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Safa Community School Review

Safa Community School opened on its site near Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (opposite Motor City) in September 2014 and has grown rapidly to offer from FS to Year 13. The school has been rated Very Good by the KHDA in its last three inspections and was rated Outstanding by British Schools Overseas in its inspection in 2022.
Parents' Rating
4.3 out of 5 based on 492 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 63,000
Annual fees
AED 49,700–81,656
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Mrs Leanne Fridd
Knowledge Venture LLC
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom

Nearby nurseries

0.9km • EYFS curriculum
1.8km • Bespoke Curriculum curriculum
1.8km • EYFS curriculum
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Safa Community School
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 63,000
Annual fees
AED 49,700–81,656
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Mrs Leanne Fridd
Knowledge Venture LLC
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
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Safa Community School opened on its site near Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (opposite Motor City) in September 2014 and has grown rapidly to offer from FS to Year 13. The school has been rated Very Good by the KHDA in its last three inspections and was rated Outstanding by British Schools Overseas in its inspection in 2022.

The story so far...

Safa Community School (SCS), a sister to the established Safa British School, opened on a brand new site near Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (opposite Motor City) in September 2014. Given that the school only received approval to commence construction the previous May, it did remarkably well to open two teaching blocks on-time.

In September 2017, the school added its current Secondary block on what is a deceptively large site.  And in May 2021, the school announced the development of its Senior block which will be ready for occupancy in September 2022.  Further details here.

Safa Community School Senior Secondary and Sixth Form block

Safa Community School's Vision is ‘to enable our learners to have success for today and to be prepared for tomorrow’.

Safa Community School has grown rapidly since its opening and now has over 2,200 students at the site, considerably up over previous years. This has been driven in large part by significant growth in the Secondary school.

It is notable that for a school that has developed so quickly, it has been able to manage the process exceptionally well, not only achieving a Good rating in its first KHDA inspection in 2016-17, but having improved to the second-highest level of Very Good in 2017-18, the rating it retained for the 2018-19 inspection.  
In April 2023, following a full KHDA inspection round, it was announced that SCS had again been awarded a Very Good rating. As is so often the case, the overall rating does not indicate just how close SCS is to Outstanding - read the details here.

In February 2022, in order in part to address the lack of KHDA inspections during the pandemic period and the decision by the regulator to no longer publish inspections annually for schools rated Very Good or Outstanding, Safa Community School arranged a voluntary inspection by British Schools Overseas, for which it received the highest Outstanding rating. 

The BSO inspection report follows the English Department for Education (DfE) Schedule for the inspection of British schools overseas. To be recognised by the Department for Education, a British School Overseas must have an inspection report which shows that their performance against all the standards is at least satisfactory. This reflects the standards required for continuing registration as a school in England. 

A detailed review of the inspection can be found under What the Inspectors Say.

The full report can be read here.

Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's Parent Survey (from close to 160 parents) has been very positive. Over 9 in 10 parents (91%) would definitely recommend SCS to other parents with a further 5% not quite decided. 

In November 2022, close to 50 parents completed our Survey and provided feedback on the school. The vast majority were every satisfied, commenting specifically on the inclusive nature of SCS and the strong sense of community. The following comments summarise the thoughts of many:
"A really happy community school that puts its students first"
"We love SCS, the curriculum is fun the childrens mental well being is paramount. The staff are happy, experienced, welcoming, Ms Fridd the principal is always present and knows all the childrens names, she is actively involved and this very much adds to the family community feel of the school"
"Happy, student centred, community oriented school with genuine relationships between owners, senior management, teaching staff and support staff and parents at a horizontal level. Great staff retention. Students enjoy going to school, teacher to student ratios are very good and there is actual physical room for kids to be kids unlike many schools. A great school."
If there are concerns, these relate to recent growth in student numbers, and a desire to see improvements in competitive sports, performing arts and further focus on academic results.

Read more of the feedback to our surveys under the Buzz section.

The school student cohort is made up of UK and Irish passport holders as the largest contingent, but as with almost all Dubai schools, children from a wide range of 77 nationalities attend the school. 

The school is recognised for its inclusive policy towards children of determination, and also those with gifts and talents.  

There are between six and nine classes in each year group, with an average of 16-24 children per class - 24 is the maximum.  There is an even split between boys and girls who are educated together throughout the school.

The school is led by now Principal Leanne Fridd, who joined SCS in 2016 undertaking the role of Headteacher and Vice Principal, following her role as Head of Learning and Teacher Innovation at the (now closed) GEMS Wellington Primary School (her first UAE role).  Mrs. Fridd has grown with Safa Community School and is therefore uniquely placed to lead its further growth and development.

Safa Community School Secondary and Sixth Form
The HUB, the new Parent and Visitor reception in the Secondary and Sixth Form building.

Staffing numbers have also grown significantly in line with the growth of the school which is open from FS1 to Year 13. The 187 teachers are predominantly from the UK, and are assisted by a further 79 teaching assistants, and one guidance counsellor. The teacher to student ratio of 1:12 is what we would expect in a school of this type and fee level.  

Almost all teachers are UK qualified and the majority have already gained experience in Dubai at other schools.  The teaching team is said to be 'Very well dispersed age range of teachers with a good gender balance'. Approximately 30% have some additional leadership responsibility. SCS spends approximately 8% of its budget on Professional Development annually. It seems that teachers are content with their employment - a staff turnover of only 4% is around a fifth of the going rate for international schools in the UAE who average turnover of 20-22% each year. Particularly for a still growing school, a high level of stability can only be a good thing.

More: Read the Safa Community School Q and A here

What about the curriculum?

Like the original Safa British School, Safa Community School offers the English National Curriculum, utilising the latest updated Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum in FS, the National Curriculum for England from Years 1 to 9, and follows with iGCSE and GCSE for years 10 and 11. The first cohort of iGCSE/GCSE students completed their exams in June 2019.  The school opened its Sixth Form (for year 12 initially, followed by year 13 in 2020) offering International A Levels and A Levels and BTEC national qualifications, in 2019. 

The first cohort of IA/A Level and BTEC students completed their examinations in June 2021. Results can be found here.

The school offers a wide range of A Level options, and whilst recommending that most students study three subjects, there is the possibility of studying a fourth for particularly academically strong students.

The school has a unique approach to the choice of subject options available to students.  Unlike most schools who choose the subjects that will be taught based on their expectations of students' interests and abilities, but also on minimum student numbers around which staffing is determined, SCS first allows its students to choose the subjects that they wish to pursue, and then aims to offer all - with timetabling and resourcing taking second place to the students' wishes. This means that some subjects may have only one or two students. In the current year, 37 students are studying 20 subjects.

A Level options include: Art and Design, Business Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Design and Technology (Product Design), English Literature, Geography, History, Mathematics, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, Drama and Theatre Studies, French, Economics, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Further Mathematics, Music, and Politics.  Arabic is available to Arabic A students only and is a compulsory subject in line with KHDA and MOE regulations. The school also hopes to be able to offer Astronomy, Government and Politics and Sociology in the near future.

Unique curriculum options currently include Contemporary Design from Year 7 students and at GCSE, the REACH programme in Year 12 and Work Experience for all Year 10 students.

The BTEC national qualification is a vocational course that is the equivalent of up to 3 A levels. It provides a specialist work-related programme of study that covers the key knowledge and practical skills. It offers flexibility and a choice of emphasis through the specialist units. SCS offers BTEC qualifications in Business Studies, Information Technology, and Sports Level 3.

Whilst inevitably, there has been considerable focus on the launch of the new Sixth Form, other sections of the school have not been forgotten. And with the apparent intention to broaden the range of GCSE, A Level and BTEC options of the Senior School, including Years 10 and 11 and Sixth Form, the new Senior Building is designed to facilitate this expansion.
New Senior School block for years 10 to 13 opened in September 2022.

In an effort to provide greater flexibility for parents of the youngest students, SCS has introduced a number of variations on timings for FS1 children.  Flexi-FS1 provides parents with the option of easing their children slowly, with more flexibility, into the overall school experience. 

Children may continue to use the current 5-day a week FS1 option, as before, with no changes to timings; otherwise they may choose a 3-day or 4-day option in the first two terms (note that all children will need to attend 5 days in the final term as they prepare for FS2). Parents may also choose a longer drop-off period to suit those who want an early drop-off or a later drop-off or may arrange for their younger children to stay later in the day to suit work commitments or to fit in with sibling collection times.

In addition, to instill a love for languages, SCS has introduced more languages from Year 2. The foreign languages offered are French, Spanish, German and Mandarin. The languages are taught in a fun, child-friendly way incorporating songs, folk dances and other elements of language that children can easily relate to. These languages are offered at no additional cost and are incorporated as part of the overall curriculum. Mother tongue students of any other language are able to take GCSEs in their mother tongue.

In addition to the academic curriculum, SCS also looks after the well-being of its students through its Counselling team and also provides personalised careers advise for each student with an external careers consultant.

Currently the school offers 10 subjects at A level, 7 at AS level, 6 at BTEC Level 3 and 30 courses at GCSE. Students in Year 12 can also undertake the Extended Project Qualification. According to the BSO inspection, attainment is higher than UK averages. In 2021, most students obtained grades A* to B at A level and 100% obtained a distinction at BTEC Level 3. This represents outstanding progress, with students performing better than their prior attainment at GCSE would predict. The school also offers an ASDAN qualification for Students of Determination in Sixth Form.

BSO inspectors described SCS as 'resource rich', noting that appropriate, high-quality resources facilitate and enhance learning. Although the school operates a Bring Your Own Device policy, it has sufficient tablets to support families with distance learning.

The school also offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities and up to five international trips per year - with some 120 ECA's on offer of which 80% are free of charge. There is a wide range of extracurricular activities for Sixth formers including robotics, triathlon, bakery and the World Scholar Club. 

What about students of Determination?

One of the strengths of the original Safa British School is its support for children with learning difficulties (although it notes, children are subject to assessment) and the newer sister school continues to offer provision in this field.  The latest KHDA inspection report suggests that some 280 students receive some form of additional support.

According the BSO inspection, Safa Community School is an inclusive school that promotes equality. 12.7% of pupils are identified as having special learning needs, for whom it makes additional or special provision. For 38.9% of pupils, English is not the principal language.

In the 2022-23 KHDA report, the inspectors note that "Students of determination thrive in the excellent inclusive education provision."  EAL provision is provided for students whose native language is not English.

SCS describes itself as 'Fully Inclusive, Non-Selective'.

According to the BSO inspection report, "Support for pupils with additional needs, including pupils with SEND, is outstanding. A highly experienced and dedicated inclusion team responds swiftly to concerns raised by staff with a rigorous programme of identification followed by a comprehensive package of support for individual pupils. Support in class is highly effective. As a result, pupils with additional needs make very good progress and attain well."

What about academic achievement?

SCS uses a range of base-line assessments that have been designed by the internationally renowned CEM Centre at Durham University, England. All students are assessed every 6 weeks in the Secondary department and their progress against expectations is discussed between students and subject staff, with individual targets set.

SCS shared some information on its 2022 examination results with WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, informing us that at A Level, 39% of all entries were awarded A-A.  At BTEC, 83% of entries were awarded Distinction*- Distinction, whilst 100% achieved Distinction-Merit and 25% achieved Distinction .

At GCSE, 22% of entries were awarded Grade 9, whilst at IGCSE and GCSE, 24% of all entries were awarded Grades 9-8 (A*).  66% of all grades were at 9-7, whilst 80% achieved Grades 9-6 and 90% Grades 9-5.  96.5% of entries achieved passes at Grades 9-5 with two thirds of students passing a minimum of five examinations including English and Maths.

We would have like to receive more information in terms of the number of students who took the examinations at both levels and more information about the A Level outcomes including overall pass rates at A*-C.

Following on from the publication of 2019 and 2020 examination results, Safa Community School again published these for the 2020-21 academic year. As with the results for 2020, these were reached on the basis of Teacher/Centre Assessed Grades, based on assignments and predicted grades due to the cancellation of the examinations due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Safa's first cohort of A Level and BTEC students were entered for the exam session of June 2021. A small initial cohort of 14 students were entered for 44 examinations and achieved awards of  A* for 13% of entries, 48% A*-A, 95% A*-C and 100% A*-E. The highest achievement by an individual student was 3 A Level awards at A*.  BTEC students achieved a 100% pass rate at Distinction for Level 3 Business Studies.

Year 12 students who were entered for AS Level examinations achieved awards at 75% A*-B.

For the 2021 I/GCSE results, the school revealed that 76% of all the grades achieved in all subjects were graded at level 9-6 (A*/B) whilst the overall student pass rate at A*-C/9-4 was 84%. 77% of all I/GCSE subjects were awarded grades 9-6 and 1 in 5 students in the Year 11 cohort achieved ten or more GCSEs at grades 9-6.

In individual subjects, over a third of grades awarded in Mathematics were Grade 9, whilst 89% of grades were awarded at Grades 9-6 and 58% at Grades 9-7 for English.
In all Sciences (Chemistry, Physics and Biology) 100% of grades were 9-6, with Physics entries achieving 54% of all grades at Grade 9. Nearly 50% all grades in Arabic were Grade 9s, and 88% of grades were Grades 9-6.

Safa Community School also had Early entry students in Year 9 for Maths, and this cohort achieved 100% Grades 9-7. The Year 10 Early entry students achieved 100% Grade 9s. In addition, the cohort of Business students who were entered for their BTEC qualification achieved 25% of awards at Distinction and 63% at Merit.

With the first cohort of students having sat their I/GCSE exams in June 2019, we had hoped that these would be released publicly.  Although this was not initially the case, we are delighted to see that SCS has been entirely transparent in publishing both the 2020 and 2019 results, enabling the strength of their students and teachers to be seen and celebrated. We would have appreciated knowing the number of students and exam entries for comparative purposes, but year on year improvements are clear.

In the 2020 iGCSE and GCSE results, which were based on assessment following the cancellation of all examinations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, over 75% of GCSE examination entries in English, mathematics and science were awarded level 9-6 (the equivalent of A*-B). Students' grades were on average over two higher than expected at baseline assessment - representing a GCSE Value Added score of  2.02.

According to the BSO inspectors, the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect progress in the Sixth form as staff quickly organised distance learning, bubble days and virtual academic interventions. Until the pandemic curtailed the programme, Year 12 students benefited from work placements. Visitors from universities and the world of work continue to run face-to-face sessions in the school and students have attended virtual university open days. They have access to regular careers advice. They also receive guidance on university life abroad.
SCS New build 2022
The Senior Secondary and Sixth Form located adjacent to the existing buildings but with some separation.

What about the facilities?

Safa Community School was initially housed in two oval-shaped Primary buildings which have been very carefully designed to meet the needs of children, a central block - the Global Learning Centre - containing the library and sports facilities, together with the large original Secondary block.  The new Senior school building opened in September 2022, with students from Years 10 to 13 moving to a spacious new environment.  

Designed exclusively for the use of students from Years 10 to 13, the Key Stage 4 and Sixth Form students occupy a "first of its kind pre-university campus" solely for examination groups. Students are fully exposed and immersed in world-class age-appropriate facilities, and learning environments with enhanced course offerings and opportunities. A multipurpose exam hall will house all assessments and exams throughout the third term.  There has clearly been significant investment in innovation, particularly in design and production.

Among the most impressive of the new facilities are those for Design and Technology including CNC machining, investment in a solar/battery study and automotive production.  The impression is definitely of a Sixth Form/pre-University facility with a definite focus on high technology and on young adults graduating to university.

The plot itself lies close to the very busy junction between Hessa Street and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. Much has been done to improve the overall appearance of the area around Safa Community School is slowly being “greened” with hundreds of trees being planted, including the school site.

According to the BSO inspectors, the four school buildings are modern, light and well adapted to provide high-quality learning. The learning spaces are bright and of an appropriate size for the number of pupils in the class. They are adjacent to large breakout spaces, which provide opportunities for small group or individual learning. Each phase in the school has a range of appropriate specialist learning spaces, where specialist equipment is accessible.
Rendering of the new Senior School block 

The architect was a US/Indian based practice, Fielding Nair, that has designed numerous schools in the US and India. The Primary buildings feature very light open classrooms (windows are on both sides opening to the outside area and to an internal central area that runs from front to back of the building). Purpose built furniture has been provided for the children of varying ages and special “soft” flooring used. The class-rooms are well resourced, as is the outdoor area where wood has been used for play equipment rather than plastic materials wherever possible. The central resource area for teachers and assistants is also a glassed area, which enables staff to keep an additional eye on children using the central area.

Read our most recent School Visit Experience HERE

Every classroom has access to the outside area – either a patio area on the ground floor, or a balcony area on the upper two floors. One building is higher than the other by one floor, and this features a very large external area that can be used as an outdoor learning environment by older students.

The second stage of development was the Global Learning Centre which houses the Multi-functional Sports Hall with retractable seating, an Auditorium, Cafeteria, Drama and Dance Studios and a Theatre (again with retractable seating), Music practice rooms and a Library for Secondary students.

Beyond the buildings towards the rear of the site is a very large sports field (FIFA approved soccer size), a newly refurbished running track, and two outdoor covered swimming pools – one for Foundation students and the larger one for older children. The school has a sports hall, auditorium, and fitness suite.  The outside environment, complete with the Safa Stream, is shaded. It provides opportunities for relaxed or active play.  

The new Senior Secondary and Sixth Form building means that facilities at the school overall have expanded to include four Libraries, five Computer Science labs, two STEAM Labs, six Design Technology Rooms, two Food Technology Rooms, 14 Science Labs, eight Art Rooms, seven Music Rooms, a Dance studio, and three Drama Rooms.  An Auditorium seating 550 people will also be available together with the rare luxury of Underground Parking.

Sports facilities include a 4G Rugby pitch with an inbuilt shock pad for full contact, two 25m swimming pools, two full size Sports Halls, four Netball Courts, two indoor Basketball Courts, a 7-aside football Astroturf field, Strength and conditions suites, a Crossfit outdoor conditioning zone.

A great deal of consideration has also been given to safe access to the school for parents and drivers and this is reflected in the planned parking arrangements, which will ensure that sufficient space and ease of safe access for children is provided.

Safa Community School

What the inspectors say

The most recent inspection of Safa Community School by inspectors from British Schools Overseas took place in late January/early February 2022. We believe, therefore, that this takes precedence over the last KHDA inspection for which a report was issued in January 2019. 

The inspection report follows the English Department for Education (DfE) Schedule for the inspection of British schools overseas. To be recognised by the Department for Education, a British School Overseas must have an inspection report which shows that their performance against all the standards is at least satisfactory. This reflects the standards required for continuing registration as a school in England.

Schools are measured against a total of eight standards which include:

  • The quality of education provided by the school
  • The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the pupils
  • The welfare, health and safety of the pupils
  • The suitability of the proprietor and staff
  • The premises and accommodation
  • The provision of information for parents, carers and others
  • The school’s procedures for handling complaints
  • Quality of leadership in and management

A rating of Outstanding, Good, Adequate, or Unsatisfactory is awarded to each of the four standards highlighted in bold.

Safa Community School achieved the Outstanding rating for each of the standards.

The first standard, that of the Quality of education, with each measure rated Outstanding:

  1. Overall quality of education
    - The carefully designed curriculum is outstanding and pupils make outstanding progress.
  2. How well the curriculum and other activities meet the range of needs and interests of pupils
    - The broad, balanced and flexible curriculum is planned meticulously to ensure that it meets the needs of all pupils. There are long-term curriculum plans, thorough schemes of work and very detailed lesson plans. Key learning priorities are central and create successful, independent thinkers who enjoy learning and contribute to creating a thriving learning community.
    There is a strong careers education programme for pupils from Year 7 onwards. Support for pupils with additional needs, including pupils with SEND, is outstanding. A highly experienced and dedicated inclusion team responds swiftly to concerns raised by staff with a rigorous programme of identification followed by a comprehensive package of support for individual pupils. Support in class is highly effective. As a result, pupils with additional needs make very good progress and attain well.
  3. How effective teaching and assessment are in meeting the full range of pupils’ needs
    - The quality of teaching, learning and assessment across the school is outstanding.
  4. How well pupils make progress in their learning
    - Pupils are enthusiastic learners who delight in discovering new ideas and improving their skills. Teachers have high expectations and demonstrate expert subject knowledge. Relationships between teachers and pupils are excellent. Consequently, pupils enjoy lessons and achieve very high levels of knowledge, understanding and skills.

Standard Two: Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development was rated Outstanding:

  1. Quality of provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
    - Safa Community School is an inclusive school and helps pupils with differing backgrounds and needs to thrive and become truly global citizens.
    - Staff encourage pupils to explore individual differences and to respect them, nurturing healthy relationships and celebrating differences. Pupils’ positive attitudes, mutual respect and tolerance shine through open discussions in lessons.
    - British values are embedded in the curriculum and blended into the learning environment. Pupils have a thorough understanding of democracy.
  2. The behaviour of pupils
    - Pupils have a clear understanding of right and wrong and this is reflected in their exemplary behaviour in and outside lessons. The behaviour policy and the 3Rs (remind, reflect, resolve) in the secondary and primary phases are positive reinforcement. Well-being is at the core of the school’s culture.
    - Promoting empathy and considering the feelings of others are key themes in this area of the school’s provision. The school holds ‘inside out day’ where all pupils wear an item of clothing inside out to remind them to stop and think about how appearances can be deceptive. This initiative is a meaningful way to continue to engage all pupils in discussions about emotional well-being and emotional literacy.

Standard Three: Welfare, health and safety of pupils - rated Outstanding:

  1. The overall welfare, health and safety of pupils
    - Safeguarding, behaviour and health and safety policies are comprehensive in number and coverage and meet UK and local requirements. They are consistently implemented across the school and reviewed annually. Almost all pupils believe that they are safe at school and almost all parents and pupils feel that the school deals well with bullying on the very rare occasions when it occurs.

Standard Four: Leadership and management - each measure was rated Outstanding:

  1. Overall effectiveness of leadership and management
    - Leaders ensure that all staff employed by the school are suitable to work with children. No staff are allowed to start work until all local and UK checks have been made. The school keeps an exemplary, comprehensive, electronic record of all staff, the checks made, the person or organisation making them, the date they were undertaken and the evidence seen. Most teachers have British teaching qualifications and experience. They are well qualified and have subject or phase specialisms. Most have experience of teaching in at least one other school in the UAE.
    - Leadership and management across the school are outstanding. Leaders ensure that all the BSO standards are consistently met. The highly effective senior leadership team ensures that the school’s vision, ambitions and ethos are understood by all. The school’s vision ‘to enable our learners to have success for today and to be prepared for tomorrow’ is fully realised. Leaders inspire staff and pupils. They promote a positive mindset, creativity and resilience, seeding the conditions that result in a safe and happy environment where all staff and pupils are keen to give their best. They demonstrate consistently high expectations through strong presence, enhanced communication and focused discussions, creating a culture of relentless enthusiasm. As a result, pupils across all year groups are ambitious, consistently challenge themselves and make excellent progress across the school in all subjects. Their pride in the school plays a significant part in their successful learning. Leaders, along with staff, work closely with parents every step of the way to achieve excellent results. Parents say that the school is very well led and have nothing but praise for it. They are extremely positive about all aspects of the school.

The team at Safa Community School can feel exceptionally proud of their achievement. 

Of course, as with any inspection, there are areas which can be improved.  The BSO team made only recommendation that SCS take into account that:

"The school is expanding quickly with the opening of a new building planned for September 2022.Leaders should ensure that there is enough leadership capacity to manage the growth in pupil numbers so that the very high quality of education provided by the school is maintained."

Having achieved a 'Good' rating in its first KHDA inspection in 2016-17, Safa Community School had already achieved the minimum rating that all schools are targeted to achieve by the Dubai regulator.  The improvement to Very Good in their second inspection, and the retention of this rating in the 2018-19 inspection, particularly given that the school is developing so rapidly, is a sign of immense commitment and progress on the part of the leadership of the school and its staff.

Following the decision announced by the KHDA in September 2019 that all school rated Very Good or Outstanding would no longer be inspected by the DSIB inspection team on an annual basis, and as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic there were no subsequent inspections until the 2022-23 academic year.

In the latest (2022-23) inspection report, when the school retained its overall Very Good rating, the inspectors identified the strengths of the schools as follows:

  • Excellent governance and leadership, with very good self-evaluation, delivering a fully inclusive school.
  • Exceptional facilities and an inspiring environment, highly conducive to learning.
  • Generally very good attainment in FS and Primary, and in mathematics and science across the school.
  • The very high quality of care and support and students’ very strong personal development.

As is so often the case, the overall inspection rating simply does not give the full picture! The vast majority of measures are now rated Outstanding.

In terms of student achievement, the vast majority of indicators for the three non-Arabic subjects are rated Outstanding for English, Maths and Science, with the remainder rated Very Good. 

English attainment is Outstanding for progress in FS and Primary and Very Good for attainment across all three sections. Maths progress is Outstanding across the school, whilst attainment is Outstanding in Secondary and Sixth Form.  Science shows a clean sweep across all sections with the exception of progress in FS which is rated Very Good. 

Islamic Studies, Arabic as a first language and Arabic as a second language tell a different story, with ratings of Acceptable across all indicators with the exception of progress in Islamic Education in the Primary and Secondary sections (rated Good) and progress in Arabic as a Second language in Primary (also Good). 

The provision of the core Arabic subjects is an Achilles Heel for many international schools and one that Safa Community School will need to continue to address if it wishes to succeed in its journey to Outstanding.

All other key areas inspected by the DSIB team, however, generally reflect the school's proximity to an Outstanding rating. Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills, the curriculum, and the protection, care, guidance and support of students are now all rated Outstanding.

Only teaching and assessment remains a key performance standard where further improvement is required to attain the highest rating - and this applies only to progress and attainment in the Secondary section, and to attainment in the Sixth Form which maintained their Very Good rating. FS and Primary were awarded an Outstanding rating for each measure.

Almost aspects of the leadership and management of the school are rated Outstanding with only the school's self-evaluation and improvement planning rated Very Good.  

Of course, there are areas of improvement on which Safa Community School will need to focus, at the same time ensuring that the school continues to improve across the board. 

The inspection team focus was very clear in terms of what SCS needs to do. The school should:

    • Develop the skills of subject leaders and teachers of Islamic Education and Arabic and raise their expectations of what students can achieve.
    • Identify the strongest teachers and use them to spread best practice and to raise standards of teaching.

With the scale of improvement that SCS has made since the previous inspections, we can only expect that it will continue to improve in line with the Regulator's recommendations.

If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report for Safa Community School - and we strongly advise that you do so in order to see the full picture and the reasons behind the rating, - you may find it here.  

The Buzz

The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey continues to receive positive responses from parents.  With close to a massive 500 responses so far, parents have rated the school 4.3/5 - a positivity rating of 86%. Close to 70% of their children enjoy going to school "a tremendous amount", and 89% of parents are extremely positive about the level of academic performance at the school being fully satisfied in this regard.  They are also similarly overwhelmingly satisfied with communication with the school and the feedback they receive. 82% of parents have never considered moving their child to another school (compared with a UAE average of 75%, and over 9 in 10 parents (93%) would definitely recommend SCS to other parents (the UAE average is 82%), with 5% not sure

If there is a niggle - and as is usually the case - 4% of parents disagree that the school's fees represent value for money (though this is a third of the average of the UAE), although 55% feel that they definitely are value for money, and the remainder are largely convinced of this.

If you are parent, teacher or student at Safa Community School and would like to share your opinions with other potential members of your community, please do so by participating in our survey here.

In a new introduction the KHDA inspections in 2022-23, schools were evaluated on the quality of provision and outcomes for Well-being. The new process replaces the parent, student and teacher surveys published previously.

SCS was awarded the highest rating of Very High. 

The inspection team found that:

  • The school's vision ‘to enable our learners to have success for today and to be prepared for tomorrow’ drives the school’s strong commitment to wellbeing promotion, which is monitored closely. Surveys and careful data analysis inform a targeted approach to improvement. Wellbeing issues and practices are discussed at governing board meetings and inform future planning. Governors review the school's implementation of key interventions and support for wellbeing. They hold senior leaders to account for provision and outcomes, across all phases.
  • This highly caring, inclusive school prioritises the wellbeing of the entire community. Teachers provide very supportive learning opportunities, and the range of dedicated specialist staff and student focused initiatives ensure ready access to wellbeing support. Support for staff is also prioritised, including extensive induction and professional development. Many avenues are used to engage with stakeholders and listen to their contributions and feedback.
  • The school purposefully plans and carefully implements a balanced range of curriculum approaches and carefully selected resources to consistently promote the wellbeing of all students. Assemblies are used effectively to extend students’ cultural awareness, tolerance, and respect. A variety of extra-curricular activities further enhances the students’ wellbeing experiences. Students report very high levels of satisfaction at school, feeling safe and happy. Student’s are highly motivated demonstrating very positive attitudes and engagement with each other and the curriculum. Parents are highly appreciative of the school’s wellbeing work.

The BSO inspection team noted that the school keeps parents very well informed about all aspects of school life. Information is disseminated using informal and formal channels. The school’s leaders gather the views of parents regularly and conduct large-scale surveys about all aspects of the school twice per year. In addition, when leaders are planning a change such as the timing of the school day, they use online surveys to collect and analyse the opinions of parents. Parents receive the results of surveys so that they understand the rationale behind decisions. Regular emails from teachers and leaders are the main means of communicating information.

Parents say that they receive just the right amount of information and that it is timely. Staff respond very quickly to messages from parents, whilst leaders and staff are very approachable and are available at the start and end of the day for informal discussions.

Parents believe that the school’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic has been excellent, with the move to online learning almost immediate. Written reports are very useful in informing parents of their child’s academic and social progress. Parents also appreciate the occasional communication of individual praise such as, ‘Your child did so well in PE today!’ A favourite of parents is the school’s electronic system for teachers and students to record and share what they have done during the school day. 

According to the BSO report, on the rare occasions when parents may wish to make a formal complaint, this is usually resolved to the mutual agreement of the school and the parents. The policy is rarely used because of the high quality of communication and relationships between parents, leaders and staff. If a parent has a concern, staff respond quickly and effectively to ensure that the problem is resolved without delay. 

Our View

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has long been impressed by Safa Community School.  From the early days when we met the owners at the original Safa British school site in Al Safa (two friends and partners who really do live and breathe this school and its sister), to visiting SCS when it was still a construction site, to seeing the school open and welcoming its first students, we have believed that Safa Community School is something very special. 

It really does aspire to live up to its name - to be a genuine centre of the community for students, their families, staff, its owners and wider members.  Whilst no one school will meet the demands and aspirations of everyone who chooses it, we do genuinely feel that this is a school that will do its very best for any one who does. 

With the focus on Safa Community School since its launch and further development of its facilities, outsiders may have thought that the original Safa British School was being overlooked.  That is clearly not the case.  Safa British School relocated in September 2020 to a new purpose-built site in Jumeirah, and has expanded to include a Secondary school. Parents from large sections of Dubai now have easy access to one of the two all-through Safa schools. 

What about the fees?

Fees are at the middle- to high-end for Dubai schools - ranging from AED 51,191 for FS1 and FS2 and rising to AED 84,106 for Year 13 in 2023-24.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Safa Community 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:

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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