Set up to create a school that mirrored the more traditional UK public (meaning private) school (including a boarding option), there is no mistaking Repton Dubai. Located just off the main Dubai-Sharjah highway, the school with its turrets and cloisters resembles a popular fictional school. Having now secured an Outstanding rating from the KHDA for the fifth year, Repton has confirmed that excellence is truly embedded in a school that always set its targets high.
The story so far...
Launched in 2007, Repton School Dubai, located in Nad Al Sheba, is currently home to over 1,770 students, three times as many as its sister school in the UK. Repton Dubai offers the English National Curriculum from FS1 to Year 11, and the IB Diploma and IB Careers-related programmes in Years 12 and 13. The largest single nationality within the school is, as you would expect, British; however this is a school also favoured by the local community - over 350 students are Emirati, some 19.7% and an evergrowing percentage. Repton also has 71 students of Determination who require additional support from the specialist SEN team.
The school accepts girls and boys from three to eighteen years of age, and offers both day and boarding facilities (from Year 7). Its "Outstanding" rating makes it one of only 14 schools in the emirate to achieve the grade. Repton Dubai is also rated 'Outstanding' by British Schools Overseas (May 2015).
Read our Repton Visit Experience here.
One thing to look for when examining IB curriculum schools is staff resourcing. The syllabus and methodology of the IB diploma requires more staff and Repton does not disappoint. It employs 165 full-time teachers, and 50 teaching assistants making the school one of the better resourced institutions in the emirate in terms of teacher-to-student ratios at 1:10. Teacher turnover, at 18% in 2018-19, is slightly below the average for international schools in the UAE, but still rather higher than the school might necessarily like to see - replacing almost one in five staff each year is not without challenge.
What about the curriculum?
Repton School Dubai follows the English National Curriculum from Foundation Stage to Year 11. Students are entered for IGCSE at the end of the secondary phase and then follow the increasingly well-regarded International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at post-16. Repton also offers an IB Career-related programme, linked to the BTEC qualification, offering a more vocational option. This is unlike the UK school, which follows a GCSE route, followed by the traditional (for the United Kingdom) A' Level curriculum.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com discusses the relevant merits of each curriculum here in terms of their approach, however you can see the logic in the deviation. While A' Levels are established and recognised by universities around the world, the IB Diploma is more of an international curriculum in terms of its syllabus, increasingly recognised as the Gold Standard academically, and arguably, therefore, more suited to Dubai and 79 of the 80 nationalities that attend the school.
Given that at least two Dubai schools have recently confirmed their intention to offer both the IBDP and A Levels, Repton is probably another school that has the resources, and space to do so. The choice is not about which is better, but about which suits the student in question. A' Levels allow focus, the IB allows breadth. We are aware that this debate has taken place internally at Repton in the past, but there does not appear to be any intention to travel this route at the current time. With IB Diploma results which are among the best in the UAE, there does not seem to be any particular reason to consider the A Level option.
As would be expected, Repton Dubai aims to deliver a holistic approach to education, ensuring that students' focus is not solely on the academic - although this is clearly a key part. The school has too many after school clubs to actually list - but you can find the details here.
What about academic achievement?
Repton Dubai has released its results to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com - something which we believe is a very positive step towards transparency in the UAE education scene and which has been somewhat lacking in the past. Repton does relatively well.
The full results, as issued by the school, may be found here, but 85% of students achieved A* to C at GCSE English and Mathematics in 2016/17, while IB performance has been improving year on year - and its 2016/17 average, 34 points, was on a par with the leading IB schools in Dubai.
In fact, in 2017, having initially achieved an average of 34 points when results were originally published, the results of re-marks lifted the overall average score to 35 points. Its average score in 2012/13 was 30 and that 5 point increase is hefty in terms of improvement. Each point is the equivalent of 2.2% (1 point divided by 45 points (maximum points), times 100). IB results can be found here.
In 2017-18, Repton IBDP students again achieved an average of 34 points, with 40 students sitting the full IBDP and a further 7 students taking the IB Career-related programme (IBCP) with a BTEC qualification in Business Studies. The global average IBDP score fell slightly to 29.78, whilst the UAE average was 31.41.
The 2018-19 IB results - which were issued after UAE schools had closed for the summer - were provided in an abridged form. All 61 IB students passed their IB examinations, scoring an average of 34.0 points, as in 2016-17. 47% of students achieved 34 points of more, whilst two students attained 43 points (only 1% of students worldwide achieve this) and will study at St Andrews and University College London in the UK. In addition, two students achieved the bilingual Diploma in French and English – a first for Repton and a huge achievement for the students involved.
All IBCP students (the school did not advise how many) successfully graduated from the programme, having completed a Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Business within the IB Careers-Related Programme. All Emirati students who completed the examinations successfully earned their IB Diploma or IBCP certificate.
We would like to see a more detailed, comparative break-down of the IBDP results, particularly in terms of the number of students who achieved 30+, 35+ and 40+ points, the usual basis for comparison. Hopefully this will be provided when the school re-opens after the summer break. IGCSE results are also due for release shortly.
What about the Facilities?
Repton's buildings, which are often compared with Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books, do offer a very fine range of facilities. The school is on a dedicated campus which it claims is the largest in the Middle East. At 1.3 million square feet it's certainly big, with expansive outdoor space.
The ten buildings, set around a central circular outdoor space, are nothing if not impressive. Performances and fundraising activities are often held on the lawned area, due to the fact that the Performing Arts Centre still remains "under construction" more than 10 years after the school opened. This has been the subject of heated discussion among parents and latterly, the KHDA inspection team, who seem to feel that "leaders have been slow to keep parents up-to-date with their efforts to complete the performing arts centre."
Its school grounds are vast, with some new parents describing it as "like walking onto a university campus".
The single-storey Foundation section, though part of the Junior School, is housed separately from it and the Senior school, and offers a vast range of facilities (including a gymnasium) and resources. Each classroom opens onto an outdoor space for messy play and other creative activities. Classrooms are bright and spacious and well furnished for younger children.
The Junior School, made up of the Foundation section, together with the Infant Department (Years 1 and 2), the Pre-Prep (years 3 and 4) and the Prep School (years 5 and 6) is located to the left of the campus. It is built over two floors in a C- shape with wide corridors offering plenty of space for break-out areas and even performances. Specialist labs, art rooms, technology spaces and a two-storey library are included in the imaginative design. The school states that English, Maths, Science and Computing lie at the heart of the Junior School curriculum.
To the right of the Junior School is the two floor refectory, with formal eating areas supervised by staff for younger students, and a more grown up cafeteria style space for older students and staff on the upper floor. Kitchens on site, mean that food is largely prepared at the school.
Behind this facility lies the Sports area, with two indoor pools, gymnasia and an enormous playing field where students have access to a full-size grass Rugby pitch among other facilities. Tucked away to the left of these facilities are the two Boarding houses. Although the school was designed with Boarding options in mind, this appears to have been relatively limited in its success. One of these buildings has now been turned over to a Music Centre as a (hopefully) temporary measure until the Performing Arts Centre finally opens its doors.
The Senior School is spread across three buildings to the right of the main circle, each offering classrooms, together with all of the facilities and resources required to enable the school to offer "a combined British independent school curriculum and one common to international schools around the globe. This curriculum incorporates elements of the English National Curriculum, but also allows highly skilled teachers to develop an appropriate curriculum for an independent school in an international environment."
The course of study through the school is designed to develop pupils as independent and lifelong learners as well to encourage "a spirit of intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge both in and out of the classroom."
What the inspectors say
According to the KHDA, attainment and progress, curriculum and quality of teaching, learning and assessment are 'Outstanding' at Foundation Stage - as noted in all reports since 2011-12.
In the 2018-19 report, Students' achievement across English, Mathematics and Science across all sections was rated Outstanding with the sole exception of Sixth form Science attainment, which was rated Very Good as in the previous year. In fact, achievement has remained the same across all core subjects including Arabic, although this is mainly rated Acceptable.
The position in relation to Islamic Education is likely to be a cause for concern, given that it has dropped again from Good to Acceptable in the Secondary school.
Across the other five key performance standards, Students' personal and social skills and their innovation skills were found to be Outstanding, with two exceptions from the previous inspection having now also achieved the top rating. Similarly, the ratings for Teaching and Assessment are now all rated Outstanding, as are all of the ratings for Curriculum.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students reflect a similar outcome of Outstanding. Provision and outcomes for Students of Determination who require additional SEND support was again rated Very Good.
Leadership and Management was again rated predominantly Outstanding, with the exception of Governance which was rated Very Good. This is again apparently driven by the failure of the owners of the school to make the now complete, but not yet in use, Performing Arts Centre available for students' use, resulting in performances taking place at external venues.
High praise is retained for the Leadership and Management of the school with inspectors stating that "The Principal plays a pivotal role in sustaining a vibrant learning culture where students thrive. Leaders at all levels share a strong commitment to inclusion, and to ensuring that all students do as well as they can."
The strengths of Repton Dubai were defined as follows:
Key recommendations for Repton focused, as they have done in the past, on the need to:
If you would like read the entire KHDA inspection report - and we strongly encourage you to do so - please go here.
Parents were evidently keen to state their views about their experiences at Repton. 99% of the 132 parents, who responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, said that they are satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. Indeed, according to the KHDA, "Parents are extremely positive about the quality of teaching and how their children develop confidence, independence and strong moral values. They are overwhelmingly pleased with their children's progress and the variety of experiences on offer. Parents are very pleased with the leadership, and value the regularity and quality of communication. They appreciate the way in which leaders take their views seriously".
Almost 500 students participated in the KHDA's Well-being census. Almost all who responded expressed positive views about most aspects of the school. They are very appreciative of the quality of teaching and feel valued and safe. Students appreciate the support and individual feedback about their academic progress and personal development which teachers provide.
Opinions from parents who have completed the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Opinion Survey are a shade more mixed. Whilst 71% felt that their children enjoyed going to school "quite a bit" or "a tremendous amount", a surprising 49% had considered moving their child to a different school. Just under 60% were satisfied with the level of academic performance of the school, with almost 20% dissatisfied. Fees were also an issue, with 35% totally disagreeing that they are good value for money, and a further 32% feeling that they represent partial value. But despite these concerns, 65% said that they would recommend Repton to another parent.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Repton Dubai, please share your experiences with others by completing our survey here.
It is perhaps unreasonable to expect Repton Dubai to offer the same experience as its UK counterpart - academically or holistically. One is over 500 years old, the other just over 10. Repton School Dubai generated significant publicity at its opening, much of that simply from the famous name of the school itself (Dubai does love a brand), combined with the city's love of the new, and the general need for good quality institutions.
Repton UK enjoys a good reputation as an English public school. Academically (and it's more than just academics of course) it is ranked 97th in a league of UK public schools in terms of exam performance ('A' Level), which may not sound high, but puts it top third of a very competitive bunch.
The history and reputation of the UK School and high expectations of parents for the Dubai School have, inevitably perhaps, led the newer school to its share of teething problems, as anyone who does research on the school will find out from various UAE forums. Repton Dubai does seem quite unlike many others in terms of the heated response any discussion of it gets. Some actually hostile, some very passionate in its defense.
Whatever the case, Repton Dubai can certainly argue that it is academically successful and an Outstanding school as adjudged by the local Regulator.
Fees at the school currently range from AED 52,863 for FS1 to AED 95,000 for Year 13. This follows the introduction of some hefty discounts, ranging between 10% in the Nursery/Reception classes up to a whopping 15% for Years 12 and 13.
On launch, Repton Dubai was one of the two most expensive schools in the UAE (with GEMS World Academy), another reason behind the heated response from critics. Its fees still clearly exclude many potential students, whose parents may have wanted them to attend. It also sharpens the senses when it comes to determining 'value' - and certainly puts the performance and facilities Repton offers under the microscope.
Fees for boarders are clearly higher than the tuition fees we have mentioned. For boarding options, fees range from AED 136,221 at Year 6, to AED 161,000 at Year 13. (Note, the cost of boarding in the United Kingdom is presently the equivalent of AED 175,000 annually (£9,760 per term) - it does not seem to matter the age range. Boarding take up has mainly been from locally-based or GCC boys on a weekly basis. Repton Dubai is still trying to develop interest in this very British offering.
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