The 12 Best Schools in Dubai – KHDA
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%.
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.
Kings Dubai, UK
Jumeirah College, UK
Dubai College, UK
Jumeirah English Speaking School – Arabian Ranches, UK/IB
GEMS Dubai American Academy, US/IB,
Dubai Modern High School, Indian (ISCE)
The Indian High School, Indian (CBSE)
Dubai English Speaking College, UK – New in 2012/13
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.
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.
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:
- How good are the students’ attainment and progress in key subjects? (Key subjects focus on Maths, Science, Arabic, Islamic Studies and English)
- How good is the students’ personal and social development?
- How good is the teaching, learning and assessment methods?
- How well does the curriculum meet the educational needs of all students?
- How well does the school protect and support its students?
- How good are the leadership and management of the school?
- 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…
Further reading: www.khda.gov.ae/en