Thank you for the responses. Yes, I did visit Al Raha International. While I loved the facilities, as far as I am concerned, this school is a no-go. I was very surprised to learn that the school offers no alternative diploma to the IB DP program for 11th and 12th graders. Quite honestly, the DP isn't right for every kid, and having to find a different school for 11th and 12th grade is not something I want to have to face, if needed, when my son is that age.
If we do happen to get into to ACS, we would live at that end of town - I'm definitely sold on the idea of living near the school.
Reservations after the tour from GEMS...I guess it all felt so flashy, and the tour felt like a slick sales presentation. I do understand that it is a for-profit school, but it put me off a bit. Seems like a high teacher turn-over, which I understand partly comes with the territory of International schools, and they are still a young school. It's difficult to pin-point. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely high points that I see, and we will quite likely end up there.
Questions I would love to ask of parents currently there...is there a strong community feel among the families? After-school engagements/events where parents can feel connected to the school? Overall pleased with the teachers? Do you get the sense that the administration is open to feedback and engagement, and supportive of their teachers?
Feel free to send me a PM, and I appreciate any advice/feedback.