At a glance
Dubai International Academy is the first pure play IB school to get the KHDA's top Outstanding rating.
Located in Emirates Hills alongside the Al Khail road, DIA opened on September 10, 2005 with more than 500 students from 55 countries and an equally diverse faculty of more than 50 members of 18 different nationalities. Today the school is home to 2,072 students from over 80 nationalities, looked after by 156 teachers. No one nationality dominates, but reflecting the UAE, the largest single nationality of students is Indian.
The school's teacher turnover is currently, we believe, a little too high - running at 29%. The teacher:student ratio is 1:13 with the majority of teachers being recruited from the United Kingdom. The school employs 33 teaching assistants.
Dubai International Academy was the first in the UAE to offer the Geneva based International Baccalaureate (IB) all the way from the Primary Years Programme (PYP, KG 1 – Year 6), to the Middle Years Programme (MYP, years 7-11) and finally the Diploma Programme (DP, years 12-13). Across the programmes, provision is provided for students with special educational needs (SEN) and English as a second language (ESL) - the latter from year 2. Until this point, the school believes that separate ESL teaching is not required since children "soak up" English so quickly.
Part of the school's success must come from a decision made as long ago as January 2013 when the school appointed a Quality Assurance Director to ensure standards. In its 2011/12 report the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator, noted attainment and progress had improved in English, Mathematics and Science, a comment continued into its 2012/13 and 2013/14 reports.Today it is pretty hard to find a rating that is not either Very Good or Outstanding for English, Maths or Science, for attainment or progress.
According to the school its "IBDP results have been among the best in the region". The results are impressive, and largely improving.
The school has had some considerable individual successes - in May 2013 Xanita Saaymen achieved the perfect score of 45/45, while last year the top score was 44/45. Some 8% of its students achieved 40 or above - a pass mark that would be good enough for Oxbridge (which usually cites 38). In fact DIA says "all" of its graduates secured college placements across 17 countries, which include the world’s top universities: Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Cambridge, and London School of Economics. "In May 2015, 80% of our students received acceptances from their first choice university."
Areas of weakness at DIA continue to be its Islamic Education and Arabic provision, which needs "to reflect the principles of IB more closely". Arabic and Islamic Studies are considered areas of weakness across the vast majority of Dubai's private schools.
Improvements at DIA have not only been academic. Other strengths of the school include students' personal and social development and its impact on their learning; an outstanding provision for students' social and personal needs; the school's creation of a cohesive community from the diverse range of cultures and backgrounds and the ability of school leaders, governors, parents and teachers to work towards a common pursuit of excellence in both education and personal development.
Facilities at DIA are good. There school lists these as: 95 Classrooms, a Networked Library, Specialist rooms for music, music technology, art, dance, drama and language learning, an Exam Hall, Fully equipped science labs, computer labs and Robotic lab, 4 climate-controlled multi-purpose halls for a wide range of sports and other activities, 2 covered swimming pools, a fully grassed outdoor playing field, several shaded play areas - smaller ones with play equipment, and an impressively large one above the Kindergarten section of the school. The school used the available space well. Shaded outdoor basketball and tennis ball courts, a Cafeteria and a Music and movement sprung-floored room for kindergarten students.
The school has a very decent range of after school activities - which as an IB school you would expect. The school offers the International Award (Duke of Edinburgh) and the Model United Nations, staples it seems of IB schools. One of the school's students recently won the poetry recitation competition at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
Feedback to WSA on DIA is generally positive. Most parents like the school's IB programme, and the fact that the school is required to maintain the Geneva based organisation's IB standards.
The school does well in the ongoing WSA School Survey. Most parents would recommend the school, all are happy with the academic performance of the school, and approximately half believe the school offers good value for money. Parents believe the school ranks well compared to international peers, with the majority thinking the offering is on a par with "the level of education offered in their home countries".
The school embraces and celebrates the diversity of its multinational student population, running mother tongue language programmes in several languages, such as Dutch, Spanish and several others. There is a small Dutch library amongst other things.
The school was one of the first schools in Dubai to become an Eco Flag school.
Fees at DIA are premium - but relatively good value for an IB school, especially an Outstanding one. They start at 38,315 for KG per annum and rise to just over 67,893 AED for Year 13.
There are additional fees on admissions. There is an entrance test fee of 500 AED, 3,000 AED annual re-enrollment fee (adjusted against term one fees - actually quite reasonable compared to peers), a 7,000 AED enrollment fee for new students (again comparatively reasonable), and a 4.500 feeAED if the student is identified as needing English as a Second Language (ESL) support.
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