United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Umm Suqeim / Raffles International School

Raffles International School Review

Innoventures-managed Raffles International School is located in Umm Suqeim and currently has 1,220 boys and girls on its roll, aged between three and eighteen years.
Parents' Rating
3.6 out of 5 based on 150 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 55,500
Annual fees
AED 30,384–78,408
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
Mr Steven Giles
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom

Nearby nurseries

0.1km • EYFS curriculum
0.3km • EYFS curriculum
0.4km • Montessori curriculum
0.4km • EYFS curriculum
0.4km • EYFS curriculum
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Raffles International School
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 55,500
Annual fees
AED 30,384–78,408
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
Mr Steven Giles
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
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Innoventures-managed Raffles International School is located in Umm Suqeim and currently has 1,220 boys and girls on its roll, aged between three and eighteen years.

The Story so Far...

Originally owned by Emaar Education in a joint venture with Raffles Education Singapore, Dubai-based Innoventures Education took over the management of  Raffles International School (RIS) in 2008 and making it one of the older members of the Innoventures Education Group.  It is the only UK curriculum school - the others - Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills (rated Outstanding), Raffles World Academy (also rated Very Good) and the newest school - Dubai International Academy Al Barsha (just awarded its second Good rating with Very Good features) - are IB curriculum. The remaining school in the group, Collegiate International School, was formerly US curriculum but changed to IB, incorporating the content of the US Common Core curriculum, in 2022.

Raffles International School received its third Very Good rating in the KHDA's DSIB inspection process for 2022-23. Details of the inspection outcomes can be found here.

RIS must be one of the most genuinely international schools in the city, with over 80 nationalities represented in the student body with largest proportions Europeans, Arabs,  and Asians. The largest nationality group is made up of  European citizens (including the UK), but many students have Arabic as a first language and many students are English Language Learners. 

Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com through our Parent Survey has been largely positive with RIS receiving an overall rating of 4.1/5 (or a positivity rating of 82%) based on over 100 reviews from parents.  

Recent feedback on the strengths of the school has included the following comments which are reflective of the opinions of a number of survey participants:

"Very organized, good teachers, nice facilities."
"A very happy school with a strong ethos of positivity."
"Strong ethos and values, dedicated teachers/leaders, high achieving academic."
"Wellbeing is a key strength."
"The quality of teaching, wellbeing, curriculum."
"PE department is great. Happy environment."
"Personalisation for all abilities. The school is not too large, so students feel comfortable in a short time."
"The communication between teachers and students which encourages teenagers to progress with a positive mature attitude. The special education needs team has been instrumental in my son's academic development."

Find out more details of parent feedback under the Buzz.

The school is located in Umm Suqeim and currently has approximately 1,220 boys and girls on its roll. Some 135 students (approximately 11 percent) have some form of special educational need. On average, there are four classes per year group. Girls and boys are split on a 50:50 basis and the school is fully co-educational.

With class sizes averaging 19 and not exceeding 25 students, the teacher:student ratio is a low 1:11. RIS has committed to expand the number of classes, but not to expand class sizes, if demand requires it. 

The bright and cheerful Star Atrium that welcomes parents and students to RIS.

There are currently 121 fully qualified teachers and a number of academic support staff including librarians, learning support and Arabic reading assistants.  The majority of teachers are UK passport holders. Staff turnover, at 17% in 2022-23, is well below the UAE average of 20-22% and a good sign of a settled team. 

The school states that its vision is:

"To provide world class education to empower students with a holistic rigorous and international education for success in an ever changing world".

Former Principal Tim Richardson who joined the school in January 2018 clearly brought his influence to bear, with RIS having stepped up to the KHDA's second highest Very Good rating after 8 years at Good.  As requirements from the regulator have increased, so have the demands being placed on schools, and any improvement in rating can only come as a result of very hard work by the entire school team.

And clearly, it is not just the KHDA that is impressed with standards at RIS.  In December 2021, The Education Development Trust inspected Raffles International School on behalf of the UK Department of Education's OFSTED-accredited British Schools Overseas and awarded the school an Outstanding rating.  The full report can be found here.

Given that, prior to the BSO inspection, the most recent KHDA inspection had taken place in November 2018, the BSO report was the most recent inspection report available for RIS and it is clear that the school had moved on considerably since the previous KHDA visit.

In July 2022, it was announced that Mr. Richardson would be leaving the school and that he would be replaced as Principal by Steven Giles, who has joined RIS from its sister IB curriculum school, Raffles World Academy. Mr. Giles had served as Head Teacher at RWA for the previous three years, and prior to that, in his first UAE role, as Head of Secondary School and Deputy Principal at Al Ain English Speaking School. Clearly, the hiring of an internal recruit from within the Innoventures Group means that Mr. Giles is familiar with all the day to day processes of the organisation, which has ensured a smooth transition for both him and the school. 

This was further evidenced by the outcome of the 2022-23 KHDA inspection report, which , under Mr. Giles' leadership was the best ever received by the school.  Whilst the Very Good rating was retained, this overall outcome does not reflect the improvement in eleven measures.

Find out more about the 2022-23 inspection outcome here.

Students from Years 3 to 12 have the opportunity to participate in school residential camps where they learn new skills

What about the curriculum?

The school operates a separate nursery section with offers the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) approach to teaching, and follows the National curriculum for England in the Primary and Secondary schools.

Students follow the Cambridge and Edexcel Exam Board curricula leading to iGCSE and A' Levels. With the growth of the school to include Year 13 in the 2018-19 academic year, Raffles received its first set of graduates - and A Level results - in the summer of 2019. Whilst these results were not published in detail to our knowledge, those of the second cohort from 2019-20 (who did not, in fact, sit the examinations due to Covid 19 cancellations, and instead received assessed grades) can be found below.

In addition to the more traditional A Level options, RIS has also added the option of a BTEC Level 3 qualification in Business Studies (equivalent to 3 A Levels) which is a university accepted entry qualification. The UAE Ministry of Education has also recently announced that the BTEC qualification is now accepted for entry to university in the UAE.

The BTEC in Business Studies is a practical course linked closely with real businesses to provide students with a sound, basic business education. It is suitable for those seeking a range of careers in industry, commerce and public administration. It is a well-regarded qualification for entry to Higher Education and advanced professional studies.

According to the school, the Secondary school curriculum is always reviewed each academic year with the introduction of new subjects at both A Level and IGCSE. Examples of recently introduced new subjects include Drama, Media, Psychology and Sociology.  RIS says that it does not have a specific academic focus, but in addition to the core subjects, the school aims to ensure that Humanities and Creative subjects are given equal allocation, with the emphasis on progress and attainment.

This extension of choice for students was reflected in the 15 A Level subjects examined in 2021 with average class sizes of 8 students; seven subjects actually had only one or two students and two,  further subjects were initially offered but not taken up by students. Subjects are not limited by the school - the full range of Edexcel and Cambridge options are available, but run only as desired by students.  

iGCSE courses include compulsory English, Mathematics and Science courses and all Arab students must take Arabic. Optional subjects include Additional Mathematics, Art and Design, Business Studies, Computer Science, EAL, Economics, French, ICT, Physical Education and a range of language options.

A further focus of the school, driven in part by the very wide range of nationalities that it has attracted, is foreign languages.  The main school curriculum includes Arabic A and B (for native and non-native speakers) and introduces either Spanish, French or Mandarin from Year 3 where students have 60 minutes per week. From Year 4 onwards, students have 120 minutes of MFL instruction per week. This language option continues to the end of Year 9, at which time iGCSE subject options determine language choices.

The school also offers a very popular programme for Mother tongue languages - Swedish, Italian and German have been added to the original list of French, Spanish, Russian and Hindi.  Mother Tongue teaching is offered to native speaking students only. These classes are run by private teachers and there is an additional cost to participate in them. Though not compulsory, RIS recommends that native speaking students do participate in these classes. Mother tongue students may have the option of taking iGCSE in their mother tongue at the end of Year 10.  

RIS considers the use of technology and innovation key to the research methods and understanding for all students. However, the school aims to maintain a balanced approach towards the teaching of reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar, together with numeracy, which are taught traditionally in the Primary section without over-use of technology. Whilst RIS offers innovative teaching methods, emphasis is placed on the more traditional in key areas, with handwriting a prime example.

The school also has a clear homework policy. Primary children generally take home times-tables, reading and spelling daily.  As they progress, there would also be a weekly longer piece of homework, depending on the theme and topic being studied. 

In the Secondary school, for every two lessons taught, the recommended amount of homework is:

  • Years 7 to 9 - 30 minutes for every two lessons;
  • Years 10 to 11 - 45 minutes for every two lessons;
  • Years 12 to 13 - 60 minutes for every two lessons.

Students with SEN requirements or needing additional time can expect homework to be personalised for them wherever possible.

The focus is at RIS is certainly not solely on academics. The school is also committed to offering over 100 of co-curricular and extra curricular activities, with a mix of both teacher-led and paid options. The school believes that well-rounded students are usually more prepared for challenges in life. Co-Curricular Activities are made up of 3 components: Science, Sports and Performing Arts in support of the core curriculum.  The approach to science through the CCA programme allows students to investigate, experiment and be hands-on. 

Sports are seen as essential to the development of students of all ages and RIS aims to provide a completely inclusive curriculum, which allows students to develop a healthy, active life and strong leadership skills. The main sports are all covered through clubs and teams, with less traditional activities such as scuba diving a popular option.

In Performing Arts, music, dance, drama and theatre are used to develop confidence and communication skills. These activities encourage the appreciation, development and understanding of local, regional and international cultures, dance, music and traditions.  Debating has also been added to the clubs on offer, allowing students to develop their presentation and language skills.

The focus for Fine Arts is to enable students to learn to appreciate the great masters and through the use of painting, pottery and ceramics develop their own individual skills and confidence.

Paid CCA's include a wide range of sports (from Ballet, Basketball and Gymnastics to Karate and Swimming), as well as activities such as Art, Cheer-leading, Latin and Hip Hop Dance, Drama, Engineering and Robotics.  The school also has teams actively involved in the DASSA leagues for Athletics, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Swimming and Volleyball.

Sports Day encourages students to participate in both individual and team sports

What about students of Determination?

RIS offers strong support to students with SEND, who are Gifted and Talented or English Language Learners. 

The school states that it "recognizes that students will come with a variety of learning styles and aptitudes. Diversity is celebrated and acknowledged in its many forms. Some students will require curriculum adaptation and some a more personalized approach. RISE (Raffles International School Extends) recognizes that this includes students who are gifted and talented, have English as an additional language as well as those for whom learning can present challenges. The RISE team works with all stakeholders; students, parents, teaching staff and where applicable outside agencies to ensure that all students reach their true potential".

The DSIB inspection report for 2022-23 notes that "Students of determination receive very good support".

Further, inspectors commented that "Leaders, including the inclusion governor and champion for inclusion, share a clear vision and commitment to offering high-quality provision for students of determination. An inclusive education improvement plan is in place. A well-qualified and experienced team supports students’ needs. Personal support for students of determination is skilled and well-targeted. Students’ use of resources and technology is consistently well matched to their needs. Thereby, they become actively engaged and increasingly independent. Suitably trained learning support assistants promote independent learning".

Raffles International is a fully-inclusive school which does not select students based on their academic or sporting ability.

All students at RIS are supported through a process of 'Differentiation and scaffolding' through which teachers adapt the curriculum and its teaching to meet the needs of individual and groups of students.  Research and analysis by the school has shown that the longer a student stays at RIS the better the outcome of results - referred to as the ‘RIS Effect’. 

Around 11% of students at RIS have SEN requirements. They are supported by a specialist SEN team which includes a lead SENCO, Special Educational Need teachers and support assistants.  The school supports parents where an LSA is required, and can often offer a suitable support which matches the specific need of the student. There is an additional fee for this provision.  

Similarly, around 10% of students are identified as Gifted & Talented. A  member of staff oversees each individual student’s journey as a mentor and offers bespoke opportunities to them to maintain and enhance their high performing area. 

RIS has always had a strong reputation for supporting students with English language learner requirements, and has a comprehensive EAL strategy to help settle those students with limited English, who are new to Dubai. 

Students in need of EAL support are identified through admissions at entrance. Homeroom teachers also help identify EAL children and their ability through observations in the first few weeks when the child enters the school.  Children are then placed in one of three learning groups, dependent on their support requirements.  They may initially receive one-to-one support, prior to moving on to less intensive support during lesson time as necessary. From the next 2023-24 academic year, the school will also offer extra sessions to support those with limited English. 

The Mother Tongue Programme ensures students maintain the home language skills. This is at an additional cost.

Inevitably, RIS is not able to offer places to every student who needs additional support due the increasing level of demand.

Practicing to dive - scuba diving is a popular after-school activity

What about academic achievement?

Students at RIS undertake a range of bench-mark tests including GL Assessments, CAT4 testing, NGRT, IBT Arabic Assessments, TIMSS, PISA & PIRLs. Primary School students participate in GL Assessments and achieve a Very Good KHDA evaluative rating.

We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com feel strongly that full publication of results should be the norm in schools in the UAE.  Whilst we recognise that exam results alone are not the be-all and end-all of education's purpose, we do believe that parents are entitled to know how well students perform. 

Raffles publishes its results on its website and also shared details with WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.

2022 A Level results showed that 8 students (of a cohort of 40 students) achieved 3 straight A*’s in their subjects. 20% of students achieved straight A*-A results. 48% of grades were A or above and the overall Pass rate was 95%.  44% of students who sat A Levels in 2022 achieved at least one A or A* Grade.

Science entries were awarded  80% A- B for Physics,  70% A -B for Chemistry and 65% A* - B for Biology. English Literature entries achieved 100% at grade A, whilst English Language entries received 60% at grade A.

Top scholar was Rami Hamzah who got 5 straight grade A results and has accepted a place at Brown Ivy league university in the United States of America.

The UAE A Level and BTEC results round can be found here.

 For I/GCSE, the school website notes that 14 students achieved 8 straight A’s in their subjects (25% of the students) , suggesting a total student cohort of 56 students. Overall 44% of all grades were A or above. 75% of all students outscored their targets.

Languages results were French 91% grade A Mandarin 100% grade A and Italian 100% grade A. Science results were equally positive with entries being awarded 94% A or above,  Chemistry 78% A or above Biology 88% A or above. 14 Subjects were awarded A*-B for 75% of entries.

The UAE results round up for I/GCSE can be found here.

In 2021, the second year of the Covid 19 pandemic, when results were again based on Teacher/Centre Assessed Grades, RIS provided some information about its students' achievements at A Level, I/GCSE and BTEC).  The school did inform WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that for A Level, "50% of all grades were at A*/A and the percentage of Grade A*-B rose by a massive 25%". The school also said that a third of their A Level cohort achieved three A Level awards at Grade A or above.

RIS has provided detailed breakdowns of the results achieved by its students for all three qualifications.

For A Levels for 2021:

A Level Cohort A* A*-A %A*-C %A*-E
Maths 11 9 64 82 100
Further Maths 3 33 33 100  
Bio 6 17 33 83 100
Chem 8 13 38 63 88
Phys 13 15 54 77 100
Art 2 0 50 100  
Business Studies 2 50 50 100  
Economics 2 50 50 50 100
English Language 3 33 100    
English Literature 3 33 33 100  
Media 3   33 100  
History 5 20 20 80 100
Thinking Skills 1   100    
Mandarin 1     100  
Psychology 2 50 50 50 100

For IGCSE for 2021:

IGCSE Cohort %A* %A*-A %A*-B %A*-C %A*-E
Arabic A 15 40 60 80 87 100
Arabic B 5 20 80 100    
Mandarin 3 67 100      
Travel and Tourism 9 0 56 78 78 100
English Lit 31 10 48 87 100 82
English Lang. 38 8 37 79 100  
Maths 31 26 39 61 84 100
Additional Maths 10 60 90 100    
Bio 25 24 40 52 76 100
Chem 25 24 32 44 76 96
Phys 25 36 36 52 80 96
Combined Science 38 11 26 37 68 97
Geography 0          
PE 1 100        
Art 2 50 50 100    
Business Studies 27   52 67 85 100
Economics 7 29 43 86 86 100
French 6 33 50 50 100  
ESL 6 0 0 33 83 100
History 8 13 38 75 100  
Computer Science 8 63 75 88 100  
ICT 11 46 64 82 100  

Four students participated in the BTEC programmes, with one each of the three Business students being awarded one Distinction, a Distinction* and a Pass respectively.  The sole Travel and Tourism student achieved a Pass.

We were very pleased to see that RIS has provided far more details in relation to the exam results for 2020 and 2021. 

Comparative results for the two years are shown below:

For A Levels, RIS students achieved the following results:

  2020 2021 2020 2021
A Level  %A*-C   %A*-B  
Maths 89 91 56 91
Further Maths  100 100 100 100
Biology 71 83 43 67
Chemistry 71   57  
Physics 100 77 100 77
Art 100 100 100 100
Business Studies 100 100 100 50
Economics n/a 50 n/a 50
English Language  n/a 100 n/a  100
English Literature n/a 100 n/a 100
Media Studies n/a 100 n/a 100
History n/a 80 n/a 60
Mandarin n/a 100 n/a 100
Psychology n/a 50 n/a 50
Thinking Skills  n/a 100 n/a 100


  2020 2021 2020 2021
IGCSE  %A*-C   %A*-B  
Arabic A 100 87 69 80
Mandarin 100 100 100 100
Travel and Tourism 86 78 71 78
English Lit 94 100 82 87
English Lang 97 100 79 79
Maths 91 84 39 61
Additional Maths 86 100 86 100
Biology 85 76 69 52
Chemistry 81 76 63 44
Physics 92 80 85 52
Combined Science 68 68 23 37
Geography 100 n/a 78 n/a
PE 86 100 86 100
 Art 100 100 100 100
Business Studies 92 85 59 67
Economics 83 86 50 86
French 100 100 100 50
ESL 80 83 33 33
Global Perspectives 75 n/a 63 n/a
History 75 100 42 75
Computer Science 75 100 25 88
ICT 85 100 65 82

BTEC results for 2020 were as follows:

BTEC   No. of Grades
Distinction* 18
Distinction 16
Merit  10
Pass 4

As student numbers grow, we would expect to see further subject options for A Level and improved results across all three examinations. 

Interestingly, RIS has probably one of the most flexible approaches to subject choice, essentially enabling even one or two students to take a subject, provided they have the staff to be able to offer it.

RIS did not publish its exam results in detail during the first years of iGCSE and A Level entries.  However, the school informed WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that for its first iGCSE cohort in June 2017, 83% of grades achieved by Year 11 students were A*-C (pass) grades, whilst in June 2018, that figure rose to 86% A*-C. In 2019, 71% of results were at A*-B and 84% A*-C. 

This was a very creditable performance, but we would have liked to see greater detail in terms of student numbers and exam entries, and particularly achievement across the UK  baseline of 5 passes at A*- C including English and Maths.

The first cohort of Year 13 students was only six in number, and accordingly, RIS chose not to release individual or overall results. However, we were informed that all six students had gained entry to their first choice University or College.

RIS arranges Information Advice and Guidance mornings for every year group and special bespoke options evenings for those students in Year 9 and Year 11 as they progress onto the next stage of their educational journey in either iGCSE or A level examinations. 

Sixth Form students (Years 12 and 13) are supported with their individual entrance examinations where required, and the school has two full time counsellors to assist students with their selection of undergraduate courses and university choices. 

Celebrating UAE National Day in what is a hugely multi-cultural school

What about facilities?

The RIS campus is set on a large 30,000 square meter site in Umm Suqeim 3, with views towards the Burj Al Arab.  The capacity of the school is 2,000 students.  The design of the buildings very much reflects the original set up of the school with the Singaporean interest, with two buildings set around central covered quadrangles, joined by a central spine.  Corridors run around the edges of the quadrangles with iron fencing enabling a view of the activities taking place in the central area. This is used for assemblies, indoor play on warmer days, and gives access to the library, canteen area and sports facilities (including swimming pool) at the rear of the building.

During the 2022-23 academic year, a range of improvements has been undertaken. The Astro turfs have been replaced, there has been a brand new drama studio built,and a free weights room added for older students to train. The internet infrastructure was completely renewed with faster and more reliable connectivity. Classrooms were all enhanced to improve the learning environment for students.

The nursery and facilities for Primary children are largely on the right hand side of the school, with an external area specifically designed for the younger children.  Secondary students largely occupy the upper floors and the left side of the building.  

School facilities - educational and otherwise - are, in general, very good, with classrooms equipped with latest instructional audio-visual facilities (LCD  projector/visualiser/sound system), nursery facilities for up to 250 children, tutorial rooms, a theatre, art rooms, a dance studio, music rooms, science and computer labs, a sports field, swimming pools, a sports hall, basketball courts, badminton courts, tennis courts, and prayer rooms. One unique feature is the football pitch which sits on top of the car park. Nets around the outside and roof ensure that no balls are lost. There is also tiered seating for supporters to sit!

Parents, who responded to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey, did mention that the space and facilities of the school could potentially be upgraded, but that RIS manages their use effectively.

What the inspectors say

RIS was inspected by the KHDA's DSIB team in November 2018 for the eleventh year, and achieved a Very Good rating - finally breaking the long list of Good ratings that the school had achieved over eight years.  Very Good is the second highest rating that schools in Dubai to achieve.

Following the decision by the KHDA in September 2019, RIS was no longer required, as a school rated Very Good or Outstanding, to undergo a full inspection by the DSIB inspection team on an annual basis. Instead, the highest rated schools in Dubai were expected to receive a one-day review visit.  
However, with the hiatus in inspections due to the pandemic, a follow up visit took place in 2019-20 which confirmed the Very Good rating.
The most recent full KHDA inspection took place in the 2022-23  academic year where the school was again awarded a Very Good rating, but with further improvements across 11 measures.

As mentioned earlier in our review,  RIS was inspected on behalf of BSO again in November 2021 and, this time, was awarded the highest Outstanding rating.  The detailed report can be found here.

The BSO inspection team found that "Raffles International School is an outstanding school. It provides high-quality education for all its pupils and has made significant improvements since its last BSO inspection. It shows excellent capacity to continue to improve. It provided high quality remote learning during periods when pupils were unable to attend school as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns".

Summarising their findings in line with the standards inspected by the BSO team, inspectors found that:

  • Standards have improved in all subjects and are outstanding.
  • The quality of the curriculum provided by the school is outstanding.
  • The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is outstanding overall and has been improving steadily.
  • Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding.
  • The welfare, health and safety of the pupils are outstanding with meticulous planning to ensure the school’s safe re-opening after lockdown.
  • The standard for the suitability of the proprietor and staff is met.
  • The premises and accommodation meet the requirements of the standard, providing an excellent environment for learning.
  • The provision of information for parents meets the requirements of this standard.
  • The school’s procedures for handling complaints meet the requirements of the standard.
  • The leadership and management of the school are outstanding and have been the driving force for improving standards.

The KHDA inspection team found that the strengths of Raffles International School during the 2022-23 inspection were:

  • The environment for learning in FS, which supports children’s outstanding personal development
  • The clarity of vision of the principal and senior leaders, and the promotion of students’ wellbeing and academic achievement
  • The inclusive ethos and the effective care and support that encourage a strong sense of social responsibility
  • The strong partnerships with parents and the excellent arrangements for keeping students safe and for promoting healthy lifestyles
  • The strong support provided by the governors, and the excellent facilities and resources to support learning

Certainly in terms of Student Achievement, it is the Early Years section that historically been the star performer of the school.  Mathematics is rated Outstanding, whilst English achieves an Outstanding rating for progress and a Very Good rating for attainment.  Science is rated Very Good and Good respectively.  However, in the latest inspection, there have been significant improvement across the Primary section, Secondary and Sixth Form with almost all indicators rated Very Good. English attainment in Primary and Secondary is rated Good.  Arabic and Islamic Studies retained their mix of Acceptable for attainment and Good for progress.  

Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills are rated Outstanding across the school.  Students' understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures is rated Outstanding in FS and Very Good across the remainder of RIS. 

Teaching and Assessment is now rated Very good across all phases and in terms of the curriculum design, its implementation and its adaptation to meet the needs of individual students, the ratings in all sections, including post-16 this year, are all now Very Good.  

The protection, care, guidance and support was also rated highly, with protection and safeguarding rated Outstanding across the school.  Care and support of students is now rated Very Good across the school.

The final key performance area of Leadership and Management also showed improvement.

The inspection team found that "Very effective senior leadership ensures that students’ wellbeing and academic achievement are at the heart of the school. The principal and other senior leaders work together as an effective and cohesive team. They are clear about the school’s vision and are highly committed to its success. With the full support of all other leaders and members of staff, they ensure that students’ wellbeing and academic achievement are at the heart of the school. The effectiveness of leadership and school improvement planning were again rated Very Good.

The relationship with parents and the community is rated Outstanding. Parents are said to be highly supportive and very much involved in the life of the school.

Inspectors commented that "Highly supportive parents appreciate the accessibility of senior leaders and members of staff. They value the excellent levels of communication. They are generally well informed about the academic achievement and personal development of their children. Parents appreciate the caring and inclusive nature of the school. They feel that their children are safe and valued as individuals. They say that they are listened to and able to make a positive contribution to the school’s continuing success.".

Governance of RIS was also highly regarded by the inspection team, and its rating improved to Outstanding in the 2022-23 inspection.  The report notes: "In close collaboration with the board of directors, members of the academic council fulfil their roles as critical friends. The council is fully representative of the school community and provides the school with high levels of educational and business expertise. The council is very influential in shaping the school’s future development".

The inspection team again rated the Management, staffing, facilities and resources Outstanding. 

The key recommendations for RIS from this inspection were limited for the most part to the provision of Arabic:

  • Raise attainment in Islamic Education by ensuring that students have an integrated understanding of all elements of the subject.

  • Raise attainment in Arabic by improving students’ conversational skills.

The focus for RIS is now very clear in terms of the continuous improvement across the key performance standards overall and with regard to Arabic in particular. 

The inspection does not stand still. There is no question that the KHDA requirements have increased during the past ten years, and RIS has been able to largely address them successfully. No doubt the highly rated (and clearly ambitious) leadership of the school will wish to ensure further improvement, with their eye on the Outstanding rating which is clearly more achievable now.

If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly advise that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings and recommendations - you may find it here.

The Buzz

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a relatively large number of responses from over 100 parents in the WSA School Survey with an overall rating of 4.1/5 - a positivity rating of 82%.

Over 90% of parents felt that their children enjoy going to school either 'quite a bit' or 'tremendously'.  Over 95% are fully (74%) satisfied or  partially satisfied (22%) with the quality of education provided by RIS. Communication and the school's disciplinary policy and its implementation appear to well regarded according to our respondents. 

Almost 80% of parents are confident or fairly confident that RIS can meet their child's specific learning needs.

Where there does appear to be an issue is in the context of the school's fees. Only 34% of respondents believed that they represent good value for money (compared with a UAE average of 51%), and whilst 58% of parents believed they did partially, 8% totally disagreed with this statement. However,  despite this concern, 90% of parents, who responded to our survey, would recommend RIS to other parents.

If you are a parent, teacher or student at RIS, please share your opinions with us and other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.

In a new initiative by the KHDA for 2022-23, the inspection teams were required to evaluate 'The quality of wellbeing provision and outcomes.'

At Raffles International School, the inspection team confirmed that this was at a very high level - the highest evaluation outcome. Inspectors found that:

  • The school has a clear vision for wellbeing, which is prioritised in the school improvement plan and in a policy that influences practice and provision. A culture of wellbeing is being strongly established within the school community. Leaders understand that reliable information and assessment data enable them to design purposeful provision for wellbeing. The school’s evaluation, monitoring and review systems guide the improvement of wellbeing. Increasingly, the wellbeing needs of students are taken into consideration when planning daily routines and activities, and when selecting resources.
  • Care, guidance and support are provided by trusted adults and a trained school counsellor. This arrangement ensures that students are safe and have access to wellbeing support. Leaders are responsive to staff suggestions and to individual needs and circumstances. They regularly show their appreciation to all members of staff. Feedback from all stakeholders influences wellbeing provision. Active student and parent councils provide a means for sharing the views and ideas of members of the school community. Informal feedback is welcomed from all stakeholders.
  • The secondary wellbeing curriculum was launched this academic year. Wellbeing is increasingly being woven into pertinent aspects of the primary curriculum. Students make age-appropriate decisions about their own safety, and demonstrate some healthy choices. Eating a healthy breakfast and getting enough sleep continue to be promoted. Students are beginning to initiate changes in school for improved wellbeing. Their growing awareness about how to boost their mental health is at an early stage. Generally, students feel that they experience an absence of bullying and ample opportunities for physical activity.  

According to RIS, Wellbeing is the number 1 driver of the school improvement plan. The school places a huge emphasis on the happiness of each stakeholder, be it student, parent or member of staff. 

All students participate in a dedicated Wellbeing lesson every week with their tutor which has has shown to be a real benefit for both students and teacher/ student relationships.  The RIS team reviews progress with feedback sessions through the Wellbeing Committee, which  includes members of staff throughout the school from EYFS to Secondary.

New events focused on Wellbeing in 2022-23 have included staff acknowledgments in peer-to-peer shout outs, staff quizzes, Dads and Lads’ sports night, a Mother’s Day concert, and the ‘Reading with Dad’ initiative among others. 

In addition, the school is supported by a vibrant Parent Association called PARIS (Parent Association of Raffles International School).

Principal Steven Giles places a particular focus on direct contact with parents. He is to be found daily in the car park greeting parents and students and much prefers to speak to them directly with "a coffee or English tea and a chat", rather than relying on communication via email. 

In addition, parent satisfaction is formally measured through two bi-annual surveys sent out to all parents, which analyse the satisfaction of the parent community.  Parents show that they feel a complete part of the school.

Our View

There is no doubt that it took some time for Raffles International School to develop and improve its academic offering. 

However, with the arrival of former Principal, Tim Richardson, and now his successor, Steven Giles - just completing his first year at the school - there has been a real feel of gathering momentum and this has been evidenced by the continuous improvement in KHDA ratings, the glowing BSO report and encouraging delivery of exam results among students who, by and large, are not native-English speakers

Parents seem to be largely very happy with what RIS is delivering and so long as that is the case, we would certainly advise parents who are seeking a British curriculum education in a very international environment to look closely at Raffles International as an option.

We asked Mr. Giles to tell us about the focus for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year.  He told us:

"Our focus is always on ensuring our children to continue to be happy and reassured that their best is always good enough. Yes, of course, we always want the best examination results, and we pride ourselves on having children attending the very top universities in the world, but also, for others, the very best University that is the right one for them, and to continue to be well mannered, global learners who are role models to future generations."

In terms of what sets Raffles International School apart from other UK curriculum schools in Dubai, Mr. Giles told us:

"Raffles International School is built on Wellbeing, support and collaboration. We aim to be the happiest school in the UAE. We are totally inclusive and non-selective unlike many schools in the region. Our students feel that our school is their second home and the smiles on their faces evidence this. 

Our USP is epitomised by the first line of our school vision:

'RIS is a fully inclusive, warm, friendly family centered school with children at the heart of all we do'."

What about the fees?

Fees for Raffles International School range from AED 30,384 for FS1 and FS2 which is low to mid-end, up to AED 78,408 for years 12 and 13  - very much mid-end.  In 2023-24, fees will start at AED 32,430 rising to AED 80,760.

There is a number of additional costs and charges which are not specified on the school website. New students will need to sit an assessment test and pay a (non-refundable) fee of AED 525. If accepted, there is a further registration fee of 10% of the annual fees (which is non-refundable but adjustable against the first semester's fees).

There is a sibling discount of 5% - applicable for the second and third child onwards with a 10% discount offered for the 4th child,  15% for the fifth child and 20% for the sixth.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Raffles International School 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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