Value-add is arguably the most accurate of all measures of a school’s ability to deliver for its children. Whilst many parents continue to focus on examination results in isolation, value-add, instead, looks to the grades children achieve, in practice, above (or below) the baseline expectations of the grades they should theoretically achieve on joining a school. When schools discuss with parents the flight path of their children, they are speaking of the grades that they expect children to achieve at the point of formal examinations based on their abilities on joining the school.
A selective school, that accepts only the brightest children, will naturally secure very high results for its children in examinations. One difficulty is that value-add, for selective schools, becomes immeasurable because exam results, for example in British schools, do not go beyond an A*. If children are predicted to achieve this grade, these schools cannot demonstrate (to the frustration of these schools), through value-add at least, that they are delivering for children any more than they should actually achieve. Equally, if a school only accepts the very brightest children, or those without, for example EAL investment, parents should not infer that, should their children be accepted to these schools, that they would achieve equally highly.
Every child has a place at SCS. Safa is a non-selective school and a lot of our students join us with low abilities.
Safa Community School is a non selective school, families are welcome to apply to Safa Community School regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion or student abilities. The school welcomes students of determination and ensures that students are not refused admission based only on their experience of SEND.
As you can see from this table the SEND percentages across the school are some of the highest in the UAE. As a school, we believe that every child deserves the chance to a world-class education despite their background or academic label they may have been given in a previous educational setting. Over the years, the intake of students with ELL / EAL and SEND has only increased.
SCS uses a host of international assessments to benchmark our students’ academic progress and the section below highlights how SCS students have outperformed their peers across all categories.
As per KHDA guidelines, all students across Year 4 + participate in the CAT4 cognitive ability assessment. This is completed for all new children and completed every second year for our existing children. This information is used to identify targeted focus groups and areas. As you will see, previously in 2018-2019 we had a severe gender bias, where girls were significantly out performing boys in both their verbal and average CAT4 scores; however, due to targeted intervention over the last three years, that has equalised.
CAT4 information is used to inform children’s ‘if challenged’ targets as well as to identify key provisions which are required to be put in place. Classroom teachers analysis this information to devise teaching strategies to meet needs of their learners.
GL Progress Tests (PT) are conducted at the end of each academic year to assess progress over time in core subjects of English, Maths and Science. A Stanine 5 denotes UK national average, a Stanine 6 denotes Dubai average. The tables show the %age of SCS students who have achieve at or above UK average and at and above Dubai average.
KHDA inspection guidelines denote higher than 62.5% at above Stanine 6 as “Very Good” and 75% at and above Stanine 6 as “Outstanding”.
Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international assessment of student achievement in mathematics and science at fourth and eighth grades. 64 countries and 8 regional entities participated in the TIMSS 2019 cycle. TIMSS explores how well Year 4 and Year 8 students have mastered the factual and procedural knowledge taught in school mathematics and science classes. At SCS we invest heavily in science with our students being taught in specialist science labs with lead science teachers and technicians in the labs. Additional curriculum time is also given to both Maths and Science to ensure that learning is accelerated.
SCS students excelled at TIMMS and achieved “High International Benchmark” status for both year groups and both subjects. SCS outperformed its KHDA set targets, outperformed average Dubai school levels and outperformed average Dubai UK curriculum schools.
The school employs a host of learning tools and resources to ensure that the students achieve higher than their capabilities during their stay in the primary school. The starting point is rigorous assessment data analysis to identify the strengths of every student and introduce academic intervention best suited to that student.
We use a 6 point assessment scale, which has clear expectations in terms of attainment levels throughout the different assessment cycles throughout the year. The progress expected level is at least two jumps from baseline through to the end of the year, however, as we work on ensuring our children make better than expected progress, then we would require them to make three jumps across the continuum.
We have three data collection points throughout the academic year. Data is analysed rigorously, looking at all ‘groups’ of students and it is analysed at all levels: Class teacher, Year Group, Subject Area and Specific Groups (More Gifted And Talented(MAGT), SEND, ELL, Distance Learning, EAL, Boys / Girls etc. Data Analysis is directly aligned to classroom teachers’ performance management meetings which reflect on the attainment and progress of their students as well as using PASS information to analyse wellbeing results. Key actions are identified, and this helps inform the provision map across the school. Additional interventions are put in place, which are tracked and measured to ensure they are having a positive impact on the children’s progress.
The Foundation Stage curriculum is designed and based on the Development Matters documents from the UK, and the Primary Curriculum is designed and based on the National Curriculum of the UK. However, the school invests significant resources to modify the curriculum so that its best suited to every category of student. Due to the diverse and highly inclusive nature of our school, assessment and admissions information is used to help make the appropriate modifications to the curriculum to support children’s learning needs.
An example of this, was the impact of the Global Pandemic and the result this had on children’s oral and written skills. Ourselves, and other British international schools, with a similar demographic of students signed up to complete the Oracy 365 training. This was then directly implemented into our school’s curriculum. Additional provisions for reading were put in place and the school purchased tools like MyOn, Spell Zone and Maths.co.uk and SPaG.com to support with our hybrid curriculum for our onsite and Distance Learners.
Throughout the year, we hold two parent-teacher meetings per term, so assessment information can be used and shared with parents on a regular basis. Webinars take place to help parents understand both our formative and summative assessment methods, and results are always shared in both our Termly reporting methods and if required through additional meetings and follow up. Together, we work in partnership with our parental community to ensure the child’s best interest is always at heart.
As an addition to this, we use Seesaw as our online platform, which every parent has access to. Teachers provide daily updates through pictures and videos, which are aligned to the learning objectives, parents are able to see and comment on this, as well as review the teacher’s feedback and dialogue with the students.
Another Safa tradition throughout the EYFS – Primary school is our famous – My Learning, My School where parents are invited in and children are able to co-write their learning targets with their parents. This is a great opportunity for the children to share their learning books and discuss how they learn at school.
Spellzone is an online tool that the school has used effectively to improve the spelling outcomes. The tool is used by over 800 schools globally, and recently SCS came 1st in achieving the most points out of all schools subscribed.
Our Year 3-6 students use Century Tech, which was created by an award-winning team of experienced teachers, neuroscientists and technologists. It is an online tool for English, Maths and Science which uses a combination of learning science, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. This tool is used both in school and as part of our home learning experience. Parents have direct access to their results, so they can see what their child is working on and where their focus areas are.
Solo Taxonomy is a highly proven and effective assessment for learning technique that was implemented into our school curriculum almost 4 years ago. As learning progresses it becomes more complex. SOLO, which stands for the Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome, is a means of classifying learning outcomes in terms of their complexity, enabling us to assess students’ work in terms of its quality not of how many bits of this and of that they have got right. Please see the visual representation which is used with all of our SCS learners.
As an addition to our curriculum subjects offered at SCS, over the past four years we’ve continued to develop our learning competencies, which at SCS we refer to as our Learning Gears, which aim to assess students outside of their academic subjects. These were written with and for our SCS learners, which we modify every two years to adjust to the changes in both education and the world around us. An example of this, was after the global pandemic, digital literacy and skills became a very important part of our children’s learning journey so this was woven into our learning gears, as was Wellbeing.
This was implemented into our school curriculum three years ago, with the purpose of students in upper primary to understand passions and interests. This is to support with their journey into the secondary when they begin to make subject choices as they enter into their GCSE journey.
PCART stands for Personal Choice and Reflection Time, where children have a choice every Thursday afternoon of completing an additional specialist subject. Children provide ideas as to what subjects they would like offered and this then forms the offering provided by the school. The programme is driven on developing the children’s learning skills.
This has continued to be a priority area for us as a school over the past three years. We have appointed a dedicated Primary and Secondary MAGT leader who is responsible for holding teachers and departments to account, as well as monitoring the attainment and progress of these learners.
To support with our efforts and ensuring that we offer world class provisions for our MAGT students, Safa Community School became an official member of NACE. We are currently undergoing our accreditation for the Challenge Framework.
To encourage MAGT students to aim and achieve over and beyond their high capabilities, the school offers them a plethora of additional opportunities including: