United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Festival City / Deira International School

Deira International School Review

Deira International School is located in the new part of old Dubai - Festival City, and is currently home to just over 1,600 students from a mixed range of nationalities (over 80 in total), including a strong local presence (around 13% of the student body is Emirati). The majority of students are from Arabic countries. There are 170 full-time teachers, predominantly from the UK, including the Director and senior management team.
Parents' Rating
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2.4 of 5 stars
At a glance
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2018/19
radio_button_unchecked Limited
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked Limited
Annual fee average
AED 58,000
Annual fees
AED 39,938 - 80,465
Status
Open
Opening year
2005
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs Ruth Burke
Owner
Al Futtaim Education Foundation
Community
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities

Nearby nurseries

0.6km
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Deira International School
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2018/19
radio_button_unchecked Limited
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked Limited
Annual fee average
AED 58,000
Annual fees
AED 39,938 - 80,465
Status
Open
Opening year
2005
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs Ruth Burke
Owner
Al Futtaim Education Foundation
Community
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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First Published:
Saturday 7 July, 2012

Updated:
Sunday 30 December, 2018

Deira International School is located in the new part of old Dubai - Festival City, and is currently home to just over 1,600 students from a mixed range of nationalities (over 80 in total), including a strong local presence (around 13% of the student body is Emirati). The majority of students are from Arabic countries. There are 170 full-time teachers, predominantly from the UK, including the Director and senior management team.

The Story so Far

Deira International School is a British curriculum school that sits on an 80,000 sq. m. campus at the heart of Dubai Festival City. Its facilities include libraries, a multi-media centre, an IB centre, a Business Studies centre, Science laboratories, Design and Technology classrooms, Music rooms, Drama studios, Creative Art classrooms, a Performing Arts hall, sports halls, outdoor swimming pools and large sports fields.

When DIS opened in 2005, it had a student cohort of 240 students and a teaching team of 34 teachers.  In September 2017 the school started its 13th year of operation with the significant growth in numbers of students, teachers and supporting staff.  In 2017-18, the school has grown to almost 1,600 students supported by a teaching team of 182, together with a further 47 teaching assistants.  Teacher turnover, at 8%, is on the low side for Dubai (where the average is 20-22%), ensuring continuity and a stable learning environment.  With a staff:student ratio of 1:10, students are assured of a high degree of personal attention.  The capacity of the school is 2,100 with the addition of two further buildings in 2016-17 and this has enabled the school to reduce class sizes, whilst offering additional places across the school.

Read our Visit Experience here.

DIS is fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS), British Schools Overseas (BSO) and International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). The school is also a member of the British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) organisation and the Middle East IB Association (MEIBA).

The school follows an English National Curriculum model which is adapted for the international context  and 80+ nationalities represented in the student body. Senior students take the Cambridge Board IGCSE examinations in Year 11 and move into the authorised International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and International Baccalaureate Career-Related Certificate (IBCC) in Years 12-13.

In 2017-18, Deira International School was again rated Very Good by the KHDA for the third year. Its Achilles Heel, in common with many schools in the UAE, is in the teaching and progress of students in Arabic, where progress is rated as "not better than acceptable".  Given the high proportion of Arabic students in the school, this is inevitably a particular focus of the inspectors. Further details can be found below. 

The Principal's opening remarks include “We do not mould our students into what we want them to be; we simply unfold what is within.” DIS believes in placing the student at the centre of their own education and that learning is a life-long experience, hence the school motto “Forever learning, forever achieving”.

The core values of the school are to: "Pursue academic excellence, Celebrate achievement and participation, Guide and nurture individual development, Appreciate cultural diversity, Promote human rights and responsibilities, Cherish the community and the environment, Promote spiritual, moral and ethical values and to Promote loyalty, pride, spirit, belonging and caring."

DIS is an inclusive school with approximately 7% of students identified with SEND requirements. Provision for students with additional learning needs is rated Very Good by the KHDA.

DIS offers a good range of after-school activities. Extracurricular sports include boys' and girls' football, basketball, rugby, tennis and swimming. The school competes in several of the Dubai-based leagues including Basketball, Rugby, Touch Rugby, Netball, Football and Cricket. A vocal and instrumental programme offers a broad range of musical study. Band, chorus, dance and art programmes are also offered along with other academic and non-academic programmes.

The school is a strong advocate of Outdoor Education and Cultural trips and has conducted student expeditions and educational tours to such locations as New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Lebanon, Germany, Nepal, Austria, Mauritius, Vietnam and Malawi. Camps in the UAE are currently provided for Year 4, 5, 6, 7 & 9 students. Deira International School delivers the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme in support of the IB Diploma Creativity Action and Service requirement.

Note: Separate lessons for physical education are provided for boys and girls from years 5 to 13.

What the Inspectors Say 2017/2018

The 2017/2018 KHDA report has Deira International School ranked Very Good for the third year in a row. This is impressive after four years at Good and three years previous to that at Acceptable. 

What this school does best is offer "Leadership, at all levels, [which] continues to sustain and develop the high standards already in the school. They have ensured that the school's National Agenda provision exceeds expectations; Very high quality of teaching, curriculum and assessment [which] supports outstanding progress in English, Mathematics and Science in the early years phase; Outstanding levels of care and guidance [which] contribute to the students’ excellent personal and social development; Governors [who] are committed to inclusivity and leaders [who] provide excellent support and provision for students with increasingly complex special needs and barriers to learning. Leaders are committed to developing staff, through high quality training and regular parental workshops support learning at home".

When looking at student achievement and progress, attainment and progress are broadly rated Very Good and Outstanding across English, Mathematics and Science with progress in Sixth Form Science having been rated Outstanding in this report. This is especially impressive considering that students start at Deira International School with "very limited English skills." 

Attainment and Progress in Arabic as a first language  - inevitably an area of focus given that the largest student demographic in the school is Arabic - is rated Good and Very Good respectively in Primary, but only Acceptable across Secondary and Sixth Form. Attainment is Arabic as a Second language is rated Good in both Primary and Secondary, whilst progress has improved to Very Good and Good in respectively.  Islamic Studies is now rated Good across all 3 phases for both attainment and progress.

Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills are also impressively Outstanding across the board. Overall, as the report notes, "Students, in all phases, continue to demonstrate outstanding personal and social development. They have an impressive, age appropriate understanding of the values, culture and heritage of where they live and an equally remarkable grasp of their own and their peers' cultures. They are fully and innovatively involved in the school and wider communities and demonstrate a care for their environment".

Measures for teaching and assessment are rated Outstanding across all sections for Assessment (a key focus of inspectors as part of the National Agenda parameters) and Very Good for Teaching for Effective Learning (except for Foundation, which is again Outstanding).

All other measures related to Curriculum and to the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students are rated Outstanding.  The same is true of all measures related to the Leadership and Management of the school with the exception of School self-evaluation and improvement planning, which is rated Very Good.

Moving forward, recommendations for the school are that it should "raise students’ attainment and progress in all areas of the curriculum by increasing the consistency of teaching to the highest levels [by] improving teachers' effective use of data to personalise learning [and by] developing students’ depth of understanding of their own performance and how to improve it further. 

As long ago as 2013, we had noted in our review that Deira International was "a school not content with its Good rating". It has proven us right. As one of a very small group of schools ranked Very Good, this puts Deira International just outside the tier-one ranked Outstanding Dubai and Abu Dhabi schools.

Strong leadership has been at the heart of the story since 2012/13 when the KHDA noted "a strong drive for improvement, with the leadership team and teaching staff sharing the vision and determination to ensure all students did as well as they could'. This was echoed in 2013/14 with "school leaders and all staff work[ing] extremely hard to address issues arising from the previous inspection and had been successful in taking the school further along the journey of improvement." In its 2015-16 report the KHDA notes a "bold vision" and "clear direction" set by the governing board, in partnership with the director and senior leaders, which is resulting in "sustained improvement in the school's overall effectiveness".

The school 's former Director had been in place since January 2012. Jeff Smith had been the Principal of an academically successful, selective grammar school in the United Kingdom for five years - Guernsey Grammar School and Sixth Form Centre and left the post in August 2011. Previously Mr Smith had been the "Representative of the British Education Department" in Indonesia. 

The leadership team is clearly building a high performing environment. The ambition to achieve the Outstanding rating is one that the school clearly has in its sights. The announcement that Mr. Smith has been succeeded, in September 2018, by Ruth Burke, formerly Principal at the Outstanding rated GEMS Wellington International School, and formerly Head of JESS Jumeirah, is clearly intended to provide the school with a "fresh set of eyes" to make the final step to the KHDA's highest rating.

DIS also has an excellent relationship with parents and the community (rated Outstanding in the latest inspection report). The school has an open-door policy, which enables parents to ask questions and express their views at any time. Parents are confident they will be listened to and that they contribute to shaping the direction of school improvement. In discussion with KHDA inspectors they provided numerous examples of changes that have been made at their request and the significant impact on how well their children learn and develop as outstanding young citizens.

What are Student Results? 

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is particularly pleased to see the addition of (strong) examination results on the school's web site.

 

IB results

2018

2017

Name of School

Deira International School

No. of candidates registered in the session

n/a

n/a

No. of diploma and retake candidates registered

51

63

No. of subject entries in the session

n/a

n/a

No. of candidates who passed the diploma

47

59

% of candidates who achieved 40+ points

6

11

% of candidates who achieved 35+ points

32

47

% of candidates who achieved 30+ points

77

63

Highest Diploma points awarded to a candidate

43

44

Average IB points

33

34

Total number of candidates excluded from the statistics

n/a

n/a

Whilst IB Diploma results were not quite as strong in 2017-18 compared with the previous year, and with a somewhat smaller cohort, the average of 33 points was still well above the global figure and one student obtained 43 points.

For the IB Diploma the average grade of DIS students was 34.1 in 2016-17 - one of the highest averages in the UAE, and 5 points above the world average. A 34 point grade would be sufficient for most Red Brick universities in the United Kingdom.  Two students achieved 44 points (one off the maximum of 45) and accepted places at Oxford University and the University College London. 11 students achieved over 40 points. All students who successfully finished their IB Career-Related Programme at DIS passed their courses and have gone into their chosen universities or full time employment.

IGCSE results

2018

2017

Name of School

Deira International School

No. of students in IGCSE level cohort:

90

109

% of cohort entered for IGCSE exams

100

100

No. of exam entries

751

881

% of exam entries graded A*/9-8

12

16

% of exam entries graded A*-A /9-7

40

41

% of exam entries graded A*-B /9-6

69

66

% of exam entries graded A*-C /9-4

89

88

% of students achieving 5 A*-C/ 9-4 including English and Maths

88

88

Overall student pass rate A*-C

89

88

Number of students excluded from the statistics

0

0

The IGCSE results for 2017-18 again showed an improvement compared with the previous year with 69% of students achieving A*-B grades and 89% of exam entries being rated A*-C.

The IGCSE results for the 2016-2017 academic year were also impressive, considering that 10% of students were registered and identified with special educational needs. The results analysis show that 66 % of students received A*, A and B grades. 14% of DIS students scored A* grades compared to the UK’s 6.7 % A* grades. 41% of all grades at the school are A* and A. 88% of students achieved 5 A*- C grades including Mathematics and English. This is a strong result since 75% of students are 2nd and 3rd language English speakers, though a drop from the record results of 2015 when 92% of students achieved the same results.

You can find Deira International School's results in full here

And Fees? 

Fees for the school are on now on the high end of the spectrum. The school has been raising fees every year at the upper end of the range the KHDA allows - and exceeding them in some years. Tuition fees start from AED 39,938 in EY1 and rise to AED 80,465 in its Year 13.

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