United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Safa / Horizon English School Dubai

Horizon English School Dubai Review

Horizon English School (HES) is a long-established UK curriculum Primary-only school located in the heart of Jumeirah/Al Safa. After having been rated Very Good for the past three years, HES has finally reclaimed the Outstanding rating in 2018-19 which it had held previously.
Parents' Rating
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4.5 out of 5 based on 27 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
Primary
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked Limited
Availability 2020/21
not_interested No
Annual fee average
AED 52,500
Annual fees
AED 40,872 - 54,770
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1989
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
28%
Principal
Mr. Ian Wallace
Owner
Al Najah Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
British

Nearby nurseries

0.4km • EYFS curriculum
1.3km • EYFS curriculum
1.3km
1.4km • EYFS curriculum
1.6km • Canadian curriculum
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Horizon English School Dubai
School type
International
School phase
Primary
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked Limited
Availability 2020/21
not_interested No
Annual fee average
AED 52,500
Annual fees
AED 40,872 - 54,770
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1989
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
28%
Principal
Mr. Ian Wallace
Owner
Al Najah Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
British
MORE arrow_drop_down
First Published:
Saturday 28 July, 2012

Updated:
Tuesday 20 August, 2019

Horizon English School (HES) is a long-established UK curriculum Primary-only school located in the heart of Jumeirah/Al Safa. After having been rated Very Good for the past three years, HES has finally reclaimed the Outstanding rating in 2018-19 which it had held previously.

The Story so Far

Purely a primary school, Horizon English School achieved an Outstanding rating from the KHDA in 2018-19, after three years at Very Good. When our team met the new Principal, Ian Wallace, just prior to the publication of the school inspection reports, it was clear that Horizon English had a clear vision, a strong community and its sights very much on being an 'Outstanding' school. That hard work is now done, although it was also clear that Horizon is not a school to rest on its achievements.

Horizon English School is a member of the British Schools Middle East (BSME) network and was first established in 1989. The school currently caters to 937 children currently, an increase of around 13 compared with the 2017-2018 academic year. Children come from a variety of backgrounds and some 70 nationalities, but the largest overall nationality group is from the United Kingdom.

Horizon English School is said to welcome students with SEN needs. The school has "excellent identification procedures" that ensure that the needs of students with special educational needs and disability (SEND) are addressed early. Some 50 students are supported by the SEN team in the current academic year.

“As a department, our inclusion team is just incredible and this reflects the hard work and commitment that has been put in.,” says Mr. Wallace. “It comes down to this for Horizon English; ‘no elitism’. Education is education for all”.


Children working with Principal Ian Wallace

The school employs 69 full time teachers, largely from the UK, 38 teaching assistants and a small number of learning support assistants.  The school claims class sizes of between 19 and 26 and the teacher to student ratio has remained at a creditable 1:14. According to the 2018-19 KHDA report, Teacher turnover is at 26%, an increase of 2% on 2017-18 and above the prior low of 19%, but a significant drop from three years ago when it hit a very high 37%. On average, international schools in the UAE expect a turnover of around 20-22% each year.

What does the school feel like? Get the Horizon English School Experience here!

Since WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's first tour, Horizon English School has been acquired by Al Najah Education, an investment company. The school welcomed a ‘new’ Principal for this academic year, (new to the position rather than the school, previous Deputy Head and Acting Principal of the school), Mr Ian Wallace. Popular with parents, staff and children, Mr Wallace has taken on a school which is clearly settled and happy, and one that is rated amongst the best in Dubai by the KHDA's Inspection team.

Mr. Wallace is hoping to see a drop in teacher turnover for the coming year;

“I love coming to work and we have a very happy team. Teacher retention is forecast to be the best ever this year. We have worked really hard on that. We try to create an environment where we all love coming to work”.

With a relaxed and good natured personal style, it was clear that Mr Wallace had achieved his aim of creating a work climate centred on staff happiness and wellbeing


The Indoor Multi Purpose Sports Hall

What about the curriculum?

When reflecting on the future of education, the school’s head is intent upon redefining the curriculum and constant improvement.

Mr Wallace told our team:

“Education has changed, and I don’t mean that just from a ‘jobs of tomorrow’ viewpoint. I look at it as a moral need for all society. People need to learn emotional intelligence, about identity, communication, inter-personal relationships. That is what is going to enable our children to succeed. The academic attainment will be a by-product! I couldn’t believe in this more than I do now.”

The school teaches the English National Curriculum. Classes are taught in English with a number of core subjects including Maths, Science, Islamic Studies, Music, I.C.T., P.E. and swimming.


A typical classroom at Horizon English School

What about the facilities?

Horizon English School is located on a prime and very spacious plot of land in Al Safa - close to Safa Park and the Gulf News offices, but in a relatively quiet residential area.  Early plans to build a Secondary school on the site (one which would have been in considerable demand) have since been withdrawn due to the acquisition by the owners, Al Najah Education, of the now-renamed Horizon International School (HIS) in Umm Suqeim 3. Students from HES have priority access to HIS.

With the curriculum in hand, many improvements to the school’s facilities are underway, with the aim of completion for the 2019/20 academic year.

In a statement from Mr. Raza Khan, CEO of Al Najah Education, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has learned that as a result of the company's newest investment in Horizon English School, students are soon to be privy to a host of new and improved facilities and amenities, including new specialist teaching spaces including a creative ‘STEAM’ zone to stimulate new ideas, innovation and invention; upgraded sporting facilities (including a raised playing area with a view of the iconic Dubai skyline); upgrades to the pool and new fitness facilities. Further improvements will include new dining and auditorium spaces together with improved parking and new classrooms to accommodate the wait list.


Friendship benches 

What the Inspectors Say

For the academic year 2018-19, Horizon English School received an Outstanding rating after three years at Very Good, a return to the rating it had held for the previous three years from 2012 to 2014.

Overall, the DSIB Inspectors found the school Outstanding in almost every possible area, with room for improvement found only in Islamic Education, Arabic (both first and additional language) (rated Good or Acceptable) and for 'Curriculum Adaptation' (rated Very Good).  Other than these points, the report is an impressive sea of 'Outstanding'.  

The Foundation Stage has made notable progress, with the inspection team recording that both Progress and Attainment has improved from Very Good to Outstanding in the core areas of English, Mathematics and Science.  


Young scientists at Horizon English School


As we record in our Horizon English School EXPERIENCE , the team have ambitious plans to improve Arabic attainment.

Students' personal and social development and innovation skills are rated Outstanding, as are most aspects of the curriculum. Teaching for Effective Learning and Assessment also improved to Outstanding for the year 2018-19.


Indoor activity areas for the Early Years Department

As reported in the 2018-19 KHDA report, the school's relationship with parents is also a strength. "Parental engagement remains highly successful and effective. Parents are willingly involved in all aspects of their children’s schooling and would wish to contribute more to their children’s learning. Parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with the quality of education provided and with the committed leadership of the school."

Governance, leadership, and the relationships on campus are a strength as well as the student culture. "All students have a very strong sense of personal responsibility both within the classroom and in the wider school community. Students, even the youngest, are committed to doing their very best in all aspects of school life. They are immensely proud of the school, enjoy their lessons and achieve very high levels of attendance. Almost all give their time and energies to the very wide range of cultural, sports and performing arts activities, competitions and events."

The KHDA inspection team determined that the strengths of HES were that:

  • The school enhances students' academic progress very positively, leading to outstanding attainment in English, mathematics and science;
  • All aspects of students' personal and social development are nurtured very effectively.  The promotion of healthy lifestyles is a major strength, especially through physical education and sporting activities;
  • The imaginative curriculum and the high quality of teaching and use of assessment information has led to significant improvements in the FS and quality outcomes for students;
  • The school's arrangements for safety, security, care and support are of the highest standard and implemented very effectively to ensure a safe, pleasant and inclusive learning environment;
  • Senior leaders have created a strong culture of teamwork, innovation and improvement, and have developed outstanding partnerships with parents.

In terms of areas of improvement, the inspection team had only one specific area of focus and recommended that HES should:

  • Improve attainment and progress in Arabic by: balancing the curriculum more effectively to ensure a better blend of listening, speaking, reading and writing, particularly in Arabic as a first language; modify internal assessment where necessary to ensure they test a suitable combination of knowledge, skills, and understanding, and are in line with age-related standards for native Arabic speakers, and with years of study for Arabic learners; using assessment data to match tasks and activities more to the learning needs of different groups of students in lessons; [and] fully including Arabic teachers and learners in reading-across-the-curriculum and the school's library initiatives.

If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do - please go here.  

Feedback from  almost 100 parents to the KHDA as part of their pre-inspection survey was very largely positive. 99% are satisfied with the quality of education provided by HES and feel that their children are safe in school. A high proportion also feel that the school's leaders and staff listen and act on their views. Most agree that bullying is not an issue in the school and a majority confirm that students are respectful.

The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey also received positive responses from parents. 77% of children enjoy attending school 'a tremendous amount' and the vast majority of parents feel fully or in part that the fees they pay a good value for money.  74% have never considered moving their child/ren to another school, and a whopping 81% said that they would recommend it to other parents.

If you are a parent or teacher at Horizon English School, please assist others by completing our Survey here.  

There is no question that the team at Horizon English School have worked incredibly hard to achieve the Outstanding rating again.  The demands from the KHDA in terms of standards have increased every year, so not only have HES had to address the original reason for their downgrade (large Arabic and Islamic Education), but they have also had to raise standards across all areas of the school.  They deserve to be congratulated for this achievement.

We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com have always been fans of HES.  This is a very friendly and welcoming environment for Primary age children, and one that we can most definitely recommend.  HES now joins Dubai English Speaking School, GEMS Jumeirah Primary School, Jumeirah English Speaking School and Kings School Dubai as an Outstanding Primary School - back where it deserves to be.

What about Fees?

Tuition fees (and an annual Medical Fee) for Horizon English School range from AED 40,872 in FS1, AED 48,740 in FS2 to AED 54,770 per year from Years 1 to 6.  Parents have in the past complained [to us] of additional 'optional' fees that are not really optional, so we advise parents to do their own due diligence here.

The school teaches up to Key Stage 2. Many students move on to Dubai College (DC), Dubai English Speaking College (DESC), and The English College, Dubai - three highly regarded schools in the UAE.  Students have seamless entry to Horizon International School (also owned by the Al Najah group) from year 7.

 

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.

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information

Comments
12 Archived Comments
Anita Henry
Archived 20th Oct 2016, 17:35

Having visited this school last night for an amazing presentation by the Librarian Roz, I am back in my own library working out how fast I can recreate and use her ideas. The school oozes child friendly areas of play coupled with learning this has been done beautifully, it's inspiring and well presented, I would love to see it in action. This school is outstanding to me plus I was here in 1982 and it was one of the other schools that was really small and noone really payed much attention to. Big mistake if you do now. Loved it.

Rachel Douglas
Archived 1st Oct 2016, 14:11

Iv just signed my three children up to this school for September 2017 my middle child has special needs so will go to the school with a shadow. Iv lived in fear for years that my child will not be schooled in dubai as the schools are very academic, competitive and commercial loosing the sense of doing the right thing in society. This school Horizon English has the best values and ethics I have ever seen or heard of in Dubai. The headmaster and senco have proved their ethical and values led approach and are more than willing to take my Sen child into this school. Highly commend them and I hope the other schools folllow suit. KHDA should assess schools not just on developing existing Sen pupils but inviting a quota per annum of Sen children to be permitted entry.

Nathalie
Archived 16th Dec 2014, 03:06

Dear, was checking your review and the comments, noticed that you said you have updated the fees? So the total annual fee for foundation stage 1 =32,000 and stage 2 =38,400 are incorrect? Or they are the updated ones? Please clarify

Professor
Archived 16th Dec 2014, 13:49

Hi Nathalie, they are correct as of the August 2014 update.

DB
Archived 20th Aug 2014, 09:52

The fees listed still fall short. My son is going into Year 1, and the fees for one term are set at AED15k. This is without any extra-curricular activities.

Professor
Archived 20th Aug 2014, 10:09

School fees have been updated to 2014/15 fees.

DG3
Archived 12th Dec 2013, 11:55

The fees stated here are incorrect, add another 10k to the above figures .

Bill
Archived 12th Dec 2013, 16:14

Many thanks for this DG3. We will look into this and update accordingly.

RG
Archived 31st May 2014, 19:28

The fees listed are 50% below the actual fees.

Professor
Archived 31st May 2014, 20:52

Hi RG - many thanks for your note. You make a valid point. We have quoted tuition fees alone, but there are substantial additional costs at Horizons. These have now been added.

Zuwaira Mohammed
Archived 17th Sep 2013, 17:28

I like the school,I will want my daughter to attend the school because we are planning to relocate to Dubai,thanx.

Bill
Archived 17th Sep 2013, 18:12

Hi Zuwaira, yes, Horizon is a well regarded primary.

You need to contact the school and to apply. I would first make sure that there is availability however. Contact details are provided on the review.

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