The Russian International School in Dubai is the only one of its kind in the United Arab Emirates. The school offers the Russian curriculum to approximately 270 students, the majority of whom - but by no means all - are Russian nationals. The school is located on the Dubai-Sharjah border in Muhaisnah 4.
The story so far...
Founded by Mr. Najib Najibullah, the Russian International School in Dubai was originally set up in 1996, relocating to its current site 10 years later, and at over 20 years old, we would expect that its presence would be more widely known. However, this is most certainly not the case. To some extent, this is perhaps due to the school's location, close to Dubai International Airport and with easier access from the Northern Emirates and east of the city than the neighbourhoods to the south of Dubai, which seem to be more favoured by Eastern European residents. In an apparent effort to maintain links to these families, the Russian School organises additional classes in Russian for Russian-speaking children studying in English schools in Dubai, which take place each Saturday morning.
The school's website states that "Russian International School in Dubai is the only school in the United Arab Emirates where Russian educational programmes are taught and the federal policy of general education in the Russian Federation is consistently implemented".
With a student cohort of under 300, despite the fact that the school offers an education from the equivalent of KG1 to Grade 11, following a curriculum leading to the Volograd leaving examinations, class sizes are small with a teacher:student ratio of 1:9. Some 29 teachers, supported by 5 teaching assistants and a cohort of 9 guidance counsellors make up the staff. The majority of teachers are Russian.
Student nationalities, by contrast, are varied, with just under half the student body originating from Russia; Uzbekistan and the Ukraine are the next largest contingents together making up around 25%, and Belarus and Kazakhstan, a further 15%. The remaining students come from a further nine countries including Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Lithuania.
The school's website states that students "have created favorable conditions for achieving an appropriate educational level, personal development, preservation of national and cultural identity; students form a positive attitude towards the Russian language, which is Russia's national wealth. The priority activity of the school is to ensure the modern quality of education on the basis of preserving its fundamental nature and compliance with the current and future needs of the individual and society". [Translated from the original Russian].
The focus of the school is on "the introduction of modern educational programmes and technology developmental education; the formation of personality with a developed intellect and a high level of culture capable of self-education and self-development, prepared for life in civil society; and preserving and strengthening the health of students".
What about the curriculum?
As would be expected, the core curriculum is taught in Russian, but students also study Arabic and English in depth, with the aim of ensuring that they are able to continue their education in "foreign universities", both in the Emirates and in the United States and European countries.
Students in the ninth and eleventh grades (Grade 11 is the final grade) are required to sit examinations which are conducted at the end of the school year in the form of written and oral examinations that are mandatory. Graduates of the ninth grade pass at least four exams including written exams in the Russian language and mathematics, as well as two elective subjects.
Graduates of the 11th grade are required to pass at least five exams: written exams in mathematics and Russian in the Unified State Examination format, as well as three elective subjects from the 10th and 11th grades.
However, the school say that there is a strong focus on the personal growth of students, and not just academic results, with the development not only theoretical knowledge, but also the practical application of this knowledge gained as a priority for innovative teaching.
The school say that "both in the classroom and in extra-curricular time, during extracurricular activities, all conditions are created for pupils for independent choice of actions, adequate self-assessment, acquisition of cooperation skills and ability to independently find sources of information".
Extra curricular activities lead to a variety of creative evenings, festive events, and sports competitions. Students are encouraged to express themselves and their abilities in the activities of the dance team of the Kalinka school or in the creation of the school newspaper Shans, and the Arts group promotes the development of the creative abilities of children. There is a music school, which offers musical education to all students.
Since 2010, students who complete their education at the Russian International School receive an equivalence certificate from the UAE Ministry of Education, accrediting their studies and completion of their secondary education.
What about the facilities?
The Russian school is located in a modern building and aims to keep up with modern educational requirements in terms of facilities and resources. Classrooms are equipped with the modern technology and ICT resources and classroom interiors are constantly updated. The school has a spacious canteen, a large library equipped with all the necessary reading resources and teaching aids, a medical office, and an indoor hall for sports activities.
What the inspectors say
The Russian International School in Dubai has been inspected 8 times since its opening on its new site, and achieved an Acceptable rating for the first four years. Since 2015-16, the school has achieved a Good rating - the target set by the KHDA for all Dubai schools.
In fact, the Russian International School seems to be offering a remarkably good level of education to its students for what are, by Dubai standards, relatively modest fees. Academic achievement is Good or better with recent improvements in the KG curriculum enabling children to achieve Good ratings for attainment and progress across all four core (non Arabic) subjects of Russian, English, Mathematics and Science. In the Primary school section, Russian and Mathematics are rated Very Good, with the other core subjects Good. Similarly, in the Middle school, Russian and Science are rated Very Good. The Secondary school section delivers Outstanding ratings for Russian subjects and an improvement to Very Good in Science.
Where the school is more challenged - in common with many international schools in the UAE - is in the level of attainment and progress in Arabic as a second language and Islamic Studies - both rated Acceptable (but with a worrying drop from Good for the latter in Middle and Secondary school sections for progress). This must be a concern for the school, given the focus by the inspection teams on these two subjects.
Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills are largely rated Good, with stronger performance in the Middle and Secondary school sections. Similarly, teaching and assessment are largely rated Good with the exception of the Secondary school, where teaching for effective learning is rated Very Good. The curriculum is also rated Very Good in the higher sections of the school, Good in Primary and improving in KG.
The final two key performance areas of the Protection, care, guidance and support of students, and Leadership and management were also largely rated Good, though the relationship between the school, parents and the community was rated Very Good.
The inspection report summarises the strengths of the school as:
Key recommendations are to:
We strongly recommend that you read the latest KHDA report in full here.
What about fees?
The Russian International School does not publish its fees on its website. The following KHDA approved fees are believed to apply, starting at AED 14,536 in KG1 and rising to AED 19,759 in Grade 1. Grade 9 fees are AED 21,620, whilst Grade 11 are AED 22,352. These are decidedly modest fees compared with many Dubai schools.
For full details, go here.
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