Not all Good schools are equal. While some, quite clearly offer a solidly good education 'across the board', there are others with really some really impressive provision but in specific areas.
This year, the KHDA inspection reports highlight some really exceptional offerings across Dubai's secondary phases, however, within schools ranked within a broad Good rating category. That means they can often be overlooked.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com takes a look at those schools excelling in Secondary and Post-16 education...
Al Salam Private School
Fees: Between 13,000 AED to 29,000 AED
What the KHDA says: Inspectors loved Al Salam’s Secondary provision, rating it Very Good to Outstanding throughout.
Even Arabic and Islamic provision at this level is rated Good across all indicators.
English: "Most students arrive at the school with limited skills in the English language. As they progress through the school, these skills develop rapidly and by the time they sit their IGCSEs, attainment is at a very high level.”
Maths: "Attainment and progress are stronger in the secondary phase, and particularly at the end of the phase where students are able to identify their achievements and the next steps in their learning.”
Science: "In the secondary phase, IGCSE results are outstanding. In all science topics, the acquisition of knowledge by students is strong.”
Learning Skills: "Increasingly, as students move through the school, they develop greater independence, take more responsibility for their learning and are able to collaborate effectively to achieve their goals.”
Teaching: "Teaching in the secondary phase is leading to very high students’ outcomes in all subjects, although less consistently at post-16.”
Go: Full Al Salam Private School Review
Al Ameen Private School
Fees: 9,500 AED to 11,000 AED
What the KHDA says: Secondary is almost all rated Very Good with Arabic and Islamic rated a solid Good.
English: "In the secondary phase the results from external examinations are very good.”
Maths: "Attainment is very good across all the three phases with some variability reflecting the ability levels of the cohort.”
Science: "Secondary students’ achievements in IGCSE are outstanding."
Learning Skills: "Students enthusiastically carry out research tasks to support their classwork, especially in science and in mathematics.”
Emirates International School (Meadows)
Fees: 26,800 AED to 80,000 AED
What the KHDA says: The IB Diploma Programme at EIS Meadows is actually predominantly Outstanding, with Arabic and Islamic rated Acceptable to Good.
English: "External and internal assessments show that attainment and progress are steadily increasing through all year groups, culminating in outstanding outcomes in the DP”
Maths: "MYP and DP students’ outcomes are also restricted, especially during algebrabased topics.”
Science: "The strongest progress is in the DP, where students attain levels above curriculum and international expectations and in many cases above their own set targets. There are differences in outcomes between subjects, with biology being the strongest.”
Learning Skills: "Students in all phases demonstrate a strong work ethic. They are highly engaged and independent learners. DP students’ learning skills remain very strong, while in the early years and the PYP, they are developing. MYP and DP students are self-motivated and reflective learners and are very confident when using technology”
Teaching: "Teaching is strongest in the DP and MYP where teachers have excellent subject knowledge. They use skilful questioning that facilitates independent learning. In these phases, there are more opportunities for critical thinking, problem solving and research in most subjects."
Curriculum: "Curricular choice in the MYP and DP addresses students’ interests, enhancing learning. The introduction of the IB courses in the DP increases the opportunity for all to succeed. A strong focus on skills and conceptual understanding underpins the curriculum.”
Rashid Al Saleh Private School
Curriculum: Ministry of Education
Fees: 8,300 AED to 18,000 AED
What the KHDA says: Although teaching, assessment and curriculum are still rated only Good, there’s whole lot more at Rashid Al Saleh which is actually Very Good to Outstanding.
This year, Arabic as a first language for Cycle 3 has just risen to Very Good.
English: "Reading and writing skills in Cycle 3 it is outstanding due to a systemic focus on key language skills. In Cycles 2 and 3 students’ reading and writing skills develop well through the structured focus on key vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. In all phases, students’ extended creative writing skills are not as strong.”
Maths: "In Cycle 3, students display very strong mathematical skills especially when applying key concepts in new situations."
Science: "In Cycle 3, students demonstrate a stronger level of understanding of scientific concepts and their applications."
St Mary’s Catholic School Oud Metha
Fees: 6,000 AED to 13,000 AED
What the KHDA says: St Mary’s provision in the core subjects is without question Very Good. Islamic is Good, while Arabic language is Acceptable.
English: “The secondary and Post-16 students attain well above expectations. Apparent inconsistencies between the results of internal and external assessments reflect the different skills tested rather than anomalies in students' achievements”
Maths: “The attainment of the large majority of students is above the curriculum expectations in the primary and secondary phases.”
Science: “Older students independently research aspects of their work using computers."
Personal and Social Development: Very Good to Outstanding
Teaching: "In most secondary and post-16 classes, teachers effectively apply their knowledge to enable most groups of students to be successful learners."
The Sheffield School
Fees: 21,400 AED to 40,400 AED
What the KHDA says: The Sheffield School saw the majority of Post-16 indicators rise this year, and most moved to Very Good. Although Arabic language and Islamic are still considered only Acceptable, there’s a lot of positives in Sheffield’s Post-16 offering.
English: “Post-16 students present ideas persuasively orally and in writing… Post-16 students’ English skills are roundly developed across reading, writing, speaking and listening… By post-16 phase, students are intellectually curious, critical readers, and articulate speakers and writers.”
Maths: “Achievement is strongest at secondary and post-16 stages. Standards of attainment in external examinations at the secondary phase show a sustained and high levels of performance.”
Science: “Although achievement in post-16 science is inconsistent over the past three years, it has improved. Current attainment and progress as observed in lessons are good, supported by effective planning and differentiation.”
Learning Skills: “Students’ learning skills are most consistently well-developed in post-16. Students in this phase collaborate very effectively on tasks and activities that promote critical thinking and require independent learning. Students spontaneously link their learning across subjects.”
Teaching: “Professional understanding of effective learning is most consistently evident in post-16. Such secure knowledge and understanding supports planning of tasks and activities which are well-matched to most students’ needs… In the most effective post-16 lessons, teachers’ probing questions require students to extend their thinking. These strengths are present in other phases but characterise teaching in particular subjects, such as primary science. They are less consistently evident across other subjects of the phase.”
Curriculum: “Curriculum design and implementation is good in the Foundation Stage and primary phases. It is very good at secondary and post-16 level. This provision ensures students are very well prepared to make future choices and for entry into further and higher education.”
The Westminster School
Fees: 7,500 AED to 14,500 AED
What the KHDA says: Education Post-16 at Westminster School is really rather good. Almost all of the indicators at this level are considered Very Good or Outstanding with Arabic and Islamic rated consistently Good.
English: “In higher years, students are encouraged to debate and present balanced arguments. As a result they develop these skills well.”
Maths: “In post-16 almost all students demonstrate a very high level of competence in the application of mathematical concepts.”
Science: “In secondary and in Post-16 phases, achievements in biology and physics are stronger than they are in chemistry. Although practical and investigative skills are improving, theoretical knowledge is by far the strongest feature of attainment in science.”
Learning Skills: “They are mature learners, and most notably in the post16 phase, they are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses and what they are required to do to improve.”
Teaching and curriculum adaption are rated Very Good, while Assessment and curriculum design are considered Good.
Fees: 8,600 AED 18,500 AED
What the KHDA says: Both Secondary and Post-16 study at Al Diyafah are exceptionally good. Almost all indicators are rated Very Good to Outstanding, with only Arabic language and Islamic rated Acceptable.
English: “Students in all phases can write for a specific audience and in upper secondary and post-16 they are exceptionally good resulting in very strong achievements when measured in international and curriculum assessments…Most students in upper secondary and post-16 are skilled in understanding implicit and explicit meaning in a passage… Secondary and post-16 students are fluent speakers and use a breadth of vocabulary in class debates, discussions and presentations.”
Maths: “Progress and improvement has been constant over the previous three years with particularly strong application of mathematical concepts in the upper phases… Senior students are frequently made aware of the links between their study and real–life, which provides a relevant context for their work. They also acquire very good knowledge and apply this in research-based projects.”
Science: “Underpinning the very good outcomes at the secondary and post-16 phases is the use of assessment and the focus on developing key scientific skills and understanding. Older students have systematic opportunities for practical group investigations and independent work”
Learning Skills: "Students’ learning skills are well developed across all phases. However, they are particularly strong in the upper phases, where students take more responsibility for their own learning and the assessment of it.”
Teaching: “The quality of teaching is very strong for the older students particularly in English, science and mathematics.”
Curriculum: “Planning is a strength of the curriculum, although it is implemented more effectively in the secondary and post-16 phases. · New subjects have been successfully introduced at the end of Year 9, enabling students to choose subjects for IGCSE based on their interests. Skills-based activities (DIVE programme) aims to equip post-16 students for the next phase of their education.”