20 Affordable British Schools In Dubai for 2021

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 for 2021
By C Hoppe
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Schools AED 15,000 to AED 25,000 

13. Al Diyafah High School

Al Diyafah

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation 2 to Year 13
Fees: AED 10,880 to AED 22,110
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Qusais

The Buzz: Set up and still run by a family venture, there is a very personal feel to Al Diyafah School which will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2022.  It has been rated Good consistently over the past eight years by the KHDA's  DSIB inspection teams, and although no inspection took place in the 2019- 20 academic year, we fully expect it to retain the rating when the next inspection takes place.  It is a school that has also regularly published its examination results - always a positive in our view.  Al Diyafah School remains a really very good all round performer with happy students and a positive atmosphere.

What the KHDA says: The most recent KHDA inspection report (from 2018-19) indicated that Al Diyafah continued to make improvements, confirming the strengths noted in previous reports including Students' achievements which are based upon good or very good learning skills. Students excel at learning English, Mathematics and Science in Years 7 to 13 and those in the Foundation Stage (FS) achieve good learning outcomes in English, Mathematics and age-appropriate science. 

The strengths of the school were found to be:

  • The good, or better progress made by students in English, mathematics and science, due largely to the strong learning skills displayed by students of all ages
  • The very good and outstanding personal and social development of students
  • The good or better provision of curriculum, teaching and assessments of learning
  • The high quality of provision for the` protection, care, guidance and support of students.

In terms of areas for improvement, the school should:

  • Improve the progress of students learning about Islam so they attain good standards.
  • Improve the progress of students learning Arabic so that they attain good standards, especially those learning Arabic as an additional language in the secondary phase.
  • Improve the quality of teaching so that there are no weak lessons.
  • Governors should include representatives from all stakeholders when making important decisions and when reviewing the school's work.

What the School Says:

"The Al Diyafah School is a place where you will find students honing multifaceted talents and abilities... superheroes, book worms, tech-savvy geeks, sport enthusiasts,political debaters, multi-media specialists, academicians, scientists, roboticians, up-and-coming musicians, dramatists… draped in compassion, global citizenship and integrity of values."

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

14. Al Salam Private (Primary) School

Al Salam Private School

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation to Year 6
Fees: AED 16,700 to AED 19,838
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Ghusais

The Buzz: Al Salam has long been known as a school that recognised and supported the full range of students' abilities from its earliest days and has been a watch-word for inclusion within the emirate.  Now operating as a Primary School only, the return to this status has meant significant changes in leadership and the overall focus for the school, but whatever changes are to come, this unrelenting focus on the best for every child.  There has been investment in repurposing sections of the school to make it more suited again to a Primary only environment.  Fundamentally, children stand to benefit from this change in focus with a leadership team dedicated to the needs of Primary students specifically. 

What we say: The appointment of Craig Dyche-Nichols is one that was greeted with positive feedback from the WhichSchoolAdvisor team. Prior to joining ASPS he was Head of Middle School at a highly-reputed GEMS school in Dubai. Mr. Dyche-Nichols has been in the UAE for 8 years, moving to the Emirates with his wife who is also a Principal of a Very Good rated IB curriculum school in the city.  We expect Mr. Dyche-Nichols to bring a breath of fresh air to the school with innovations in terms of curriculum and its delivery in addition to ensuring that the school is reconfigured to meet the needs of its Primary only students.

What the KHDA says: Al Salam was again rated Good under the leadership of the new team in November 2019. It is a testament to the skills, dedication and commitment of the new Al Salam Primary team that they were able to achieve the Good rating again, given the fact that the Principal, Senior Leadership team, new and existing staff and 400 new students were adapting to their new school barely two months after its opening. This was acknowledged by the DSIB inspection team in their report.

In terms of strengths, these were identified as:

  • Students’ very high levels of personal and social development;
  • The school’s inclusive ethos, supported by personalised care and informed guidance for students, all within a safe learning environment;
  • The very strong links with the Emirati culture and UAE society that help to shape the curriculum;
  • The commitment to supporting parents with their child’s learning at home;
  • The drive to maintain student outcomes and the quality of provision, at a time of enormous change in the nature, structure and intake of the school.

As far as improvements were concerned, the school should:

  • Improve the quality of teaching, in all subjects, in order to accelerate progress and raise attainment by:
    - embedding opportunities for students to develop their skills of independent learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, research and innovation;
    - personalising learning for all students by matching activities accurately to students’ prior knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • Raise the expectations of teachers and the accuracy of their assessment of achievement, so that learning is more effective for all students, enabling them to demonstrate their best efforts.
  • Improve the design of the curriculum in the primary phase, by:
    - embedding continuity and progression in learning in mathematics;
    - creating a better balance between knowledge, skills and understanding in Islamic education and UAE social studies;
    - promoting innovation, creativity and challenge more effectively.

What the School Says:

Mindful of the impact of the changes on the school, Mr. Dyche-Nichols notes that "Our commitment to ensure every child becomes a ‘lifelong learner’ is never more relevant than in this era of digital advancement, whereby skills and character are to be valued alongside academic achievement and ensuring that students with SEND will be provided with the support, accommodations and curricular modifications required to enable equitable access to educational opportunities. The preparation for future studies, work and making a positive contribution to society underpins all that is Al Salam."

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

15. Apple International School

Apple International School

Curriculum: UK
Years: FS1 to Year 11
Fees: AED 6,562 to AED 15,310
KHDA Rating: Good
Location:  Al Qusais

The Buzz: There have been multiple and exciting changes afoot at Apple International School in the past year!  In 2019-20, the school opened a branch campus less than a kilometer from the original school site, which has opened as a Secondary school. The original school has reverted to Primary only. However, admissions and management are still with the original team.  This has enabled the school to add Foundation Stage 1 at the lower end of the school, and to continue the expansion at the top end, with the school now fully open in Secondary, and with Years 12 and 13 to follow.

It has to be said that this expansion appears to have come at a price - the speed of expansion has evidently not been as well-managed as the KHDA would like to see. However, we would expect that the school will address these concerns and ensure stability as rapidly as possible.

What the KHDA says: After many years of an Acceptable rating, the school's achievement of a Good rating from the KHDA in 2016-17, a rating which has been consolidated in 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, has enabled it to develop its Senior school.  

The most recent report find the strengths of the school to be:

  • Students’ outstanding personal development in the secondary school and their ability to take the initiative to suggest and lead innovative projects
  • The very good assessment processes that lead to broadly accurate self-evaluation
  • The very good systems for care and guidance that contribute to an ethos of respect and to very good relationships among students and between students and staff
  • The partnership with parents and their contribution to their children's learning.

In terms of areas for improvement, Apple International School should:

  • Governors and school leaders should:
    o urgently review the impact of school expansion, particularly on the admission policy and procedures;
    o review the school development processes to bring a sharper focus on the actions needed to drive improvement in the quality of teaching and the impact on student outcomes;
    o improve the availability and effective use of resources, such as books and learning technologies, to ensure all students have an equal opportunity in lessons to carry out independent research and develop high-level reading skills.

What the School says:

"The school's Vision states 'The Apple International School, as a multi-cultural and diverse learning organization, aims to provide a learning environment which empowers students, staff and the community to maximize their personal, creative and academic potential in order to become lifelong learners and responsible world citizens'.

Its Mission is 'We teach not for school but for life. We believe our children are talented and the pedagogic principles we apply must guide them to achieve their true potential'.

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

16. Oxford School

The Oxford School

Curriculum: UK
Years: FS2 to Year 13
Fees: AED 11,448 to AED 18,150
KHDA Rating: Acceptable
Location: Al Muhaisanah

The Buzz: Another long established school that celebrated its 30th birthday, while the Oxford School might only have received an over all Acceptable rating, the school's Secondary and Post-16 provision is considered thoroughly Good by the KHDA. Oxford School's performance in Secondary and post-16 across the main English-language taught core subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) is rated either Good or Very Good, whilst Islamic Educaton also achieves Good ratings across the school.  We are also very pleased to see that the school publishes its examination results - always a good sign!

What the KHDA says:  It is evident that the KHDA still wants to see further improvement in the Foundation and Primary sections, and also in terms of Arabic.

The school's strengths were identified as:

Overall the strengths of the Oxford School were found to be:

  • Good systems have been developed to enable more accurate analysis of data;
  • Students achieve good attainment and progress in Islamic Education which they apply well to real life;
  • Students' behaviour, personal responsibility and appreciation of Islamic values are Very Good, particularly in the senior classes;
  • There is very good provision leading to very good outcomes in the post-16 phase.

The inspection report also notes that there has been considerable investment in human resources and developing the skills of teachers and learning assistants, but the impact is not yet evident.

In terms of areas for improvement, Oxford School should:

  • Increase the accuracy of middle leaders' skills in:
    - monitoring the quality of teaching and learning and its impact on student outcomes more systematically and rigorously;
    - interpreting data with greater accuracy to inform practice during lessons.
  • Improve teachers' abilities to use assessments including data analysis to ensure that lessons meet the learning needs of all groups of students.
  • Ensure that professional development for teachers results in greater impact on teaching for effective learning.
  • Improve teaching and learning in the FS and lower Primary phases by:
    - extending teachers' understanding of how young children learn best;
    - improving lesson plans to include more independent learning, investigation and appropriate use of technology;
    - developing teachers' questioning skills to make children and students think more deeply;
    - ensuring that activities match the children's and students' different needs.

What the School says:

"The school says that its Mission is to "empower our students with knowledge, skills, character and a passion for learning so as to enable them to thrive as contributing citizens in a diverse and changing society".

The school's Core Values are Cooperation, Friendship, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility.

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

17. Pristine Private School

Pristine Private School

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation to Years 12/13
Fees: AED 10,054 to AED 18,835
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Nahda

The Buzz: Another long-established Dubai school, Pristine celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017 and has been rated Good by the KHDA for the past eight years.  It is an affordable school that also operates a very low 1:11 teacher to student ratio - more common in the premium British curriculum schools than at this price-point. This means that class sizes are lower than the norm and that students are able to receive more individualised attention. 

Unfortunately the school does not publish details of its examination results, so it is not possible to ascertain how successful the school is academically. This is a great pity as there is clearly academic talent within PPS.

In June 2019, Cambridge International Education (the curriculum and Examination Board for the Cambridge Secondary curriculum and IGCSE) announced that a team of year 10 students from Pristine Private School had won the Cambridge Upper Secondary Science Competition for the Middle East and North Africa region.

What the KHDA says: Another school with a thorough 'Good' to 'Very Good' ratings across all aspects of the report. In addition, Pristine scores 'Very Good' to 'Outstanding' for much of its Foundation provision, health and safety plus all personal and social indicators.

In terms of the school's strengths, the inspection team praised:

  • Children’s very strong outcomes and the stimulating learning environment in the FS.
  • Students’ excellent personal and social development
  • The high-level safety arrangements, including the arrangements for child protection and safeguarding.
  • Students’ very good attainment in English, mathematics and science in the primary and secondary phases.

There has been some slippage over the past year which the school will no doubt be anxious to remedy. There had been significant staff turnover (24%) in 2018-19 and this appears to have had some impact on the quality of teaching.

Inspectors recommended that Pristine should:

The inspection team's recommendations to PPS were to:

  • Ensure that teaching is consistently of the highest quality, leading to equally rapid progress in all subjects.
  • Ensure that all assessment information is accurate and used effectively to inform rigorous processes of self-evaluation.

What the School Says:

The school's Mission is 'To empower students to fulfill their potential and be successful global citizens' and its Vision is - 'To be committed, compassionate individuals who positively enhance the lives of others'. 

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

18. St Mary's Catholic School Dubai

St. Mary's Dubai

Curriculum:UK
Years: Year 1 to Year 13
Fees: AED 6,116 to AED 16,389
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Umm Hurair

The Buzz: Considered a 'hidden gem' St Mary's has been offering Not-for-profit education since 1968. With a near impossible five percent teacher turnover on average (compared with a UAE norm of 20-25% in international schools) and 15:1 student/teacher ratio, St Mary's certainly has a lot going for it!  Having said that, the school recognises that it has a bias towards Science subjects in particular and the traditional Commerce subjects. In 2019, eleven students achieved highest marks in the UAE and in many cases the world, in a range of Pearson GCSE subjects and for A Level Biology.  The school is also unique for offering Religious Education to non-Muslim students.

What the KHDA says: St. Mary's was rated Good by the KHDA inspectors for the eighth year in a row in the 2019-20 inspection round. Inspections carried out over the past six academic years have acknowledged good or better progress in the majority of subjects. If there is an area of more limited focus, this is in respect of Arabic and Islamic Studies. The Secondary school is without doubt the strongest section.

Key strengths of the school as identified by the DSIB inspection team in November 2019 were summarised as:

  • Support for the values of the UAE, particularly in relation to the promotion of tolerance and inclusion
  • The exemplary behaviour and commitment to learning by students in the secondary and post-16 phases.
  • The community and environmental responsibility of students at post-16
  • The attainment and progress of secondary students in English, mathematics and science.

The key recommendations from the inspection team in terms of improvement are to:

  • Raise expectations of students’ attainment and progress, particularly in Arabic and at post-16.
  • Ensure that all improvement objectives are measurable and linked directly to evidence of impact, both in terms of the quality of teaching and students’ learning.
  • Make more effective use of assessment information to set individual improvement targets for students and support them in assessing their own progress, and in addressing identified areas of weakness.
  • Review the curriculum in the lower primary phase to ensure that there is an appropriate level of challenge for more able students.

What the School Says:

"At St. Mary’s Catholic High School, Dubai we firmly believe in the maxim, ‘Unity among Diversity.’ It is these values we hope the students will cherish as citizens of the future. Our multinational staff , along with parents, aim to create a microcosm of the co-operative, tolerant world we want our children to inherit."

Whilst the school may be regarded as more traditional than most, this impression belies the leadership of St. Mary's view for the future. 

The school's Vision statement notes “Within the next 5 years we envision ourselves as a school community that consistently strives to develop highly independent learners who confidently showcase innovation through meaningful reflection and purposeful collaboration. We aim to achieve this by ensuring every teacher inspires students through effective questioning and feedback to reach their highest potential in a culturally diverse society".

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

19. The Westminster School

GEMS Winchester School

Curriculum: UK
Years: Foundation 1 to Year 13
Fees: AED 8,410 to AED 15,831
KHDA Ranking: Good
Location: Al Qusais

The Buzz:  Back in 2013 when owners GEMS Education threatened the closure of The Westminster School due to its unsustainably low fees, there was an outcry resulting in the decision being reversed. Fees are still very much at the low end of the scale resulting in Westminster being one of the largest schools in the city with over 5,000 students. The school continues to grow, having latterly introduced Foundation Stage 1 for children aged 3+ in line with most UK curriculum schools in Dubai. The school has a reputation for 'Very Good' post-16 education.

Unfortunately, Westminster is one of the GEMS schools that provides little if any information about its students' academic achievement. A list of toppers is provided within the school's IGCSE prospectus but beyond the details of students' individual achievements, no overall details are released.

 What the KHDA Says: The most recent (2019-20) Inspection report praises a number of key facets of the school, noting that its strengths are:

  • The quality of teaching and support provided for students in post-16 which results in their very good progress in English, mathematics and science.
  • Students’ understanding of Islamic values, their appreciation of the culture of the UAE, and the responsibility they show for their school community.
  • The attention given by the school to the development of students’ understanding of social and environmental responsibility.
  • The systems to promote the health and safety of students and staff.
  • The school’s communications with parents, in helping them to play a full part in supporting their children's education.

Students' achievement is largely Good across the Foundation, Primary and Secondary sections in English, Maths and Science and also in Islamic Studies and Arabic as a first language - the latter a particular achievement. Arabic as a Second language is rated Acceptable. The post-16 section of the school shows particularly strong achievement with English, Maths and Science all rated Very Good.

In terms of areas for improvement, the KHDA inspection team recommended that the school should:

  • Strengthen teaching and use of assessment, especially in the primary and secondary phases, to ensure that students’ attainment and progress are at least good in all subjects, but especially in Arabic as an additional language and in English.
  • Improve self-evaluation by increasing the rigour and accuracy in the monitoring of the evaluation of students’ attainment and progress and how this information is used to assess the impact of the quality of teaching on learning.
  • Improve the quality and quantity of resources for effective teaching and learning by:
    ⎯ urgently providing all students of determination with the staffing and resources needed to ensure consistently high-quality support which will enable them to make at least good progress
    ⎯ ensuring that students in the Foundation Stage (FS) and primary classes have access to high quality resources which effectively develop their skill and enthusiasm for reading..

What the School Says:

Introducing his school, Principal and CEO Carl Roberts says "At The Westminster School we believe in supporting every individual to achieve his or her dreams, no matter how big they may be. Our students are ambitious, inquisitive and hardworking, ever embracing challenges and striving for their best. We recognise that all children have different abilities and talents, and we are committed to helping them discover and develop these in a nurturing environment. Inclusion is an important part of life at TWS".

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

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