United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Twar / Cambridge International School Dubai

Cambridge International School Dubai Review

With just over 2,720 students, Cambridge International School Dubai, located in Garhoud, is a well established GEMS school teaching children from FS1 to Year 13.
Parents' Rating
4.1 out of 5 based on 230 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 28,000
Annual fees
AED 22,000–34,000
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
Mr.Stephen Brecken
GEMS Education
Main student nationality
Main teacher nationality

Nearby nurseries

0.4km • Montessori curriculum
0.4km • EYFS curriculum
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Cambridge International School Dubai
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 28,000
Annual fees
AED 22,000–34,000
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
Mr.Stephen Brecken
GEMS Education
Main student nationality
Main teacher nationality
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With just over 2,720 students, Cambridge International School Dubai, located in Garhoud, is a well established GEMS school teaching children from FS1 to Year 13.

Cambridge International School has been rated Good for the twelfth time in the KHDA's 2022-23 inspection round.  The report can be found under the 'Inspection reports'.  This review will be updated in due course.

The story so far...

Opened in 1983, Cambridge International School (CIS) is one of the longest-established, moderately-priced GEMS English National curriculum schools in Dubai.

According to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey, CIS is also one of the most highly regarded schools in the city - check out Parent Feedback here.

Comments made to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com as part of our Survey include the following - all in July 2021:

"Strengths would be excellent leadership, continuous improvement , wealth of opportunities for children’s talents to shine."
"Hard working and devoted teachers. Always ready to support their students."
"Strengths - Inclusive environment, Student friendly."
"It is a great school that puts the children first. It is nothing fancy but my kids love going to school and they have developed into a great people."

And it is not just parents and students who share such positive impressions.  The following are small sample of comments made by teachers at CIS, also in June/July 2021:

"CIS has extremely supportive and cooperative colleagues who work together as a team to do the best for the school community."
"Dynamic leadership and professional attitude of colleagues"
"This is school is about understanding family forces, creating an environment where people feel they belong, are recognized and feel safe."

For many years located in one of the traditional residential areas of Deira in a school Education Zone (one of the few city centre zones), in 2020, Cambridge International School relocated to Al Twar.  The school was originally based in Karama.

Cambridge International's name is most definitely reflective of its student make up with 56 different nationalities represented among the student population; the largest single demographic is Indian at 52%, followed by Pakistani 17%, Sri Lankan 7%, Egyptian 5% and Philippines at 3%.

Two significant changes have taken place at CIS in recent years.  Firstly, the previous long-standing Principal was replaced in September 2017 by the school's current Principal and CEO, Lachlan MacKinnon.  Secondly, student numbers, which reduced from 2,600 in 2016-17, to around 2,530 in 2017-18, have returned to earlier levels, at 2,720. 

In early 2022, GEMS Education announced that popular and highly-regarded Principal, Lachlan MacKinnon, would be leaving the school at the end of the 2021-22 academic year after five years at the helm.  

The new Principal, who will take up the reigns at CIS, is no newcomer to either GEMS or to the Cambridge brand. Mr. Stephen Brecken is currently Principal at The Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi - GEMS' oldest school in the city.  

The popularity of CIS had been a concern for the KHDA inspection teams, specifically in relation to over-crowding.  The  issue was not staffing – the teacher to pupil ratio at 1:18 is a reasonable level in affordably-priced schools – but space.

However, GEMS has been able to take advantage of the closure of a number of schools with an announcement of relocation, weeks before the start of the new 2020-21 academic year, to an existing facility on Damascus Street, Al Twar - full details can be found in our article here.

Make no mistake, this is large for an inner-city school, with just over 1,250 students in the Primary section and a further 1,466 students in the Secondary school. Most year groups have between four and six classes, though interestingly, there are higher numbers of classes in the Secondary school (from years 7 to 12 with seven to eight classes per year group), reflecting that student numbers are higher at this level. 

This is in contrast to many all-through schools where student numbers tend to decrease towards the more senior levels and a reflection of how well established and popular the school is. 

Students are taught by 148 full-time teachers – giving an average class size throughout the school of 28.  Teachers are recruited from the UK, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Sri Lanka, Kenya and the Philippines. Staff turnover, which had been a concern is previous years, saw a dramatic improvement in 2019-20 (driven presumably by the 'settling in' of the new leadership), with turnover of only 5%, a figure, which for the two year period to the end of the 2021 academic year, has reached 12.5%. 

This level of stability is vitally important in schools, ensuring that plans for development and improvement are not derailed by the need to train new staff on a sizable scale. The school says that due to the small turnover of teachers and hence stability, Cambridge is privileged to have a combination of highly experienced teachers, along with new teachers. New teachers are buddied with existing, experienced staff who mentor and coach them over the first 12 months.

For Primary and EYFS teachers, are all qualified with at least a Bachelors Degree plus a teaching qualification. For Secondary teachers, a Masters degree plus teaching qualification is required. Due to the KHDA teaching requirements, all teachers are either fully qualified or pursuing their teaching qualification.  The annual budget at CIS for Professional Development and Learning for its staff is over AED 200,000. 

Teachers are supported by a further 22 teaching assistants who, according to the school,  run small group activities, both inside and outside of the classroom, as directed by class teachers. They acquire the appropriate skills, qualifications, and/or experience required for the teaching assistant role, with support from CIS. TAs demonstrate expertise and skills in understanding the needs of all pupils (including specialist expertise as appropriate) and know how to adapt and deliver support to meet individual needs.

Three additional teachers and nine new teaching assistants will join CIS for the 2021-22 academic year. 

The teacher:student ratio varies from 1:13 in Foundation Stage, to 1:15 in Year 1, 1:20 in Year 2 and then averages 1:18 across the remainder of the Primary school (Years 3- 6), and 1:17 in Secondary (Years 7-13).  Classes average between 25 and 30 students with a maximum of 30.

What about support for Students of Determination and those with Gifts and Talents?

GEMS Education has a long record of being at the forefront of the provision for Students of Determination.  Cambridge International School is a fully inclusive school. Several departments (Exceptional Learners, Students of Determination, Emirati & English Language Learners) are dedicated to meeting and exceeding the needs of the school's diverse students. 

The school follows a graduated approach for SEND students, identifying additional needs through a process of  Assess > Plan > Do > Review.  This graduated response to inclusion provides clarity in order to plan student’s effective intervention in the form of levelled support (Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3).  Currently the school has 60 students identified with SEN requirements; a further 38 have been identified as Gifted and Talented, whilst an additional 23 students are identified as English Language Learners.

The dedicated ‘Achievement Centre’ team, which includes the Head of Inclusion, Deputy SENCo for Primary and Secondary and 20 Learning Support Assistants, arranges assessments using wide variety of screening tools, programmes and resources.  This includes the Assessment arrangements in classroom and high-quality teaching and learning with effective differentiation and specific accommodations. Where applicable, students are provided with individualised modified curriculum to reduce barriers to learning. The school also offers a project base (BTEC) and vocational (ASDAN) curricula as alternative pathways.

Individual Education Plans (IEP) are created which employ a small-steps approach and feature significantly in the provision that made in the school. By breaking down the existing levels of attainment into finely graded steps and targets, CIS ensures that students experience success and to reduce barriers in learning.  Additionally, students may work in small groups, or in a one-to-one situation outside the classroom.

Where the school identifies that a Learning Support Assistant is required, these are sourced and interviewed by the school in the first instance. With one to one support (LEVEL 3) students are matched with the LSA, ensuring that a strong bond is created between student and assistant, in order for the student to succeed with the LSA. This is always discussed and in conjunction with the parents.

The school invests over AED 500,000  annually in the provision of SEN support . There is no cost for the regular provision provided by the school. Should a student require one-to-one LSA support, fees range from AED 1,060 up to AED 6,370. CIS also provides in house therapy in collaboration with different specialist therapy centres for which additional charges apply.  These are directly communicated to parents by the Centres.

What about the curriculum?

CIS offers the English National curriculum, following the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum in Foundation, the National Curriculum for England and Wales through to Year 9 and then predominantly the Cambridge International IGCSE qualification at O Level (although the school also offers a limited number of Edexcel GCSE subjects) and AS and A Level in Sixth Form.    

The school has latterly also added Business and Technology Education Council  BTEC qualifications to the options for post-16 students, including Business Studies, at secondary and post-16 phases respectively. Every year the school says it “looks to further develop the pathways that we have on offer to our students.

Core subjects in the Foundation stage include Communication and Language, Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.

As students move into Key Stages 1 and 2 (years 1 to 6), the mandatory core subjects are English, Maths and Science, together with Arabic and a range of non-core subjects such as Physical Education, PSHE, Humanities, U.A.E Social Studies, Islamic Studies (for Muslim students), French, Music, Art and Moral Education.  In lower Secondary school (years 7 to 9) students continue to study the core subjects and additional non -core subjects.

CIS teaches Arabic and Islamic from FS to Year 13; both are core subjects and follow the Ministry curriculum. The school says that it believes in making the Islamic Education and Arabic language more interesting and engaging for its students so that they can communicate with the community around them in Arabic. "The four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) are a core issue for prime communication therefore, they are central to children’s’ cultural and social development. We aim at developing the students’ potential and ability to use their literacy skills competently and effectively in their learning". Arabic First Language and Second Language are also offered at IGCSE level. 

French is also offered from Year 3 to Year 9 and as a GCSE subject.  CIS believes that French is a very useful language for work and pleasure in later life.

"The ability to speak and understand a foreign language is an important part of a person’s overall education. GCSE French helps students develop their language skills in a variety of contexts and broadens their understanding of the culture of countries and communities where French is spoken. It encourages enjoyment of language learning and the recognition that language skills enable students to take their place in a multi-lingual global society".

In Year 10, students embark on the two year IGCSE programme along with the mandatory Ministry of Education subjects such as Social Studies, Moral Education and Physical Education. English, Mathematics and one Science is mandatory to be MoE compliant, whilst students are offered a choice of subjects from a range of 26 subjects from four different option groups, which include the Science, Commerce and Arts streams.

Finally, in years 12 and 13, students may take up to four subjects of their choice from a range of AS/A Level or BTEC Vocational courses in up to thirty subjects ,covering the Science, Commerce and Arts streams. 

In terms of IGCSE and A Level options, CIS offers a much wider range than some other moderately-priced UK curriculum schools.  A Level subjects include Accounting, Applied ICT, Arabic, Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computing, Economics, Literature, Environmental Management, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, Travel & Tourism,  IT, Media Studies, Performing Arts and Science.

Further optional subjects available to students are via the GEMS Enrichment 365 programme whereby students may pay to take additional classes and exams, including Cambridge English (English as an additional language), Modern Foreign Languages (the school offers French), Arabic (native speakers) GCSE, Digital Creativity, Cisco-CCNA, Cisco (basic)-IT Essentials, Microsoft IT Academy, Programming/Coding, Robotics, Formula 1, Photography, Music Performances, Triathlon-Club and the Duke of Edinburgh International Award.

A particular focus of CIS is the integration of technology within the school's curriculum.  Students are encouraged  to integrate the use of technology into every aspect of their learning. This is reflected in the five ICT labs with over 180 computers available for students and the provision of full Internet connectivity throughout the school.  The secondary library is also equipped with networked computers for students and staff to use.

CIS is a Microsoft Showcase Centre and a CISCO Academy, with plans to become an Apple Certified school. The school will have a whole-school BYOD policy - something that parents may not be too pleased about - with the introduction of more iPad Minis in Foundation Stage, Early Years and Primary classes.  The school says it "want[s] students to be able to use engaging technologies in a collaborative, inquiry based format through a personalised learning environment"

In addition to the academic side of the school, CIS offers a somewhat limited range of Extra-curricular activities including drama, choir, computers, art and design, a variety of sports activities such as Swimming, Gymnastics, Hockey, Basketball, Cricket, Badminton, Football, Netball, Athletics, Rounders, Volleyball and Handball, a number of school clubs and Arts, Drama, Dance. The school offers both free and paid extra-curricular activities, providing 50% free and 50% paid activities, this includes sourcing outside approved vendors.

CIS also offers a range of Subject Booster/Support Classes (both paid & non-paid), including Islamic B (Quran & Tajweed), Seerah IA, Seerah IB, Innovation Club, Debate Club, Model United Nations, World Scholars Cup, Research development classes, Science Club, Book Club, and Financial Literacy Club among others.

International Trips for competitions are offered on a yearly basis. Students who participate in the World Scholars Cup are given the opportunity to compete at the Global Finals. In the past seven years,  CIS students have participated in international finals in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China and the USA. These trips are offered to students in year 7 and above. The cost range, depending on the location, has been between AED 7,000-15,000.

As part of the Model United Nations programme, CIS students have the opportunity to compete in international competitions with teams having previously competed in Qatar, Boston, and Jordan. These trips are offered to students in year 7 and above and range in fee from AED 3,000 to AED 15,000.

Other International trips offered at CIS are curriculum/subject related (such as Business, Travel and Tourism, History, Language, Science and Art) and in recent years have included destinations such as Spain, Italy, France, USA (NASA), Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Turkey.

Students participating in such trips have gained cultural, economic, language and artistic exposure. They have learned to be independent and develop leadership skills in unfamiliar environment under the supervision of the accompanying teachers. They have also learned to travel using various modes of transports such as bus, boat, train and plane which has helped to develop their general knowledge and self-confidence. These trips are offered to years 7 to 13 with costs ranging from AED 5,500 - AED 15,000.

What about Academic Achievement?

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is pleased to see that CIS issues its results transparently for its parents.  Whilst we fully appreciate that schools should not be judged by results alone, they are none-the-less a key measure of performance and we believe that parents are entitled to transparency in this regard.

All UAE schools are now required to provide and participate in a range of standardized tests in line with the UAE's Vision.  At CIS students participate in GL Education tests – PASS, NGRT, PTE, PTM, PTS, and CAT4.

Additionally, CIS students participate in both TIMMS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests.  In both cases, as the results show, CIS students perform at a significantly higher level than the UAE averages.


  Comparing CIS students' results to average results in:
  CIS Score Dubai private schools Average Difference from the Vision 2021 National Target Difference from the OECD Average Top performing country and its score
Science 524 500 14 35 B-S-J-Z (China) (590)
Math 520 501 10 31 B-S-J-Z (China) (591)
Reading 543 501 33 56 B-S-J-Z (China) (555)

CIS has latterly published its results for both IGCSE, AS and A Level examinations. Although CIS does not publish the results in full (there is no data on student numbers per subject, nor the total number of exam entries) - which would enable comparison with peer schools - the data it does provide allows some conclusions to be drawn.

Although CIS does not publish the results in full - which would enable comparison with peer schools - the data it does provide allows some conclusions to be drawn.

In June 2021, CIS provided WhichSchoolAdvisor.com with highlights of its results for the 2019 and 2020 academic years and in August 2021, provided details of the results for the most recent academic year:

Level May/ June 2019 May/ June 2020 May/June 2021
IGCSE 99% pass rate 100% pass rate 87.1% pass rate
AS Level 84% pass rate 96% pass rate not provided
A Level 98% pass rate 99% pass rate not provided

Bearing in mind that the results were Centre Assessed Grades due to the cancellation of all examinations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, the improvements in grades are reflective of the overall grade inflation that occurred at this time.

CIS provided further breakdown of grades across both A Levels and IGCSE as follows:

A Level May/ June 2019 May/June 2020 May/June 2021
A* 14% 21% 22.5%
A*-A 33% 43% 41.5%
A*-B 54% 67% 67.3%
A*-C 78% 91% not provided
A*-E 98% 99% not provided
IGCSE May/ June 2019 May/June 2020 May/June 2021
A* 18% 25% 26.8%
A*-A 42% 47% 49.6%
A*-B 71% 72% 73.3%
A*-C 87% 90% 87.1%

In 2021, 167 students who were entered for 489 exams. One of the highest achievers was Atharv Pramod Naik who was awarded 5 A*s. Atharv will be going on to study at Imperial college London, UK Bio-engineering and Management. A further 7 students achieved 4 A* awards.  A further 1,673 entries were made by 233 students for IGCSE exams in 2021.

Particular highlights at A Level results in 2020 included 100% A* grades in German,  50% A*in Further Maths, 53% A*-A in Literature and Biology, 52% A*-A in Economics, 50% A*-A in Computer Science, 100% A*-C in German, Sociology and Arabic IGCSE, and 52% A* in Maths.  Literature was awarded 53% at A* and 100% at A*-C, English 1st Language was awarded 62% A*-A, Chemistry 65 % A*-A, Computer Science 60 % A*-A and Global Perspectives, Literature in English, French and German entries were awarded 100% A*-C.

However, because the school does not publish the number of students or entries made for the exams, it is possible that for less popular subjects that only a small number are involved, and this can skew the results.

Finally, CIS included details of trends over time:

  Grade Summer June 2017 Summer June 2018 Summer June 2019 Summer June 2020
A Level A* 9.33% 13.27% 14% 21%
A Level A*-A 25.40% 32.00% 33% 43%
A Level A*-B 46.10% 53.40% 54% 67%
A Level A*-C 73.80% 76.20% 78% 91%
A Level A*-E 99.10% 98.00% 98% 99%
  Grade Summer June 2017 Summer June 2018 Summer June 2019 Summer June 2020
IGCSE A* 22.60% 22.40% 18% 25%
IGCSE A*-A 41.40% 45.00% 43% 47%
IGCSE A*-B 60.40% 66.40% 71% 72%
IGCSE A*-C 79.30% 82.60% 87% 90%
IGCSE A*-E 94.70% 95.50% 96% 99%
IGCSE A*-G 99.20% 99.20% 99% 100%
For comparison, the 2020 IGCSE results for UAE schools overall can be found here.; whilst the 2020 A Level results can be found hereHowever, there is no doubt that these are results of which Cambridge International School and its students can feel deservedly proud. 

Students at CIS are provided with career guidance from year 10 onwards. Every student from Year 11, 12 and 13 are provided with a unique id to access the Unifrog destination portal that helps them in researching university choices, attending MOOC sessions, writing personal states, creating CV etc. Over the course of the academic year students are given the opportunity to attend seminars, webinars and career fairs, providing them with various opportunities to explore the different university options across the globe. The school career counsellor helps students with processing their application through UCAS, Common App and Coalition App. Students are provided with opportunities to interact with alumni to gain a better understanding of the life at university and the different soft skills needed. Lifology is a tool provided to students that identifies the student’s core personality and passions and lead them to a fulfilling career through assessments and mentoring.

According to the school, 99% of students move onto University. 1% of students may look for a gap year or take up a position in their family business.

The academic year 2020-21 has witnessed students securing their seat in many of the top universities in the world. To name a few they are Imperial College London, London School of Economics, Royal Veterinary College -London, University of Toronto, University of Amsterdam, Kingston University, University of Sheffield, University of Glasgow, Durham University, University of Bath, New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Christ University -India, Kingston University, Dalhousie University, University of Warsaw, Mohammad Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, National University of Singapore, Charles University (Prague), McMaster University, University of Edinburgh, UCL (University college London).

Over the years, students generally preferred moving to the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. However, this year has seen a different trend of students exploring various universities in Europe.

What about facilities?

According to the website for the new campus, facilities are a world away from the previous school at Garhoud.

They include a school building consisting of two separate sections with dedicated entrances for each set on an area of 200,000 sq ft.

There are 01 classrooms, 120 interactive smartboards, Wi-Fi inside and outside of the classrooms, a Post-16 coffee lounge, four Science Labs, a Central Library, Drama Studio, Robotics, Radio Station, TV Station, Mac Suite for Media studies, and four IT labs. The school also has an 850 seater Auditorium and a central school medical clinic.

Sports and external facilities include an indoor swimming pool and sports hall, outdoor Tennis Court and Basketball Courts, a mini field and full size football field, and a multi purpose EYFS indoor and outdoor learning area.  

What the inspectors say

Ranked ‘Good’ by the KHDA for eleven years in a row, Cambridge International has some Outstanding features according to the education regulator.  

The report notes that "The principal has a clear vision for improvement which is implemented through effective action plans" and this is reflected in the strengths of the school.

In terms of the school's strengths, the KHDA Inspection report found these to be:

  • The vision and direction provided by the principal
  • The outstanding personal development of children and students in FS and the post-16 phase
  • Students’ outstanding knowledge and understanding of social and environmental issues, and their contribution to the school and the wider community
  • The supportive environment created through very good systems for care, safety and guidance
  • The outstanding partnership with parents and the contribution which they make to students’achievements

In many respects, student achievement at CIS can be differentiated directly based on the section of the school. There are very clear strengths in English, Maths and Science across both the Foundation and Secondary sections of the school, where progress and achievement were all found to be Very Good, whilst in Primary these measures were rated Good.  In the Sixth Form, English and Science are Very Good, but Maths is less strong at Good. 

In the core Arabic-taught subjects of Islamic Education and Arabic as both a first and additional language, attainment is largely Acceptable.  Progress is Good in Islamic Studies, but with the exception of Primary Arabic as a first language (rated Good), all other measures are Acceptable.  Compared with many international schools that are still measured Weak in aspects of these subjects, CIS students are performing comparatively well, but certainly not well enough to meet the KHDA's requirements.  

It is in the key indicators of Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation skills that the largest number of Outstanding measures are to be found.  Social responsibility and innovation skills achieve the highest rating across the school, as do Secondary and Sixth Form students' understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures; both the Foundation stage and Primary students are rated Very Good in this regard.  Personal development also achieves the highest rating in the Foundation stage and Sixth Form, whilst this indicator is rated Very Good in Primary and Secondary. 

The design and implementation of the curriculum and its adaptation to meet the varying needs of children was another key indicator that was rated highly by the Inspection team, being found to be Very Good in Foundation and Primary and Outstanding in Secondary and Sixth Form.  A range of improvements in Primary, involving the provision of specialist subject teachers for languages, music and art, and the development of extra-curricular activities were particularly singled out for praise.

However, the key measure of Teaching and Assessment is one where CIS still needs to make progress. The inspectors found that "Teachers’ subject and curriculum knowledge, and their understanding of the learning processes, are highly evident in the FS and post-16. In other phases, the effectiveness of teachers’ planning and questioning is inconsistent. In the FS and post-16 phases, assessment systems give consistently clear and robust measures of attainment and progress. This is not the case in the primary and secondary phases."

Inspectors also commented that "the curriculum follows closely most of requirements of the English National Curriculum and UAE statutory requirements. Cross-curricular links are increasing and are meaningful, especially in the FS and post-16 phases. Adaptations to the curriculum have improved transition from FS into Year 1. Opportunities for enterprise and innovation are strongest in the secondary and post-16 phases." 

The protection, care, guidance and support of students were generally rated Very Good, with Care and Support for Sixth Form found to be Outstanding.  Whilst systems for identifying students with special educational needs and those who are gifted and/or talented were found to be comprehensive and thorough, support for these students, especially those in the secondary phase, was inconsistent in quality.  Given the focus on Inclusive Education by the KHDA, and the school's overall rating of Good in this context, CIS will doubtless focus further effort in this area.

The final key performance indicator of Leadership and Management retained the same rating as a year ago. The effectiveness of leadership and the school's self-evaluation and improvement planning, Governance and the management, staffing, facilities and resources remained rated Good, and the relationship between the school, parents and the community remained Outstanding. 

Inspectors noted that "Parents support the school very well. They encourage their children to undertake projects at home which will extend their research and presentation skills. Reports on students’ progress and achievement are detailed. The school communicates extremely well with parents, using an effective communication system and a face-to-face approach. The school has very strong links with the wider community, which enhance learning." 

Once again, however, the inspectors noted that "The Board has not sufficiently supported the school in ensuring that the size of classes is appropriate to ensure high-quality learning."  

It is to be hoped that the relocation to Al Twar has finally allowed the school to provide its students with the space, facilities and resources that it clearly needs.

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

  • Increase the effectiveness of teachers’ questions and thereby challenge students to think critically, to draw conclusions and to explain their learning, particularly in the primary and secondary phases.
  • Improve consistency in teachers’ planning and adjusting of tasks, taking full account of curriculum standards and the learning needs of all groups of students.
  • Increase the impact of middle leaders in improving the quality of teaching and learning in their area of delegated responsibility.
  • Improve the accuracy of self-evaluation by reviewing the system for measuring and tracking students’attainment and progress, and by increasing the focus given to the evaluation of attainment and progress during classroom monitoring.
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so in order to better understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.

The Buzz

Feedback from parents to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Survey has been substantial, with over 150 responses to-date. And both students and parents appear to be positive about the school. Around 80% of students have either quite a bit or a strong sense of belonging with close to 80% enjoying going to school 'a tremendous amount'.  Satisfaction levels for academic performance are well above the UAE average of 72% at 82%. 87% of parents have never considered moving their child to another school (compared with a UAE average of 72%). Communication is clearly a strength of CIS with 85% being fully satisfied with feedback. 

A massive 92% of parents would recommend the school to others, compared with the UAE average of 79%.  If there is any niggle, it is the usual one of school fees, whereby 69% of parents agreed that they represented Good value for money - a small minority of 6% disagreed with this statement. Overall is would appear that CIS is doing a lot right.

If you are a parent, teacher or student at Cambridge International School, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.

Parental feedback from the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, to which 342 replied, indicate that 90% of the respondents were satisfied with the quality of education provided by CIS. Almost all parents who responded to the survey commented positively about the effectiveness of the school principal and the leadership team. They were satisfied with the quality of education provided, and with safety in the school. They felt that their children are happy at school. However, a few parents expressed concern about the impact of overcrowded classrooms on their children’s learning.

Over 1,200 students responded to the KHDA Well-being survey. Students who responded to the survey were more positive than the Dubai average, in terms of their levels of happiness, emotional well-being,engagement with teachers, and friendship with fellow students. They had positive feelings about the school, and were optimistic about their futures.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com asked CIS what additional facilities or provision it offered that it felt were cutting edge. The school emphasised their Counselling services – Teens Mental Health Training, Career Counselling and Guidance. Additionally, CIS is a recognised SAT and IELTS Testing Centre.  Current students are supported by Alumni holding sessions with Post 16 students, and the Work-Experience Programme. The school also offers a perpetual Innovation Fund to support students who require resources for start up ideas.

Finally, we asked Cambridge International School what differentiates it from other schools...The school's team told us - we could not help but be impressed:

"We place our community’s efficacy (students, staff and parents) and voice at the front of what we do every day. We produce both student and teacher leaders for the future and we celebrate all diverse learners who flourish in their unique ways. Indeed, there are some outstanding schools in the UAE. However, Cambridge International School Dubai is one of the oldest schools with 38 years of stability and a strong track record of outstanding results for our students, academically, emotionally and socially. We build a culture of collaboration between staff and students where everybody knows your name. This makes us stand out from the rest.
"At Cambridge International School Dubai, we pride ourselves on having a school where staff and students come to school and feel safe, have a sense of belonging, are treated with respect and have the right to learn and flourish. They are in a school where we build people that care, where we are united in purpose, were everyone matters, where everyone succeeds and no one is left behind. We are a learning organisation where everybody sees the common purpose, creating a vision together of a better school that is infinite in its thinking.
"We are a community of collaborative professionals who are committed to learning from each other in order to improve student outcomes. Where our collective professionalism creates deep dialogue, or even heated debate about the best ways to support our students. We believe all students can succeed and we are prepared to make sure that they do, as if they are our own children".

Our View

It is evident that the changes that have taken place in the past five years under the then new leadership of the school have made a significant impact. It will be interesting to see the further impact of the incoming Principal, Stephen Brecken, on CIS - a long established, and a traditional school in many ways.  If the focus on technology is anything to go by, CIS may be moving more quickly to a more modernised style of pedagogy. 

And if finally the change of campus allows the school to address the long-standing issue of demand versus space, we can see CIS remaining one of the most popular affordable, and successful, British curriculum schools in the city.

Parent feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com in such large numbers is among the most positive we have received - clearly this is a school that knows and respects its community, and this is evidently a sentiment that is returned.

What about the fees?

Tuition fees for the school are very affordable for a school following a UK curriculum, ranging from AED 22,000 per annum for FS grades, AED 25,000 to AED 27,000 for Primary and AED 30,000 to AED 34,000 for Years 7-13 (depending on Year group). 

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Cambridge International School Dubai is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:

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