Al Nahda-located The Sheffield Private School provides education for approximately 1,500 boys and girls aged three to 18 years, from Foundation Stage 1 to post-16, offering UK IGCSE, AS and A' Level exams. The latest KHDA report shows the school's improvement to a Good rating for the second year, highlighting the important changes taking place to raise student progress and attainment.
The Sheffield Private School has retained its Good rating for a third year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full reports have been published.
The Story so far
The Sheffield Private School, (TSPS) located in Al Nahda 2, is a rising school with improvements being made across all sections, thanks in large part to dynamic new leadership. After 8 years of stagnation in the KHDA ratings - Acceptable being the minimum rating expected by the Inspection teams - the upgrade to Good in the 2016/17 academic year was proof that new leadership and dedicated staff have made a real difference to the quality of education being delivered at this established school. The report for 2017/18 continues to indicate the path to improvement that Sheffield School is on, though much of this has been in the Secondary and post-16 phases of the school in the past academic year.
The school states that its Vision at TSPS is to "ensure that we are preparing our learners of today for higher education and then careers beyond school. We are a constantly evolving school with a clear focus on holistic education, which aims to develop our students academically and personally. We are striving to equip all of our students with the skills needed to become invaluable members of our society".
The Managing Director, Nand Lal states that "TSPS is a special place to learn because we are focused on one principle aim: to provide the best possible learning experience for all because this will ensure our learners of today can become the leaders of tomorrow".
At the time of the 2017-18 KHDA inspection, in October 2018, the Sheffield Private School had just over 1,500 students (a fall of approximately 150 on the previous year), who were being taught by some 113 UK/Irish teachers, supported by a further 32 teaching assistants. Remarkably, not a single member of staff had left the school at the end of the 2016/17 academic year. Previously, turnover had been at 25-30%. Given an average staff turnover of between 20-22% in the UAE, this is highly unusual. The teacher:student ratio had reduced to 1:13 from 1:15, presumably as a result of the reduction in student numbers - a real benefit to the students who are able to receive greater individual attention as a result. The largest nationality group among the students is Pakistani, but there are a wide range of nationalities represented in the school.
What about the Curriculum?
TSPS offer the National curriculum of England and Wales, following Early Years Foundation Stage programme in FS1 and FS2, before moving on to the Cambridge curriculum for Primary school where the core subjects taught are English, Mathematics, Science, Arabic, Islamic Education (Muslim students only), together with ICT, Art, Music, Physical Education, Social Studies, Personal, Social and Health Education, History, Geography, and French.
The Secondary curriculum is a continuation of the Primary and includes English, Mathematics, Science, Arabic, Islamic, Art, Geography, History, Social Studies, a Modern Foreign Language, Information Technology and ICDL, Physical Education, Personal, Health and Social Education, and Music.
Students in Key State 4 (Years 10 and 11), take the Cambridge International IGCSE exams and TSPS offers quite a broad range for a school in its fee bracket. Students have the choice of Mathematics, Statistics, English Language, English Literature, Media Studies, Islamic Education, Arabic 1st and 2nd Language, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Combined Science, Economics, Business Studies, Accounting, Environmental Management, Physical Education, ICT, French, Personal Health and Social Education. Unusually, the school offers a wider range of Humanities and Arts than many, including Art, History, Geography, Travel and Tourism, Sociology and Psychology,
A Level options are also relatively broad including Mathematics, English Literature, Islamic Education, Arabic 1st and 2nd Language, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Business Studies, and Accounting, as well as Sociology, Psychology, Art, Media Studies,History, Geography, and ICT. The school offers the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Scheme and is a registered BTEC centre, although no BTEC qualifications are mentioned on the school's curriculum list, but there is a Catch Up club as an ECA. The KHDA also praises the breadth of qualifications available to students, catering to different pathways.
What about academic results?
Unfortunately, TSPS does not publish its overall examination results, although does mention one student who was the recipient of the Cambridge Outstanding Learner Award for IGCSE English Literature in 2018. We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com firmly believe that whilst success in examinations is not the be-all and end-all of school's success, it is inevitably an important factor in making a school choice. We would encourage TSPS, which clearly has talented students, to make its results known.
What about facilities?
The school is a fairly modern cream three storey u-shaped block, has regular square windows and two long arched windows either side of the entrance. A line of palm trees around the front of the block looks well established and softens the appearance of the frontage.
The school features a large, well-integrated building with grounds plus two floors and central air-conditioning. Spacious, naturally lit classrooms and wide corridors provide open circulation spaces. All classrooms are provided with networked computers, projectors and Interactive Smart Boards to aid teachers in the delivery of lessons. The school is Wi-Fi enabled so teachers can demonstrate online resources, and video streaming during the lessons. Tablets are also accessible during lessons to enhance individual learning of children. Three fully-equipped ICT labs are available where each student has access to their own computer to enable individual computer skills to be developed in line with curriculum subjects.
A well-resourced Art Studio and several music rooms provide students with great opportunities to develop their artistic abilities. A well-resourced library, which includes a wide range of reading and resource material, is available to all students to support their learning and facilitate self-study. Three fully equipped laboratories are available, each specializing in an area of the Sciences to enhance the student’s learning experience. Preparation Rooms and Lab Assistants are also on-site to support the delivery of outstanding lessons
There are separate covered play areas for the Foundation Stage, Primary and Secondary students that provide a safe and secure environment for physical activity. Outside play and sports areas include a covered netball court and AstroTurf football and hockey pitches which are provided to enhance the range of sports offered to students in the school. There is a large, covered five lane swimming pool and a learner pool used by all students in the school. Both pools are temperature controlled and are connected with separate changing rooms for boys and girls.
The school auditorium/multi-purpose hall has facilities for volleyball, badminton and basketball as well as a performance quality gymnastics floor system. It is provided with multimedia facilities to support the external and internal recreational/educational programmes, productions and assemblies.
TSPS offers a wide range of Extra-curricular activities during the school week. The school aims to teach children how "to grow into positive, responsible people, who can work and co-operate with others while developing their knowledge and skills, so that they achieve their true potential". The school seeks to deliver a broad and balanced, creative curriculum enabling them to develop their talents. ECAs are divided into two categories - Inclusive Enrichment Activities which are provided by teachers two days per week - and vary from sports to artistic activities. Optional Enrichment Activities are provided by professional companies and qualified trainers and take place three days per week on the school’s premises, for which fees are charged. The Optional activities include Swimming, Karate, Football, Gymnastics, Ballet, Tennis, Zumba, Badminton, Afro Beat, Netball, Music Classes, Engineers To Be, Mad Science, and Advance Art and Craft.
Inclusive Enrichment Activities include Art/Craft/ Calligraphy and Design, Basketball, Biology/ Physics/Chemistry Revision Club, Board Games, Book Club, BTEC Catch Up, Business Club, Chess Club, Computer Coding, Debating/Public Speaking, Drama and Performance, Duke of Edinburgh, Eco Club, Economics Club/Accounting, Employability Workshops, English Revision Club, Environmental Club, Football, French Club, Funk Your Junk, Geography/History club, Grammar for Arabs, Guided Reading Club, Homework Club, ICT Club, Islamic Values, Lego Construction Club, Literacy Booster, Little Scientists Club, Maths Club/Mental Math Club, Mindfulness, Movie, Netball, Origami, Painting Club, Personality Development, Playdough, Quilling, Quiz Club, Quran Recitation/Memorisation, Reading and Writing Arabic, Reading Comprehension Club, Recycling Club, Statistics, Story Telling Club, Swimming Elite, and TSPS Entrepreneurs Club/Magazine.
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What the Inspectors Say 2017/18
Following on from the 2016/17 inspection report, TSPS was again rated Good in the 2017/18 inspection round. The inspection team found that "the principal and senior leaders' close teamwork and clear vision for improving the school have enabled improvement in many areas of the work of the school. Such improvement is most consistently evident in the improvement in post-16 student outcomes". It is clear that the improvement to Good in the previous year has been followed up in the subsequent year with further improvements, notably in terms of Students' Achievement.
Inspectors commented that "Primary students' science progress is now very good, as is students' achievement in English and mathematics in secondary and post-16. In addition, in post-16, academic achievement is supported by very good learning skills. In this phase students typically act in partnership with their teachers, taking impressive responsibility for their own learning".
Whilst the ratings for English, Maths and Science in the Foundation stage and Primary school are largely unchanged from the previous inspection, those in the Secondary section and in the post-16 (Sixth Form) section of the school have improved in almost all measures to Very Good for English and Maths, and have achieved overall Good ratings for Science. Learning skills in Secondary and post-16 have also improved to Very Good. Unfortunately, insufficient improvement has been seen in Islamic Studies and Arabic as a first and second language to enable an improvement in rating - indeed Islamic Studies and Arabic as a first language remain Acceptable, whilst attainment in Arabic as a Second language in Primary and Secondary remains Weak. This will have a significant impact on the likelihood of the school improving its overall rating, given the significant emphasis placed on Arabic by the KHDA.
In many ways, the ratings for the three further key performance areas of Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills, Teaching and Assessment, and Curriculum show a consolidation of the Good ratings achieved in the previous year. All ratings across the Foundation and Primary school sections have remained rated Good. In Secondary school, the curriculum design and its implementation has improved to Very Good. In terms of the quality of teaching, inspectors noted that "Very good teaching in post16 very effectively supports students' outcomes. In other phases, good teaching also supports improving outcomes in particular subjects, but not yet in Islamic education and Arabic. The quality of teaching in the large primary phase, other than in science, lacks the consistency found in post-16".
Their findings in relation to the curriculum design, its implementation and adaptation to meet the individual needs of students indicated that "the very good design of the curriculum at secondary and post-16 phases reflects school leaders' determined vision to offer all students wider routes to relevant qualifications as they prepare for the next stage of their education. The extended range of subjects, and levels at which they are offered, meets very effectively the needs of the increasing post-16 student roll".
The most progress in terms of improvement has been made in the post-16 section, where Personal Development and Social responsibility and innovation skills have improved to Very Good. The curriculum design and implementation in post-16 also achieved the same rating. Inspectors commented that "Post-16 students demonstrate very good personal and social responsibility and innovation. These students voluntarily accept responsibility for younger peers in a range of school contexts. Their innovative output includes creative short film and IT presentations. In other phases, some students are happiness ambassadors, and primary students lead family fun days, but most lack the daily leadership opportunities provided in post-16".
In terms of the Protection, care, guidance and support of students, the inspection team found that "the school's provision for the health and safety of all school users, and arrangements for child protection and safeguarding, continue to be outstanding. Good provision for students' care and support is matched by continuing effective support for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)".
Finally, in terms of the Leadership and Management of the school, each of the five measures retained their Good rating from a year ago. Inspectors found that "school leaders’ strategic leadership of curriculum development and teaching and learning are improving outcomes for post-16 students. Most middle leaders’ good understanding of effective teaching is improving outcomes in particular primary and secondary subjects". In addition, the school's and approach to self-evaluation and improvement planning gives "appropriate attention to internal and external data, [identifying] areas of strength and for development. Resultant development plans with relevant priorities and measurable success criteria are well implemented".
Relationships between the school, parents and the community, together with governance were also found to be Good. The report notes that "the governing body includes parental representation, as well as professional educationalists. Governors’ detailed understanding of the work of the school informs well-developed systems that hold school leaders accountable for school improvement. Governors’ support for school developments have contributed to improvements in provision and outcomes for post-16 students".
The management, staffing, facilities and resources of the school were also found to be Good. "Management of the day-to-day life of the school is efficient. Staff are appropriately deployed to implement UAE and school priorities. Teachers benefit from regular professional development linked to school priorities. Facilities are suitably upgraded to support curricular development such as BTEC. Some areas of the school such as the library are under-used to support student learning and development".
With so many positive comments, there is always a risk that a school will rest on its laurels. However, the recommendations from the KHDA inspection team make it clear that this is not something TSPS should consider. The school is advised to:
It will be interesting to see what further progress the Sheffield Private School has made on its improvement journey at the next inspection.
According to feedback from 228 parents to the KHDA pre-inspection survey "responses to the surveys are positive overall. Almost all are satisfied with overall quality of education and health and safety. 1 in 6 do not agree that the school deals well with bullying. Most parents, agree the school encourages students to be innovative and curious". Interestingly, the previous survey also mentioned some parents' concerns over discipline. Some 166 students of Senior Secondary and post-16 age also responded to the survey, and "almost all students who responded to the survey, agree teachers are helpful and supportive of their learning, and that school is well led. Extra-curricular activities and opportunities to develop leadership skills were features students wanted more of".
Students of the school are loyal and passionate about their own school according to feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, and parents would recommend it to others. However, the response rate to the survey has been relatively low. If you are a parent of a student at the Sheffield Private School, please share your opinion with others by completing our survey here..
The Sheffield Private School is clearly well established on its improvement journey now, and offers a good or better standard of education at an affordable fee level. Interestingly, it appears to be improving and achieving higher ratings in the Secondary and post-16 sections than in Foundation and Primary sections. This is an unusual trend, based on our experience, and one that parents seeking secondary or post-16 options might particularly want to follow.
Tuition fees at Sheffield are approaching mid range, starting at AED 21,405 at FS1 and rising to AED 40,365 by Year 13.
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