Iranian Boys School Dubai (also known as Towheed Iranian Boys School) is a private K-12 school for boys only from Grade 4 (with a mixed KG and Primary section to Grade 3 inclusive) located on the outskirts of Al Quoz, Dubai close to the Al Khail Road. The school is the oldest private school in Dubai, being first established in 1957 by the Iranian Embassy.
The Towheed Iranian Boys School has been rated Good for the fifth 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...
Fourteen years before the formation of the United Arab Emirates, Iranian residents in the then Sheikhdom of Dubai requested an Iranian school for the education of their children. Founded with the consent of the Ruler, Sheikh Rashid, and the authorisation from Iran’s Ministry of Culture, the Iranian Primary School opened with six mixed classes, admitting around 210 students. In 1980, following the revolution in Iran, the high school separated girls and boys and the independent Girls School opened. Today it is adjacent to the Boys School.
The boys school operates under a ‘directorate’ managing the affairs of eight Iranian schools in the UAE, with a combined student population of 6,000. The schools are: Towheed International and Boys School, Towheed Girls School, Khadije Kobra (PBUH) Girls School, Salman Boys School, Sharjah Boys and Girls School, Imam Khomeini (MBUH) Boys and Girls School in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain Boys and Girls School, and Adab Private Boys and Girls School.
Currently the Towheed Iranian Boys school caters to around 800 students, with 70 teachers, the majority of whom are from Iran. A teacher:student ratio of 1:11 is a positive one that should enable individual attention for students. The staff turnover, at 21%, is around the average for Dubai, although it would potentially benefit the school if it did not replace one fifth of its staff each academic year.
What about facilities?
The school moved to a then new 20,000 sqm campus, located in Al Qouz, in September 2007. The large campus and facilities offer plentiful indoor and outdoor space. According to the most recent KHDA report, the facilities are of high quality with classrooms provided with interactive whiteboards which teachers and students use regularly to good effect. There are also the usual range of Science labs and specialist facilities. The narrowness of the curriculum, which is very Science-based, together with Farsi, English, Arabic as a second language and Maths, suggests that more creative facilities are not generally provided, although there is mention of a Design room.
What about the curriculum?
The school offers two streams, one based on the Iranian curriculum, for boys only from Grade 3 to 12. Classes are mixed from KG to Grade 2 inclusive. There is also an 'international' stream, taught in English with a combined IB-based/Iranian curriculum from KG to grade 8. Students in Senior High School then follow the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme. Unfortunately, the school does not provide details of its exam results.
The school also has a wide selection of sports and extra-curricular activities on offer, including football, chess and a number of fairs held throughout the year.
What the regulator says
The Iranian School for Boys was first inspected in 2011, somewhat later than many other international schools where inspections started in 2007. It was initially rated Acceptable, and retained this rating for two further inspections before achieving a Good rating in 2014-15. The school has subsequently retained the Good rating for three further inspections, including that of 2017-18 which took place in December 2017.
There is much that is clearly Very Good about the Towheed Boys School, based on the latest inspection report. The inspection team single out as its strengths that:
Indeed, student achievement is largely rated Good or Very Good, with the High school rated Very Good in the three core subjects. Maths and progress in Science are also rated Very Good in the Middle school phase, although in Arabic as an additional language the rating is lower - Acceptable in the case of the Middle school phase.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills are a further strength of the school, with "students' behaviour and attitudes start[ing] from a good level in the KG and steadily develop[ing], becoming outstanding in the high school...their social responsibility skills grow as they mature".
Interestingly, it seems that both staff and students are on a journey together in relation to innovation. The report notes that "the school's increasing focus on using technology is beginning to develop students’ creative, reflective and independent learning skills, as demonstrated in the student blogs in Grades 6 and 8. Students in the KG and the primary school are increasingly showing well-developed age-appropriate innovation skills. Those in the middle and high schools are creative and can initiate projects when given the opportunity.
Students’ presentation skills are promoted by the strategy of using students as teachers in most subjects. 'Flipped classes' in the high school encourage students’ independent learning". In addition, the report found that "Leaders are acquiring innovation skills in their own work and are increasingly encouraging innovation among staff and students".
In terms of teaching and assessment - the latter being a key focus of the KHDA inspection teams as part of the UAE National Agenda focus on external bench-marking tests - the inspection team found that "the quality of teaching remains at a good level in the KG, primary and middle schools. Lessons in the high school are often of high quality, and teaching there continues to be very good. Staff have been working to improve aspects of assessment, with some success, but the overall quality remains good in all phases. There is a need for more rigorous internal assessments and better feedback to students". Overall, the inspection team rated these key measures as Good with the exception of High school teaching which was rated Very Good.
The key measures for the curriculum design and implementation, and its adaptation, were a direct replication of teaching and assessment. Whilst the inspection team found that the curriculum is well designed for continuity and progression and is mostly in line with the relevant standards, the choice of subjects for older students is limited. They also noted that some innovative approaches have been taken to adapt the curriculum, but KG children and students in the early years of primary school would benefit from more effective adaptation, as would gifted and talented students in the other phases.
The measures for protection, care, guidance and support of students, which had all been rated Very Good across the school, saw downgrades to Good for Middle and High school in relation to Health and Safety due to the need for risk assessments to be updated, particularly in the middle and high schools, where some facilities such as the design room and science laboratories may present hazards. However, the quality of care and support was found to be very strong in all phases with careers guidance a particular strength of the school.
The Leadership and Management of Towheed Boys School was also rated highly. Inspectors commented that "Senior leaders have successfully developed the national and international sections of the school. They have been particularly effective in improving and maintaining high-quality provision at the high school. They know the school well and ensure that it runs smoothly". However, they also noted that "the quality of leadership at the middle level, such as heads of department, is more variable, partly as a result of the insufficient time they have for planning and development". Whilst the effectiveness of leadership and the management, staffing, facilities and resources were both rated Very Good, the school's self-evaluation and improvement planning, together with governance, were rated Good.
However, the highest rating of Outstanding was retained for the school's relationships with parents and the community. The report notes that "Parents have a wide range of opportunities to contribute to the life in the school. They are regularly informed about their children's learning and development. Parents of students with SEND are involved in a partnership with the school". In addition, inspectors found that the head of the Parent Teacher Association sits on the school council and the school has positive partnerships with other Iranian schools and with some high-performing schools in Dubai and Finland.
One interesting comment on which not too much emphasis was laid, but which will potentially have an impact on the KHDA rating of the school at some point, is the lack of "full compliance" in relation to the delivery of Islamic Studies. In Towheed Boys School's case, it has apparently failed to implement the programme which is now mandatory for all Muslim students. Differences between Iran and the UAE in terms of Shia versus Sunni sects may make this a difficult step for the Iranian Boys School to follow.
In terms of recommendations made by the KHDA inspection team, the school should:
As a school which has a very clear "market", it is doubtful that the KHDA's views on the Towheed Boys School is likely to impact parents' choice in terms of whether to enrol their children there or not. However, it is evident that this school has much to recommend it and a genuine intention to engage with the regulators on the improvement path. This is very good news for Iranian parents who plan to send their children to the school.
Fees at the Towheed Boys School depend on whether students are following the Iranian national curriculum or the International programme. Even here there is some confusion, as under normal circumstances, we, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, would always expect the fees for an international curriculum (with more costly teachers) to be higher than the national curriculum. However, the KHDA states that fees are from AED 14,000 in KG1 to AED 18,500 for Grade 12 in the National curriculum, whilst they are lower at AED 9,000 (from KG2) to AED 10,500 for Grade 12 in the international section. Parents are advised to confirm with the school directly.
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