The Philippine School in Dubai is a relatively low cost school offering the Philippines curriculum to Filipino students. The school was established in 2008, and has recently moved to a new building in Muhaisnah 2. A sister school exists in Abu Dhabi.
After 3 years of Weak ratings in the KHDA inspection process, The Philippine School has improved its rating to Acceptable - the minimum accepted rating - in the 2019-20 inspection round. The inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab above this review. The review will be updated in due course.
The story so far...
The Philippine School (TPS) was established in February, 2008 and formally opened for its first academic year in September 2008. Originally located in Al Twar, the school moved to Al Rashidiya in 2010 and made its third relocation, in January 2017, to its current building in Al Muhaisnah 2.
The school's relatively new (and not fully developed) website tells us its Philosophy.
The Philippine School is a leader in academic excellence and values formation that provides quality education in a multicultural learning environment. Similarly, its Vision-Mission Statement notes that "The Philippine School nurtures students to be holistically developed and globally competent citizens in the service of mankind".
Whilst the Vision-Mission statement may well ring true, the school's philosophy does not - we can only assume that this statement is aspirational!
The school's performance, based on the KHDA's annual inspection programme, indicates that far from being a leader in academic excellence, it is one of only SIX schools in Dubai (including one that has now closed) to be rated Weak - the lowest ratings achieved by any of the close to 180 schools inspected in 2018-19. Not only was The Philippine School rated Weak in the current academic year, but it has received the same rating for three years in a row. Prior to this, the school had achieved the minimum rating expected by the KHDA of Acceptable. Find out more about the reasons behind the rating here.
To say that we, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, were surprised to see the following comment on the school's website is an understatement. We are frankly shocked that TPS should make such a claim:
"In response to the interminable advancement of education, TPS submitted itself for inspection with the Dubai School Inspection Bureau. True to its vision of being a “Leader in Academic Excellence and Values Formation,” The Philippine School continuously provides exceptional academic training for children through experiential, integrative, multicultural, and values-oriented learning".
The core concerns of the KHDA are the quality of teaching and assessment, support for students with SEN requirements, and, to a lesser extent, the design of the curriculum. There are significant concerns about the capacity of the leadership of the school to raise standards, despite the obvious desire of the Principal and the Governors to see this.
According to the 2018-19 inspection report, TPS currently educates 2,362 children from KG1 to Grade 12. Student numbers vary from 200-250 per grade in the KG and Primary sections of the school to between 120 and 180 in the higher sections. All students are Filipino, as are all of the staff (108 teachers, 9 teaching assistants and 4 Guidance Counsellors).
The teacher:student ratio at 1:22 is very much on the higher side, meaning that there is not necessarily the degree of individual attention and adaptation of the curriculum to meet individual students' and group needs. Staff turnover, at 25%, is also above the average for international schools in the UAE of 20-22% - meaning that the school is replacing a quarter of its staff annually. This is not a good sign. However, the latest KHDA report notes that the Principal (who appears to have relocated from the Abu Dhabi sister school) has clear plans to improve the school.
What about the curriculum?
Following its opening, the school received the Philippine Department of Education recognition for being an accredited Philippine school overseas, and it is also registered with the Dubai Schools Regulator, the KHDA.
The school offers programmes from Kindergarten 1 to Grade 12. TPS has aligned its curriculum to that in the Philippines to provide easy transition for students needing to relocate back home. Additional subjects, including Arabic as a Second language, Islamic Education and Social Studies are offered to comply with the requirements of the UAE Ministry of Education. The majority of teaching is in Filipino, with English instruction as an additional language.
In the KG section, the core subjects of Filipino, English, Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies are taught, based on the Standards and Competencies for Five-Year Old Filipino Children set by the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd). These standards and competencies are Socio-Emotional Development, Values Development, Physical Health and Motor Development, Aesthetic Development, Mathematics, Physical and Natural Environment, and Language, Literacy, and Communication.
From Grades 1 to 6, in addition to the core subjects, subjects include Practical Learning Time and Reading (for Grades 1 to 3 only), Home and Livelihood Education (for Grades 4 to 6 only), Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health, Values Education (for non-Muslim students), Moral Education, Information and Communications Technology, Arabic as a second language, and Islamic Education (for Muslim students).
Students from Grades 7 to 10 again follow the core programme offered from Grade 1, with Arabic as a second language until Grade 9, and an additional (unspecified) Elective (for grade 10 only). Students in the Senior High School study fifteen core subjects and sixteen track subjects, (seven applied and nine specialized subjects), mandated in the Senior High School curriculum of the Department of Education, Philippines, together with Moral Education prescribed by the United Arab Emirates.
What about facilities?
TPS Dubai is located in a modern, four storey building with outside space that includes a covered multi-sports court and plentiful outdoor activities. Classrooms are large and bright. Specialist facilities include computer and science labs, a music room, and school canteen. Facilities and resources are described by the KHDA inspection team as adequate.
The most recent inspection of the school took place in December 2018. Whilst the school was again rated Weak, it was not all bad news.
Students' attainment and progress are described as acceptable in all phases, with the exception of Arabic and Islamic Education throughout the school, and for Mathematics in the Elementary phase, all of which are rated Weak. Unfortunately, the weak ratings for Arabic and Islamic Education will inevitably hold back the likelihood of a higher overall rating, irrespective of improvements made in other subjects.
Students' personal and social development are Good in KG and the Elementary phase, and Very Good in the Junior and Senior High phases. Positive relationships exist between staff and students, underpinning a caring and safe learning environment. Older students are widely involved in charitable and environmental efforts and benefit from helpful advice and guidance in terms of future career choices.
The recently appointed Principal has a clear desire to improve the school and governors are now increasingly holding the leadership of the school to account. Partnerships with parents remain strong.
The inspection team summarised the strengths of TPS Dubai as:
Unfortunately, strengths were outweighed by areas for improvement. The inspection team's key recommendations are to:
Readers should not underestimate the scale of improvement required at TPS. Fundamentally, improving the quality of teaching so that it encourages students to be independent learners, the use and implementation of assessment tools to guide the design of the curriculum so that it is matched to the needs of students of differing abilities, and the requirement of the school's leadership to be able to evaluate teaching standards and improve them, are substantial challenges.
It can but be hoped that the new Principal, who has come from the Abu Dhabi branch which is currently rated Acceptable, is able to harness the support of his leadership team, staff and community to make the step changes that are needed.
One interesting fact, in relation to the wider community of the school, is that over 600 parents responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey - a substantial number. Of these, 94% strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the quality of education at TPS Dubai. This should be encouraging for the school's leadership, given that they will be reliant on parental support.
For the full KHDA report - which we would encourage you to read - go here.
What about fees?
Fees at TPS are on the moderate end of the scale. KG fees start at AED 5,956, rising to AED 7,013 from Grades 1 to 3, AED 7,681 from Grades 4 to 6 and then rise quite steeply to AED 9,128 for Grades 7 to 8, AED 10,241 for Grades 9 and 10, and AED 13,100 for Grade 11 and a significant AED 15,065 for Grade 12.
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