousands, as is Repton Prep School, the sister school in the UK, with only has 600 pupils aged from 3 to 14 - fifty less than its sister school in Dubai. In total 50 different nationalities are currently represented in the student body, two-thirds of whom come from the United Kingdom. Gender is equally split between male and female pupils.
The school opened in 2013 and has grown organically, year on year, with Year 9 having opened in the 2020-2021 academic year. This has enabled families considering private education in the UK post common-entrance abroad, with their children able to complete this early period in Dubai.
In November 2019, Principal, Mrs. Zoe Woolley announced at the school's Open Day, that it will seek to expand to offer a full UK curriculum including iGCSE and A Levels, opening Year 9 in September 2020 and expanding organically until Year 13 is reached. The school intends to offer a broad curriculum to their exam cohorts with a "breadth of exciting subjects that cater to 21st century learning".
In February 2021, the school announced the appointment of Chandini Misra as Head of Senior School, Repton Al Barsha. Ms. Misra worked previously as a Deputy Director of Sixth Form in London and Assistant Principal in Leeds. Most recently, she has led teaching and learning as Assistant Principal of Jumeirah College, which has been placed in the top 3% of schools globally for student progress in both GCSE and A-level outcomes. Ms. Misra has a particular focus on STEM.subjects, having graduated in 2011 from Keeble College, University of Oxford, with a Masters in Chemistry. Interestingly, Ms. Misra also trained as a broadcast journalist for BBC News 24 and worked as a news correspondent.
In another string to the school's bow, the EKI group's nursery Dovecote, moved from their previous home in Jumeirah to the Foremarke School campus in January 2020. The nursery feeds in to Foremarke and offers a 15% discount on first year tuition fees. With these two changes made, a child will be able to attend the Foremarke campus from age 1-18!
Read our article on the school's planned expansion to Year 13 here.
The school, a partnership between Repton School UK and Evolvence Knowledge Investments (EKI), a Dubai-based school and nursery operator. The founding team worked very closely with the architects and designers to ensure that the school provides the “perfect teaching environment” on its purpose-built 10 acre campus.
The teacher to pupil ratio is currently 1:9 across the school. Class sizes have a maximum of 20 pupils and all classes in Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) have a full time Teaching Assistant. All 51 teachers are UK qualified, and many have UK Prep School experience. There are a total of 17 teaching assistants.
The fact that the school has only progressively added year groups as students "grow" into them, means that it has had a strong element of control which has enabled stable, organic growth. Staff turnover has been falling and is currently 4.8%, very low for an international school in Dubai (the average is 20-22%).
This will be an important factor for future success and is something that Mrs Woolley is proud of, commenting that, “As a place to work…well, what’s not to like about this school! The children are happy and eager to learn. We are incredibly well resourced. In every relationship courtesy and consideration are emphasised and there are brilliant opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. We expect a lot from staff but they get a lot back”.
Repton Al Barsha aims to provide a genuine prep school experience in Dubai. To help create that, Repton Al Barsha has become the first school in the UAE, and only the second school globally, to have been given the status of an IAPS World Hub School, by The Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS). Highly regarded Tanglin School in Singapore, was the first school to be awarded the status. IAPS, an association for the world’s preparatory schools with some 600 member schools, allows prep schools to carry the IAP kite-mark only after accreditation.
[British ‘prep schools’ are the equivalent of primary and middle schools of the UK’s state education sector. Privately funded, they – in general – offer higher academic standards, more specialist teaching, more teaching time, place greater focus on ‘traditional, moral values’, and offer wider extra-curricular opportunities than their state-owned counterparts.]
Repton Al Barsha says it aims to build “well-rounded, well grounded, confident young people who display a love for learning and a zest for life.” The school also says it places a strong emphasis on “respect for others, care and courtesy; combined with academic rigour appropriate to ability, [that] will lay a strong foundation for the successful transition to one of a wide range of quality senior schools both locally and overseas.”
In terms of academics the 11+, Common Entrance (CE) exams focus means an emphasis on providing the 3R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic necessary to perform well. Note: 11+, CE exams are key to entering into higher performing selective private (and some state) schools. Repton Al Barsha publishes the results of regular tests taken by its students on its website.
"At Repton Al Barsha we focus closely on how children learn, and our curriculum actively develops strong personal learning skills alongside traditional academic knowledge. Our focus on building the development of characteristics such as perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness and reflectiveness in children, encouraging them to think critically and learn actively helps to make Foremarke a school focused on progress, producing confident individuals and successful learners." Headmistress, Mrs Zoe Woolley
Common Entrance Examinations are taken by some children internationally as part of the admissions process for academically selective secondary schools at age 11 or 13. They are set by ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board).
Most of the secondary schools that use Common Entrance for admission are fee paying public schools; and most of the schools that routinely prepare their pupils for Common Entrance are preparatory schools. The 11+ is used by academically selective state schools – although these are somewhat of a rarity in the UK today. However where they exist (usually as Grammar Schools) they usually top the academic league tables, certainly for state schools, and the best of them give private schools a good run for their money.
Mrs Woolley is keen to stress that Repton Al Barsha has the expertise to support the entire family in deciding the post-prep school pathway for children. “We talk to parents a lot” said Mrs Woolley, “and we make sure this planning links carefully to each individual family’s life and expectations. We help both parents and child to prepare for an exciting future”.
With the planned expansion to Year 13, Repton Al Barsha also intends to put in place still further support which will focus on development of skill-sets which equip students to become successful and confident global citizens, CV, Application and interview workshops, access to a variety of University Fairs, bespoke Career guidance, Oxbridge application seminars, and a dedicated careers and university advisor. Repton Al Barsha will also facilitate access to established links with global leading universities through the Repton group in the UAE and in the UK.
As in many prep schools, and in common with UAE sister schools Repton Dubai and Repton Abu Dhabi, children have full specialist subject teachers from Year 5 and up. “This is important” emphasised Mrs Woolley, “we want to open every opportunity for your child. It’s what we do well and what a true prep school is about”.
Repton Al Barsha believes that specialist teaching fosters exceptional achievement and attainment. Specialist teaching begins in the Early Years in a range of subjects and increases as the children move up the school. This ensures depth in the Repton curriculum in every year group and every subject, as well as smooth transitions between year groups. All specialist teachers have expertise in a particular field, have specific qualifications to teach that subject to a high level and are passionate about it.
Despite a traditional academic focus, the school says it does not sacrifice the breadth of curriculum. There is a focus on the arts, with instrumental music as part of core teaching time. All children are taught an instrument, including violin and keyboard. In addition, extra-curricular Sports, Music and Drama are offered, while some additional academic studies are offered before lessons start in the morning. French is taught as part of the curriculum with additional language options available as part of the extra-curricular programme.
Repton Al Barsha also places emphasis on physical activity with three hours of physical education scheduled into each week by Year 3.
The school tells us "With a proven history of strong academics, we offer the perfect balance of three sessions of sports and three sessions of creative arts per week to enable our children the opportunity to explore a broad canvas of activities and discover their own unique identity. (Academics, sports and creative arts)."
Repton Al Barsha provides 30-50 after school clubs termly that are free of charge. Additionally, there are 10-15 external providers that offer specialised extracurricular activities. In addition, a comprehensive outdoor programme is offered from Year 2 onwards with costs varying based on camps or trips.
Repton Al Barsha has recently announced achieving “Apple Distinguished School” status. According to the Apple website, the only other school in the UAE to have achieved this status is Repton Foundation School, on Reem Island, Abu Dhabi.
Apple Distinguished Schools are described by the brand as;
“… centers of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology — and we believe they are some of the most innovative schools in the world”.
Achieving this accolade has clearly been quite an endeavour for Repton Al Barsha, with every leader, teacher and student we meet on our visit mentioning the term ‘Apple Distinguished School’ with pride. One Year 6 boy, a student ‘Digital Leader’ named Lachlan, had even made a speech at the Apple store in Dubai as part of the process.
“Out of his comfort zone somewhat, but he did it and he loved it!” said Mrs Woolley.
Ms Claire Kabbani, Head of Computing and Digital Innovation at Repton Al Barsha commented on achieving Apple Distinguished School status, saying that “we want to be a beacon school in terms of digital learning. We see it as our role to enable learning by connecting with other schools. We will be reaching out to other local schools to share best practice”.
The school is somewhat selective on intake, with an assessment for all ages and informal interview with parents prior to a place being offered. Despite the assessment process, Repton Al Barsha is an inclusive school. Under the umbrella of “FAB” both gifted and talented children and children with additional learning needs are given individual attention. Small classroom sizes (generally up to 20 students) mean Repton Al Barsha is able to offer differentiated activities in all lessons, and also extension groups in its dedicated ‘Curriculum Plus’ time before and after school.
The school employs a Head of Inclusion with responsibility for pupils with SEN and EAL needs. The inclusion team is complemented by a visiting Occupational Therapist and a Speech and Language Therapist two days each week.
"At Repton Al Barsha we focus closely on how children learn,and our curriculum actively develops strong personal learning skills alongside traditional academic knowledge. Our focus on building the development of characteristics such as perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness and reflectiveness in children, encouraging them to think critically and learn actively helps to make Repton Al Barsha a school focused on progress, producing confident individuals and successful learners." Mrs Woolley, Headmistress
The school has an impressive range of facilities including 82 classrooms with Interactive smart boards in every class room, two libraries, science and chemistry labs, an art gallery, art room, DT room, Innovations classroom, two music rooms and 6 private music lesson rooms. The Dining hall is a particular feature where three course meals are served. Sports facilities include three gymnasiums, training and 25m lap pools, a dance studio, two tennis courts, a cricket net, netball courts, and four combined football and rugby pitches.
The youngest pupils (in the ‘Foundation Stage’) are in a completely separate building from KS1/2 students with the two parts of the school having separate entrances, reception areas, hall, parking and play areas.
Once inside the school however, the Foundation Stage does not feel separated from the rest of the school, and the children are clearly able to see the older children when playing outdoors. All Foundation Stage classrooms have access to designated play areas, plus an outdoor area adjacent to each classroom - ideal for break out activities and creative and messy play.
The school has recently made significant investment in sports facilities, with a host of new space on offer for budding athletes. Repton Al Barsha has a 25 metre competition swimming pool (with the Foundation School having its own, shallow swimming pool). The pools and new playing fields feature comfortable raised seating areas for supporters (one area even being air conditioned for the hotter months).
In addition, there are three netball and tennis courts, two multi-purpose outdoor courts, three multi-purpose sports halls, two junior cricket fields including one grass wicket, four junior sized football/rugby pitches, indoor and outdoor cricket nets.
In tandem with the new sports facilities, the school has also opened a new dining hall for the prep school students. This was a firm favourite with the children we spoke to, all of whom liked the space, the independence of a self-serve lunch and, most importantly, the “delicious” food!
Repton Al Barsha has specialist Art, Music and Drama classrooms. Performance is further encouraged with monthly ‘Café Concerts’ held in the spacious Prep School reception/coffee shop area. The coffee shop has clearly become a hub for parents to connect – we notice several groups sitting to chat and have coffee immediately after morning drop off.
The school is also home to two science labs, plus specialist computing and language classrooms.
We were impressed at the attention in all of the facilities at Repton Al Barsha. For example, the perennial Dubai problem of parking has been addressed by creating staff parking underground, so that there is sufficient external parking for parents. A great idea.
Security is good: our ID is checked and we are issued with a lanyard. Parents wear a photo ID lanyard – something which our parent panel comment positively on. They like the added layer of security offered by using photo ID.
Repton School Al Barsha was rated Very Good for the second year running in 2018-19.
As a result of the decision announced by the KHDA in September 2019, all Dubai schools rated Very Good or Outstanding by the DSIB inspection teams no longer participate in a full annual inspection process. Instead a one-day review visit is arranged and no new Inspection report is issued unless there is an overall change in the school rating. Therefore, the 2018-19 inspection report remains the most recent.
Ratings for all key indicators barring Leadership (which this year was rated Good, down from Very Good in 2017-18) have remained the same as in the 2017-18 report.
The change in rating for Leadership and Management was driven by the fact that many of the middle leadership positions at the school were relatively recent appointees. The inspection team found the quality of leadership variable as a result of a lack of clarity among some new team members as to their responsibilities.
The inspection team defined the strengths of Repton Al Barsha as:
In terms of areas of improvement, Repton Al Barsha should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise that you do - please go here.
The KHDA pre-inspection survey for the 2018-19 inspection received 81 responses from parents, 95% of whom said that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by Repton Al Barsha. Most parents were found to be very positive about their views of the school, and were satisfied with the quality of education, and their children's safety. They were pleased with the way in which school leaders listen to their views and the information they received on their children's progress.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com parent survey supported the opinions expressed in the KHDA survey, with the majority of parents extremely happy with the school. In particular, over 80% believed that their children enjoyed going to school a 'tremendous amount', whilst a minimal 13% had even considered a move to another school (compared with a UAE average of 36%). 95% were fully satisfied with the academic performance of their child, with the same percentage saying that they would recommend the school. 63% of parents believed that the fees at Repton Al Barsha represented value for money, with a mere 7% disagreeing with this view.
If you are a parent, teacher or Secondary student at Repton Al Barsha School, please share your opinions with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
Fees for Repton Al Barsha start high, and move higher – this is a premium school, and that requires funding. However, they have been significantly reduced since the launch of the school (balanced perhaps by class sizes increasing from max 16 when the school opened to max 20 today).
Fees now start at AED 58,500 for FS1, increasing to AED 62,100 for FS2, AED 71,100 in Year 1 and 2, AED 76,500 from Years 3 to 6 and rise to AED 83,000 from Years 7 to 13. The tuition fee is inclusive of iPads, text books, stationery, inclusion department support and ECA’s from year 1.
However, as part of the announcement of the school's rebranding from Foremarke to Repton Al Barsha, fees for children in FS1 to Year 6 will be reduced by 16%, whilst those of existing students in the Senior School will be reduced for the next three years by 15%, and new students joining the Senior School will be offered a 10% reduction. Fee information will be updated in full once available.
There is a Registration non-refundable fee of AED 525, and a deposit payment on acceptance of a place for new pupils of 30% of annual tuition fee. There is a discount of 5% on the tuition fees if payment is made in full for the entire academic year.
There is a sibling discount of 5% on the third and subsequent child. Children joining Repton Al Barsha School directly from Dovecote Nursery will receive a discount of 15% on the tuition fees for the first year they attend Repton Al Barsha.
Repton School Al Barsha is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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