Victory Heights Primary School, having opened in 2013, is making very rapid progress embedding FS and Key Stage 1-2 provision to a very high standard. After a slow start in terms of its inspection rating, the hard work and commitment to education is clearly paying off with the school having been rated Good in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 KHDA rounds, and achieving Very Good in 2017-18.
Victory Heights Primary School, located in Dubai Sports City, is a boutique British National Curriculum school that caters to the population around Victory Heights, Dubai Sports City and Jumeirah Golf Estates, although there are students from further afield. The current population of the school is close to 800 students, and the majority are British passport holders. 1 percent of students are Emirati and almost 5 percent of students are registered as students with SEND requirements.
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The majority of teachers are British passport holders and if they are not recruited from the UK, they are highly qualified, with the experience necessary to deliver the British National Curriculum. There are 53 teachers and 28 teaching assistants; the teacher to student ratio averages 1:15. The teacher turnover rate , at 19%, is slightly below the average of 20-22% in Dubai although higher than in the previous year where it was only 5%. This is important for continuity in curriculum and school development. The presence of the Principal since the school's opening in 2013 has ensured not only stability, but a strong focus on improvement.
The latest KHDA report identifies the following strengths of the school: "The very good attainment and progress in English, Mathematics and Science as well as evidence of improvements in Arabic as a first language and Islamic education; The strong sense of community which supports outstanding student development; The very good Islamic understanding, social responsibility and innovation skills in the primary school; The very good teaching, assessment, curriculum design and adaptation, health and safety, and care and support across the school; The excellent commitment and determination of the headteacher; capably supported by senior and middle leaders who share her vision and work purposefully to raise standards; The very good governance, school’s self-evaluation, staffing, facilities and resources; and the outstanding partnerships with parents and the community".
Overall, the report shows significant momentum across the board in students' attainment and progress. Inspectors noted that "Students’ attainment and progress in English, Mathematics and Science are very good. Attainment in Arabic and Islamic education is acceptable. Progress in Islamic education is acceptable. Given their starting points, progress in Arabic as a first language is now good. Students’ innovation, enterprise, enquiry, research, problem solving and critical thinking skills support are very good learning". All measures for Attainment and Progress across the three non-Arabic core subjects are now rated Very Good, with 11 of the 12 measures having moved up to this rating in the current inspection.
Arabic, both as a native and additional language, remains a challenge, as does Islamic Studies. However, progress is being made with progress in Arabic as a first language now being rated Good; all other measures are Acceptable.
All other key indicators - Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills; Teaching and Assessment; Curriculum; the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students; and Leadership and Management, are predominantly rated Very Good. Students' personal development was found to be Outstanding, as were the Curriculum Design and Implementation in the Foundation Stage, and the relationships with Parents and the Community. 17 of 26 key measures have improved overall.
Inspectors noted that "Students, across all years, demonstrate excellent behaviours and attitudes. Strong relationships between peers and with staff support their personal growth, nurtured by the school’s family ethos".
The school's support of SEND students is also noted by the report as being a strength of the school. As the report explains, "Governors and leaders promote a whole school approach to inclusion. Inclusive education is a clear priority for the school and the inclusion leader is expertly supported in her role by the Inclusion governor. Governors and leaders are very well informed of the current provision and hold all staff accountable for ensuring high quality provision for students with SEND".
Another strength of the school is the protection, care, guidance and support of students, which was found to be Very Good across all measures. As the report finds, "Behaviour management strategies are very effective and staff-student relationships are extremely positive across the school. There is an atmosphere of mutual respect between students and staff. The code of behaviour is clearly understood by the entire school community".
Looking forward, areas for the school to improve are, as with many schools, Islamic Education and Arabic. Next steps, as the report notes, include the need to "Improve students’ attainment and progress in Islamic education by: sharing the very good practice in the school; using data to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses; planning lessons which take account of students’ needs; using teaching strategies which encourage students’ active engagement; raising expectations of students and providing greater challenge in lessons; [and] increasing students’ abilities to link the subject to real life applications.
In addition, the school is asked "improve students’ attainment and progress in Arabic by: sharing the good practice that already exists in Arabic as a first language and across the school; raising expectations for students, particularly the more able students; planning lessons purposefully and consistently across year groups; ensuring students are meaningfully engaged and challenged; linking assessment tools more closely with learning expectations for Arabic; using the data to inform teaching and learning experiences".
Facilities at Victory Heights Primary School include a Foundation Stage Block that has been designed so that it is completely separate and self-contained from the rest of the primary school and a cluster design throughout the school where classrooms open out to central indoor activity areas. A second building was added in 2016, containing an indoor swimming pool on the ground floor and a range of additional classrooms and administrative areas above. This has considerably increased the capacity of the school.
Fees for Victory Heights Primary School start at AED 35,834 for FS 1 and rise to AED 48,865 for Year 6. These fees are exclusive of transport and school uniforms. The Application Fee and Assessment Fee is a combined 850 AED, the Medical Fee is 500 AED medical fee, and the enrolment fee is 7,000 AED. The Enrolment Fee is a non-refundable deposit which is deducted from a student's first term’s tuition fees.
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