Horizon English School is a long-established UK curriculum Primary-only school located in the heart of Jumeirah/Al Safa.
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 924 children currently, an increase of around 130 compared with the 2016-2017 academic year. Children come from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities, but predominantly the United Kingdom.
The school employs 65 full time teachers, largely from the UK, 40 teaching assistants and 9 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 2017-18 KHDA report, Teacher turnover is at 24%, an increase from the previous year's low of 19%, but a significant drop from two years ago when it hit a very high 37%.
Principal Ian Wallace was keen to report an expected significant 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”.
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.
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 amoungst the best in Dubai by the KHDA's Inspection team.
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. When reflecting on the future of education, however, 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.”
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.
For the academic year 2018-19, Horizon English School received an Outstanding rating after three years at Very Good.
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.
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.
Note: these reflections are based upon the short form KHDA reports published in April 2019. We will update the review further once more detailed reports are released.
As reported in the 2017-18 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."
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.,” Mr Wallace told us. “It comes down to this for Horizon English; ‘no elitism’. Education is education for all”.
According to the school's 2014/15 report: "Assessment procedures, the curriculum and arrangements for protecting and supporting students, particularly for students with special educational needs, [is] outstanding." According to the 2015/16 report "students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) [make] at least good and often very good progress because their needs [are] very skillfully identified and activities were usually very well planned to meet their individual needs." The most recent report continues to express much the same views - "Identification of need and support for students with SEND ensures that they make very good progress in both academic and personal development programmes."
Tuition fees for Horizon English School range from between AED 39,672 to AED 53,570 per year, depending on the age of the child. Parents complain [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 student 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.
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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.
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.
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
Hi Nathalie, they are correct as of the August 2014 update.
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.
School fees have been updated to 2014/15 fees.
The fees stated here are incorrect, add another 10k to the above figures .
Many thanks for this DG3. We will look into this and update accordingly.
The fees listed are 50% below the actual fees.
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.
I like the school,I will want my daughter to attend the school because we are planning to relocate to Dubai,thanx.
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.