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Emirates International School Meadows Review

Emirates International School Meadows is a private, international, all through school established in September 2005 by the Al Habtoor Group and located in The Meadows, Dubai. The school caters to over 1,700 students from a very wide range of nationalities.
Parents' Rating
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3.6 out of 5 based on 85 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
hourglass_empty
Availability 2022/23
Annual fee average
AED 51,500
Annual fees
AED 26,802–79,488
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2005
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
21%
Principal
Kathryn Dyche-Nichols
Owner
Habtoor Group
Community
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom

Nearby nurseries

0.2km • EYFS curriculum
1.2km • EYFS curriculum
1.6km • EYFS curriculum
1.6km • EYFS curriculum
1.7km • EYFS curriculum
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Emirates International School Meadows
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
hourglass_empty
Availability 2022/23
Annual fee average
AED 51,500
Annual fees
AED 26,802–79,488
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2005
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
21%
Principal
Kathryn Dyche-Nichols
Owner
Habtoor Group
Community
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
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Emirates International School Meadows is a private, international, all through school established in September 2005 by the Al Habtoor Group and located in The Meadows, Dubai. The school caters to over 1,700 students from a very wide range of nationalities.

The story so far...

The Emirates International School campus at the Meadows (EISM) was among the first schools to open in the Emirates Hills area, the Meadows development itself being among the first to encourage expatriates to purchase their homes in the UAE, which until this time (in 2002) had been restricted to UAE and GCC nationals only.  As a result, EIS Meadows sits at the heart of one of the most multicultural areas of the city, and the choice of the IB programmes is only too appropriate.  In line with its previous historic mix of UK curriculum (EYFS and IGCSE), EIS Meadows has an EY1 to Year 13 grading structure.

Whilst the original Emirates International School Jumeirah celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2021, EIS Meadows had achieved half that age, having been founded in 2006.

The school caters to just over 1,700 students (around 300 of whom are in the Early Years section) from 88 nationalities (one of the highest numbers of nationalities we have seen) with the largest groups from: India: 340, Egypt: 198, Jordan: 138, Lebanon: 137, USA: 121, Pakistan: 97, and UK: 78 . 

EISM employs 148 teachers all of whom (according to the KHDA) are suitably qualified for their roles and a further 29 teaching assistants. Teachers also come from a very broad range of 27 nationalities,with a large percentage of Irish and British teachers noted in the EY and section, together with some very experienced teachers who have been with the school for a number of years including a Chemistry teacher from Iran who joined the school the year it opened.  All staff are qualified to teach students whose first language is not English and lessons and resources are differentiated to ensure active participation. In addition, specialist EAL teachers provide personalised teaching to those that require intensive support. 

Commenting on its focus, the school states "At EISM our core aim is to ensure that all of our students are happy, safe and successful in everything that they do. EISM is a learning community where students are ready, respectful and safe in all they do. Students are empowered to think critically and creatively and to show resilience in their search for success. Our inclusive environment and innovative enquiry based international education fully prepares students for their future."

Teachers are mainly from the UK. and teaching should be a strength of the school.  Staff turnover at 20.8%, is within the normal range for an international school in Dubai (where 20-22% is the norm).  The school notes that "EISM is fully staffed and we are delighted that the core leadership of the School remains consistent, as this permits the focus to remain on school improvement whilst maintaining the positive relationship with all stakeholders."

Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com through our school survey has been somewhat mixed in the past (with a relatively low rating of 2.9). Recent feedback in early 2022, however, has resulted in an overall rating of 3.9/5 - positivity rating of 78%.  

Recent comments, from early 2022, reflect positive views of parents.

"The teachers know my children very well and are kind and friendly. The school maintains academic rigour allowing my children to always feel successful."
"Strength- teaching children to read and write from an early age. My child has developed quite drastically (I’m very very pleased) after joining school ."
"Strengths: - The teachers have a genuine care for their students - our daughter is a precious member of the class. - The quality of academic progress my child has made has been outstanding. My wife and I are sometimes amazed at how quickly she has learned to read, with very little input from us: the curriculum is rigorous and challenging! - The Distance Learning program is excellent. The quality of communication is excellent. Both school leaders and my daughter's teachers are extremely responsive, day and night, and take special care to attend to our requests."
"The teachers are fantastic, very supportive and have high standards. Their knowledge of the curriculum is excellent and they create opportunities for my children to be successful. Improvements - Improve playtime facilities for the children."
"Fantastic leadership. Both the Head of Secondary and the Principal are very supportive and clear with their vision. MY kids love the school."

If there has been one consistent criticism of the school, it has been the lack of a School Uniform store on the campus.

Further feedback received from our School survey can be read under the Buzz.

In the 2011-12 academic year, the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator, improved Emirates International School Meadows' rating by one grade to Good - a level which it had maintained for a further nine years until its improvement to Very Good in 2019-20. 

To maintain the same level of rating for eight years suggests that progress on improvements had not taken place at a particularly fast pace, and the effort involved in improving the rating to Very Good - which the school finally achieved in the 2019-20 inspection round - should not be underestimated.  

What about the curriculum?

EIS Meadows, in common with EIS Jumeirah, follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum - it is a continuum school, meaning it offers the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), the Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) and the Diploma Programme (IBDP) for those aged 16 and above.  Historically, both schools offered the IGCSE programme in years 10 and 11, but it seems that the introduction of the IB MYP examinations (EIS Meadows has been an early adopter) has given EIS and its students and families the confidence to follow the IB programmes in their entirety.

Commenting on its curriculum, the school comments "EISM follows the International Baccalaureate programme throughout the school, and this ensures that our students have high quality opportunities to engage with a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum which not only provides them with the skills to become highly successful 21st century global citizens, but also instills in our students the importance of aiming high and achieving academic excellence in everything they do."

In so doing, EIS Meadows joins Dubai International Academy, also located in the Emirates Hills development and the first full IB curriculum school in the city, in offering the full IB continuum.

Competing with A Levels as the Gold Standard for university entry, due to the breadth of the curriculum in addition to depth, its focus on "global citizenship, its cross-curricular and independent, enquiry-based approach to learning, the IB curriculum has become increasingly popular in the UAE in recent years."   The Diploma programme, in particular, has been adopted by a number of highly-regarded UK curriculum schools and even, latterly, two Indian curriculum schools in Dubai.  EISM does not offer the IB Career-related Programme as an alternative to the highly demanding and academic Diploma programme, but students who wish to pursue this more vocational route are offered the option to the join the sister school in Umm Suqeim.

What about academic results?

Like its sister school EIS Jumeirah, EIS Meadows has in the past received considerable praise for the comprehensive provision of external examination data. This is key information for prospective students when choosing a school, and the EIS schools had been models for others to follow. 

 WhichSchoolAdvisor.com requested the results for 2020-21 and the school has shared these, together with those of the previous two years in our table below.  Commenting on the results in July 2021, EISM posted on Social Media; "12 years of  IBDP results on positive trajectory of student outcomes...2021 best results ever."

The percentage of results awarded over 40 points increased significantly in 2021.

  2016-17 2018-19  2019-20 2020-21
Number of candidates n/a 51 69 56
IB Diplomas Awarded 44 44 66 54
 Average Score of Diploma Candidates 33 33 33 35
 World Wide Average Diploma Score 29.95 29.62 29.9 32.99
Percentage of students completing full Diploma 96% 86% 96% 96%
 Percentage of students scoring 24 points or higher 96% 86% 96% 96%
 Percentage of students scoring 30 points or above  67% 69% 70% 81%
Percentage of students scoring 35 points or above n/a 28% 36% 50%
 Percentage of students scoring 40 points or above  17% 5% 10% 28%
Top IB Diploma Score (Maximum 45) 45 42 43 44

With the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, students did not take examinations in either 2020 or 2021, instead being allocated Centre Assessed Grades together with reviews of assessed work by IB examiners. 

Commentators have repeatedly stated that there has been considerable grade inflation as a result of this arrangement - teachers and schools inevitably being perhaps more generous in their marking in light of the difficulty faced by students as a result of the pandemic's impact - and this is particularly reflected in the increase in the global average from 29 points in 2020 to 32.99 in 2021.  However, EIS Meadows has told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that its pandemic results "are completely in line with our recent trends and any increase is as a result of rigorous evaluation and quality teaching. This is exemplified by the fact no student was given a 45, which is a result this school has previously achieved."

Notes: A “highly respectable” pass rate at IBDP that would be suitable for entrance into good red brick universities in the UK is around the 34 plus mark. Top-tier universities are officially looking for 38 plus. In reality a 40+ score is more likely to get a student into Oxbridge or Ivy League university.

The school - unusually in our experience -  does publish some information about its results for the MYP programme - a relatively new examination which is largely based on-line and examines the main language and literature of teaching (in the UAE, English), together with Maths, Biology, Physics and Chemistry (or Integrated Sciences), Geography, History (and/or Integrated Humanities). 

EISM participates in all KHDA mandated external benchmark testing, including TIMMS and PISA. Students are said to perform above UAE averages in all key subjects. Similarly, the school advised that "The focus on excellent teaching and learning ensures that students consistently achieve above national and international benchmarks in their external assessments at both DP and MYP."

EISM employs a full time Higher Education Advisor who continually works with and supports all students. The school offers complete support in career pathway planning as well as university applications. Students regularly attend University Fairs in Dubai and access top universities around the world such as MIT, Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge.

What about the facilities?

Facilities at EIS Meadows are in general very good although due to the relative age of the building, a little dated and best described as fit for purpose without frills. The school is split into two sections, with the EY and  Primary school sections separated from each other to the right of the plot, with the Secondary school located in the main building.  There are extensive grounds behind the school.

The Primary school's facilities consist of 65 classrooms with LCD projectors and interactive white boards, two IT suites, a library, a multi-purpose hall, a 25 meter indoor swimming pool, a library, dedicated art, music, drama and language teaching rooms as well as conference and meeting suites for faculty and parents. The school has a total of three indoor sports halls.

Similarly the Secondary school has 6 IT suites with full wireless connectivity across the campus, a cafeteria, Senior student lounge, library, multi-purpose sports hall/gymnasium, dance studio and Weight room, 25 meter indoor swimming pool, two Astroturf sports fields, two art suites, two music suites, a drama room and a language teaching room.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com understands that there are plans to build two new buildings on land next to the school, towards the lake. One will be a new Early Years section, the other for new sports and arts facilities. Dates for the delivery of these buildings have not yet been confirmed.

Unfortunately, the location of the school on a roundabout next door to a shopping centre on Meadows Drive does mean that the area around the school can be very congested at peak times.  The school does run a comprehensive bus service which is probably the safest way for students, who are unable to walk to school, to arrive and leave safely.

What the inspectors say

Arguably, EIS Meadows' achievement of a Very Good rating has been a long time coming - eight years is certainly a long time to retain a Good rating, though it must be said that the KHDA's expectations have grown with each year, and to retain any rating shows that a school is not standing still. 

However, to make the step up to the next rating is something that, in our opinion, should have happened sooner.  The school had previously been rated Outstanding for both attainment and progress for the core subjects of English, Maths and Science for Post-16 education. Two years ago, it dipped from that high. 

In the 2019-20 DSIB inspection round, EIS Meadows was one of a relatively limited number of schools that went through the inspection process due to the Covid 19 pandemic. As such, the improvement will no doubt leave a strong imprint on all those concerned. In common with all UAE schools, EISM also participated in a Distance Learning Evaluation shortly after the physical inspection by the DSIB team.  It received the highest of three ratings - that of Developed. The report can be found here.

Fundamental to the step up in the overall 2019-20 KHDA rating was undoubtedly the improvement in ratings across the KG/Foundation stage of the school, where all measures for English, Maths and Science improved to Very Good, joining those of the PYP and MYP programmes. Although Arabic (as an additional language) and Islamic Studies retained their Good ratings, Arabic as a first language remained Acceptable, and there will no doubt be considerable encouragement for the school to improve the rating for this particular subject.

In fact, with the exception of the downgrading of Science attainment in the DP programme to Very Good from its previously Outstanding rating, the changes in the ratings for KG/FS section of the school were the only variations for Student Achievement.  The DP section retained their Outstanding for ratings for English and for Science progress  .

Nor were there any changes to the ratings for Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills, which remained largely rated Very Good, and Outstanding in the MYP and DP sections of the school.

There is little doubt that the achievement of Very Good ratings for Teaching and Assessment in the KG/FS and Primary sections, joining those already awarded to MYP and DP in previous years (and with assessment rated Outstanding in the DP section), contributed to the overall improved rating for the school. The improvement in Curriculum Design and Implementation in the lower two sections of the school to Very Good would also have ensured the improved overall rating. 

Ratings for Health and safety, including arrangements for child protection/ safeguarding, retained their Very Good ratings, as did the Outstanding ratings for Care and Support of students. EIS is also rated Very Good in relation to Inclusion of students of Determination. 

However, the inspection team has recommended that the school consider alternative pathways for students less suited to following a highly academic programme.  Currently, the school (unlike the Jumeirah branch) does not offer the IB Career-related programme (which is more vocational in nature and often linked to the UK's BTEC qualification); nor does it offer the IB Courses programme, which is a scaled down version of the Diploma.

Leadership and Management is now rated almost entirely Very Good, with the exception of Governance, where some concern still remains about the role of the school's Advisory Council.

Overall strengths of EIS Meadows were identified as:

  • The very effective school leadership and accurate self-evaluation that ensure a continuing focus on improvement in a positive learning environment.

  • The very good teaching and the thoughtful use of assessment information that underpin students’ impressive achievement, particularly in English, mathematics and science.

  • The stimulating and engaging environment provided for children in EY that promotes rapid progress in all areas of learning.

  • The strong partnerships with parents and the very good arrangements for keeping students safe and promoting their well-being and healthy lifestyles.

  • The inclusive ethos that ensures that all students are provided with excellent care and support and encourages a strong sense of social responsibility.

In terms of the main areas for improvement, the KHDA inspectors identified these as follows:

  • Raise attainment and progress in Arabic as a first language to at least match that in other subjects.
  • Develop a strategic plan for inclusion that incorporates a range of alternative educational and career pathways for those students less suited to academic programmes.
  • With reference to the KHDA publication ‘The Gift of Good Governance’, define the roles and responsibilities of members of the advisory council.

If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to find out the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.

The Buzz

The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey  had, until recently, received a relatively limited number of responses, and these were decidedly less positive than the responses to the KHDA. With an improvement to 3.9/5 based on 65 responses, the school's overall parent rating has risen to a level that is more in keeping with its KHDA rating.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com had received a significant number of comments from parents during the Covid 19 pandemic on a perceived lack of support from the school in relation to fee payments, and consideration for the hardship many parents suffered as a result of the pandemic.
Even with a substantial increase in the number of responses from parents to our Survey, it seems that fees still remain something of a bug-bear. Whilst almost a third of parents agreed that fees represent value for money, the same percentage again disagreed with this statement. 36% of parents partially agreed.  

It appears that this issue has also played a significant part in parents' consideration of whether to move their child to a different school, with 45% saying that they had considered this option. This is significantly above the UAE average of 26%.

Parents also seem to be less impressed than we would expect about the academic performance of the school - with just over half (54%) fully satisfied, compared with a UAE average of 74%, and a further 31% partially satisfied. 50% of parents felt that they needed to provide additional tuition to their children outside of school. Communication and the school's disciplinary policy and implementation are also areas where parents are not entirely happy - in both cases being well below UAE averages.

Without doubt, the most telling statistic is that over a quarter of the parents who completed the survey (28%) said they would not recommend EISM to other parents. 58% would do so, but this figure is also well below the UAE average of 81%.  

During a recent visit (2022) to EISM, the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com team met with parents whose feedback was largely positive. Comments included "Good communication from leadership, motivating teachers, children are happy to come to school, sense of belonging in the school, truly international community, good value for money". If there were any negatives, these related to the infrastructure not the best (but staff and community made up for this).

Students too gave their feedback, commenting on the strong sense of community and school pride, good EAL support, and the academically challenging environment.  If they had one comment in relation to possible areas for improvement, this was that facilities for sports could be better.

We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com were very pleased to see some recent very positive feedback from teachers at EISM. 

This included:
"Amazing school, excellent work environment."
"The School places a real emphasis on the importance of family and the School is really at the heart of the community. All students are respectful of one another and all cultures. Nobody feels excluded and everyone has a 'voice' - staff and students. Regular staff events ensure that staff feel supported. Students have the opportunity to voice their opinion with regards to how the School can further improve, or what the School could benefit from introducing. Monthly meetings are conducted for all students, before the month culminates with a whole High School Student Council meeting. The main issue with the School is the WiFi network that can disrupt meetings or learning taking place due to lack of connectivity. This is something that the School is rectifying."
"Collaborative environment. Supportive and cohesive SLT."

It seems, despite the increase in feedback from parents to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that there remains a degree of parental disaffection with EIS Meadows left over from the pandemic period. We wonder in how far the issues around fees are impacting the overall positive views that parents may have of the school. 

If you are a parent, teacher or student at Emirates International School Meadows, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.

In contrast to the feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com since the inspection of the school in 2020, over 250 parents responded positively to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, which took place prior to the start of the pandemic and to home-learning.

91% said that they were satisfied with the quality of education their children received at EISM. According to the KHDA, parents felt that the school provided a family atmosphere where children were supported both academically and personally. They believed that their children were safe in school. They valued the open-door policy and the quality of academic reports that they received.

Of the 520 students responding to the KHDA's wellbeing survey, the vast majority reported that they generally had a sense of belonging, felt happy, optimistic and safe.

Our View

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com was initially surprised by the less than positive feedback from parents to our school survey. As is often the case, it is the dissatisfied who tend to express their views whilst the satisfied keep their counsel.  We are pleased that a more representative set of views has now been contributed by both parents and staff.

Based on KHDA feedback, and that of students and parents to the inspection surveys, (though these took place in early 2020, prior to the onset of the pandemic), EIS Meadows was clearly doing much that is right. We believe that with a return to normality slowly from August 2021, EISM will remain a popular choice for families seeking the IB curriculum in the Emirates Hills and surrounding locations.

We asked Emirates International School Meadows to tell us why the school should be a parental choice and about the plans for the current academic year. They told us:
"Our vision is to become a KHDA-rated Outstanding school by 2025 and to enable our students to excel and thrive in a happy, safe and successful environment whilst providing substantial academic rigour.
We are a wholly inclusive school that demonstrates high levels of commitment to ensuring that all students have access to quality resources which enable them to not only access the curriculum but to ultimately achieve to their full potential. Our teachers use their strong knowledge of each student to create highly personalized learning programmes which ultimately meet their needs and ensure that they make their best academic and personal progress.
We believe in a very strong home school partnership and strive to engage our parents with as many meaningful opportunities as possible to play an impactful role in the life of their child at EISM. We value the contributions of our parent community in ensuring that our students receive the very best educational opportunities."

What about fees?

As of 2021-22 school fees range between AED 26,802 per year for EY1 (FS1) students, rising to AED 35,175  for EY2 and Year 1, and progressively to AED 79,488 for Year 13 students - high end, but on a par for high achieving UK/IB curricula schools.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Emirates International School Meadows 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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