An Audience with the Headmaster
Please click on the image above to view Mr Lambert's presentation
An Audience with the Head – Tuesday 5th October – Q&A responses
Q: You mentioned myths and rumours. There is a rumour that the material in the DC entrance exam is not taught in many primary schools until after the exam. Fact or fiction? If fact, how can children be expected to perform well in the exam without private tutoring?
A: Please refer to the entrance exam slides. The content is Upper Key Stage 2 and focuses primarily on Year 5 content. If the primaries have not taught this I would raise this concern with them.
Q: The new ECA template which can be submitted as part of the application offers only very limited opportunities to showcase the creative talents of our children. I am hearing from you that academic ability is not the sole entrance criteria, so with such a limited form how can you assess whether their creative abilities will flourish at DC?
A: Please list in bullet form all relevant extra-curricular pursuits. If in doubt, contact admissions so that you can discuss this issue in more detail and they will give you appropriate advice.
Q: What foreign languages do you offer at your school?
A: At the time of writing, all students take Arabic to at least Year 10. Students enter into Year 7 and have a choice between French and Spanish up to and including Year 9. They may continue with this language, if they wish, onto GCSE. We also offer Latin to GCSE. Arabic, Latin, French and Spanish may be taken for A Level.
Q: What opportunities do you offer to students who are either gifted or maybe a bit behind others, so that they can achieve their full potential?
A: We have a full academic enrichment programme, details of which are available on the academic enrichment page of the school website. Students are also offered support and catch up clinics during or after school and we have a very well resourced Student Services department.
Q: DC students have done well in securing admissions at very good universities. But how do students fare in university life, which can throw up new challenges – e.g. living independently, moving away from parents?
A: Generally, very well although it depends on how well supported they have been at home to be honest. We do run a home alone programme in the Sixth Form which teaches the students how to cook, launder, set up a bank account, sew a button on their shirt etc. We also advise parents to help their child to develop their independence and familiarity with the country where they will study with regular visits to appreciate the culture which is very different to the Dubai bubble.
Q: The DC results at GCSE level is beyond compare. Although brilliant, is there a reason A levels is not as pronounced?
A: DC results at A Level are outstanding and the value-added slides shows that we also add value at A Level. However, A Levels results are always lower than GCSE results in all schools because A Levels are hard! They are meant to separate the wheat from the chaff and be a differentiator. Quite often there is a misperception among parents and students that a 9 (the top grade at GCSE) automatically tracks to an A* (the top grade at A Level). However, students with 9s at GCSE go on to achieve A*, A, B, C and in some cases D grades. The step up is significant and there can be a degree of complacency among some students.
Q: Are there interviews this year?
Q: Do you offer scholarships?
A: I am afraid we do not offer any financial scholarships, as all students are excellent.
Q: Please can you give us any more information about how and when the assessment will be managed for overseas students?
A: Contact admissions for further details.
Q: Are you able to confirm the time on Saturday 13th of the entrance assessment - the start and end time?
A: Further details will follow in due course once we know how many students are doing the assessment. It is likely to be 8am until 2:30pm with breaks.
Q: A common theme I’ve heard from parents and students at DC is that they found the transition to year 7 difficult- what is in place to make this as smooth as possible?
A: We have an excellent Head of Year 7 and Head of Lower School who really focus on the transition to secondary school in term one. It can be a step up from primary school for some students, but we are past masters at this and for the most part, by term two, students feel like old hands.
Q: What percentage of students that join at Year 7 continue on to complete school at DC? Trying to get an idea of how many people move around.
A: Around 70%
Q: It is said that DC has a skewed mix in term of nationalities. What are the percentages?
A: 43% of students are British passport holders, 19% are Indian passport holders. They are the two biggest groups. However, we have a further 55 nationalities making up 38% of the student body.
Q: How do you support children who are already learning at year 7/ year 8 at their current school (as per the teachers?)? Is there a special track for them?
A: Students are placed into bands in Maths so they can work at the appropriate pace. Bear in mind that over 90% of students go on to achieve 9-7 at GCSE so there is not much need to differentiate beyond this and almost all students are considered among the most able. There is, however, support in English for those who need it and plenty of stretch via the academic enrichment programme.
Q: Are there many Y6 candidates from the UK and if so what are the arrangements for their entry?
A: Please contact admissions regarding arrangements for overseas entries.
Q: How do you prepare your student for the job of future which does not exist yet today ?
A: We are relentlessly focusing on learning and teaching where innovations are pinned on pedagogical foci – Challenging our students to think divergently, speak out and develop skills around oracy and self-regulation that allows students to flourish both academically, socially and emotionally. Digital innovations are focused on workplace readiness and allow students to develop as content creators instead of content consumers.
Q: How would the admissions test be spaced out? 45 mins + break? + 45 mins...etc.
A: You will receive details on the exact structure of the day in due course but rest assured that there are breaks between each assessment.
Q: Is there a year 7 netball team?
A: Yes, around half a dozen Year 7 netball teams. DC is the strongest netball school in the region..
Q: Does every child applying get an assessment?
A: For Year 7 applicants, yes.
Q: Is there a house system for children of all age groups to interact, outside of the Y7-13 buddy system?
A: Yes, there is a house system with four houses. Students remain in their house throughout their time at DC. There is an excellent liaison programme where sixth formers get to know students in Year 7 and 8.
Q: US universities application: do you take it as serious as UK ones... given that you do A levels that do not align
A: We take all university applications very seriously and have a dedicated US counsellor. What we do not do is hand out flattering grades for the purposes of US admissions which typically requires high predictions but then allow students to fall short of these grades for admission. We award predictions based on students’ average attainment across the Sixth Form so all applicants must continue to work hard at DC until the end.
Q: Will the construction of the new C-HUB disrupt learning?
A: We have a plan for the construction of the new C Hub, which will not impact on learning.
Q: Do you have experience in guiding students for university admissions for European schools with IB curriculum?
A: Yes, we have a dedicated rest of the world advisor who helps with European admissions. Please refer to the website for the full range of onward destinations from Dubai College.
Q: Hi, I have submitted the ECA form, and I was of the impression that I only put in activities that has certificate or school team. However, after this talk, it was said that I can add in any sports that my child is currently doing. May I know if I can alter the form, or should I just leave it as it is? How important is the ECA form taken into consideration for the admission into the school?
A: It is best not to add just any sport rather those they have performed at a high level such as a school team or club team. If you have already filled in the form, please get in touch with admissions in the next couple of weeks and discuss this with them.
Q: In the English writing in the exam, what will we generally have to describe, for example if it is about an animal or a setting etc.?
A: We are looking for the quality of English and the way that the writing is structured, rather than knowledge about a specific topic area.
Q: Good evening. I have submitted my application but now my child is taking part in chess intra school championship, more competitions have been planned very recently. How can I include that into application?
A: Please contact admissions.
Q: For entry and acceptance is the evaluation process based on the assessment exam results only or is it a combination of exam, extra-curricular activities and interview?
A: The most able students will be offered a place irrespective of their ECAs. However, there are more students in the middle who could benefit from a Dubai College education than we have capacity to offer. For these students we will looking at the strength of their extra-curricular profile including music grades and sports teams, for example.
Q: What is the criteria to pass the entrance exam?
A: There is no pass mark. We take the best students from those who apply to DC based on CAT scores, Maths, English and Arabic for Arab passport holders. Plus we take into consideration what students can offer DC in terms of sport, music and the arts.
Q: Are there any leadership opportunities like Head girl, digital leader etc.?
A: There are dozens of leadership opportunities from the school parliament to sports captains, club leaders, head boy, head girl, prefects, house captains and many more.
Q: Do you have to be selected to join a club?
A: No, you just sign up. You may be selected to join a team.
Q: To what extent does global learning and interdisciplinary project-based learning feature in the evidence-based learning format?
A: There are various opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary projects and lectures where students and teachers engage in a range of thematic concepts such as war, gender and climate change. We also offer the HPQ (Higher Project Qualification) at GCSE which allows students to undertake an enquiry-based dissertation and the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) at A Level which is a more sophisticated university style research project. A mini-HPQ is introduced into Year 7 and 8 as part of our digital skills curriculum.
Q: How many Extra Curricular activities can you do?
A: There is no limit except to your stamina! We recommend no more than 2-3 per week. Life at DC is very busy and especially in Year 7 you will be tired when you get home from school.
Q: I have already submitted my son's application to DC. However, my son just became Head Boy in his current school and I would really like to add this achievement to the ECTA form. How can I do so? Or shall I just email this info? & To whom?
A: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: When will the admission test's result be announced?
A: You will receive a personal email in early January. Please see the Year 7 key dates page of our website.
Q: If you used to play an instrument and you don't anymore, do you have to start at the beginner band?
A: No, you can pick up where you left off.
Q: Are students encouraged to produce independent research to prepare them for entrance or life at the US universities?
A: The DC Learning Skills curriculum prepares our students to develop research skills and develop an understanding around academic integrity. Qualifications such at the EPQ and HPQ are offered to further develop a research ethos. The HPQ (Year 11) and EPQ (Year 13) qualifications are perfect for this. Students write their own question, do their own research and write their own conclusions. They then do a presentation to their peers. We teach study skills, referencing as part of these courses.
Q: May I know how many applicants applying for this year? and how many seats do you have to offer?
A: We do not yet know as applications do not close until later this month. Typically, there are around 2.8 applicants per place. We have 176 places available for Year 7 in September 2022.
Q: Are there any plans for DC to consider IB for Sixth Form in addition or as option to A levels ?
A: Not in the foreseeable future. However, the Sixth Form at DC is very Diploma-like. You can sit 4 A Levels which are harder than the 3 Higher Level IB subjects, plus you can take an EPQ which is harder than the IB Extended Project plus you get access to similar CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, music, drama and sport and we also teach philosophical thinking which is similar to IB Theory of Knowledge. The advantage at DC, however, is that you get to choose your own pathway rather than being compelled to take the full IB Diploma. Remember, sometimes less is more.
Q: Are there mixed year group clubs such as like year 7s and 8s doing athletics together?
A: Yes. All of the academic activities and hobby ECAs are mixed. And, yes, Y7/8 athletics and swimming are mixed.
Q: When is the closing date? I thought 27 October.
Q: Do you offer horse riding?
A: Not yet!
Q: Is there a ski team?
A: Not yet!
Q: To what extent do Year 5 results play a role in the selection?
A: The Year 5 report is taken into account and the Progress Test results are a helpful check and balance to the CAT4 taken on the day.
Q: What about MUN?
A: Yes, MUN is thriving at DC.
An Audience with the Head – Wednesday 6th October – Q&A responses
Q: I am sorry I missed most of the webinar. Will a recorded version of the same be shared with those who registered?
A: The slides and questions will be shared with those who have registered.
Q: How are the children prepped for their SATs
A: Students typically sign up for the online SAT programmes which have an abundance of questions. Full support is given by our US Counsellor, Mr Tate.
Q: When do you normally get in touch with the successful candidates for 2022 Year 7 entrance?
A: Early January 2022
Q: My daughter has a nut allergy - do you have any allergy policies/rules at Dubai College? Many thanks
A: There is no actual policy, but sharing of food is not permitted. The school doctor and nurses ensure that all teachers are aware of children with allergies.
Q: Are children divided into 'ability based' sets in Math?
A: Yes, students are put into bands in Year 7 so that they can work at their best pace. Bear in mind over 90% of all students achieve 9-7 at GCSE whichever band they join.
Q: For children applying from outside Dubai, are the exams fully online or written and scanned & submitted?
A: There are written assessments for Maths and English and an online cognitive ability test for students at school overseas. Please see the 'Applying from Overseas' page of our website.
Q: Thank you for the very informative presentation. What is your view on how DC students find their balance between working very hard to meet high expectation/high standards in a very competitive environment, while staying connected with themselves and feeling confident?
A: The jump from a primary school to a fully-fledged selective independent school model can be a leap for some, but, for the most part, students do settle well into DC after a term. Occasionally students who have had to be heavily tutored to join will find it difficult to maintain the pace and will often need tutoring throughout their time at DC. The large majority do not have tutoring to enter DC and these are the students who flourish. By selecting some good ECAs into which to let off steam the balance can be easily struck.
Q: On the day of the assessment, if a child or someone in the house comes down with COVID specifically, would the school make alternate arrangements for the entrance test?
A: There will be an opportunity for students who miss the test for validated medical reasons e.g. with proof of COVID, to sit the assessment a week or two later. The questions will change.
Q: Do they need to bring their own devices for the entrance test?
A: No. They do not need devices.
Q: Apart from filling extra-curricular activities form, do we need to add recommendation letters?
Q: What’s the minimum retention of the Teachers in DC?
A: Average length of stay is 8 years and we have less than 10% turnover of staff each year.
Q: What’s the approximate ratio of seats available to the number of applicants?
A: 2.8 to 1
Q: How is the assessment day paced and structured for the children?
A: There are regular breaks after each session. You will receive further details about the exact structure of the day in due course.
Q: Hello, can you please clarify if you will have a face-to-face meeting as a part of the entry exam for Year 7?
A: There will be no interviews as part of the admissions process.
Q: With respect to each of the Year 5 report, the extra-curricular statement and the entrance exam, is there a specific weighting or particular considerations taken into account?
A: No. All things are considered equally.
Q: Whilst you have key entry years e.g. 7 and 12, are children admitted in between for the in between years?
A: A very few. The odds are much better for Year 7 entry. This should be seen as our main entry point if you want to come to DC.
Q: Based on experience, how well are DC final results recognized in Australian universities?
A: Results are equally well recognised by Australian universities and you will see from our leavers destinations that many of our students head to the top universities in Australia each year.
Q: How long is the entrance exam?
A: Please see the FAQs for the exact timings. They are available on the Dubai College website.
Q: How are children who score high in CAT4s - categorized as gifted and talented benefit from DC?
A: Almost all students at DC would be considered among the most able (previously known as gifted and talented). The stretch and challenge come from pitching all work at the same high level for all students with the expectation that all students will go on to achieve top grades. As mentioned, horses run faster with faster horses, and it is the aspirational peer group as well as our Academic Enrichment Programme which are available for all students.
Q: Is it possible to take the assessment on some other day other than 13th November?
A: Students will take the assessment on the 13th unless there is a verified medical reason.
Q: Does the school offer BTEC courses?
A: Not at the moment, with no plans in the pipeline. We are a GCSE and A Level school.
Q: I understand that a lot of students take tuitions for DC test. How does that affect the very able students who didn’t take extra help to temporarily improve their aptitude levels?
A: We do not advocate any tutoring to gain a place at Dubai College. That said, we do not police this and have no way of knowing who has or has not been tutored.
From previous surveys we have undertaken with current DC students, we approximate that around 30% of students access tutoring at some stage. However, those students who need to tutor to get into DC tend to be among the few who struggle with pressure and self-esteem issues on arrival.
Q: Will the exam be a paper-based exam or computer based. If it is a paper-based exam will the students, select their answers on the actual question sheet or a separate shading type answer sheet.
A: Paper based using the official form.
Q: When and where will we receive the slides?
A: Within a few days of this presentation.
Q: Is it not simply the case that the top 176 applicants by virtue of the entrance exam results, secure a place?
A: It is not quite that simple. The top 100 students are typically very obviously the top 100 students. The next 76 places could be given to any number of 150-200 great applicants, all of whom could flourish at DC. This is where we look at notable achievements such as elite sport or high-level music qualifications, for example, in addition to their academic profile.
Q: Your ECA template in the application has a word limit. Can we add any more documents in case we have some very important information to share?
A: No. To keep the process fair and to prevent the admissions team being overloaded, all ECAs must be submitted on the one form.
Q: Does DC offer any Scholarship programs?
A: We do not offer any financial scholarships, as all students are excellent.
Q: I had already submitted the application successfully ten days ago, but I do not receive confirmed email until now, should I submit again on the website?
A: If you have any concerns, please email email@example.com.
Q: Is DC only academic driven?
A: Hopefully you managed to catch the last 60 minutes of the presentation when we explicitly outlined the broad, balanced and holistic education we offer at Dubai College.
Q: Can we sit the entrance exam now but with the intention to join in year 8/9? Or will we have to re sit the entrance exam?
A: You would have to sit the entrance exam in the year of joining.
Q: Can I ask why there’s no interview as part of the entrance this year? Many thanks
A: Last year’s “interview” was more of a get-to-know you than a selection exercise in the absence of any open week tours or the chance to say hello to students on the assessment day. We wanted applicants to meet the humans of DC. This year we will have the opportunity to meet students face to face and spend time with them during lunch and break times.
Q: What % of your Y7 students, if any, end up leaving DC because they cannot cope with the academics? Naturally some students always have a more difficult time than others.
A: Very few indeed. I can count on my thumbs those who have left for this reason over the past 5 years. The Student Services department is extremely experienced in supporting students who have differences in learning. Students typically leave due to family relocation and not as a result of not being able to cope.
Q: Due to COVID and home circumstances, kids could not attend extra-curricular activities to the extent, I would have liked. Would that have a negative weightage on the application?
A: All students applying will be in the same boat so there will be no one disadvantaged.
Q: Kids who are generally all rounded. How do they fair within in the system? Hence not exceeding in any one area.
A: We love all-rounders at DC, as long as they reach a good academic standard.
Q: How much emphasis is placed on the Year 5 report?
A: Equal to all other aspects requested. The Year 5 report acts as a useful check and balance to the entry assessment as some students can have a bad day.
Q: How many students are normally in a class?
A: The maximum will be 22 in a class but can be as low as 14 depending on the subject in Year 7. At GCSE classes are 14-16 and at A Level they are capped at 13.
Q: How does the not-for-profit nature of DC make a difference?
A: All our fee income is invested in the school. Typically, this means lower staff student ratios (10:1), higher quality facilities and an atmosphere where education is our priority, not profit.
Q: You mentioned that only 5 students got into Ivy League schools in the US but the Ivy league does not actually include the likes of MIT etc. So can you let us know how many students are accepted into top 20 universities in the US last year?
A: Only 5 last year. We sometimes have as many as 10+ students entering the Ancient 8. However, please refer to the Academic, Examinations Results page of the website to see the Destinations of Leavers for the past few years. Here is 2021, for example: https://resources.finalsite.net/images/v1631102319/dubaicollegeorg/udbuzzmvi0ccravb9hjd/Destinationofleavers2021.pdf
Q: What if the child does really well at English and Maths but may not do well at CAT4. How would you rate that child?
A: We look at a combination of Maths, English and CAT4 together with extra-curricular strengths.
Q: How many students in a typical year are students that do not come from a school in Dubai?
A: This varies from year to year, we tend to have a small number of joiners both from other Emirates and from overseas.
Q: Do siblings get preference for entry?
A: No. We do not operate a sibling policy. This is made explicit in our admissions policy.
Q: What if a child is very academic but not the best at sports or music. Will that matter being successful at DC?
A: This will not matter since there are opportunities to take up music and sport at DC. Mr Lambert made this clear when he said that half of all places are given to those who are the top academics and the other half we look to fulfil our requirement to balance our other 3 pillars.
Q: Can you add any web links of videos or Images in the DC application template online for submissions?
Q: What is the degree of parent participation in DC?
A: We actively welcome parental contributions - we hold various focus groups, have year group representatives, ask for parental volunteers at various points throughout the year etc.
Q: Around when would you start sending out the admissions offers?
A: We expect to notify parents of the results in the first half of January. Please see the Year 7 Key Dates admissions page of our website.
Q: Do you welcome children from IB curriculum?
Q: Do you typically receive three applications per place and has that roughly been the case over the last few years?
A: 2.8 applicants per place typically and, yes, it has been consistent.
Q: Are the entrance tests to be given in pen or pencil?
A: We will send full information about the arrangements for the entrance assessment to parents of registered applicants (what to bring, etc) in early November.
Q: How often do you have Parent Teacher Meetings in the school year?
A: Typically, twice per year with 3 reports as well.
Q: How many available seats in year 7?
Q: What do we actually write in the academic part of the ECA form if our child has not attended any tournaments?
A: Write the best that you can in the space available. We recognise the limitations of COVID.
Q: Do you have gender quota? Is there a ratio you maintain?
A: No. Although we do try to start Year 7 with a 50/50 balance.
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