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Dubai International Academy Review

There are very few schools in Dubai to be awarded the KHDA's Outstanding rating, and fewer still to have made their way up from an Acceptable rating (albeit as long ago as 2008/9) but Dubai International Academy (DIA) is now one of only 16 schools to get the education regulator's top grade
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Dubai International Academy

At a glance

School Type
All Through
Year Opened
2005
Annual Fees
AED 38,318 - 67,893
Annual Fee Average
AED 53,000
Inspection Rating
Outstanding
Principal
Ms. Pratibha Rao
Owner
Innoventures Education
Curricula Taught
Community
City
Main Teacher Nationality
British
Main Student Nationality
Indian

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

The Story so Far

Dubai International Academy is the first pure play IB school to get the KHDA's top Outstanding rating.

Located in Emirates Hills alongside the Al Khail road, DIA opened on September 10, 2005 with more than 500 students from 55 countries and an equally diverse faculty of more than 50 members of 18 different nationalities. Today the school is home to 2,072 students from over 80 nationalities, looked after by 156 teachers. No one nationality dominates, but reflecting the UAE, the largest single nationality of students is Indian.

The school's teacher turnover is currently, we believe, a little too high - running at 29%, although with the lack of a 2016/2017 KHDA report, it's likely that the teacher turnover rate is lower. The teacher to student ratio is 1:13 with the majority of teachers being recruited from the United Kingdom. The school employs 33 teaching assistants.

Dubai International Academy was the first in the UAE to offer the Geneva based International Baccalaureate (IB) all the way from the Primary Years Programme (PYP, KG 1 – Year 6), to the Middle Years Programme (MYP, years 7-11) and finally the Diploma Programme (DP, years 12-13). Across the programmes, provision is provided for students with special educational needs (SEN) and English as a second language (ESL) - the latter from year 2. Until this point, the school believes that separate ESL teaching is not required since children "soak up" English so quickly.

Part of the school's success must come from a decision made as long ago as January 2013 when the school appointed a Quality Assurance Director to ensure standards. In its 2011/12 report the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator, noted attainment and progress had improved in English, Mathematics and Science, a comment continued into its 2012/13 and 2013/14 reports. Today it is pretty hard to find a rating that is not either Very Good or Outstanding for English, Maths or Science, for attainment or progress.

What do the Inspectors Say? 

DIA's 2015/2016 report rating of Outstanding carries over to the 2016/2017 year, granting the high achieving school a well-deserved break from the rigors of inspection. 

The report find the the strength of the school to be the "Outstanding development of students’ learning skills, high quality teaching, accurate assessments and a very well designed curriculum all [leads] to at least good progress; outstanding in English, mathematics and science in almost all phases." 

Furthermore, the students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills is also Outstanding. As the report notes, "Students [are] highly responsible, independent and self-motivated learners. They show excellent caring attitudes and respect towards their peers and the adults in school. They [are] reflective learners and very critical on their own progress."

Student progress and attainment is also a strength of the school, ranked as Outstanding or Very Good in most subjects. Like many schools in Dubai, Islamic Education and Arabic still needs room for improvement, although the last report shows that progress is indeed being made. 


source: Inspection Reports

What about Student Achievement? 

According to the school its "IBDP results have been among the best in the region". The results are impressive, and largely improving.

The 2016/2017 IB results show that almost 36% students with a score of 36 and above and the average score for all Dubai International Academy students was 33.7 points. - a very good result for the school indeed. One of the school's students, Rohan Goel, scored 44 points, an almost perfect score. Rohan will be studying a dual degree with economics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall. 

In May 2013 Xanita Saaymen achieved the perfect score of 45/45, while in 2014/2015 the top score was 44/45. Some 8% of its students achieved 40 or above - a pass mark that would be good enough for Oxbridge (which usually cites 38). In fact DIA says "all" of its graduates secured college placements across 17 countries, which include the world’s top universities: Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Cambridge, and London School of Economics.  "In May 2015, 80% of our students received acceptances from their first choice university."

 

What About Facilities? 

Facilities at DIA are good and they include:

  • A Networked Library
  • Specialist rooms for music, music technology, art, dance, drama and language learning
  • Fully equipped science labs, computer labs and a Robotic lab
  • Four climate-controlled multi-purpose halls for a wide range of sports and other activities
  • Two covered swimming pools
  • A fully grassed outdoor playing field and several shaded play areas - smaller ones with play equipment, and an impressively large one above the Kindergarten section of the school.
  • Shaded outdoor basketball and tennis ball courts
  • A music and movement sprung-floored room for kindergarten students.

The school has a very decent range of after school activities - which as an IB school you would expect. The school offers the International Award (Duke of Edinburgh) and the Model United Nations, staples it seems of IB schools. One of the school's students recently won the poetry recitation competition at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Feedback to WSA on DIA is generally positive. Most parents like the school's IB programme, and the fact that the school is required to maintain the Geneva based organisation's IB standards.

The school does well in the ongoing WSA School Survey. Most parents would recommend the school, all are happy with the academic performance of the school, and approximately half believe the school offers good value for money. Parents believe the school ranks well compared to international peers, with the majority thinking the offering is on a par with "the level of education offered in their home countries".

The school embraces and celebrates the diversity of its multinational student population, running mother tongue language programmes in several languages, such as Dutch, Spanish and several others. There is a small Dutch library amongst other things.

What About Fees? 

The school was one of the first schools in Dubai to become an Eco Flag school.

Fees at DIA are premium - but relatively good value for an IB school, especially an Outstanding one. They start at 40,157 for KG per annum and rise to just over 71,152 AED for Year 13.

There are additional fees on admissions. There is an entrance test fee of 500 AED, 3,000 AED annual re-enrollment fee (adjusted against term one fees - actually quite reasonable compared to peers), a 7,000 AED enrollment fee for new students (again comparatively reasonable), and a 4.500 feeAED  if the student is identified as needing English as a Second Language (ESL) support. 

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