United International Private School follows the curriculum of the Philippines and currently has over 2,240 students enrolled from age 4 to age 17.
The story so far...
United International Private School (UIPS) opened in 1992 and is the oldest and one of the few Philippines curriculum schools in the UAE, and one of two in Dubai. Whereas The Philippine School Dubai succeeded, after three years of Weak ratings, in achieving an Acceptable rating in the limited 2019-20 inspection round, UIPS' results went in the opposite direction, with a down-grade from Good (which it had achieved for the three previous years) to Acceptable.
To be fair, it must be stated that this downgrade was due to very specific concerns about the school's adoption of the UAE's National Agenda priorities, rather than the overall quality of education provided by the school. It would seem that the school had been made aware of these concerns in the previous inspection but had not taken action to address them. Read the details of What The Inspectors said here.
The school presents its Mission, Vision and Philosophy on its website thus:
We are a dynamic educational institution that subscribes to a holistic development of mind and body through….
- Academic Excellence
- Quality Performance
- Respect for Human Values and Principles
- Fervent Love of God, Country, Family and Fellow men
At UIPS, we aim to inspire our students to be holistic, life-long learners, where they are prepared to adapt and succeed anywhere in a rapidly changing world. As a school community, we endeavor to create strong partnerships with parents and form links with wider community to enhance the children’s full development.
PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
- Education is a process of growth by which a person learns, thinks and acts rationally and effectively.
- The opportunity to develop and master basic skills attitudes and desired values must be made available to each other learner according to his own pace and ability.
- The respect for race, culture, religion, physical stature and social status of people from different countries must be developed by each learner.
- The home, the community and the school are the most important institutions wherein the body, the mind and the character of the youth could be fully nurtured.
The school currently has approximately 2,240 students from KG2 to Grade 12, all from the Philippines. The school employs some 92 teachers and 10 teaching assistants, with a further four Guidance Counsellors. This represents a staff to student ratio of 1:24 - decidedly on the high side (and a full difference of five students per teacher in comparison with The Philippine School). Teacher turnover has decreased to 20% from two years ago, but still remains on the high side, with one-fifth of teachers being replaced. Just 44 students have been identified with additional learning needs.
The foundation of the curriculum is set by the Department of Education (DepEd) of the Philippines, together with the regulations set by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the Ministry of Education - United Arab Emirates (MOE- U A E). In addition to this, the school is monitored by the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas - Commission on Filipinos Overseas (IACPSO-CFO).
The school has adopted the K+12 Basic Education Curriculum (K+12 BEC). The implementation of this curriculum is mandated by the Philippine Government to facilitate the transition from the ten-year basic education to twelve- year curriculum. The school has started major revisions in the course syllabi of the subjects being taught in some grade levels as part of its transition to K+12 BEC curriculum. The school notes that the Senior High School Program (Grades 11 &12) following the STEM stream of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has now been fully implemented.
Core subjects included in the school’s curriculum are English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science, ICT, Social Studies, Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health, Technology & Livelihood Education and Moral Education.
In addition, in line with the requirements of the UAE Ministry of Education, the school includes the Arabic and Social Studies in both Elementary and Secondary sections. In addition to this, Muslim students are required to take Islamic Studies to preserve and practice their beliefs and culture.
The school’s curriculum design is built on content topics and learning competencies for the subject areas in all grade levels prescribed by the Department of Education–Philippines. However, being a private school, UIPS has the right to revise and enhance its curriculum to any extent that will benefit its students.
The school says that it is "constantly monitoring the progress of the learners in each grade level based on the desired competencies. It has also set and implemented school policies and effective teaching-learning strategies to achieve its mission and vision of producing literate, functional and holistically developed individuals."
The school provides no direct information about its students' achievements or their onward college/university destinations.
Limited information is provided about the school facilities. The school originally opened in a villa in Garhoud, prior to moving to a refurbished school in Satwa, and then, finally, in 2000 to its current site in Al Muhaisnah where it is located in a modern, purpose-built environment. Specialist facilities include ICT and Science labs, a Library, dedicated KG activity and classrooms, a cafeteria and a covered multi-use outdoor court.
Having achieved a Good rating - the level at which the KHDA wishes all schools to operate - it must have come as a shock to UIPS to be downgraded to Acceptable (the minimum rating required) in the 2019-20 inspection which took place in December 2019.
The reasons behind the downgrade had little to do with the overall quality of education provided in the context of the Philippines curriculum - in fact, Academic Achievement was largely rated Good (though there were three downgrades from Very Good in English and one from Good to Acceptable in Science).
However, no measures were rated Weak and in their summary, the inspectors commented "The attainment of most students is at or above curriculum expectations. Attainment is highest in Islamic education and in Filipino. Across all subjects, students perform best in factual aspects. A lack of challenge prevents the most able from reaching the highest levels of performance. Students have good learning skills and exemplary attitudes to learning. They cooperate willingly and to good effect. Their critical thinking and problem-solving skills are underdeveloped." It is the comments related to lack of challenge, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that indicate the main areas of concern for the inspection team.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills - the second key performance standard against which schools are measured - were rated Outstanding in all but one area!
However, when it came to Teaching and Assessment and Curriculum Adaptation, inspectors again reflected their concerns in downgrades to Acceptable in four of the performance measures.
They noted that "...some lessons, especially in the primary phase, focus on the completion of tasks rather than on the extension of students’ knowledge and skills. Teachers know their students well but do not use assessment consistently to adapt teaching to meet their needs, particularly in the lower grades of the primary phase.
The school curriculum follows closely the Philippine standards, thus providing an age-appropriate and balanced coverage of subjects. The incorporation of UAE national priorities into the curriculum is at an early stage. Some changes are made to adapt the curriculum to students’ differing needs, but this is not consistent. Technology is integrated at times, but students’research skills are not developed systematically."
The fourth key performance standard of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students was largely rated Good with Care and Support in the Senior High section rated Very Good.
The broadest criticism was reserved for the Leadership and Management of the school. The inspection team commented that "The school does not fully embrace the UAE national priorities. This contributes to low performance on National Agenda Parameter (NAP) tests, inconsistency in provision for students of determination and insufficient attention to the development of students’ critical thinking. Selfevaluation is over-generous, and action plans do not contain success criteria...Governors have not had a significant impact on the quality of learning. Staffing and resources are adequate."
In terms of the overall strengths of United International Private School, the DSIB inspection team found these to be:
Those areas identified for improvement were far more detailed:
There is no doubt that UIPS has been set a substantial target for improvement which will require radical change to teaching and assessment standards and methods, and to the curriculum delivery. Whether the leadership and the senior staff responsible for the development and training needs in these fields is up to the challenge remains to be seen.
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
In common with all UAE schools, UIPS also participated in a Distance Learning Evaluation in May 2020 as a means of assessing the capacity of schools to deliver on-line learning as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Schools were measured based on 13 criteria and awarded one of three outcomes. In common with the Philippine School, UIPS also achieved a Partially Developed rating. The report can be read here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a very low number of responses to our School Survey which are insufficient for us to comment directly on the feedback from parents about the school.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at UIPS, please share your experience and opinions with other potential members of your community by completing our Surveys here.
According to the KHDA report, parents are regularly informed about their children’s progress. They are involved in the life of the school through activities and events. They are highly supportive of their children’s learning, although a lack of specific next steps reduces the efficacy of their partnership. They feel that the school listens to them and acts upon their views.
Parents' interest and involvement in UIPS was reflected in that the fact that some 1,220 parents (an enormous response rate!), responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey. Almost all parents were happy with the quality of education provided by the school and considered that it provided good value for money. They appreciated the skills of the teachers. They said that they had the information and support they needed to help their children in their education. On a negative note, a high proportion raised concerns about the management of homework - an area which was also noted by the inspection team.
Over 680 students responded to the KHDA Well-being Survey. Most students, especially in the younger grades, reported that they were happy. In the Senior High section, half of the students reported that they had worries. Most were well connected with adults in the school and related well with their teachers. Students reported strong friendships and high academic ambitions, although a significant minority report low perseverance levels.
It is clear from parent comments to the KHDA that the vast majority are satisfied with the provision at UIPS. Students too seem to be happy and positive about the education they receive which appears from an academic standpoint to be of a good standard. The inspection team's concerns about the need to improve students' critical thinking, research and technology skills are cleaned designed to future-proof the education being provided, and this is something that should be welcomed by parents and students in a world where employment skills are increasingly reliant on the ability to adapt and change.
Realistically, provided students complete their education within the requirements of the Philippine curriculum, parents are unlikely to complain. In this sense, the inspectors are probably pushing on an open door. It is to be hoped that the Governors and leadership of the school see this as an opportunity rather than as a threat.
School fees (inclusive of tuition and other mandatory fees) for United International Private School start at a very modest AED 6,457 for KG2 and rise to AED 14,824 for Grade 12. This is a substantial reduction on fees from those of 2019-20 when they were on average 30% higher.
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