Dubai International School Al Quoz is a branch, and younger sister of Dubai International School Garhoud. Both schools appeal mainly to native Arabic speaking families.
Located on the edge of the Al Quoz Industrial area and close to the Al Khail Road, Dubai International School (DIS) Al Quoz opened in 1998 and is well placed to provide schooling from a wide area, including the traditional areas of Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim, as well as for those students coming from further afield.
DIS Al Quoz had been rated Good by the KHDA inspection teams for the past three years, but in the 2019-20 inspection round, which took place prior to the cancellation of most inspections as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, the school was down-graded to Acceptable.
There had been clear indicators in the 2018-19 inspection that all was not well, with a significant number ratings in relation to Student Achievement having been rated Acceptable. In 2019-20's inspection over 20 ratings (almost 25% of the total number) were downgraded, whilst no measures improved.
The school is owned by its Board of Directors, Dr. Juma Belhoul, Mr. Salem Bou Adeil, Mr. Sami Obeid, Mr. Shehadi Maalouf, and Mr. Khalil Zakhem. A Director General is responsible for the oversight and coordination between the two school sites at Garhoud (the original branch) and Al Quoz and the Principal at DIS Al Quoz has been with the school since 2000. Recent changes to the role of the Governors does not appear to have been received positively by the KHDA inspection team.
The school educates just under 2,100 male and female students, of whom around two thirds come from the local, Emirati population. Almost all students come from Arabic families. The school employs 132 mainly Lebanese teachers, together with a further 21 teaching assistants. Staff turnover at the school was 27% - above the average of 20-22% for Dubai schools and higher than a year ago when it was 22%. High staff turnover is always a concern as it indicates a lack of stability and staff satisfaction. The staff:student ratio of 1:16 should allow for a reasonably personalised approach to students.
The vision of the school states that; "DIS, in partnership with parents and community, will strive to prepare every student to be a lifelong learner and a productive citizen". Its mission is "DIS is committed to provide education following international standards yet adhering to local values and traditions". Whilst DIS offers a US curriculum, this is a school that is very much aimed at a predominantly Arabic population.
English is the medium of instruction at DIS Al Quoz in all classes for all subjects except for those prescribed by the Ministry of Education. An emphasis is also placed on the teaching of French which starts at the Kindergarten stage and continues until Grade 9. Students are prepared for and are ready to take the American Examinations, SAT and TOEFL, by the end of Grade 11. In Grade 12 they can sit the SAT II examinations.
DIS Al Quoz follows a US curriculum and has recently moved to the California State US Common Core Standards for English and Mathematics, and the Next Generation Standards for Science. In 2012, the school gained Accreditation from Cognia (a US-based Accreditation agency). The school has also applied for accreditation through NEASC - a requirement for all US curriculum schools in Dubai - and it intends to adopt the AERO standards for other subjects. This will ensure that High School Diplomas issued by DIS Al Quoz will be fully recognised by US universities and colleges.
Core subjects in High School included Arabic Language, Islamic Education and English Language. In addition, students at this stage have a variety of elective courses that they may choose according to their interests. In Grade 10 options include Sociology or Economics or Visual Arts, Drama, or Music.
In Grade 11 options include Chemistry, Marketing, or French and Physics, ICT, or Business. Grade 12 students may choose between four subject groups which offer Advanced Physics, French II, or Finance, Advanced Biology, Media, or ICT II, Calculus & Trigonometry, Advertising or Robotics and a final group for Advanced Chemistry, Accounting or Statistics. Students are encouraged to try new electives that provide opportunities outside of the required curriculum to ‘try’ a topic or subject area.
What about facilities?
Dubai International School Al Quoz (DIS) stands on a large corner plot, with a clear divide between the KG section (which is essentially separate) and the remainder of the school. The buildings themselves are traditional-looking cream with a green roof and extend upwards for the main part of the school.
The campus itself is compact with the KG and Lower Elementary sections located at the front of the plot (facing towards the Meydan Street and city skyline), the Upper Elementary and Intermediate sections (split between Girls and Boys) at the centre of the campus, and to the rear, connected by a bridge, is the Secondary section. The KG and Lower Elementary sections have separate sand play areas. Each section has its own gender-separated canteen and outdoor space. The sports facilities - swimming pool, handball and basket ball court and gymnasium, together with the auditorium - are shared. Outdoor space is at something of a premium.
In addition to the usual KG- Grade 12 curriculum, DIS Al Quoz also offers Kids Academy - a pre-school section for children from 20 months to 4 years of age.
Over recent years Dubai International School Al Quoz says it has invested in its facilities, which include a 3D Room for students to watch and discuss documentary and scientific movies; Grade 8 through Grade 12 classes have been equipped with a multi-media projector and a computer; Kindergarten and Lower Elementary Sections have been provided with Audio-Visual Room facilities and outdoor play spaces; Grade 1 through Grade 7 have been provided with mobile trolleys to integrate technology across the curriculum. The school has also recently opened a new computer lab in addition to the other four computer laboratories.
What the inspectors say
After three years of an Acceptable ranking in 2011-12 the school achieved a Good rating, the Dubai education regulator's, the KHDA's, second highest rating at that time, which it managed to maintain for its 2012-13 and 2013-14 inspections.
In 2014-15 and 2015-16, the rating slipped back to Acceptable. It had therefore been something of an achievement that DIS Al Quoz moved up to Good again in 2016-17 and retained the rating for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.
Unfortunately, therefore, the return to an Acceptable rating in 2019-20 had a certain sense of deja-vu attached to it.
In reviewing the inspection report, it quickly becomes apparent that whilst the school was already on a downward slope in terms of English, Maths and Science in 2018-19, with these subjects already largely rated Acceptable in terms of Student Achievement, the downgrading of the rating of the core Arabic and Islamic Studies subjects to Acceptable across the Elementary and Middle School would have ensured a reduction in overall rating, although these subjects retained their Good rating in the High school.
The inspection team commented that "In the middle phase, students’ performance has declined this year in Islamic education, Arabic as a first language, English and science. The inconsistent quality and range of learning skills and poor classroom environments are contributory factors. Improving students’ literacy in Arabic and English also remains a challenge for the school".
To make matters worse, both Teaching and assessment and adaptation of the curriculum are all now rated Acceptable across the school with the exception of the KG.
Again, the inspectors commented that "The balance between teacher-led and student-led activities is insecure. In the upper phases, the quality and range of assessment information used to improve teaching and learning remain underdeveloped... curriculum plans do not provide sufficient balance between the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills. Teachers’ ability to adapt the curriculum is not effective in meeting the needs of more able students and those of determination. Systems and procedures to identify, support and modify lessons for the most able and those of determination are underdeveloped".
Concerns were also raised about standards of behaviour among boy students in the Middle school and Care and support across all sections, excluding KG, were also downgraded to Acceptable.
The leadership of the school was also taken to task; "The restructured governing board does not hold senior leaders to account for students' outcomes. Leaders demonstrate basic knowledge of student-centered learning and best practices in teaching and assessment. Self-evaluation processes are not fully aligned with the UAE Inspection Framework".
The inspection team identified the overall strengths of DIS Al Quoz as:
In terms of areas for improvement, these were provided by the inspection team in a detailed analysis.
If you would like to read the inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to see the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
Parents, students and teachers are said to be broadly supportive of the school. The majority of the 224 parents (some 83%) believe that DIS Al Quoz provides a satisfactory quality of education. The KHDA report notes that this is a minority of parents. While most parents feel that their children are safe in school, some believe that their children do not have a strong relationship with adults at school - a view supported by the inspection team.
Some 511 students responded to the KHDA's Wellbeing survey - almost a third of eligible students. The results showed that students’ responses were in line with the Dubai average in almost all measures. Most students feel happy and are satisfied with school life. Although students’ feel healthier than the Dubai average, the majority do not believe that adults at school are important to them.
In the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey a very limited number of parents provided their feedback. They expressed some concern over academic performance, feedback and disciplinary measures at the school.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Dubai International School Al Quoz and would like to share your experience with other members of your community, please do so here.
It is evident from the inspection report that students' achievement is linked to the quality of teaching, planning and assessment at DIS Al Quoz, and these areas must be the main focus for the leaders and their staff. There appears to be a need for greater focus on what students need and the development of their learning skills, rather than what teachers feel they can deliver. This is a significant mindset change, but one that DIS Al Quoz must seek to achieve if it is not see its students' achievements and the teaching quality slip further backward.
School fees are relatively highly affordable, ranging from AED 14,404 at KG to AED 22,615 for Grade 12.
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