The best schools in Dubai? Good news, the list is growing - albeit more modestly than last year. In the latest (2016/17) reports from Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) the number of ‘Outstanding’ schools in Dubai remained static at 16 schools but 14 schools are now rated Very Good, up one from 2015/16.
According to the emirate's education regulator 22 percent of Dubai's students (66,500) now attend Very Good or Outstanding schools, while a further 42 percent (102,521) attend schools deemed to be Good.
The volume of good schools in the emirate should be of great comfort to existing residents, as well as those moving in. There is choice, and an increasing amount of it.
This year, 159 schools were inspected. Of these, 16 were rated Outstanding, 14 were rated as Very Good, 69 Good, 50 schools are Acceptable, 10 schools are Weak, and currently no schools are considered Very Weak.
Eleven new schools were inspected in 2016/17, of these, six (Nord Anglia International School, GEMS Firstpoint School, Kings School Al Barsha, Kings School Nad Al Sheba, Safa Community School and Sunmarke School) all achieved a Good rating.
Performance levels for Dubai schools are defined as follows:
Outstanding schools Quality of performance substantially exceeds the expectation of the UAE
Very Good schools Quality of performance exceeds the expectation of the UAE
Good schools Quality of performance meets the expectation of the UAE (This is the expected level for every school in the UAE)
Acceptable schools Quality of performance meets the minimum level of quality required in the UAE (This is the minimum level for every school in the UAE)
Weak schools Quality of performance is below the expectation of the UAE
Very Weak schools Quality of performance is significantly below the expectation of the UAE
The Best Schools in Dubai
Schools that score an overall Outstanding rating will undoubtedly become the most sought-after school places in Dubai. Here are the 16 outstanding performing private schools in Dubai, as of May 2017.
Interestingly, none of the KHDA rated Outstanding schools were inspected in 2016/17 as they all took part in the KHDA's newly launched; 'Abundance Project,' which saw the city's top schools choose self assessment and create and implement strategies to share best practice with Dubai's lower rated schools.
For this reason, there are no new 2016/17 inspection reports for Outstanding schools.
There are 14 schools in Dubai rated Very Good. Very Good schools were also given the option to participate in the Abundance Project, interestingly, some did, and some chose to participate in both the KHDA inspection process AND the project.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com assumes these schools show strong inclination to reach an Outstanding rating as soon as possible.
|School Name||Curriculum||Overall 2016/2017 Rating||Overall 2015/2016 Rating||Current School Fees Minmum (AED)||Current School Fees Maximum (AED)|
|Deira International School||UK/IB||Very Good||Very Good||39,938||80,465|
|Delhi Private School||Indian||Very Good||Very Good||10,089||14,124|
|Dubai British School||UK||Very Good||Very Good||48,032||72,049|
|Dubai English Speaking School||UK||Very Good||Very Good||34,000||42,078|
|Gems Our Own English High School||Indian||Very Good||Very Good||7,090||15,002|
|Gems Wellington Academy (Branch)||UK||Very Good||Very Good||36,540||82,511|
|Gems Wellington Primary School||UK||Very Good||Very Good||42,508||53,582|
|Horizons English School||UK||Very Good||Very Good||28,249||39,564|
|Jebel Ali School - Previously Jebel Ali Primary School||UK||Very Good||Very Good||44,960||83,000|
|Lycee Libanais Francophone Prive-Dubai||French||Very Good||Very Good||24,123||51,694|
|The Millennium School||Indian||Very Good||Very Good||16,555||24,345|
|The School of Research Science||UK||Very Good||Very Good||34,359||73,769|
|The Winchester School||UK||Very Good||Very Good||13,542||30,210|
|Uptown School||IB||Very Good||Good||57,001||87,374|
Four schools (Delhi Private School, Dubai English Speaking School (DESS), Jebel Ali School (JAS) and Lycee Libanais Francophone Prive- Dubai) all chose to participate in the Abundance Project (submitting a self evaluation and accepting no inspection report for 2016/17) thus forfeiting the possibility of being upgraded in this inspection cycle to Outstanding.
A further nine schools opted to participate in both the Abundance Project and the 2016/17 inspection process.
The school which opted to participate in both were: Horizon English School, GEMS Wellington Primary School, Dubai British School, The School of Research Science, GEMS Our Own English High School, The Millennium School, Deira International School, The Winchester School, GEMS Wellington Academy (Silicon Oasis).
Uptown School is the only school to have not participated in the project. This is due to the school receiving its Very Good rating for the first time this year.
It seems likely the school will follow the lead of its Taaleem 'stable-mate' Dubai British School in 2017/18 and participate in both the Abundance Project and the inspection process.
Schools rated Good by the KHDA
If you are currently researching a school for your child, note that Dubai's Outstanding schools tend to be at or near capacity (although with increasing competition this is less the case than at any time in the past). Very Good and Good Dubai schools will also be targeted by parents and you should broaden your search to schools on this list. This is NOT about second best. Quite often the KHDA will mark down schools for criteria that may not be relevant to you. It is important to read beyond the overall KHDA ranking.
Note, targeting new (opened in the last 3-4 years) and new schools will yield the biggest opportunities for a space within a high performing school.
|School Name||Curriculum||Overall 2016/2017 Rating||Overall 2015/2016 Rating||Current School Fees Minmum (AED)||Current School Fees Maximum (AED)|
|Al Ameen Private School||UK||Good||Good||9,411||10,667|
|Al Basateen Private Nursery Hatta Branch||MOE||Good||Good||5,400||5,400|
|Al Diyafah High School||UK||Good||Good||8,611||18,546|
|Al Ittihad Private School (BR)||US||Good||Good||20,126||39,196|
|Al Mawakeb School - Al Garhoud||US||Good||Good||13,802||22,374|
|Al Mawakeb School (Br)||US||Good||Good||13,802||22,374|
|Al Mizhar American Academy School||US||Good||Good||41,322||64,414|
|Al Rashid Al Saleh Private School||MOE||Good||Good||8,354||17,927|
|Al Safa British School||UK||Good||Good||26,834||41,315|
|Al Salam Private School||UK||Good||Good||12,931||28,903|
|Ambassador Kindergarten LLC||Indian||Good||Good||26,264||26,264|
|American School of Dubai||US||Good||Good||59,255||81,360|
|Apple International School||UK||Good||Acceptable||6,562||12,052|
|Bradenton Preparatory Academy||US||Good||Acceptable||33,588||79,258|
|Cambridge International School||UK||Good||Good||17,825||24,202|
|Collegiate American School||US||Good||Good||40,071||72,352|
|Dar Al Marefa School||IB||Good||Good||32,670||74,188|
|Dubai Gem Private School||UK||Good||Good||12,246||25,142|
|Dubai International Private School - BR||US||Good||Acceptable||14,122||22,156|
|Dubai National School||US||Good||Good||21,896||35,928|
|Dubai National School (Branch)||US||Good||Good||20,712||33,955|
|Dubai Police Kindergarten - Deira Branch||MOE||Good||Good||1||1|
|Dubai Scholars Private School||UK||Good||Good||14,341||29,500|
|Emirates International Private School L.L.C||UK/IB||Good||Good||35,054||74,283|
|Emirates International School Meadows||IB||Good||Good||26,802||79,488|
|Gems First Point School||UK||Good||Not Applicable||39,368||67,340|
|Gems International School-Al Khail||IB||Good||Acceptable||47,477||66,054|
|Gems New Millennium School||Indian||Good||Good||20,963||29,348|
|Gems Our Own Indian School||Indian||Good||Good||5,944||12,117|
|Gems Wellington Academy - Al Khail||UK||Good||Good||56,466||99,456|
|Gems World Academy||IB||Good||Good||64,414||111,813|
|German International School Dubai||German||Good||Good||36,868||69,652|
|Green Field Community School||IB||Good||Good||42,933||79,062|
|Greenwood International School||US||Good||Good||18,229||27,952|
|Horizon International School L.L.C||UK||Good||Good||34,517||96,980|
|International Concept Education||French/IB||Good||Acceptable||55,000||77,000|
|International School of Arts and Sciences||US||Good||Acceptable||22,262||31,168|
|Iranian Towheed Boys School||Iranian||Good||Good||14,000||18,500|
|JSS International School||Indian||Good||Good||14,117||36,837|
|JSS Private School||Indian||Good||Good||11,002||23,889|
|Kings School Al Barsha||UK||Good||Not Applicable||52,007||100,300|
|Kings School Nad Al Sheba||UK||Good||Not Applicable||52,007||65,993|
|Lycee Francais International||French||Good||Good||26,376||55,781|
|Nord Anglia International School||UK||Good||Not Applicable||62,160||89,096|
|Our Own High School||Indian||Good||Good||8,557||14,274|
|Primus Private School (Previously) Rajagiri International School Dubai||Indian||Good||Good||11,339||22,731|
|Pristine Private School||UK||Good||Good||9,850||18,453|
|Queen International School||UK||Good||Acceptable||14,381||26,969|
|Raffles International School - Umm Suqueim South BR||UK||Good||Good||30,384||78,408|
|Raffles World Academy||UK/IB||Good||Good||30,384||85,075|
|Regent International Private School||UK||Good||Good||43,787||95,811|
|Russian International School||Russian||Good||Good||14, 241||21,899|
|Safa Community School||UK||Good||Not Applicable||48,692||72,000|
|Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Islamic Institute||MOE||Good||Good||Not Available||Not Available|
|St Mary Catholic High School-Dubai||UK||Good||Good||6,116||13,138|
|Star International School||UK||Good||Good||20,365||40,297|
|Sunmarke School||UK||Good||Not Applicable||55,000||95,000|
|The English College Dubai||UK||Good||Good||51,556||61,765|
|The Indian High School - Branch||Indian||Good||Good||5,169||5,413|
|The Kindergarten Starters||Indian||Good||Good||7,207||9,619|
|The Sheffield Private School||UK||Good||Acceptable||21,405||40,365|
|The Westminster School||UK||Good||Good||7,558||14,693|
|United International Private School||Philippine||Good||Good||5,059||9,666|
|Universal American School - Branch||US/IB||Good||Good||37,330||75,659|
|Victory Heights Primary School||UK||Good||Good||35,834||48,865|
Not all Good Schools are 'Created Equal'
There are 69 schools considered Good by the KHDA, however they are not all the same.
Some schools have been rated Good for years, and a lower fee structure can impede the improvement of their facilities or campus. However, if you're looking for a school strong academically but without the sparkling facilities, these schools can often be a good option. (See here for more information.)
Some schools have been steadily improving their inspection indicators over time and have recently turned their long standing Acceptable rating into a Good one - Queen International School, Sheffield Private School, Apple International School.
Others in the Good band are new schools inspected for the first time, yet part of larger, successful education groups, it can be assumed/hoped that most will simply be 'passing through' - Nord Anglia International School, GEMS Firstpoint School, Kings School Al Barsha, Kings School Nad Al Sheba, Safa Community School and Sunmarke School.
It is Not All About The KHDA: Other Inspections & Affiliations
Although KHDA inspection is mandatory for private schools in Dubai, schools can also choose 'voluntary' accreditation and inspections linked to their curricula home country. These inspections often emphasise different indicators and analyse different aspects of the school, which parents can use in addition to the KHDA inspection reports.
British schools can choose accreditation and inspection from the British Schools Overseas, which sends OFSTED like inspectors from the UK to check the school every 3 years. To find out more about the BSO process see here and for UAE schools most recent BSO inspection summaries see here.
All French schools must apply to become affiliated with the French Ministry of Education. The process involves a thorough audit on application, and once licensed they are inspected annually by the French government. This process is NOT optional, however given all the French schools' KHDA ratings, this would certainly appear to be no bad thing.
Recently US curriculum schools were requested by the KHDA to be affiliated with an approved US affiliation body. The preferred choice is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, (NEASC), however some schools already have long standing accreditations with other bodies.
Comparing Dubai schools internationally
The best Dubai schools are very good, with the likes of Dubai College, DESC, Jumeirah College, JESS Arabian Ranches and so on comparing favourably with some of the best private schools in the UK - at least in terms of academic results. As a whole however, the UAE has some way to go on international benchmarks like the PISA test. This is changing however with particularly Dubai schools beginning to make some serious head way. There is however a gulf between the best performing and worst performing schools, and this level of detail - i.e. which are the schools delivering - is not released to the public.
We do know however that IB and UK curriculum schools scoring significantly higher than their peers and already closing in on the benchmarks set in the UAE for 2021. Higher performance in these tests is reflected in the ratings of schools in the UAE by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau. Two thirds of Outstanding schools in the emirate are either UK or IB schools.
Note however, that this is not necessarily to do with the curriculum. UK and IB schools tend to be the most expensive, charge the highest fees, and therefore are the most well funded schools in Dubai.
Getting into one of the best schools in Dubai
If you are currently researching schools, you want to read our guide to getting into a good school in the UAE.
How school inspections are done
Internationally qualified school inspectors pay on site visits to every private school in Dubai to rate the school on key questions such as:
- How good are the students’ attainment and progress in key subjects? (Key subjects focus on Maths, Science, Arabic, Islamic Studies and English)
- How good is the students’ personal and social development?
- How good is the teaching, learning and assessment methods?
- How well does the curriculum meet the educational needs of all students?
- How well does the school protect and support its students?
- How good are the leadership and management of the school?
- How well does the school perform overall?
Following each inspection, the school gets a full written report with details of the school’s performance and shortfalls. Parents considering specific schools should be able to access the latest school inspection report through the KHDA website.
The school is expected to prepare an action plan addressing any recommendations for further development, which is then used as a benchmark for the next year’s inspections.
Why you should filter reports
The KHDA rates schools based on its own weighting system. In 2014/15 guide for example it noted its next round of reports will focus on Special Educational Needs provision, and core subjects Maths and English. Given PISA and TIMMS targets, the KHDA's latest reports for 2016/17 place more emphasis than ever before on academic results in external examinations. More information here on the current KHDA focus.
The inspection team will of course continue to look at MoE requirements for Islamic and social studies, Arabic as a first and second language - and so on.
As a parent not everything the KHDA uses in its overview rating, you will consider important - for non-Muslims the weighting given to Islamic Studies for example, may not be considered so vital.
If you do only look at the top line rating, you could be excluding schools delivering outstanding education in those areas you consider important...
Further reading: www.khda.gov.ae/en