The SchoolsCompared.com Awards have been set up for three core reasons:
(1) To bring those individuals who do so much for our children together, physically, at an awards event to say “thank you”.
Many of those teachers, school leaders and owners are the unsung heroes that go above and beyond but rarely, themselves, feel the warmth of the limelight, you tell us they deserve.
By bringing these stars of education together we also hope that it will strengthen a culture of sharing the best that can be achieved so all schools can achieve for children. On a night of so many stars it is inevitable that new friendships and links will be made.
(2) Surprisingly, there has been, outside our Awards, no vehicle for achieving this celebration of teachers and schools on this scale. Instead, groups of schools network through individual activities including, for example, sport – and a small number of schools keep in contact through their leadership. By bringing schools together in this way, we hope to help scale this up by providing an informal meeting place for ideas and building relationships that we hope will have positive knock on impacts in sharing best practice. We think the industry and its teachers should be celebrated.
(3) We hope, through the SchoolsCompared.com Awards, to galvanise improvements in areas where we think the sector could do better. Examples of such areas include (1) “value-add” (to move away from all of us as parents judging schools only on academic league tables so we can see the bigger picture of the myriad ways that schools are outstanding and how they help individual children be better than anyone ever thought they could be); (2) celebrate schools that have a genuine breadth of subject offer (to maximise the opportunity for the broadest range of children to meet their needs, ambitions, potential and interests); (3) to encourage expansion of technical and vocational education streams including BTEC and the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (particularly given the welcome move towards academic inclusion across UAE schools); (4) inspiring better balance in role models in leadership positions, particularly in secondary and all-through schools; (5) to encourage more scholarships and bursaries (in particular the setting up of capital funds to protect children from having to leave schools in case of parental change in circumstances and to broaden access to Tier 1 schools based on talent not parental income); (6) encourage schools to provide an even greater welcome to Emirati children, and a broader cultural welcome to all nationalities of children, so that we can maximise the opportunities of all our children engaging with the broadest mix of cultures and languages; and, (7) to celebrate the commitment of those schools investing in SEND and meeting the hugely creditable ideals of, for example, the Dubai Inclusive Policy Framework. Schools could, and should, in our view, be doing more.
What we cannot and do not aim to do in our Awards is to provide a scientific, absolute determination of the best schools for all children in any category.
This would not be possible by any organisation and, even if we attempted to do this, we would need to reduce schools to statistics which would themselves be open to interpretation and dispute.
The SchoolsCompared.com Awards, instead, are thoughtfully subjective. They are grounded in information gathering by our journalists from two independent organisations, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, and SchoolsCompared.com, which draw from the spectrum of school visits, engagement with school faculty and leadership, KHDA and ADEK reviews and meetings with members of both organisations, direct school submissions, the direct feedback we received from you as families and students, comparative data and our general knowledge of the market.
These Awards, as well as thanking all those in education who help our children each day then, are also, fundamentally, for our primary audience: you, the parents.
We hope that through them we can help impart our knowledge of schools to you directly. We hope that through them we can provide you with a glimpse into those schools that we have found this year to absolutely sparkle in what they achieve for children in countless different ways – and across different school types and curricular.
Throughout this Awards site we hope to guide and inform – but NOT compel your decisions. Every school here, however special, will always be right for only some children. Every school will shine for some children and not others. Nothing can replace a visit to schools to see for yourselves what makes them sparkle for your children.
This Awards site then, is a framework and the simplest means we could think of synthesising the data we have available to us, to help you in your decisions.
In almost every case here, the shortlist in each category contains schools for which an equally good case for their winning a category could be made however. So please do refer to those exceptional schools which we shortlist, as well as those which finally make our first choice in each category.
In practice, in a number of categories, we have had considerable difficulty choosing between outstanding schools. We are blessed in the UAE to have so many, genuinely world class, exceptional schools.
In the following you will find a brief explanation of each award, the list of schools we have shortlisted in each category and the rationale for our choosing each winner. More information on all schools can be found in our individual reviews on both www.SchoolsCompared.com and our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.
Thank you, as parents, for all your feedback to both our sites. It does make a difference and we could not achieve what we do without your input.
Roll on SchoolsCompared.com Top School Awards 2020 – watch this space.