This year's KHDA inspection reports were a distinctly positive news story, with 18 schools moving up, and just 6 moving down. Moreover four schools made it to an Outstanding rating, two of which for the first time.
Arguably the King's group of schools had the biggest story of the day. Kings' Dubai made it 11 Outstanding ratings out of a 11 - an unmatched achievement. However, it is now not the only Outstanding school in the group, with Kings' School al Barsha moving from Good in its first inspection in 2017, to Very Good in its second in 2018, to an Outstanding rating this year, in its third. No other school has achieved this. What's more, it is quite feasible it it will have a third Outstanding school in the not too distant future with Kings' Nad al Sheba making it to Very Good for the first time.
Alan Williamson, CEO of the Kings’ group of schools, said he was "very proud" of all three reports. "Yet again Kings’ shines in the context for education in Dubai with our continuing and ongoing reputation to deliver ‘outstanding’ education."
Not resting on any laurels however he added: “While we have the ‘Outstanding’ reputation, at Kings’ we are left with realistic and achievable action points by the DSIB KHDA inspectors. Across the schools we will continue our focus on improving Arabic and Islamic Education. We have already drawn up plans to continue our on-going improvement agenda."
Dubai English Speaking School and College (DESSC) also had a fairly defining year, with primary, Dubai English Speaking School, joining its secondary, Dubai English Speaking College, as an Outstanding rated school. Mr Andy Gibbs, Principal of the combined operation told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com:
"The Outstanding rating that DESS has now received is richly deserved and testimony to the combined talent and commitment of all our staff and children; it is a fitting recognition for the quality of learning that takes place, in all its guises, on a daily basis throughout the school year. I am sure everyone connected with DESS will be really pleased with this news."
It has been DESSC's 2019, with the combined school winning the SchoolsCompared.com Top School of the Year Award.
School Group Evolvence also had a fantastic day with its primary school, Foremarke Dubai, achieving a Very Good Rating for a second year in a row, and Repton Dubai cementing its place as an Outstanding school with its fifth Outstanding rating.
Mr David Cook, Headmaster of Repton School, Dubai, told us: “We are delighted to have achieved this ‘Outstanding’ rating once again. We have embarked on a quest for excellence across all areas of our school; in academic and sporting pursuits, as well our pastoral care, and it’s thanks to our committed, passionate teachers and our very hard-working students that these efforts have been recognized by the KHDA.
"As the number of schools increases in Dubai, we appreciate that parents have a very large choice when it comes to their children’s education. Being ranked as ‘Outstanding’ puts us front of mind for those whose children stand to benefit from the emphasis we place on creating well-rounded confident young people ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow’s world.”
Also making it back to the top of the ratings after three years of being rated Very Good, is the much loved Horizon English School (HES) from Al Najah Education.
“To move up to an Outstanding rating is a wonderful testament to the combined efforts of our senior leadership team, teachers, support staff and of course the wider school community who have shown us tremendous support, Headteacher, Mr. Ian Wallace told us. "At HES we are a primary-only school focused on developing and nurturing well-rounded children with a strong moral foundation. We see the achievement of an Outstanding rating as a milestone, not an end goal, and will continue to work hand in hand with students, our parent community and Al Najah Education to provide an exciting and positive learning experience.”
Mr Raza Khan, CEO of Al Najah Education, added that this was just a stepping stone. The the school will "continue to invest in this outstanding institution, and will be opening a new one-of-a-kind STEAM facility in the next academic year, to give children access to the latest technology from a young age.”
Good news story was not limited to Outstanding schools. School group Fortes had a particularly strong showing, with both Regent International and Sunmarke School rising to Very Good rated status.
Mrs Gaynor Dale, Principal, Regent International School, told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com she was "delighted". "It gives recognition to the academic excellence, outstanding care and wealth of exceptional opportunities that we give our pupils. We have increased further the number of Outstanding judgments which prove that Regent International School is one of the most awe-inspiring places to learn in Dubai."
Equally "delighted" was Mr Keith Miller, Principal, Sunmarke School. "To attain a 'Very Good' overall judgement within 2 and a half years of opening is a feat that very few schools have achieved within the region. This DSIB judgment, together with the numerous other marvelous outcomes accomplished by our students, is indicative of all of the hard work put in by our pupils, the full support of our families, the patronage of our Board of Directors and the dedication, commitment and skills of our teachers. We look forward to future successes."
Despite the reports this year being released during the holidays, schools and teachers were still hugely active sharing on social media, sharing their good news with their peers and parents.
Andy Price, teacher at Ranches Primary School was rightly effusive about the schools success:
"Boom! Just going leave this here! @RPSDubai only opened four years ago and now rated ‘Very Good’. Congrats @educatorabroad @Steteachdubai @Mr_Collar @MrB_Primary_Ed @DubaiPrincipal @pazmandi_andrea. So proud to work alongside this bunch!"
Dubai British School said it was "thrilled for the @KHDA ‘Outstanding’ rating again. Special thanks to staff, students, families & the DBS community for making our school such a special place to learn and work in."
GEMS Education had a lot to shout about, with a number of Outstanding schools, but also new schools to the KHDA list for the first time including GEMS Heritage and Al Barsha National School for Girls...
GEMS Heritage: "KHDA school inspection results published today... and we’re so proud and grateful. "Heading towards an outstanding future!"
Assistant Principal of GEMS Founders, Jenny Evans: "First ever mid price point UK curriculum school to get good in their first inspection! Our students deserve this!"
However, as much as schools and their teachers enjoyed a brief moment of success after all their hard work, so too they all recognised this was not a full stop, but another milestone on a road with no real end... Clearly enjoying the journey Mr Mark Steed, Director of Jumeirah English Speaking School told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com:
"We are delighted that once again both JESS Jumeirah and JESS Arabian Ranches have been considered ‘Outstanding’ schools. I would like to pay tribute to the highly dedicated team of professionals at JESS who have made this possible. But looking ahead our immediate priority is to support our amazing students through their GCSE and IB examinations, in which we are expecting further improvement in our performance at both levels.”
Sir Christopher Stone, Chief Education Officer, at GEMS Education told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that it too would not be complacent. "We are thrilled with the DSIB inspection results [but] will continue to improve leadership, learning and teaching in all our schools as our children and parents deserve nothing less than the very best," he said.
Finally DESSC Principal, Andy Gibbs, commenting on DESC's Outstanding rating, told us:
To get to ‘Outstanding’ is not easy. To stay at that level is even harder, hence the absence of complacency or ‘resting on laurels’. As in previous years this constitutes a source of great pride for all associated with the College, most notably our exceptional staff and students.