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Dubai British School Emirates Hills Review

Dubai British School (DBS) is a member of the Taaleem Group of schools and was one of the first UK curriculum schools to open in the Emirates Hills area, providing an English National Curriculum education to families living in the Meadows, Springs, Lakes and wider new Dubai area.
Parents' Rating
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4.0 out of 5 based on 21 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 60,000
Annual fees
AED 49,026–73,540
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Teacher turnover help
19%
Principal
Simon Jodrell
Owner
Taaleem
Community
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom

Nearby nurseries

0.3km • EYFS curriculum
0.3km • EYFS curriculum
1.5km • EYFS curriculum
2.5km • EYFS curriculum
2.6km • EYFS curriculum
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Dubai British School Emirates Hills
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 60,000
Annual fees
AED 49,026–73,540
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Teacher turnover help
19%
Principal
Simon Jodrell
Owner
Taaleem
Community
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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Dubai British School (DBS) is a member of the Taaleem Group of schools and was one of the first UK curriculum schools to open in the Emirates Hills area, providing an English National Curriculum education to families living in the Meadows, Springs, Lakes and wider new Dubai area.

The Story so Far...

Dubai British School (DBS EH) Emirates Hills (as distinct from its younger sister school in Jumeirah Park - DBSJP) offers the English National Curriculum, and is open to students, girls and boys, aged from three to eighteen years of age (Foundation to Year 13). According to the last KHDA report (2018-19), it is currently home to approximately 1,171 students aged from 3 to 18.

Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been surprisingly limited from within the DBS EH community, and we would very much like to see more input from parents, teachers and students. 
However, what feedback we have received has been very positive for the most part, with parents commenting particularly on the sense of community, diversity and approachability of staff.
The following comments are reflective of many; "Strengths... community spirit, feel of school environment."
"My daughter is extremely happy with school, they handled online learning well last year which filled us with confidence if it was to happen again. They do so many wonderful activities with the children and make learning interesting."

Find out more about parents' views by reading the Buzz

After two years of being rated Very Good, DBS EH finally achieved its KHDA Outstanding rating in 2017-18 - one that had been anticipated for several years and was felt to be overdue.  This accompanied a British School Overseas inspection which also gave DBS EH the highest rating. In 2018-19, DBS EH achieved its second KHDA Outstanding rating.

In common with all UAE schools, following the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, no further inspections have taken place.  Additionally, in September 2019, the KHDA announced that schools rated either Very Good or Outstanding would no longer participate in a full annual inspection, but would instead receive only an annual review visit - also put on hold due to the pandemic.

The largest single nationality, at Dubai British School Emirates Hills, as the name implies, is British, making up approximately two-thirds of the current student population. That said, like all schools in the UAE, DBS EH offers a very multicultural environment, with over 60 nationalities represented amongst the student population of the school.

Taking care of the students are 84 full time teachers, including the Principal, and a senior leadership team. The school also has 30 teaching assistants including two full time nurses, a doctor, and a Guidance counsellor.  Long-standing Principal, Brendan Fulton, who has led the development of DBS is set  moved to its newer sister school, Dubai British School Jumeirah Park in September 2019.  He was replaced by Simon Jodrell, an internal recruit, who will no doubt ensure a smooth transition,

In May 2022, it was announced that Mr. Jodrell would be leaving DBS EH to take on the position of Principal at Jebel Ali School, which was effectively purchased by Taaleem in a rescue effort following the former not-for-profit school having met significant financial difficulty when it was unable to pay the rent on the new building in Damac Hills/Akoya. Mr. Jodrell's position at DBS EH will be taken by Sarah Reynolds, currently Vice Principal and Head of Primary at Dubai British School Emirates Hills.

Approximately 5 percent of students have been identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN).  Taaleem as a Group, and DBS EH in particular, has been at the forefront of the development of support for students of Determination as well as providing a focus for students who are gifted and talented. Dubai British School EH is a Taaleem school, and "proudly participates in all Taaleem Schools' events and sports competitions".

The school's website states that "Our approach to education is founded on our Vision, Mission and Values – a framework of ideas used to guide our development. These are statements to which we would like to be held accountable by our community".

The school's vision statement includes "we believe that every member of our community should Enjoy, Aspire, Achieve!" whilst the Mission statement says "Dubai British School is a learning community where achievement and effort are celebrated. Embracing local and British values, we strive to inspire and challenge young minds in a supportive and tolerant international environment. We believe in supporting all members of the community to develop the skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing global world".  The school's values are "Feeling Good, Doing Good!"

The school believes "that people who have high levels of emotional, behavioural and social wellbeing live happy, purposeful and productive lives. Our approach is to develop a learning community which is positive, engaged and connected in line with our school’s vision statement".

What about the curriculum?

As the name implies, DBS EH offers the English National Curriculum from the EYFS framework through to GCSE and  I/GCSE and A Levels.  In addition, it has expanded its offering to ensure that there is a more vocational route available for students who wish to pursue these subjects, with the school offering BTEC (Business Technology and Education Council) qualifications in several subjects, together with access to ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) qualification network.  

What about Facilities?

The school sits on  a relatively small campus with limited outdoor space, but has made excellent use of the space available.  The main teaching block is set across three floors with space in the basement for Performing Arts activities.   Primary classrooms are based on the ground floor with a primary library, but students have access to a "STEAM garden" - including an art and design studio with pottery studio, design and technology workshop, two music rooms, three ICT Suites, and six science laboratories which provide access to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths resources. 

Foundation stage children have their own separate ground floor building and foundation playground. 

Secondary form rooms, a Secondary library, a Sixth form common room and dedicated extended learning rooms are located on the upper floors of the building.  An auditorium, very attractive indoor/outdoor canteen/dining area, and Primary playground are also located to the side and rear of the building.   Sports facilities include a tennis court, basketball court, swimming pool, sports hall and football pitch.  

What about Academic Achievement?

Students are entered for IGCSE at the end of the secondary phase and GCE Advanced level examinations at the end of the post-16 phase. The school has a dedicated special educational needs coordinator, who runs the gifted and talented programme. DBS EH also offers students in years 12 and 13 the opportunity to study a BTEC in Leisure and Tourism and a BTEC in Business Studies.  The school also offers the possibility of the Extended BTEC qualification which includes a blended A Level option. 

Students are offered a range of additional activities and qualifications in Sixth form in order to widen their experience and qualifications.  These include the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, the EPQ / IPQ qualification, MOOC Courses, the LAMDA Qualification, Sports Leaders Awards, Model United Nations, TedX talks, a Prefect Programme and a Peer Mentor Programme. 

In both 2020 and 2021, students were unable to sit their A Level, BTEC and I/GCSE examinations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Instead, exam entries were awarded grades by teachers and leadership staff at the school, based on students' performance in assessments and predicated examination grades. 

DBS shared its 2021 A Level and BTEC results with WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, informing us that 71 students had been entered for a total of 170 examinations. 19% of all entries were awarded A*, whilst 54% of entries were awarded A*-A, 96% A*-C and 100% A*-E. The highest individual student awards were 4 x A*.

2021 I/GCSE results were similarly based on Centre Assessed Grades.  According to DBS, 58% of entries were awarded Grades 9 – 7 (A*-A), 83% were awarded Grades 9 – 6 (A*-B), 95% of entries achieved Grades 9 – 5 (A*- high C) and 98% of entries achieved Grades 9 – 4 (A*-C). The overall student pass rate was 100%.

In 2020, with a growth in student numbers taking post 16 qualifications, 63 students were entered for 198 examinations, the largest number ever at DBS. Despite the uncertainty over the outcomes, 43% of A Level entries were graded A* - A, with 86% of all grades being awarded at  A* - C and a 100% pass rate at A*-E overall.

2020 I/GCSE results were similarly impressive, with a total of 69 students being entered for 668 examinations.  Some 41% of results were at A* - A (9-8) grades, with 83% of all grades being inclusive of A* - B (9-6) and a 100% pass rate overall. 

In the 2019 academic year, at A Level, 14% of all entries were awarded A*, 40% (up from 37%) achieved A*/A, 69% were awarded A*-B (up from 67%), 89% received A*- C grades (up from 88%) and 99% of entries were awarded A*-E.

At I/GCSE for 2019, using the previous grading structure, 23% of entries were awarded A*,  47% achieved A*/A, 84% were awarded A*-B, 95% achieved A*-C and 100% were awarded  A*-E. (All the above are passed; fail grades were F,G and U).

2018 I/GCSE results showed continued improvement with students achieving exam entries at A* - 23%, A*/A - 47%, A*-B - 84%, A*-C - 95%, A*-D - 99%, A*-E - 100%.  A Level results were again impressive with A*: 14%, A*/A: 40% (up from 37%), A*-B: 69% (up from 67%), A*- C: 89% (up from 88%), A*-E: 99% (99%). 

For 2017 GCSE's, students were celebrating with 40% A* to A and 71% A* to B grades. 

The school was also particularly proud of students' achievement in the BTEC qualifications, noting that with BTEC courses fully embedded alongside A Levels into the Post-16 offering, all BTEC students were offered university courses, with some even embarking on international work experience, as a direct result of the vocational experience gained during their BTEC courses. 35% of all grades were at A*/A equivalent and 62% at A*-B equivalent, an increase from 53% A*-B last year. 

For 2016/2017 with the non- selective school's students improving 7 percentage points in A* to A grades this year, with 34 percent of grades A* to A, while a highly credible 62 percent of its students achieved A* to B grades, DBS EH achieved impressive results. 

In GCSE results for 2015/16, DBS EH scored 94% A* to C results while 53% achieved an impressive A or A*. In A Level exams, DBS outperformed the UK averages (25.8%) with 27% of students achieving an A* or A, and 100% of the cohort passing, while the UK average for 2016 sat at 98.1%.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com strongly encourages all schools to publish the examination results of their students.  Whilst not the be-all and end-all of education, nor a single measure of a school's competence, parents -  the partners and customers of the school -  along with prospective parents, inevitably use this information in their evaluation of any school.  We are delighted that Taaleem schools have set the example in providing transparency at its schools.

What the Inspectors Say 2018-19

In November 2015 Dubai British School Emirates Hills was also awarded an Outstanding rating by British School Overseas and many felt that this should have been reflected in the KHDA inspection rating for 2015-16. However, after two years of Dubai British School EH being rated as a Very Good school, DBS EH was awarded an Outstanding rating in the 2017-18 KHDA inspection round, a result it has maintained for a second year in 2018-19. This means that Taaleem now has two Outstanding schools, with the Raha International School, Abu Dhabi having achieved the rating one year earlier.

In the latest inspection report, DBS was rated Outstanding across almost all subjects, phases of the school and key performance standards.

In common with many international schools, if there is an area of relative weakness, it is in respect of the teaching of Arabic. Whilst the ratings in the Primary school are largely Good (with Very Good for progress in Arabic as a second language), Secondary and post-16 achieve ratings of Good for progress in Islamic Education and Arabic as a first language, but Acceptable for attainment.  Arabic as an additional language is rated Good for both measures. 

Perhaps more surprisingly, Sixth Form Science attainment and progress have also fallen to Good and Very Good respectively.  This is as a result of a fall in A Level results over the past three years.  However, current assessment suggests that most A Level Science students for 2018-19 were making better than expected progress. Ratings for English, Maths and Science across the Foundation Stage, Primary and Secondary phases are all rated Outstanding.

The inspection team describes the strengths of DBS as:

  • Students' outstanding personal development and social responsibility across the school;
  • The clear vision and direction provided by the principal, senior leaders and governors in pursuit of the continuing improvement of the school;
  • The inclusive ethos of the school and the high quality care and support provided to meet the needs of all groups of students;
  • The implementation and design of a curriculum that supports alternative pathways for students;
  • The positive and supportive relationship between the school and the parents.

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

  • School leaders and governors should ensure that the examples of best practice in teaching, learning and assessment evident in the school are effectively shared and applied consistently throughout the school;
  • long term development plans have identifiable interim targets to support the monitoring and accountability processes.

If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly encourage you to do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you can find it here.

The Buzz

Feedback from parents in the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey has been improving and is now a respectable 3.8 -a positivity rating of 78%. However, this is a surprisingly low result based on our knowledge and experience of DBS and its reputation locally.  The number of respondents is also low - just 20 - and as is often the case, it seems that it is the less satisfied who have taken the time to comment!

DBS does score highly for attainment, discipline, and feedback to parents, mirroring very good actual performance. In addition, 85% of respondents would recommend the school to other parents, but one in five of the same respondents had considered moving their child to another school.  If there is one area that seems to be a cause of dissatisfaction, it is the value for money represented by the school's fees.

Whilst 45% agree that the fees are good value, a solid 20% disagree and the remaining 35% are not sure.  Of course, fees are often an area of concern for parents, and with the impact of Distance Learning over the past 18 months, the perception of value may have changed. With the return of students to school full-time, it will be interesting to see whether parent opinion changes in this context.

If you are a Senior student, parent or teacher at Dubai British School Emirates Hills, please share your experiences and opinions of the school with other potential members of your community and complete our survey here.

Relatively few parents - 107 in total - responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey.  However, of those who did, 95% stated that they were happy with the quality of education provided at DBS.  Parents believed that their children are safe at school and almost all agreed that the school provides good value for money.

Our View

Unsurprisingly DBS EH is a very popular school. Provided DBS EH has uploaded the information, our admissions tab should have information on which years have spaces, however if it says there is no availability please check with the school. We do not show availability unless the school explicitly tells us it has spaces.

The school places an emphasis on making sure that the community is involved in the school’s future and planning for it, with the school’s advisory board having school staff, parents, and members of the Taaleem executive board. DBS EH has an active Parents and Friends Association (PFA), who organize regular events such as Winter Fair and Spring Fair.

In addition, Taaleem as a whole, and DBS EH in particular has been at the forefront of inclusive education in the UAE, and this is a particular area of strength.  Whilst others have talked about an inclusive education, these schools have got on quietly and done it! DBS has taken a leading role in working with the KHDA for the implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy that all Dubai schools must now adopt and implement.

If there is an area to criticise, it remains the relatively small and therefore rather compact campus.  However, every resource is used to ensure that students have all that they need to access all the relevant areas of the curriculum.  If you are interested in a school that genuine seeks to do the best by every child, and offers an inclusive, rigorous and academically successful education, Dubai British School Emirates Hills is a good place to start.

What about Fees? 

Fees currently range from AED 49,026 for Foundation and Years 1 – 2, to AED 73,540 for Years 12-13.  These are comparable with a number of high performing UK curriculum schools, and are considerably below several others.

Full details of fees can be found under the Fees and Availability tab.

Read More: DBS has been awarded Outstanding by UK BSO inspectors read more here

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

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

If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.

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