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Best Schools Dubai – And Why

Best Schools Dubai – And Why

In the latest (2013/14) report from Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) the number of ‘Outstanding’ schools in Dubai has remained static at 12 schools, although the number of students getting what the KHDA considers a top tier education is up by 6%.

Note: The 2014/15 reports are due at the end of April, beginning of May 2015.

What do you think? Have your say on Dubai schools – complete the 2015 School survey here.

Read: Dubai School Fees – the complete list, by Year Group

And: Complete Dubai School Rankings – KHDA

And: The most popular schools in the UAE

And: The highest user rated Schools in the UAE – Top 10

Combined, 21,710 students now study in what are deemed to be Outstanding schools in Dubai, a 6% increase on the 20,435 said to be so in 2012/13. This is because the schools increased their capacity over the previous period.  The number of students attending the highest ranked schools in 2011/12 was 18,456 when only 11 schools were rated Outstanding by the KHDA.

Currently, the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), the school inspections department of the KHDA, annually inspects 141 private schools in Dubai.


Caption: Dubai school ratings, by curriculum type.

The performance levels, according to the KHDA website, are defined as follows:

Outstanding: Exceptionally high quality of performance or practice.

Good: The expected level for every school in Dubai.

Acceptable: The minimum level of quality required for Dubai. All key aspects of performance and practice in every school should meet or exceed this level.

Unsatisfactory: Quality not yet at the level acceptable for schools in Dubai. Schools will be expected to take urgent measures to improve the quality of any aspect of their performance or practice that is judged at this level.


Outstanding Schools Revealed

Schools that score an overall outstanding rating will undoubtedly become the most sought-after school places in Dubai. Here are the 12 outstanding performing private schools in Dubai, as of May 2014.


  1. Kings Dubai, UK
  2. GEMS Wellington International School, UK/IB
  3. Jumeirah College, UK
  4. Jumeirah English Speaking School, UK
  5. Dubai College, UK
  6. GEMS Jumeirah Primary School, UK
  7. Jumeirah English Speaking School – Arabian Ranches, UK/IB
  8. GEMS Dubai American Academy, US/IB,
  9. Dubai Modern High School, Indian (ISCE)
  10. The Indian High School, Indian (CBSE)
  11. Dubai English Speaking College, UK – New in 2012/13
  12. Horizon School, UK – New in 2012/13

Note, Jebel Ali Primary School (UK), which made the Outstanding grade in 2011/12, has retained a Good grade for the second year in a row. It is still rated as Outstanding in most elements of the KHDA’s report. Arabic provision is its Achilles Heel.


Schools rated Good by the KHDA

If you are currently research a school for your child, note – Outstanding schools tend to be at or near capacity. Good schools will also be targeted by parents but you should broaden your search to schools on this list. Note, targeting new (opened in the last 3-4 years) and new schools will yield the biggest opportunities for a space within a high performing school.

Al Ameen Private School UK
Al Diyafah High School  ,  UK
Al Ittihad Private School, US
Al Mizhar American Academy School,  US
Al Rashid Al Saleh Private School, MOE
Al Safa Private School, UK
Al Salam Private School, UK
American School of Dubai, US
Cambridge International School, UK
Dar Al Marefa School, IB
Deira International School, UK/IB
Delhi Private School, Indian(CBSE)
Dubai British School, UK
Dubai English Speaking School, Good     UK
Dubai Gem Private School,  UK
Dubai International Academy, IB
Dubai International private School, US
Dubai National School, US
Dubai Scholars Private School, UK
Emirates International private School L.L.C, UK/IB
Emirates International School (Meadows), IB
GEMS Our Own English High School, Indian(CBSE)
GEMS Our Own Indian School, Indian(CBSE)
GEMS Royal Dubai School,  UK
GEMS Wellington Academy (Branch), UK
GEMS Wellington Primary School, UK
GEMS World Academy, IB
German International School Dubai, GERMAN
GreenField Community School, IB
Greenwood International School, US
Japanese School, Japanese
Jebel Ali Primary school, UK
JSS International School,  Indian(CISCE)
Jumeira Baccalaureate School, UK/IB
LyceeFrancais International, FRENCH
LyceeFrancais International Georges Pompidou, FRENCH
LyceeFrancais International Georges Pompidou Primary OudMetha, FRENCH
LyceeLibanais Francophone Prive-Dubai, FRENCH
Our Own High School,  Indian(CBSE)
Pristine Private School, UK
Raffles International School – South, UK
Raffles World Academy, UK/IB
Rajagiri International School Dubai, Indian(CBSE)
Regent International Private School, UK
Repton School Dubai FZ-LLC, UK/IB
Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Islamic Institute, MOE
St. Mary Catholic High School-Dubai, UK
Star International School, UK
Star International School – Um Al Shief, UK
The English College Dubai, UK
The Indian High School-Branch,  Indian(CBSE)
The Millenium School, Indian(CBSE)
The School of Research Science, UK
The Winchester School,  UK
Universal American School, US/IB
Uptown School, IB


Comparing Dubai schools internationally


The best Dubai schools are very good, with the likes of Dubai College comparing favourably with some of the best private schools in the UK – at least in terms of academic results. As a whole however, the UAE has some way to go on international benchmarks like the PISA test.

See: Problem: UAE schools at the bottom of the class

Results vary widely across curricula in the UAE, with IB and UK curriculum schools scoring significantly higher than their peers and already closing in on the benchmarks set in the UAE for 2021. Higher performance in these tests is reflected in the ratings of schools in the UAE by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau. Two thirds of Outstanding schools in the emirate are either UK or IB schools.

Note however, that this is not necessarily to do with the curriculum. UK and IB schools tend to be the most expensive, charge the highest fees, and therefore are the most well funded schools in Dubai.


Getting into one of these schools

If you are currently researching schools, you want to read our guide to getting into a good school in the UAE.


How school inspections are done

Internationally qualified school inspectors pay on site visits to every private school in Dubai to rate the school on key questions such as:

  1. How good are the students’ attainment and progress in key subjects? (Key subjects focus on Maths, Science, Arabic, Islamic Studies and English)
  2. How good is the students’ personal and social development? 
  3. How good is the teaching, learning and assessment methods?

  4. How well does the curriculum meet the educational needs of all students? 
  5. How well does the school protect and support its students?
  6. How good are the leadership and management of the school?

  7. How well does the school perform overall?

Following each inspection, the school gets a full written report with details of the school’s performance and shortfalls. Parents considering specific schools should be able to access the latest school inspection report through the KHDA website.

The school is expected to prepare an action plan addressing any recommendations for further development, which is then used as a benchmark for the next year’s inspections.


Why you should filter reports

The KHDA rates schools based on its own weighting system. In its latest guide it notes its next round of reports will focus on Special Educational Needs provision, and core subjects Maths and English.

The inspection team will of course continue to look at MoE requirements for Islamic and social studies, Arabic as a first and second language – and so on.

As a parent not everything the KHDA uses in its overview rating, you will consider important – for non-Muslims the weighting given to Islamic Studies for example, may not be considered so vital.

If you do only look at the top line rating, you could be excluding schools delivering outstanding education in those areas you consider important…

What do you think? Have your say on Dubai schools – complete the 2015 School survey here.

Further reading: www.khda.gov.ae/en

And: School Availability – Latest Admissions Information. This list is updated regularly.



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Leave A Reply
  1. Karim says
    March 7, 2015, 10:42 am

    The fact that the American School of Dubai isn’t one of the top 10 schools in Dubai shows how ridiculous this list is. The only thing holding them back is that they are not strong in Arabic and Islamic studies. Too bad. They’re one of the top schools not just in Dubai but in the UAE.

    • Professor says
      March 7, 2015, 11:46 am

      A key to both the ADEC and KHDA reports is to read them properly and understand why a school is rated as it is. A school may be high performing in those areas that you personally feel are valuable. The devil is always in the details – but both ADEC and the KHDA allow you very easily to see what they have rated and how they have rated it on purpose to allow you to do this…

      • Jane says
        March 8, 2015, 4:19 pm

        Yes, but…

        “What stops the American School of Dubai attaining an Outstanding ranking is perhaps because it does not require students to take Arabic beyond grade 5, nor does it currently provide Islamic Studies as part of its curriculum thereby not complying fully with MoE curriculum.”

        Considering the target audience of the school, I don’t think these are major issues which concern the parents. Which makes one wonder, should that issue really carry such weight when ranking a non-Arabic language private school that caters to a mostly non-Arab student body? One has to wonder if there would be slight shifts in the rankings if the issues Arabic and Islamic studies did not carry so much weight.

      • Professor says
        March 8, 2015, 4:59 pm

        Well it really depends upon the parent Jane – some parents at ASD will consider it important despite it being an American curriculum.

        We also do need to factor in the school is in the UAE, an Arabic speaking, Islamic country, and therefore it is understandable if the national regulator makes these key considerations in its overall rating. As a parent however, it is up to you what you factor into your personal conclusions on inspection findings

  2. AZ says
    February 4, 2015, 5:43 pm

    I have twin boys (7years) with different academic abilities and interests. They were accepted in both Kings and DAA. Both are outstanding schools, but seeing your comments above, shall i deduct that UK curriculum is better than the American one? Any advice or recommendation is welcomed. Thank you

    • Professor says
      March 8, 2015, 9:04 pm

      The UK curriculum is not better than the US – just different. There are however a lot more UK schools than US schools, and the list above reflects that fact. As the comments above show, there are some very good US curriculum schools passionately supported by parents. I would look at those rated Good, and then read the reports to make your own conclusions.

      For the choice between curricula I would also consider where your child will continue schooling when you leave the UAE. If you are a US citizen, and plan to return to the US one day, then clearly that would suggest a US school…

      Most people considering a US curriculum would normally evaluate it against IB. For that we did have a question in our Q and A site here – http://whichschooladvisor.com/qanda/curriculum-best-ib-us/

  3. onutza kindrish says
    June 26, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Middle East countries have been duped into employing only native speaking UK , USA, CANADA, Australian etc specialists disregarding the tremendously poor quality of the respective countries’ education and universities.In many European countries these ” native speakers”-poor specialists are sent home.

    • Amal says
      July 14, 2014, 3:57 pm

      As a matter of fact, there was not much of transparency in terms of data, school displays, teachers’ performance or parents’ council in some schools . Preparations were made in advance, for the accreditation purpose, and such schools got highly effective although it has never been one of their systems or school procedures to keep records or have parents’ council or even have displays in the school! MOE accreditation should consider all these.
      Thank you for your good realistic point Onutza.

  4. Ibo says
    May 28, 2014, 7:38 am

    If Star international School in Mirdiff offers a superb educational environment with specialist facilities that include an art room, music room, science laboratory, cookery room and specialized teaching rooms for French, Arabic, Islamic Studies and support programmes for Literacy, Numeracy and EAL….as they claim….then it makes you wonder why they keep getting Acceptable Rating for the past few years…Rating for the School for 2014 was again Acceptable.

  5. Nadira Jaffar says
    April 18, 2014, 7:04 pm

    My son is facing mild dyslexia, but he is good in studies and would like to do commerce in Plus one. Kindly assist please.

  6. samih says
    February 7, 2014, 4:00 pm

    How come all of the 10 best schools are UK or similar based curriculum! Does this has anything to do with visiting teams background! Or it is marketing concept back ground? Visiting teams ignore or devaluate certain aspects or give it less weight than other standards so that results will reflect better level of performance in Uk based curriculum schools. Some schools are accreditted by CIS and NEASC yet they hardly recognized good!?

    • Professor says
      February 9, 2014, 3:50 pm

      It is an interesting point Samih as to why UK curriculum schools do well, however note it is the most widely adopted curriculum so therefore just in terms of brute numbers, you would expect to see proportionally more at the top of the list.

      It is also worth noting that while the KHDA is at pains to point out higher fees do not equal better quality (and that’s true – if you do the research you will see there is no direct correlation) there is no doubt schools with more funding, should they spend their money well, can have better/more support structures in place. The majority of schools here are mid to premium range schools in terms of pricing.

      The KHDA is very transparent in terms of what it looks for in its reports. If you’re interested, its handbook may be found here: http://bit.ly/1bBan0X

    • Point of view says
      March 29, 2014, 2:05 pm

      Beware of schools run like a supermarket! Oversized schools are good for economy but not for children. Beware of labels. CIS etc. accreditation has its place but has become a meaningless, money spinner, sounds good, adds prestige, but look into how the status is achieved and what it really means.

      At Primary level, small classes are conductive to good learning, the teacher can know your child as an individual, not as a number or statistic. Problems in the later school years spring from what has been overlooked and not dealt with at the early stages.

      Big is not best, as far as schools are concerned although it is a trend in business.

    • Professor says
      June 3, 2014, 3:10 pm

      Hi Samih, look also at the PISA report – this is an international benchmark that tests maths, science… and critical reasoning skills… This has nothing to do with the KHDA. We can see IB and UK curriculum schools performing relatively better than other curricula in the UAE…

  7. Khan Bibi says
    November 25, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Please add the below criterion too:
    1. What is the staff turn over and the reasons for it
    2. How much is being invested into staff development and benefits to reduce the staff turn over
    3. The quality of IT labs/staff
    4. Library
    5. Sports and extra curricular activities


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