20 Affordable British Schools In Dubai

Who says there's no such thing as affordable British schools in Dubai? Spurred on by concerns about the impact of Covid, stagnant salaries or job losses... WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has updated our hugely popular Affordable Schools story. Find out which Dubai schools have surprisingly good ratings, feedback and results, and none of which will 'break the bank!'
20 Affordable British Schools In Dubai
By C Hoppe
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Schools AED 25, 000 to AED 35,000 

5. Cambridge International School

Cambridge International School Dubai

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation to Year 13
Fees: AED 17,825 to AED 24,202
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Twar

The Buzz: This value fee range GEMS Education school has a lot more going for it than just the price. Consistently rated good since 2008 by the KHDA for the past 11 years, CIS is one of the few more affordable UK curriculum schools that offers a much broader range of IGCSE and A Levels subject options. The school has also recently introduced BTEC options. It is one of the few schools to provide detailed information about its exam results too.

Perhaps the biggest news - after years of concerns around the physical capacity of the school and over-crowding - has been its relocation to a much more modern school in Al Twar which took place in September 2020.

What the KHDA Says: With a recent change of leadership at Cambridge and the relocation to the new premises, there are definitely improvements underway. The latest report notes that "The principal has a clear vision for improvement which is implemented through effective action plans" and this is reflected in the strengths of the school".

In terms of the school's strengths, the KHDA Inspection report found these to be:

  • The vision and direction provided by the principal
  • The outstanding personal development of children and students in FS and the post-16 phase
  • Students’ outstanding knowledge and understanding of social and environmental issues, and their contribution to the school and the wider community
  • The supportive environment created through very good systems for care, safety and guidance
  • The outstanding partnership with parents and the contribution which they make to students’achievements

In terms of areas for improvement, Cambridge International should:

  • Increase the effectiveness of teachers’ questions and thereby challenge students to think critically, to draw conclusions and to explain their learning, particularly in the primary and secondary phases.
  • Improve consistency in teachers’ planning and adjusting of tasks, taking full account of curriculum standards and the learning needs of all groups of students.
  • Increase the impact of middle leaders in improving the quality of teaching and learning in their area of delegated responsibility.
  • Improve the accuracy of self-evaluation by reviewing the system for measuring and tracking students’attainment and progress, and by increasing the focus given to the evaluation of attainment and progress during classroom monitoring.

What the School Says:

"We offer outstanding learning opportunities where our students attain results that are regularly better than international standards. We are committed to continually reviewing our progress in order to find ways to further improve."

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

6. Dubai Gem Private School

dubai gem private school

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation to Year 13
Fees: AED 12,246 to AED 25,142
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Oud Metha

The Buzz: Rated ‘Good’ by the KHDA for the past ten inspections, Dubai Gem is also one of the few schools that provides full details of its examination results - a real positive in our view. Parents are said to be highly supportive of the school, whilst it is said to be very open and communicative.

What the KHDA Says:

During the 2019-20 inspection that took place in February 2020, the DSIB inspection team found the strengths of Dubai Gem Private School to be:

  • The work ethos of the students, their behaviour and the respect that they show to adults and to one another
  • Attainment in Islamic education, mathematics and science in the post-16 phase, and in English, mathematics and science in the secondary phase
  • Students’ understanding of Islamic values, and their awareness of Emirati and world cultures
  • Students’ progress in Islamic education in the primary and post-16 phases, in English, mathematics and science, in the secondary phase, and in mathematics and science in the post-16 phase
  • The school’s commitment to inclusion, the quality of older students’ learning skills, and the individualised high-quality guidance on learning and career pathways.

The key improvements recommended by the inspection team are to:

  • Improve attainment and progress in all subjects, but especially in Arabic languages.
  • Build greater consistency in the ways in which teachers appropriately challenge and learning meet the needs and abilities of students.
  • Strengthen the purposeful use of technology to support and extend learning.
  • Increase the number of opportunities to promote students’ independence, enquiry, problem-solving and higher-level thinking skills, in all subjects and phases.

What the School Says: 

“Dubai Gem Private School seeks to create a challenging and inclusive learning environment that encourages high expectations for all students. The school community is committed to developing students who are resilient and adaptable, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to continue their education and become personally fulfilled, interdependent, socially responsible adults.”

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

7. Dubai Scholars Private School

Dubai Scholars Private School

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation to Year 12
Fees: AED 14,857 to AED 30,562
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Qusais

The Buzz: Scholars boasts Oxford University, University College London, New York University, Imperial College, Kings College London and many more among its alumni placements.  Unfortunately, the school does not publish its examination results but with university entrances such as these, we can be assured that they are strong. Parents and students are overwhelmingly positive about the school in both the KHDA and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com surveys.

What the KHDA says: The school has now held the Good rating from the KHDA for ten consecutive years. However, as is so often the case, Dubai Scholars' overall KHDA rating really does not tell the full story. In many respects, this is a school that should have already been awarded the next higher rating of Very Good - the rating awarded to the vast majority of key performance measures.

The school's strengths include:

  • The rates of progress students make to achieve high standards in English, mathematics and science
  • The vision and direction of most leaders to improve teaching and learning within an inclusive and purposeful learning culture
  • Students’ outstanding understanding of Islamic values and their very positive behaviour, relationships and commitment to learning
  • The unique and very positive quality of the Foundation Stage (FS) provision that enhances children's development from an early age
  • The wide range of creative, enterprising and innovative experiences, in and out of the classrooms, that enhance students’ social, personal and academic development.

Areas the school has been recommended to focus on for further improvement by the KHDA are to:

  • Improve the quality of teaching practices across the school, to ensure greater consistency in delivering very good provision for students of all abilities by:
    - organising classrooms, resources and learning activities to suit all students’ needs;
    - planning lessons based on an analysis of students’ strengths and weaknesses, including shared targeted next steps in learning, and
    - specifically, improving teaching quality in Islamic education in the primary phase by accurately assessing learning against appropriate curriculum standards.
  • Accelerate progress in Arabic as an additional language by:
    - developing and embedding informed monitoring to bring about rapid improvement in the quality of teaching in lessons
    - improving leaders’ and teachers’ understanding of the curriculum standards for Arabic as an additional language in order to improve curriculum design and set the appropriate level of challenge and expectations for all students
    - designing valid assessments to assess students’ skills and understanding against appropriate curriculum standards and to subsequently inform future learning.

What the School Says:

In line with the school's Mission statement:

"to prepare our students for the challenges of life, with the critical skills and communicative abilities to tackle those challenges that have yet to manifest, in this rapidly evolving society. Our goal is to lead students to be confident individuals who are comfortable in taking risks but have the values to act with thoughtfulness and humility", Scholars says that "Our graduates are curious, fearless, independent thinkers — aware of their environment and the needs of the world they live in. They have a global perspective, academic rigour, and a healthy body. They are confident in expressing themselves in multiple languages — publicly and in large groups."

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

8. GEMS Founders School Al Barsha

Founders School

Curriculum: UK
Years: FS1 to Year 13
Fees: AED 22,455 to AED 33,683
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Barsha

The Buzz: Five years after opening, the stampede of Dubai parents through Founders' doors has not stopped. The Founders' launch was one of the most successful in years, with estimates of over 1,800 students signed up before the school even opened and it now has a full compliment of 4,200 students from FS1 to Year 13.

Based on the hugely popular and successful GEMS Cambridge and Winchester models, Founders brought affordable UK education into the epicentre of premium school territory, Al Barsha South. In the process it gave cash strapped parents in the area an affordable option from the well-known GEMS stable.

If we would make one criticism, it would be that Founders has not been as transparent as we would have liked to see in relation to examination results.  Although some information was provided by the school following students' IGCSE and AS results in 2020, detailed breakdowns were not provided.

What the KHDA says: GEMS Founders was awarded a Good rating on its first inspection, and has consolidated this rating - in spite of the rapid growth of the school in terms of year groups and student numbers - for the second year of inspections.

Inspectors found the strengths of the school to be:

  • Students' very positive behaviour at all phases and their excellent attitudes to work and to other people
  • The very effective implementation by staff of the school's high-quality arrangements for health, safety, care and support, including the promotion of well-being
  • The partnerships with parents, and the involvement of parents in governance, in conjunction with the effective work of the local officers
  • The impact of the principal and other senior leaders in maintaining most standards and in improving various processes at a time of rapid growth.

In terms of areas for improvement, the inspection team identified the need for GFS to:

  • Improve attainment and accelerate progress in Islamic education and Arabic, particularly Arabic as a second language, and especially at secondary, by:
    - accurately identifying students’ strengths and gaps in knowledge, understanding and skills
    - modifying the curriculum and lessons to ensure that gaps are addressed and the learning needs of all groups are met.
  • With the aim of improving progress and increasing the proportion of students who attain beyond curriculum standards, ensure that:
    - lessons are more consistently of good or better quality
    - teachers set appropriately high expectations of what students can achieve and always challenge them in their learning.
  • Review the curriculum where necessary to ensure continuity and progression in all subjects and to develop students’ learning skills, particularly in relation to independent learning.

What the school says:

GEMS Founders Al Barsha offers "the best value for money in the UAE. We are a DSIB rated “Good” school in our very first inspection with modern state of the art facilities and a truly internationally recognised curriculum. Most importantly the culture and ethos at our school is second to none with the most positive and kind community you will find".

 Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

9. GEMS Founders School Al Mizhar

GEMS Founders Al Mizhar review

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation to Year 10
Fees: AED 23,000 to AED 33,000
KHDA Ranking: not yet inspected
Location: Al Mizhar

The Buzz: A sister school on the other side of the city from the ground-breaking GEMS Founders Al Barsha, the Al Mizhar school has been open just two years. The Principal and CEO of GEMS Founders Al Barsha, Mr. Matthew Burfield, has "brand responsibility" for all Founders schools - a third in Al Waha has been put on hold for the moment.  As such, he is responsible for seeing that Founders Al Mizhar matches up to the Good rated Al Barsha branch in terms of leadership, teaching standards and curriculum. So far, Founders Al Mizhar seems to be on the right road with a particular focus on technology (computational thinking) in its curriculum and a strong system of assessment and feedback in the Secondary school in line with the IGCSE grading process.

There has been a change of Principal for its third year of operation, and no doubt the team will be firmly focused on reaching the same standards as Founders Al Barsha when they are inspected for the first time by the DSIB inspection team in the next (2020-21) academic year. Feedback in the main seems to be positive. Fees are expected to reach AED 35,000 for Years 12 and 13.

What the school says: The school is led by Principal Akram Tarik, who, in his introduction, informs parents that "As a Dubai school that teaches students the National Curriculum for England, we offer a reasonably priced world-class education for Foundation Stage to Year 10 students and eventually growing to provide an education from FS to Y13".

The school's Mission is 'Creating tomorrow's successful and caring citizens today.'  Its Vision is 'To empower students to have the heart to celebrate uniqueness and the mind to be innovative, creative problem solvers, bringing a positive change to the world in which we live.'

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

10. Queen International School

Queen International School

Curriculum: UK
Years: KG1 to Grade 12
Fees: AED 14,381 to AED 26,969
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Deira

The Buzz: Queen International is a school with a rather chequered history in terms of inspection performance in recent years. Having been rated Acceptable for five years, in 2016-17, it achieved a Good rating which it maintained for a further year, before dropping back to Acceptable in 2018-19, a rating it retained in 2019-20.

However, there have been multiple changes made at the school more recently, notably with the appointment of with the current Principal, Glenn Atkinson, who was appointed in August 2019. Mr. Atkinson was previously Head of Teaching and Learning at the Sheffield School, Dubai. The most recent KHDA inspection report notes that "The recently-appointed principal has a clear vision for the school and the capacity to improve it".  The owners and Governors are also ensuring investment in the school.

There is no doubt that from an academic perspective, it is the Secondary and post-16 sections of the school that stand out. English, Maths and Science are all rated Very Good in Secondary and with no English students in post-16, Maths is rated Good, whilst Science is rated Very Good. For this reason, we have chosen to retain the inclusion of Queen International School in our list of Affordable Good schools.

What the KHDA says:

The DSIB inspection team from the KHDA had much that is positive to say about Queen International School. The team defined the strengths of the school as:

  • The successful steps taken by the recently-appointed principal to improve students’ safety, the curriculum, the school’s governance arrangements, communication in the school and staff morale
  • Students’ attainment and progress in Arabic as a first language and secondary English, mathematics and science
  • The personal and social development of students throughout the school, especially students’ understanding of Islamic values and their awareness of Emirati and world cultures
  • Secondary students’ happiness and their sense of well-being as reported in the Dubai Well-being Student Census, especially the reports of Emirati students.

In terms of areas of improvement, the school needs to:

  • Improve curriculum adaptation and the identification, support and progress of students of determination, as well as the links with their parents.
  • Improve opportunities for children in the FS to develop their learning skills and make better progress in all key subjects, especially in science.
  • Improve teaching across the school by:
    o using assessment information more thoroughly to plan and implement clear learning objectives for different groups of students
    o providing more opportunities for independent learning
    o providing more informative feedback to students on their work so they know what to improve and how.
    Improve the effectiveness of leaders across the school by:
    o ensuring that students’ work and their assessment results are at the appropriate level for their age
    o making accurate judgments on the quality of lessons
    o providing teachers with constructive feedback to improve their performance
    o ensuring that school assessment and marking policies are being implemented.
  • With the support of the owner and governing board, improve the school’s staffing and resources.
  • Ensure that all key roles are filled by qualified staff and that essential resources and facilities are available, including a prayer room.

What the school says: "Queen International School is committed to active, reflective, creative learning. We believe learning is maximised when it takes place in an environment enriched with support, encouragement and assistance. We celebrate the pursuit of lifelong learning and are committed to nurturing high self-esteem and respect for others. We believe that everyone can learn become better thinkers and independent learners. An integral part of our learning process will have our school community learning how to ask questions, solve problems and make thoughtful decisions. 

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

11. The City School International

The City School Dubai

Curriculum: UK
Years: FS1 to Year 13
Fees: AED 16,970 to AED 31,000
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Nad Al Hamar

The Buzz: A school that had long been  rated 'Acceptable' until 2017-18 when it made the step up to a Good rating which it has consolidated over the past two years.  After many years of providing education to AS Level, The City School International will launch Year 13 and a 'Business Programme' A Level curriculum from 2021-22.  We also applaud the school for providing an overview of its IGCSE results - not quite in the detail we would like, but better than that of many other schools.

What the KHDA says: The strength of The City School International is clearly in its Secondary and post-16 provision. The inspection team found that the school's strengths are:

  • The attainment of secondary phase students in English, mathematics and science in external benchmark tests
  • The personal and social development and the innovation skills of secondary phase students, and the quality of both primary and secondary phase students' understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati culture
  • The planning and delivery of the curriculum in the secondary phase.

In terms of areas for improvement, the DSIB inspection team recommended TCIS should:

  • Improve attainment in Arabic at the secondary phase.
  • Teachers should ensure greater consistency in setting tasks and activities that fully meet the needs of all learners.
  • Ensure a more coherent programme of counselling to support students' needs.
  • Governors should ensure that school leaders have sufficient time to carry out their departmental responsibilities in order to improve outcomes for students.

What the School Says:

The school's motto is "I am to learn". The Chairman states that "the world of life and work is more competitive than they have ever been and we want our students to have the confidence, independence and intellectual ability to apply what they learn in the classrooms to life. We believe, when young people are empowered and facilitated, they rise above expectations."

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

12. The Winchester School

Winchester Jebel Ali

Curriculum: UK
Years: 1 to 13
Fees: AED 13,822 to AED 30,835
KHDA Ranking: Very Good
Location: Jebel Ali

The Buzz:  Only one of two 'Affordable' schools so far to be rated 'Very Good' by the KHDA, the GEMS group must be more than a little proud of this impressive school! 

What the KHDA Says: The strengths of the school are:

  • Students' outstanding personal development, especially the tolerance, care and respect they show for others, and their understanding of the heritage and values of the UAE;
  • The outstanding curriculum in Foundation and post-16, which underpins outstanding learning skills and achievement in most subjects;
  • The outstanding attention given to ensuring students' and adults' health, safety and well-being;
  • The range of learning pathways into future education and careers for students of all abilities;
  • The partnership between the school and parents which supports whole school improvement.

With so many Outstanding comments, we wondered what the Winchester needed to do to achieve the highest KHDA rating.  The answers are here:

  • improve leaders' whole school overview by increasing the effectiveness of monitoring in the self-evaluation process.
  • improve the consistency of how well teachers:
    -use time in lessons to maximise learning;
    -adjust teaching strategies to ensure that students of all abilities make the best possible progress;
    -embed students' mastery skills to enable them to securely attain above curriculum standards;
    -accurately assess the depths of students' understanding.

We wonder just how long it will be before the Winchester School manages to achieve that overall Outstanding rating - and what a coup that would be! Not just for the school, but also for the students and staff who would be responsible for this achievement.

What the School Says: 

"We aim to provide knowledge for life long skills so that the children are confident, independent learners who can illuminate the outside world. To achieve our aim, the school provides an invigorating and lively learning environment in which teachers and students develop and practice GEMS core values. We aim to develop within each child the desire to know, the ability to find, understand and articulate to be successful in this ever changing and diverse society."

Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com full school review including Parent feedback here

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