Kings’ School Dubai, known as Kings’ Dubai, was the first of the Kings Education group of schools, opening as a Primary only school. The launch of its all-through sister school, Kings Al Barsha, was an almost inevitable follow on to the success of the original school, and the demand for a Secondary school to which access would be automatic. A third school, Kings Nad Al Sheba, located close to Dubai Silicon Oasis, opened its Secondary section in August 2021.
Kings’ School Dubai is the only school in Dubai to have achieved an Outstanding ranking from the KHDA since Dubai’s regulator began inspections in 2008. It is, inevitably, a highly popular primary school for children aged from 3 to 11 years, with places in high demand and rarely available during the academic year.
Kings Dubai follows the National Curriculum for England and aims to “replicate the high standards of achievement at the best Preparatory and State Schools in England”.
Based in Umm Suqeim 3, the mixed gender school was originally said to have a capacity of 990 children. However, the most recent KHDA inspection report (from 2022-23) indicates that there are currently 1,099 students enrolled, suggesting that class sizes have increased from the 20 originally placed in FS1 and 24 in the other year groups, by an average of three students per class. This would also explain the teacher:student ratio of 1:13, which at first glance appears to be a low number, but can often be doubled to arrive at the average class size.
With six form entry in FS1, moving to five forms from FS2 to Year 6, each class is supported by a teaching assistant in FS1 to Year 2, with shared assistants in Years 3 to 6. Teaching assistants focus specifically on supporting children with English and Maths. Children are divided into sets by ability for the core subjects in Years 4, 5 and 6.
The largest student nationality group is British (as are the majority of staff), but a total of more than 40 different nationalities is represented within the school. Close to 60 children are Emirati. There are currently 84 teachers and a further 47 teaching assistants on the staff, together with a school counsellor, most of whom trained in the UK or have English National Curriculum experience.
Teacher turnover at Kings Dubai has been consistently low, 10% and 9% in 2017-18 and 2018-19 when inspection reports were previously issued, and a somewhat higher 15% in 2022-23, but well below the UAE average of between 20-22 percent, suggesting a happy and settled team.
A core focus of the school is on building its community. The Senior Leadership team can be found at the gates each day, and the school has an unwritten curriculum in terms of building relationships and improving communication. A House system is a popular method for rewarding both academic and pastoral achievement, and is very popular with the students.
Principal, Bede Higgins, says that he is most proud of the culture of the school. "It strives to be a happy, positive and inclusive environment where all members of the community, from teaching staff, to children, to parents to facilities staff, are expected to support a culture of tolerance, marked by respect for others and the provision of a nurturing, supportive and safe place, where everyone has the opportunity to Learn, Grow and Experience."
September 2014 saw the opening of two more schools under the brand – Kings’ Nad Al Sheba, and Kings’ School Al Barsha, both of which were rated Good in their first inspections in 2016-17 - a highly creditable start to the inspection process, where a Good rating is the highest to be awarded so far for the first inspection. Kings Al Barsha, in fact, was rated Outstanding in only its third inspection in 2018-19, whilst the Nad Al Sheba school was rated Very Good; both schools have retained these ratings in the most recent inspection round.
In August 2023, in recognition of his influence and achievement, Mr. Higgins was promoted to the position of Director of Education for all three Kings schools, a role he assumed in addition to his Principal position at Kings Dubai.
A bespoke curriculum is rooted in the National Curriculum for England "with a creative, concept based approach which enables children to achieve 'results the right way". According to the school, the National Curriculum for England and Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is followed with a clear emphasis on teaching skills and concepts that challenge children at all levels. "Every opportunity is used to embrace first hand experiences and educational visits are used widely to enhance learning."
The concept-based curriculum enables children to use a wide range of skills across a cross-curricular thematic base. Teachers define the outcome they are seeking, and work back to model the skills to be developed.
There is a constant focus on maximisation and development through innovation. Innovation in this case, refers not simply to technological innovation, but to changing what needs to change in order to improve. More recently, greater focus is also being given to the Performing Arts, as schools increasingly recognise the need for students to develop their soft skills and to build confidence in their ability to present themselves.
Kings Dubai has always had a strong reputation for its competitive sports, which has reflected well on the school as a whole. Whilst there has, perhaps inevitably, been a stronger focus on the new Kings schools in recent years, facilities at Kings Dubai have not been overlooked, with the investment in two new Sports pitches, four new changing rooms, a remodelling of the school's swimming pool, the addition of synthetic grass and additional outdoor play areas.
A sizeable number of 88 students are identified as Students of Determination (SEND), and are supported by the LINK Department. This team consists of a team of teachers and Learning Support Assistants who support learning difficulties such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. The school has a Sensory room and additional support, such as Occupational Therapy, is provided on site via an outside specialist.
According to Mr. Higgins, children make rapid progress once they join Kings Dubai. All children are assessed using CAT IV testing to measure their baseline standards in English, Maths and Science. Learning skills and student achievement are rated Outstanding across the board for all English-medium subjects by the KHDA inspectors.
Historically, Kings Dubai was a major contributor of Year 7 students to the highly selective Dubai College (DC). Nowadays, around half of students from Year 6 move to Kings Al Barsha, a quarter go on to DC, and the balance to either Dubai English Speaking College, GEMS Jumeirah College or JESS Arabian Ranches.
In the 2022-23 DSIB inspection, the first since 2018-19 as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, Kings Dubai was again rated Outstanding - the rating it has achieved at each inspection since the process began in 2008-9 - the only school to have achieved this record.
It is tempting to assume that there is nothing more the team at Kings Dubai can do to improve upon its provision. However, the demands from the KHDA are for constant and ongoing progress on the road to improvement and Kings is no less subject to this than any other school in the emirate.
In the 2022-23 inspection, the most notable change was the improvement in attainment in Arabic as a first language from Acceptable to Good. This means that all ratings for Islamic Education and Arabic as a first or second language are rated Good at a minimum (progress in Islamic Education is rated Very Good). All other measures for the remaining key performance indicators are rated Outstanding.
The Director General of the KHDA, Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, has always maintained that the main difference between an Outstanding school and others is the quality of the leadership. The latest report notes that:
"A dynamic principal, supported by well-informed and active governors, is helping to build highly effective teams of leaders and teachers. The community share a vision of inclusivity and excellence in education where students achieve at the very highest level."
In terms of the strengths of Kings Dubai, the inspectors found these to be:
In terms of areas for improvement, these were limited to the following; Kings Dubai should:
If you would like to read the latest KHDA Inspection report in full - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings and the recommendations - you will find it here.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is generally positive, with some 30 parents having rated the school 4.2/5 - a positivity rating of 84%.
Some 79% of parents surveyed would recommend Kings Dubai to other parents, although only 66% are fully satisfied with the academic performance of their children. 73% believe that their children are receiving an education that is on a par with, or better than the quality of education they would receive in their home country.
Surprisingly, almost four in ten respondents had considered moving their child to another school. There was a difference in view as to whether the school fees offer “Good Value”. Whilst 52% agreed that they did, in line with the UAE average, 17% (well above the average of 11%) completely disagreed with this statement.
The feedback from parents has been relatively limited. If you are a parent or teacher at Kings School Dubai, please share your opinions and experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey here.
In an new initiative introduced by the KHDA for the 2022-23 inspections, and building upon the Wellbeing focus for which the regulator has been recognised, the DSIB team were asked to evaluate all schools in terms of 'The quality of wellbeing provision and outcome'; this was found to be at a very high level, the top of four possible ratings.
The inspection team noted that:
With its strong reputation, primary-only offering, but with a direct slip stream to Outstanding-rated sister school, Kings Al Barsha, it seems doubtful that the popularity of Kings Dubai will fade any time soon.
Demand for places, particularly in the Early Years - where sibling priority means that the majority of places are pre-allocated before admissions open for "external" applicants - suggests that any one considering Kings Dubai should assume that at least one, if not more, back up plans need to be in place.
Parents who remain keen to obtain a place, irrespective of the wait involved, will also need to be flexible if an option does arise, (and potentially look at paying further 'notice of removal' fees to the current school) if they wish to move their child to Kings at short notice.
Fees at Kings' Dubai currently start at AED 44,928 for Foundation Stage and move to AED 68,374 (very much at the high end for Primary) by Year 5.
There is a non-refundable registration fee of AED 500+VAT (5%). Once a school place has been offered, the school requires a “new student registration deposit” which is 25% of the annual school fee (quite a hefty amount to find, but deducted from the first term's fees).
Before the end of the summer term, a re-registration fee for the following academic year is required for all Kings’ students. This fee is 10% of the annual school fee (deducted from the first term's school fees).
Kings’ School Al Barsha is located on the Umm Suqeim Road in Al Barsha South; Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba is close to Dubai Silicon Oasis, the Meydan development and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid City. A paid shuttle bus is offered for students between Kings’ School Dubai and Kings’ School Al Barsha for parents who have children at both campuses.
Kings' School Dubai is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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