United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Sufouh / Dubai College

Dubai College Review

If Dubai was mature enough to have an Ivy League school, Dubai College, established in 1978, would be it.
Dubai College
First Published: Saturday 7 July, 2012
Updated: Tuesday 2 January, 2018

If Dubai was mature enough to have an Ivy League school, Dubai College, established in 1978, would be it.

First Published: Saturday 7 July, 2012
Updated: Tuesday 2 January, 2018

NOTE: As Dubai College received an Outstanding rating in 2015/2016, there is no new KHDA report for the 2016/2017 inspection cycle.

Dubai College does not necessarily have the best facilities, nor offers the "best education" (you would have to define what you meant by that), but it has been a top ranking school for so long that it is pretty much on every parents list when choosing a school. Which is often too bad - the waiting list to get in is very long indeed.

According to details published in the past, the College receives between 3 and 4 applications for every place offered. While an abundance of new schools will have lessened the demand for places for schools in general, we would not be surprised if applications to DC have continued to grow. The school has a reputation for excellence, and pretty much delivers on that year in, year out.

Click for the WSA Dubai College school experience

The school's achievements are recognized by its parents who would overwhelmingly recommend it. In both 2013 and in 2015 it came in the Top 20 most recommended schools in the UAE, its recommendation rating rising from 83% to 86% over the 24 months.

School leadership has recently seen Michael Lambert take the helm as principal. Mr Lambert is clearly keen on making sure the school is well known for more than academic success, and unlike his predecessor, the venerable Peter Hill, Lambert clearly wants to embrace old or new media to promote the school in a wider context, using both to communicate his vision for education at the college and the UAE. He makes very good reading.

In total 870 students enrolled for 2015-16, slightly up on the previous year, aged from 11 to 18 years with just under half from the United Kingdom. There are 99 full-time teachers, including the Headmaster and a senior management team.

The school says it has 34 students with special educational needs - less than 5% of the student population. Improving provisions for SEN is one of the few areas recommended for improvement made by the KHDA (2014/15). There are also only 10 Emirati students in the school's population, again a very low figure.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the limited space given over by the KHDA to required improvements in its 2015/16 report emphasise greater inclusion, or more accurately to "define more clearly the inclusive nature of the school's admissions policy to the wider community..."

In addition the school is asked to "build upon the effective foundations set for the development of Islamic education and Arabic as a first language to improve students' progress."

Dubai College is located in the heart of new Dubai, in Al Sufouh, and set on nineteen acres of land. It uses the English National Curriculum, offering places to students from Year Seven (‘lower school’) up to Year Thirteen (‘Sixth Form’). Middle School students (Years Ten and Eleven) study ten GCSEs alongside a short course in ICT. Once students reach Sixth Form (provided they have achieved at least five B grades at GCSE), they will choose four subjects to study. Once they move up to Year Thirteen, students may drop one of their subjects.

Dubai College (DC) led the field with A Level results in Dubai in 2017 with 58 percent A* to A grades. That may be a significant drop from 2016 when DC recorded 66.8 percent A* to A grades, but there still remains a consistent 88 percent of DC's students achieving A* to B - implausibly the ninth consecutive year its students have done so.

GCSE results were similarly good with 84% of students achieving A*to A grades (9 to 7 in the new format exams) in 2017. This is an increase of 2% on last year’s results, and a 5% increase on 2015 with 82.1% of students achieving A* to A grades.

Results have been remarkably consistent, and always top end. 

In 2013, Dubai College students achieved its best GCSE and ‘A’ level results in the College’s 36 year history. At ‘A’ level, its A*/A rate of 74.2% placed the College in 23rd place in The Daily Telegraph table of high performing UK Independent Schools. From that high, a drop seemed inevitable, but in 2015 DC actually moved one step higher to 22nd. A Level results were A*-A, 97.1% A* to C, and 100% A* to E.

At GCSE, 79.3% were A* to A, 99.7% A* to C, and 100% A* to E which would have made it the 12th best co-educational independent school and the 3rd best co-educational state school in the UK at the time. 

Results are of course partly the value added by the school, but partly also a result of intake. From early years, admissions is an academically selective process, while entry to Year 12 is based on an interview with the Head of the Sixth Form, a minimum of five B grades at G.C.S.E.,  including Mathematics and English.

Subjects selected to be studied at 'A' Level require a grade B pass at GCSE. The exception is Mathematics, where grade A*/A is required in most cases.

The school helpfully publishes the university destination of its school leavers, which reveals the majority head for UK universities, with the majority of those getting into high ranking 'Red Brick' institutions - Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Warwick, etc. Each year a number head to Oxbridge (five in 2014, 20 in 2015 - see below), as well as to the likes of London School of Economics, Durham and Kings', a smattering to continental European universities (Prague for medicine - nice!), and a handful to US universities (including the likes of Columbia, Wharton...). Very few decided to take the less and less traditional "gap year".

For the full list, go here and here for Class of 2012, Class of 2013, Class of 2014, Class of 2015, and more recently Class of 2016.

The school has now achieved the KHDA's Outstanding ranking for six years in a row - a significant achievement and one of only a very small number of schools to have done so.

The school is also subject to British Schools Overseas inspections. The opening line of its last evaluation is as follows:

"Dubai College is an outstanding school. It represents the very best of British education whilst, at the same time, respecting and celebrating the local culture in Dubai."

Not too shabby. More here.

The school's KHDA report notes the very high standards of attainment in English, mathematics and science; the development of students into mature, responsible young adults; the school’s ethos; an outstanding curriculum, "delivered with flair and confidence by almost all teachers" (2011 report); and the high quality of leadership, continually striving for further improvement.

Recommendations across reports focus on strengthening the pursuit of high attainment in Islamic Education and Arabic, a standard concern for private schools in the emirate. However in 2013/14 improvements in both subjects have been noted. The recommendation remains in its latest report (2015/16).

The campus of Dubai College offers many facilities such as a large sports field with rugby pitches, football pitches, a cricket pitch and cricket nets as well as astroturf tennis courts and netball courts. The range of sports activities on offer and the competitive success of the College in the various school leagues and competitions which take place across the UAE, has recently resulted in our sister website-  www.schoolscompared.com - recognising Dubai College as one of the two Best Schools for Sports in the UAE (the other winner was Dubai English Speaking College).

There are also three Design and Technology workshops, a Music Centre with a recording studio, and a specialised Art department. Dubai College has been the representative for ABRSM (the Associated Board for the Royal Schools of Music) in the UAE since 1980. The school has five computer suites, with internet access. A new 950-seat auditorium began construction in 2007, and was opened in 2009. A Wi-Fi network was implemented into the Sixth Form centre in 2010.

The school also offers an impressive array of extra-curricular options.

Dubai College is run as a not for profit school, which does not mean that fees are any cheaper (they are very much top-tier), but does mean that profit is more likely to be reinvested in better salaries for staff, training, and facilities. Teacher turnover for last year was 8%. Not the lowest, but one of the lowest teacher attrition rates we have seen. It is also consistent - it has been running at 8% for two years in a row. Click for full details of Dubai College fees.

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1 Archived Comment
Muhammad nashit
Archived 26th Aug 2016, 00:34

After reading all the stuff i am interested to take admission in your institute please contact me as soon as possible for further proceedings