Best A Level Schools in Dubai and Best IB Schools in Dubai

1,016,925 AED is the exact amount you will spend on tuition from grades Foundation/KG 1 to Year 13 at Repton School Dubai, currently the emirate's most expensive school, excluding any fee increases over the next 15 years, and excluding any costs other than tuition.
Best A Level Schools in Dubai and Best IB Schools in Dubai
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Schools achieving Outstanding attainment in English, Maths and the Sciences at Post-16 level are Dubai College (an A Level school, 72,400 AED per annum), Dubai English Speaking College (an A Level school, 66,358 AED per annum) and Jumeirah College (an A Level school, 73,117 AED per annum), Dubai GEM Private School (an A Level school, 19,785 AED) and The Westminster School (an A Level school, 10,483 AED).

[For the latest Outstanding rated schools, go here. Note the list has changed very little since the time of this report].

Dubai College (often referred to as DC), and Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) are two not-for-profit schools, and historically extraordinarily difficult to get into. At post-16 level it is always worth a consideration if they are within your price range because families leave unexpectedly. Also, age 16 can be a point at which some expatriate students change schools or return to their home countries for their final two years of schooling. Both institutions, however, are known to have very, very long waiting lists.

Dubai College is also a selective institution academically. This goes some way to explain its extraordinarily good examination results, with a GCE A Level A* to C pass rate of 96.4 percent, and excellent A* to B pass rate of 90.2% (2012). These are results even top performing schools in the United Kingdom would have difficulty bettering.

[UPDATE, Jan 2017: For the latest, 2016 results in external examinations for schools in Dubai, go here.]

Dubai English Speaking College, which is not academically selective, falls some way short of this in terms of A Level grades. Its A* to B pass rate is 51.30% (actually below the UK average of 52.6%). However its A* to C pass rate is 80.30% (above the UK average of 76.2%).

Jumeirah College (JC) is a non-selective GEMs Education school, for profit and more likely to have places for your child. It is a very well respected school, with first class facilities, a strong extra-curricular programme and a tight knit community of students. Academically, it is a known high achiever (a slight dip last year on A Level results, but still a 64.6% percent A* to B pass rate – the highest pass rate for a GEMs school in Dubai), and offers the widest range of AS and A Levels of the five schools (28 in total). It is also the most expensive of these five schools.

Dubai GEM Private School records outstanding attainment for Mathematics, English and Sciences in the KHDA's inspection, and does so at about one-third of the cost of its three better known peers. The school offers both AS (in Grade 12), and A Levels (in Grade 13). A Level studies are restricted, erring on the sciences rather than humanities - Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, Environmental Management, Psychology, Computing, Accounts, Business Studies, and Economics. This is just over half the number offered at Dubai College (with 19 subjects offered at AS/A Level), and about one-third of the other GEM's school mentioned above, Jumeirah College. It does not publish its A Level results.

Westminster School Dubai, we believe, is the most surprising to find in the top 5, not for any other reason that its press all year has been dominated, first by its closure, and then over a u-turn over that decision. The reason for the announced closure were its fees, which GEMs education boss, Sunny Varkey, described as unsustainable. It costs at post-16 level an average of 10,483 AED per student per annum - about one seventh of the cost of the other GEMs school mentioned above, Jumeirah College.

The Westminster School Dubai has an A* to B pass rate of 54% (2012) - above the UK average.

(Other GEMs schools we have information for are Cambridge International School in Dubai with a 52% A* to B pass rate, and the Winchester School, Dubai with a 38% A* to B pass rate (2012). GEMs Education is by far the most transparent education company for results based information.)

[Note GEMS Education has since this article stopped publishing the results of its schools, a step backwards in terms of transparency to parents.]

There is, of course, a trade off. Despite this being a GEMs school, its facilities are said to be 'only adequate' by parents. It is a big school, the largest National Curriculum of England school in Dubai with almost 5000 students and therefore benefits from economies of scale. Its class sizes are higher, and its teacher to student ratio lower than other schools. It also offers the most limited range of AS and A Levels of the five outstanding post-16 schools for attainment – eleven in total. Again these err on the sciences rather than the humanities.

Note: the science focus can partly be explained by the demographic make-up of the school. Both Dubai GEM and Westminster have Indian nationality students as their single largest demographic, while Jumeirah College, Dubai College and Dubai English Speaking College have British students as the single largest nationality of students. A generalisation, but humanities tend to be more popular for UK/Western students.

At post 16-level there are other schools for you to consider for their levels of attainment - JESS Arabian Ranches (an IB Diploma school, 74,991 AED), Emirates International School (an IB Diploma school, 66,218 AED), Dubai British School (an A Level school, 55,490 AED) which has claimed to have had its best ever set of results for 2012/13, Dubai Scholars (an A Level school, 17,792 AED), and the English College (an A Level school, 50,599 AED). These schools scored slightly less than the first set of schools in terms of attainment academically, in the KHDA's inspections, at this age group level, but only marginally so.

[UPDATE, Jan 2017: For the latest, 2016 IB results, go here.]

Note 1: IB Diploma results were fairly similar across Dubai for 2012 (we will update these results shortly for 2013). EIS Meadows just pipped its peers with an average of 33, JESS Arabian Ranches average was one point behind at 32.

Note 2: To compare price points between IB and A Level based schools is perhaps not comparing apples with apples. The IB Diploma is, arguably, a more intensive approach than A Level. There are - in general - more classes per day per student, and smaller student numbers in each class. IB schools could therefore be more expensive to run than their A Level counterparts. We do make the comparison here however because by looking at attainment as rated by the KHDA, we cut across the actual examinations taken.

Dubai Scholars stands out in terms of pricing - in a good way. The school offers a limited range of A Levels: Accounts, Business Studies, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. Clearly the school does not cater for students with a stronger predilection for the humanities. A little unusually, and perhaps reflecting the focus on examination subjects, students can take 2 A Level subjects per year, rather than the traditional approach of 3 or 4 A Levels over two years. Note school fees jump to over 20,000 AED in the final year of the school.

Finally, at the other end of the spectrum there are schools that jump out for high fees, but lower levels of attainment. Repton (an IB Diploma school, and the most expensive school in Dubai with post-16 average fees of 95,199 AED) and Regent International (an A Level school, 75,763 AED) head this pack. Both schools would be able to provide good reasons for their higher fees (potentially in terms of 'added-value' and facilities), but currently in terms of academic delivery they need to 'up their game' to get onto any trend line.

A special note here goes to Sharjah English School, which despite its Sharjah location, does target Dubai families. If you live on the older side of Dubai this is an excellent school, with strong attainment, and higher availability than some schools mentioned so far. Its A Level pass rate is 86% (2012), secondly only to Dubai College. It currently offers 16 AS, and A Levels. Average tuition fees (across Foundation/KG to Year 13) are 40,000 AED per year.

Note: Specific figures and the range of A Level subjects and options offered in a school are subject to change as they are informed by staffing expertise and student interest.


Table, Post-16 schools

School Type Career Advice (WSA) Fees Post16 Attainment Post16 Availability
Sharjah English School* K-12 100%     3.5
Dubai College From Yr 7 to 13 83% 72,400 100% 1
Dubai English Speaking College From Yr 7 to 13 67% 66,358 100% 1.5
Jumeirah College From Yr 7 - 13 67% 73,177 100% 2.5
GEMS Wellington International School K-13 83% 76675 79% 2
Jumeirah English Speaking School - Arabian Ranches K-13 100% 74991 89% 1
Deira International School K-13 Insuffient Response 63970 56% 4
Emirates International School - Jumeirah K-13 100% 63870 56% 2.5
Emirates International School - Meadows K-13 Insuffient Response 66218 89% 1
Jumeira Baccalaureate School K-12 Insuffient Response 75000 67% 2.5
Raffles World Academy K-12 50% 73150 78% 2
Repton School Dubai K-13 50% 95199 56% 4
Al Diyafah High School K-13 Insuffient Response 14580 56% 2
Al Salam Private School K-12 Insuffient Response 22580 67% 2
Cambridge International School K-13 25% 20810 78% 2
Dubai British School K-13 50% 55,490 89% 3
Dubai Gem Private School K-13 Insuffient Response 19785 100% 2
Dubai Scholars Private School K-12 Insuffient Response 17792 89% 2
Pristine Private School K-13 Insuffient Response 15867 55% 2.5
Regent International School K-12 Insuffient Response 75763 57% 3
St. Mary's Catholic High School Yr 1-12 Insuffient Response 8412 67% 1.5
The English College - Dubai K-13 Insuffient Response 50599 89% 2
The School of Research Science K-12 Insuffient Response 41225 67% 3
The Winchester School K-13 Insuffient Response 22135 44% 3.5
Arab Unity School K-12 Insuffient Response 7406 67% 3
Dubai Carmel School K-12 Insuffient Response NA NA 3
Queen International School K-12 Insuffient Response 22483 67% 3.5
The Oxford School K-12 Insuffient Response 16068 83% 3.5
The Sheffield Private School K-13 Insuffient Response 36050 11% 3.5
The Westminster School K-13 Insuffient Response 10483 100% 3.5

* Career advice - % approval rating in the WSA survey.

Next > Best British Schools in Dubai: Secondary Education


Jump to:
The Best British Schools in Dubai Part 1: Start Here
Best British Schools in Dubai: What We Measure
Best British Schools in Dubai: The Data we have Used
Best British Schools in Dubai: The Demand for Places
Best British Schools in Dubai: Post 16 Education
Best British Schools in Dubai: Secondary Education
Best British Schools in Dubai: Best British Primary Schools
Best British Schools in Dubai: Best British KGs
Best British Schools in Dubai: The WSA Survey, What Current Parents Think
Best British Schools in Dubai: Nationality, Fees and Attainment
Best British Schools in Dubai: A Final Summary
Best British Schools in Dubai Table: Contact Emails and Overview

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