Fourteen schools are rated Outstanding as compared to 16 in the previous cycle, 27 are rated Very Good versus 14 schools in 2017/17, 68 schools are rated Good, one down from last year, 51 have been rated Acceptable and 6 are considered Weak, compared to 10 in the 2016/17.
A total of 24 schools improved their rating with 11 schools moving from ‘Good’ to ‘Very good’, 8 moving from ‘Acceptable’ to ‘Good’ and 4 from ‘Weak’ to ‘Acceptable’. Only one school moved to ‘Outstanding’ in 2017/18.
There were however a number of new entrants on the KHDA list of inspected schools.
Until this year no newly inspected school has been rated higher than a Good, despite this being possible according to sources at the KHDA. The 2017/18 list still does not reveal how it can be done, with the best performing newly inspected schools - Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, Hartland International School, and Ranches Primary School, all coming in as Good schools.
Heather Mann, Principal of Dubai British School, Jumeirah Park said:
"Since we are an experienced leadership team, we were well prepared for our very first inspection and knew the process well. We were happy that the inspection team recognised many of the strengths of the school."
Hartland International Principal Fiona Cottam was also happy with the first inspection of the school.
"Overall, we had a very positive experience in our first inspection, with supportive and constructively critical discussions throughout. But of course, as a first inspection, our nerves were naturally at an all-time high. But we need not have worried! Our final judgement of Good was in line with our expectations overall as a new and developing school. This first inspection for Hartland was a milestone on our journey to Outstanding status. Indeed, our preparation for our next inspection began as soon as the inspectors left the building!"
That leaves Amled School, Dovecote Green Primary , St. Mary’s Catholic High School – Muhaisnah and Swiss International Scientific School rated as Acceptable. The KHDA's stated aim is for all school's in the emirate to be Good or better, leaving work to do for some of Dubai's most recently inspected schools.
There is, of course, work to do just maintaining a rating, especially if you have reached the top of the table. One school that really knows this is Kings' Dubai, a school that has now been rated as Outstanding for a tenth year in a row. No other school has achieved this: Quite literally, for Kings' Dubai it's 10/10.
Probably the most significant gain however is Dubai British School's move to Outstanding, the only school to have risen to take the top inspection grade this year.
Taaleem's achievement comes in the same cycle that sees three schools fall from the ratings high.
JESS Arabian Ranches fall seems to have been largely on the back of weaknesses in Islamic Studies and Arabic provision for Arab speakers, as well as non compliance on tools for tracking student progress. Teaching and leadership remain Outstanding however and both JESS AR and DIA remain WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Top Schools.
JESS Arabian Ranches is also sister site, SchoolsCompared.com's Top School in the UAE (2017).
According to Mark Steed, the Director of Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS)
“Our priority over the past three years has been to provide the highest quality British curriculum education and examination results, whilst ensuring that we continue to provide the best possible all-round education and pastoral care to all our students. However, in pursuing this goal, the Inspectors felt we had not kept up with the changing demands of the UAE National Agenda. In particular, they pointed out that we need to improve the provision for our Arabic students (both in Arabic A and Islamic Education); and to adopt more widely the use of GL tracking data in Secondary and Sixth Form, which they view as a compulsory element of schooling.”
The other school to have fallen was The Indian High School, whose report came out earlier in the year.
The full list of Outstanding rated schools, as of 2018, is as follows.
|Dubai British School||Very Good||Very Good||Outstanding|
|Dubai English Speaking private college -branch||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|GEMS Dubai American Academy||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|GEMS Jumeirah Primary School||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|GEMS Modern Academy||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|GEMS Royal Dubai School||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|GEMS Wellington International School||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|Jumeirah English Speaking School||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|Kings School Dubai||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|Lycee Francais International Georges Pompidou Primary Oud Metha||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
|Lycee Francais International Georges Pompidou School ( Dubai Branch )||Outstanding||Outstanding||Outstanding|
The Very Good rated schools showed the biggest increase in numbers in 2017/18.
Lycee Francais International Private School, GEMS World Academy, Universal American School, Raffles World Academy, Jumeirah Baccalaureate School, Ambassador Kindergarten, Victory Heights Primary School, Foremarke School, Kings' School Al Barsha, Nord Anglia International School, and Safa Community School all rose to Very Good from Good.
In the case of Nord Anglia International, Safa, and Kings' Al Barsha the rise to Very Good has been very swift. All three were rated for the very first time in 2016/17.
"At NAS Dubai we are all pleased to see that the KHDA/DSIB witnessed the culture of continuing improvement in our school, its principal, Matthew Farthing, told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. "It's a quest that has no end as we think ‘beyond outstanding’. We were particularly delighted by the way the inspectors highlighted ‘The excellent attitudes to learning, the harmonious climate in the school and the mutual respect evident amongst all the students, staff and parents’.
Kings' Barsha, the most improved school this year, was equally delighted. "The KHDA’s judgment is affirmation of the positive improvements that have been made over the past academic year at [the school]," Rebecca Gray, its new principal told us. "The movement in our overall rating from Good to Very Good includes an incredible improvement in 38 performance areas. This grading is an achievement of which we are all rightfully proud."
As with all schools this year, the National Agenda is now clearly driving policy:
"We are already embedding the recommendations for improvement in Arabic studies and the use of high quality learning technologies to enrich students’ learning. Exciting times lie ahead..."
Stephen Duckitt, Principal of Safa Community School told us this was just the start of its journey:
“We are delighted that the hard work and effort put in by all staff, students and the wider community of Safa Community School over the last few years has been recognise. High quality teaching; a focus on maximising student progress for all and a strong pastoral support system forms the basis of the educational opportunities at SCS. The school is determined to maintain this positive momentum and has many exciting plans for the next academic year.”
The full list of Very Good schools are as follows:
|Ambassador Kindergarten LLC||Good||Good||Very Good|
|Deira International School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Delhi Private School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Dubai English Speaking School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Dubai International Academy||Outstanding||Outstanding||Very Good|
|Foremarke School||Good||Good||Very Good|
|GEMS Our Own English High School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|GEMS Wellington Academy (Branch)||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|GEMS Wellington Primary School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|GEMS World Academy||Good||Good||Very Good|
|Horizon English School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Jebel Ali School||Very Good||Very Good|
|Jumeira Baccalaureate School||Good||Good||Very Good|
|Jumeirah English Speaking School (Br)||Outstanding||Outstanding||Very Good|
|Kings School Al Barsha||Good||Very Good|
|Lycee Francais International||Good||Good||Very Good|
|Lycee Libanais Francophone Prive-Dubai||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Nord Anglia International School||Good||Very Good|
|Raffles World Academy||Good||Good||Very Good|
|Safa Community School||Good||Very Good|
|The Indian High School||Outstanding||Outstanding||Very Good|
|The Millennium School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|The School of Research Science||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|The Winchester School||Very Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Universal American School - Branch||Good||Good||Very Good|
|Uptown School||Good||Very Good||Very Good|
|Victory Heights Primary School||Good||Good||Very Good|
The Good rating is the minimum standard the KHDA expects of schools in the emirate, so in one sense, reaching this status is the most important milestone on the quality journey a school can take.
For Springdales School, Mirdif Private School, Star International School, Al Basateen Private Nursery, Al Khaleej National School, The City School International, The Indian Academy and Credence High School this was therefore an important year, with all the schools moving to Good from Acceptable.
Keith Miller, the principal of Sunmarke school, which was rated Good in its second year of inspection as well said:
"Following on from the fantastic accomplishments achieved by the whole school community in our first year of operation, we are delighted with the progress that Sunmarke school has made since the last DSIB inspection in the Spring of 2017. To achieve 42 uplifts to Very Good, when taken in the context that the school had only been operating for just over 18 months, is a great sentiment to the commitment of our students to their learning, the flourishing partnership with our parents, the full support of our governing body, and the skill and dedication of my teachers and leaders."
The final set of improvements come from those moving up to Acceptable.
These include English Language Private School, International Academic School, Al Maarifa Private School, and Bilva Indian School. All the schools will have further to go, but they have made a significant start on the journey.
After a full article on the KHDA's overall ratings, our final word of advice is to look beyond them.
To truly understand what Outstanding or Very Good means you need to understand the criteria and framework Dubai's education regulator is using to classify schools into these grades.
Whilst it is very unlikely you would actively disagree with any of the KHDA's criteria, it is likely that you will NOT hold all in equal importance, or as important as the KHDA does. What is very useful and valuable about the KHDA reports is that you can drill down into areas you may find most important - from teaching, to progress, from leadership to transparency.
Overall ratings are a good shortcut, but if you rely on them you will undoubtedly be missing out on what could, in reality, be the best school for your child.