|Iain Colledge - Principal
As a school rated 'Outstanding' by ADEC, Raha International School (RIS) is expected to be at the forefront in the process of developing a world class education system in the UAE. Even now there are indications that we are making an impression by raising the bar for excellence in teaching and learning.
Raising that bar rests in turn on our ability to continue to attract the best teachers out there and by that I mean world-wide. We have managed to do this so far by working hard at it. We need to continue to be competitive with other international schools in order to meet or exceed the standard available for sought after international professionals. We need to support our teachers when they arrive, while they are working and when they prepare to leave hopefully after a lengthy and productive stay. We need to offer a world class professional development programme to enable our teachers to achieve the high expectations we have set for them.
Having high quality teachers in all subject areas is the cornerstone of the UAE strategy for 2021 and the single most important factor on which the success of the National Agenda depends. High quality teaching builds reputation and this is reflected in many ways one of which is demand for places. We know there is a high demand for places at our school at all levels. Our Early Years programme continues to be very popular and last summer we had over 1000 applications for only 154 vacancies. Our response to this need has been to construct a new Early Years Center that will enable our school to double our intake without sacrificing any of the play areas available for our children. In fact we have increased the area by building a multi-purpose gym and an additional activities area on the roof. This is in line with the vision for 2021 that calls for 95% of children ages 4 and 5 to be enrolled in preschool.
Similarly our senior pre-university programme has grown to 156 students. Last year our ECIS award winner from that class was for the first time a citizen of the UAE and his performance was such that he turned down several offers from some of the finest universities in the United States. We have the means and the ability to help drive the average for graduating National students from what it is now, 86%, to reach the target of 90% by 2021 and, at the same time, eliminate the need for students to attend a foundation year. We know that our students perform very well once they reach university and often outperform their peers from other programmes. The goal for 2021 is that no student should have to spend a year at university strengthening the skills and knowledge they should have acquired in secondary school. In 2014 78% of graduating National students across the UAE required a Foundation Year to support their success at university.
Curriculum seems to be another strong factor in our success and schools that offer the IB continue to outperform others in the UAE and in other parts of the world. In the UK IB graduates are more likely to attend a top university and more likely to enter a professional programme than their counterparts graduating from National Curriculum schools.
We are projecting that our grade 12 students will put us back above the world average this year where we belong by matching or improving on the performance of the class of 2013. We have a way to go before our students at all levels perform with the best in the world but we continue to participate in international testing to measure our progress. In November over 1000 students from grade 3 to grade 10 participated in the ACER international benchmark tests. From these assessments we learn volumes and we now know that students who stay with us over time make outstanding improvement. We are confident that within a few years our students at all levels will register scores that match up with the best students in the world.
So on the 45th birthday of the UAE and in our 9th year as a school there is much to be proud of. The future is bright, especially with the recent upgrade of our facilities, and Raha International School is well positioned to support the UAE National Agenda in the push to realize the dream of providing our students with a truly world class education.