Kings’ School Dubai celebrates an ‘Outstanding’ decade of success
Latest KHDA rankings award leading British curriculum school an ‘Outstanding’ rating for the 10th year running; Arabic language capabilities a key focus for 2018
Kings’ School Dubai, the founding school in the Dubai-headquartered Kings’ Education portfolio of British curriculum campuses, is celebrating another education milestone with an ‘Outstanding’ Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) inspection ranking for the 10th consecutive year.
Established in 2004, and the Foundation Stage and Primary school of choice for over 940 students representing 60 nationalities, Kings’ School Dubai was one of the first schools in the emirate to be awarded the highest possible KHDA ranking when the inspections system was launched for the 2008/9 academic year.
Alan Williamson, Director of Education for the Kings’ group of schools, said: “I’m delighted with the outcome of the recently announced inspection by KHDA, which is testament to the hard work of our dedicated and experienced school leadership team, inspired and passionate staff, incredible students and their supportive parents.
“To retain ‘Outstanding’ 10 years in a row is by no means easy, especially given the increasing rigour of the DSIB Framework. Kings’ School Dubai successfully strives to deliver ‘the best by every child’ each and every day and is a wonderful environment that prepares students for their transition to our fantastic secondary school, Kings’ School Al Barsha, which has grown considerably in its reputation for delivering excellent academic outcomes within the context of a similarly values driven system of strong pastoral care.”
“There is no doubt that the KHDA inspections, which are carried out by the Dubai Schools Inspections Bureau, have helped to raise the quality of education in Dubai. The framework is challenging and rigorous, and preparation of inspection documentation and evidence is extensive. This involves evaluating your performance as a school against each of the six standards in the framework and also whether your planned improvements and resulting actions have been able to positively move the school forward,” said Bede Higgins, Principal, Kings’ School Dubai.
In 2017, Kings’ School Dubai participated in the KHDA Abundance Group Project, with the team lending its expertise to support another local, non-Kings’, school. “This was an opportunity for middle and senior leaders from both schools to come together and exchange ideas, visit one another’s campuses and share best practice; and the relationship is ongoing” said Higgins.
The school’s leadership team is not resting on a decade of ‘Outstanding’ laurels, with the focus for 2018 on further developing Arabic language capabilities and performance for both native and non-native speakers.
“As educators, we are never satisfied. We are constantly evaluating all aspects of our school and our performance. We identify gaps and look at ways to develop and improve what we offer,” explained Higgins.
“It’s a very challenging framework with regards to Arabic language expectations, particularly in a city where Arabic isn’t necessarily the primary language of communication, due to Dubai’s multicultural population,” he added.
The team has already ploughed considerable time and resources into reviewing the delivery and pedagogy of Arabic and how its Arabic language team members deliver lessons in a way that matches the rest of the curriculum, and which children are familiar with. “What we’re really focusing on now is transferring some of the key teaching practices and pedagogy used in English or literacy learning to our Arabic classes,” said Higgins. “This includes such things as ‘talk for writing’ where children verbally generate ideas in order to produce a piece of written work, or a ‘shared write’ where the class collectively contribute to build and write a story together. Our children are used to doing this in English, so when we transfer some of these skills across to Arabic, we should see well structured, higher quality pieces of writing. Equally by applying early reading techniques including phonics to our Arabic lessons, reading will also improve,” he said.
Mohamed Ali Mohamed, the school’s Head of Arabic has also been spearheading an Action Research Project on phonics with the KHDA, which Higgins cites as a further example of how Kings’ School Dubai is applying techniques from English to support teachers in raising standards in Arabic, both within Kings’ and in similar schools across the city.
According to Higgins: “Kings’ School Dubai is a ‘happy school’ for children to attend and a rewarding place to work as an adult, which is reflected in the very low staff turnover and retention of staff over a number of years.”
He said: “We firmly believe that children need to be happy in order to learn but that it’s a question of balance, ensuring that they are also challenged at an appropriate level in order to develop. To support this, we need to use all the qualitative and quantitative data available to identify what each child needs.”
A highly sought-after facility, Kings’ School Dubai, nonetheless, currently has limited places available in Years 5 and 6. Higgins remarked: “What is important for us to communicate is that once your child is in a Kings’ school, then you have a place with us right through to the end of secondary education, and with secondary school places often challenging to secure, this is one definite advantage of a Kings’ education.”
He is also realistic about the Dubai schools landscape, and noted: “We have an amazing reputation, but there are other schools here with equally fantastic reputations. In order to maintain our reputation, we must continue to have high expectations. I believe that ‘high expectations is the expectation’, and through our innovation agenda we are continually looking at new ways of doing things.”