United Arab Emirates / Abu Dhabi / Mohammed Bin Zayed City / Diyafah International School MBZ

Diyafah International School MBZ Q & A

Diyafah International School in Mohammed bin Zayed City, is one of two moderately priced UK curriculum schools operated as a family business by the daughter (in Dubai) and son (in Abu Dhabi) of the founder of the original Dubai school.
Parents' Rating
3.9 out of 5 based on 21 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 33,500
Annual fees
AED 25,900–42,600
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Mr Paul Saich
D’Cunha family
Main student nationality
Main teacher nationality
South Africa
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Welcome to the Diyafah International School MBZ official Q and A page. Here we ask the questions, and the school answers directly. It is its chance to have its say on specific areas you have told us you want to know about. If you think there are additional questions we should be asking you may contact us here.

If you have to highlight three strengths of your school, what would they be?

DIS is a warm and friendly school that puts great emphasis on our values and community spirit.

Our state of the art facilities which caters to Academics, Sports, Drama & Music and Technology

Does your school have a waiting list? In which years?

The school has recently expanded and, having established solid foundations, is building capacity. This means that we are able to accommodate students in most Year Groups provided they pass the Admissions requirements.

What are qualities and characteristics that define your school and its students?

Diyafah International School, Abu Dhabi was set up 9 years ago and is the sister school to the well respected and very successful Al Diyafah High School in Dubai. The ethos of both schools is to ensure each and every child is equipped with the knowledge and skills to “Let their light shine” in an ever changing and increasing complex world.

We enable children to do this by providing a secure and happy learning community. This school is rooted in strong family values, originating from the D’Cunha family who set up our sister school over 40 years ago, where there is personal attention and gentle encouragement given to each child. Children here are happy learners. Their attitude to learning is excellent and their sense of service to each other and the community is exemplary.

This culture and ethos sets the right conditions for effective learning to take place and therefore our children make rapid progress within the English National Curriculum framework, as acknowledged independently.

How many nationalities are represented in your school? How international would you say your school is?

The school has a wide range of nationalities and is truly international in character. Students come from over 67 countries worldwide.

Are there high proportions of a particular nationality?

20% of students are Indian,16% of students are Pakistani,

What is the teacher: student ratio in your school?

There are 1000 students on roll and 95 well qualified teachers giving a ratio of 1:10

Does your school measure Value Added data? Please provide details of how you measure, and current Value Added benchmark scores.

We have our own internal system of measuring progress which follows broadly the system adopted in the UK. This year our third batch of Year 13's will face the external A Level Examinations. As the School continues to grow, especially at Secondary Level, through the data systems we have developed, following UK best practice, we are confident that our Value-Added Data will reflect the hard work of all our staff and students on a daily basis. We believe a good school adds value daily.

If external examinations and assessments are part of your curriculum, which ones do you offer?

The School has introduced a series of robust external tests and assessments to ensure that our internal assessment practices support and complement the external ones. Over the last two years we have introduced:

• Cognitive Ability Tests (CAT4) in Years 3 – 10

• Progress Tests in English & Mathematics from GL Assessments in Years 6 – 9

• NGRT Reading Tests in Years 2 – 10

• IBT ACER Tests in Arabic

Our Year 11, 12 and 13 students are currently undertaking a suite of iGCSE, AS and A Level courses following Schemes of Work by EdExcel, AQA and CAIE Examination Boards.

Please provide details of how well your school did in its previous external exams for students at 16 and at 18 years of age? Please provide sufficient detail to allow parents to have a view on how academic your school is?

3 students from Diyafah Intenational School Abu Dhabi 90146 have recently been awarded the Pearson Certificate of Excellence in International A Level (IAL) at the May/June 2022 exams. This is testimony to our excellent results and for furthur information please call the school and speak to our Admissions Team .

What percentage of your sixth form that take exams at 18 go to university, and where, in general, do they go?

Our Sixth Form opened in the Academic year 2020 and will offer an array of subject choices for the Advanced Levels, the “gold standard” of English education. We will also be offering alternate pathways such as BTEC options to suit all our students varied learning needs and choices.

Our students have pursued courses in Medicine, Engineering etc in the UK, US, Malysia, Singapore and have also been admitted to some excellent colleges in the UAE.

Describe your school's approach to education and teaching?

Our motto is “Let your Light Shine” which underpins our approach to education – enabling young people to realise their full potential and develop their talents for the good of themselves and others. Good and effective teaching stimulates a passion for learning in our young people. Our well qualified and experienced teachers, from the UK, Ireland, South Africa, US and Canada, India and Middle East, all strive to inspire our students, through their teaching, to become skilled and confident learners.

Do you develop independent learning through homework and, if so, what are your recommendations regarding this, particularly time spent on homework?

We are a homework school and we don’t apologise for that! Learning does not stop after the lesson is over and we are keen to develop our students’ independent research skills though home learning. We issue parents with a Parent Handbook at the start of the Academic Year which details the recommended amount of time that should be spent on Homework. This ranges from 10 hours per week for Key Stage 4 (Sunday to Thursday) to 2 ½ hours per week for Year 1.

Physical education and sport is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. How does your school ensure children engage in physical activity?

Physical Education is an integral part of both the taught curriculum and the enrichment curriculum. Currently we have 3 specialist PE teachers and students undertake sport and health awareness and fitness sessions throughout the week. In addition, there are Co-Curricular activities which happen after the school day for one hour and many of these are sport and fitness related – cricket, badminton, basketball, football.

Our School recently completed an ambitious building project which has enhanced our ability to offer additional sports with a new swimming pool, indoor fully equipped Sports Hall and extensive astro turf playing fields. Due to the additional facilites available the school has now joined ADISSA and our students participate competitively in Football, swimming, basketball, cricket etc.

How does your school promote healthy lifestyles?

We engage, as a whole school, staff and students, in physical exercise twice per week during Assemblies. The canteen is regularly monitored for the quality of food offered by our Support Services Team and Senior Staff. There is an annual survey to parents, staff and students on food quality. The Clinic conducts annual BMI assessments on students regarding height and weight and reports the findings to relevant authorities as required. In Foundation Stage we have introduced Tasty Treats to allow our youngest students to sample delicious, possibly more unusual healthy food options. Students are made aware of the dangers of cyber bullying and there is a clear and well-defined anti bullying WITs programme in operation in the School

How do you promote healthy eating?

Teachers monitor what students bring into school in their lunch boxes. We raise awareness in Assemblies through key events such as World Heart Day, World Diabetes Day, Pink Day (raising awareness of Breast Cancer). We also have local doctors and dentists visit the school to talk to our students on various matters regarding healthy bodies, minds and teeth.

The School Nurse regularly addresses Assemblies on healthy eating issues. Cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks are not permitted in the school. We are also a nut free school.

Does the school have cafeteria facilities for the students? How does it promote a balanced diet?

Yes – we currently have a canteen which offers a range of nutritious snacks, juices, fruits as well as hot meals. Students are able to eat in the dining room or in designated picnic areas outside, weather permitting.

What is the approximate average cost of a lunchtime meal?

Those who purchase food provided by the Canteen would spend on average between 10 – 15AED daily

What is the starting and finishing time of your school day?

School starts with morning Assembly for the whole school at 7.45am. The National Anthem is sung at this time. The School ends for Foundation Stage students at 12.40pm and for students in Years 1 – 10 at 14.40 each day, Monday to Thursday and on Friday at 12pm. Students staying for Co – curricular activities leave at 16.00 every Tuesday. These run from 15.00 – 16.00 for 8-week slots.

Is there a school uniform?

Yes – we have the highest expectations with regard to the wearing of the school uniform. The uniform is a sign of belonging to the Diyafah family and is worn with pride. There is also a PE uniform which students are also expected to wear on the days they have curriculum PE. The uniform is of good and robust quality and is comfortable for the students to wear,

Our senior students in Key Stage 4 and 5 look particularly smart in their burgundy blazers and ties!

Please advise on your discipline policy?

The School has a clear and progressive discipline policy known as our Behaviour for Learning Policy. It balances rewards and sanctions. We believe very strongly that no student has the right to disrupt the learning of other students or prevent the teacher from teaching. The classroom and corridor expectations are clear, and the majority of our students follow the fair and transparent rules carefully and dutifully daily.

A heavy emphasis is placed on recognizing and rewarding good behavior – rewards for attainment, effort, community service and student leadership.

At the same time, should it be necessary, we have a system of traffic lights for disruptive behaviour – green, amber, read - giving students the chance to reflect on the anti-social behaviour and change their approach; we can run break time detentions; we can issue tutor, social work or SLT report cards (Green, Amber, Red); we call parents in to meetings as required and we can even isolate a disruptive student should that be necessary.

We are fortunate in having a well-respected and very fair Social Work Department which works closely with students and parents as and when required.

How do you feedback progress and attainment to students and parents?

The School has developed a comprehensive approach to tracking progress and attainment throughout the weeks and months of each term and reporting to parents.

There are regular Assessments of Learning through quizzes, mini tests, plenaries, projects where by the teacher acquires up to date knowledge on how the students in his / her class are progressing.

In Primary Phase knowledge and skills acquired are mapped against the expected curriculum standards and this enable teachers to assess what the students are secure in and what further areas require to be developed.

In the Secondary Phase subject teachers set homework regularly as well as continuous class-based assessments and offer this formative feedback to students regularly. Parents are able to contact the School at any time if there are concerns about any aspect of a child’s learning or understanding of a particular topic or subject.

In Early Years parents are regular visitors to the classroom and are provided with an almost daily update on progress informally by the class teacher. Learning Journeys are shared with the parents as are samples of their child’s creative class work.

How often is the more formal feedback such as reports and parent/teacher meetings?

The School undertakes Baseline Tests at the start of each academic year for all year groups and there is a formal period of examination / testing towards the end of each term. These papers are marked and graded in accordance with National Curriculum guidelines and the results are reported to parents in our End of Term Reports which are made available through our parent portal.

Each term ends with a Parent Teacher Consultation Meeting where parents, with their son or daughter, sits down with the class teacher or the subject specialist and review the content of the End of Term Report recently issued. The focus of these Meetings is always to praise good efforts and to point to what further improvements can be made to realise full potential.

Which languages are taught at your school - please detail any as a first as well as second language?

We offer Spanish and French from Year 5 upwards at present although, as we continue to grow and expand, we will offer other Community and Global languages to reflect our international ethos.

Do you offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language?

In September 2018 we set up our well-resourced and stimulating EAL Department staffed by two English specialist teachers and a Linguistic Support Assistant. This Department works both with class teachers to support them in adapting their planning to the needs of students whose first language is not English and with students themselves through various levels of intervention sessions as need dictates. It is great to see students, new to English, grow in confidence as their ability to communicate increases daily.

Do you offer a dedicated prayer room/s for students? For which faiths?

Yes – we have separate Prayer Rooms for boys and girls.

How do you support gifted, able and talented students?

The School has developed a clear Policy on Most Able students. Firstly we identify those students through scrutiny of external cognitive data. We also seek information from teachers who work with our students daily and who are in the best position to receive specific subject talent and ability.

This information is shared with all teachers though Continuous Professional Development sessions to enable all staff to plan “stretch and challenge” lessons for our Most Able students.

In addition to this differentiated classroom approach we have set up and are developing further provision for G & T enrichment sessions such as our Most Able mathematicians attending the National Ken Ken Challenge. (In 2019 one of students came second in the Abu Dhabi / Al Ain heat and will now go through to the UAE National Final).

For students gifted in Art they have participated in the My Identity National Art Competition. The School has recently registered with Tournament of Minds, a well-established Australian programme which challenges teams of G & T students with open ended challenges and requires them to exercise creativity, imagination and communication skills and their efforts are judged with other students internationally.

Do you have a learning support team in your school?

For the last 4 years we have had a committed and experienced SEND Department, lead by a highly effective SENCO, in the School which continues to support our most vulnerable students.

Not all schools are staffed or resourced to offer learning support to those children with either moderate or significant learning needs. To what level can you offer support for those with learning differences?

We are able to support students with moderate learning needs. We are not able to support students with significant learning needs at this stage of our development.

Does your school have particular expertise in dealing with a specific learning need such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, aspergers syndrome and so forth?

As stated above we have an experienced SENCO, assisted by a qualified SEND teacher and two Learning Support Assistants trained in SEND. Students with particular SEND needs are invited to the School for an initial assessment. This assessment, together with any information provided by the parent from other external assessment centers, helps the School reach a decision as to whether we are in a position to meet the student’s needs. To us this is a sensible approach to supporting those students we feel we can support.

Does your school have an educational psychologist or access to one to assess and support those youngsters with more challenging learning and emotional needs?

The School works closely with external Centres which have a team of specialist Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists. We have built up good links with some local providers and when these Centres, the School and the parents all work together the child benefits. With parental permission we have experts from these Centres in the school conducting observations of children in classroom settings, liaising with teachers and offering recommendations to both staff and parents alike.

Do you have a parents’ group supporting the school?

We have a long established and very active Parent Council Group which has been in existence since the School opened and continues to grow, driving forward new initiatives. A member of that group sits on the Board of Governors.

Are there opportunities for parents to support the learning, activities and events within the school or on trips other than through the parent group?

Yes – in Early Years for example we have parents coming to read to students. In Arabic lessons older generations come in and share their stories of the UAE as was; parents who are doctors and nurses come and share their medical expertise with our students. We organize key events in the calendar which have become well established in the local community. Our International Day celebration is a massive event, full of colour, music, taste and laughter. Not to be missed!

Is there an opportunity for parental representation on your school Board of Governors?

Yes – a member of the Parent Council sits on the Governing Body which meets termly

Do you offer specific activities, events or information sessions for those parents new to the school and/or area?

We hold termly Coffee Mornings for new and established parents. At the start of the Academic Year we have week-long Parent Orientation meetings for new and returning parents. We have key morning and evening events throughout the year such as Open Mornings both at weekends and during the School week as well as Key Stage Pathway Evenings.

There are many opportunities for our parents to attend class Assemblies, Early Years Graduation Ceremonies as well as other key events such as Student Investiture, Family Fun Fair and National Day Celebrations, to name a few. There is a very strong sense of community at Diyafah International School. This community spirit of staff, parents and pupils working together is tangible.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Diyafah International School MBZ 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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