KHDA Ratings 2018: Which Dubai Schools Are Up?

The KHDA inspection reports for the 2017/18 academic year have seen schools moving both upwards and downwards. There are also a number of schools being inspected for the first time. We reveal who moved where.
KHDA Ratings 2018: Which Dubai Schools Are Up?
By Veathika
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This is the tenth year of Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) Dubai school inspections and out of the 194 schools in Dubai, 166 schools were part of the 2017/18 inspection cycle with a total of 281,432 students.

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.

The Outstanding 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.

In the latest set of results both Dubai International Academy (DIA) and JESS Arabian Ranches move down one notch to Very Good. 

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 Top Schools.

JESS Arabian Ranches is also sister site,'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.

School 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Dubai British School Very Good Very Good Outstanding
Dubai College Outstanding Outstanding 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 College 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
Repton School Outstanding Outstanding Outstanding

The Very Good Schools

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 "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:

School 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
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 schools

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 'Acceptable' Schools

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 SchoolAll the schools will have further to go, but they have made a significant start on the journey.

Caveat Emptor

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.


Also See

How to read the KHDA reports
The KHDA Ratings 2017/18 Complete Table
Schools Rising, 10 Years of Results

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