Mirdif-located Star International Private School is one of two schools formaly owned and operated by ETA Star Education. In 2022, the Mirdif and Al Twar schools were bought by International Schools Partnership (ISP), one of the largest international school groups.
Founded in 2008, Star International School Mirdif offers a British education to children from the age of 3 years (FS1) to 16 years (Year 11) and will continue to grow to an all-through school, culminating in the opening of Year 13 in 2024.
The school states in its Vision that it is "Aspiring to produce learners who are knowledgeable about the world they live in, adaptable to change, and able to function successfully in an ever changing world". The Vision Statement is prefaced by a quotation from the Dubai Ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; "They say the sky is the limit for ambition. We say the sky is only the beginning."
Currently the school has approximately 900 students with 70 nationalities represented in total. The largest nationality group is described by the KHDA as Arab. In addition, the school has a growing number of Emirati students (just under 10%). Approximately 30 students have been identified as students of Determination, requiring SEN support. According to the KHDA, the provision and outcomes for students of Determination is Good.
The school has 76 full-time teaching staff, 20 teaching assistants, and a total additional staff of 100, offering a relatively low (and therefore desirable) teacher to student ratio of 1:11. The majority of teachers are also British. The school has been criticised in the past for the relative inexperience and youth of its teachers, but all meet the KHDA minimum teaching experience requirements and regular professional development takes place through a UK based CPD WALKTHRUS model.
Teacher turnover has been a cause for concern in the past - it has been as high as 50%. However, in the current 2022-23 year, not a single teacher planned to leave the school. This is clearly a testament to the leadership and potentially the new ownership of the school.
In June 2021, the school announced the appointment of a new Principal, Mr. Neal Oates. This appears to have been a planned change as Mr. Oates had been Vice Principal at Star International School Mirdif since August 2019, and prior to that was Assistant Head (Whole School) at highly regarded - and Outstanding rated - Dubai British School, where he had spent a total of seven years. Mr. Oates is a teacher of Business and Economics by background.
A further major development has also been the purchase of the school by International Schools Partnership, an international school group with over 50 schools in 15 countries. Other members of the group in the UAE include Aspen Heights British School and Reach British School Abu Dhabi, and Star International School Al Twar and Qusais (two campuses), Nibras International School and The Aquila School in Dubai. The investment by ISP will ensure the ongoing development of SISM through to Sixth Form.
As a sign of its commitment to ensuring a quality British education, SISM is accredited by British Schools of the Middle East (BSME), and in 2023, also received accreditation from British Schools Overseas (BSO). The BSO accreditation involves inspection by a team on behalf of the English government's Department of Education, ensuring that the education provided at the school is in line with requirements for English state schools.
Star International School was found to be Good with Outstanding Features - The BSO inspection report can be found here.
Star International School Mirdif aims to deliver a creative, yet skills based approach to teaching, which incorporates the objectives associated with the National Curriculum for England. The curriculum is taught in such a way that children’s learning is linked to six themes across the entire school year. This thematic approach is also delivered in such a way, so as to help provide a real-life context to children’s learning; the school calls this its Concept-Curriculum. These themes not only help provide a context to learning, but they also celebrate international cultures from a British perspective, as well as an Emirati one.
The school encourages its students to become curious about the world around them, think critically about problems and issues which arise, to problem solve and to become independent learners. Learning does not just take place in the classroom, but also when moving through the corridors, in the canteen, on educational trips, in assemblies… or wherever teachers and students may gather. Learning might be academic or understanding the social mechanisms that children need to learn in order to become well-rounded citizens.
Most classes in the Primary section are taught by the class teacher, with a broader range of Specialists in Secondary. The school also has specialist staff for ICT, Music, PE, French and Moral Education, and Social Studies. There is also a Specialist SEND Leader and two further Learning Support teachers.
The school also aims to offer a balanced range of Extra-curricular activities, which include Quran Recitation, Dodgeball Club, Newspaper Club, Science Club, Funky Fitness, Drama Club, Lego Club, Origami Club, Eco Club, Multiskills Club, Construction Club and Star Orchestra. Each term sports teams participate in fixtures and tournaments against other Dubai schools as a means of encouraging sportsmanship, fair play and healthy competition amongst students.
The school is located on a plot adjacent to the Abaya Shopping Mall. It is based in a large two storey building with teaching wings located to the sides of the main entrance and foyer. In addition to a multi-purpose sports/assembly hall, the school also offers a large external playing field, a covered swimming pool and play areas. The school does not currently offer a canteen.
Classrooms are equipped with interactive white boards and technology in the form of pads and computers are available to students. The inspection report notes that "Specialist facilities are well-equipped, with sufficient resources to enhance curricular provision, independent and collaborative learning and students’ well-being."
No doubt one popular service provided by the school for working parents is its ‘Stay and Play’ programme, designed for those parents who need to drop their child off early in the morning or collect them later in the afternoon. The programme starts at 7.00am and offers a range of fun activities. In the afternoon, there are separate ‘Stay and Play’ programmes for Foundation Stage and Primary children.
After many years of Acceptable ratings, it seems that the more recent changes in leadership of the school has really blown a breath of fresh air through the performance of SISM with the achievement of a Good rating for the first time in 2017-18. In the 2022-23 inspections undertaken by the KHDA's DSIB inspectors, SISM retained the Good rating (the minimum that Dubai schools are expected to achieve) for the fourth inspection.
The inspectors awarded a total of 18 improved ratings (the majority to Very Good), although there were also four downwards adjustments (three related to Fire Safety preparations).
Overall the strengths of Star International School Mirdif were defined by the inspection team as:
In terms of key areas for improvement, they identified the need to:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
Our own WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Survey has not received sufficient feedback for us to be able to publish parent opinions voiced to us. If you are a parent, student or teacher at SISM, please complete our survey here to share your experience with other potential members of your community.
The latest inspection report notes that "Parents feel welcomed and valued by the school. They play very active parts in the life of the school, helping their children to achieve well by, for example, listening to students reading Arabic. They fully embrace and support the vision of the school. They are represented on the Governing Board. They are communicated with effectively. The personal and academic achievements of their children are reported to them regularly. Parents are aware of how they can help to move their children's learning forward."
In a new area for evaluation in the 2022-23 inspection round, the DSIB evaluated 'the Quality of Wellbeing Provision and Outcomes'.
Star International School Mirdif achieved a High rating.
The inspectors found that:
• Senior leaders believe that student wellbeing underpins all school activities. The wellbeing policy contains a clear vision for further development. The wellbeing coordinator is on the leadership team and makes regular reviews of areas of the curriculum. The new governing board is committed to well-being promotion. Regular surveys of students' wellbeing are used to identify any concerns. Monitoring of personal development and academic progress is conducted by all staff members.
• Continual monitoring of student’s development and progress is conducted by teachers, subject leaders, and senior staff. All students have direct access to dedicated wellbeing support, including the school counsellor and wellbeing leader. Governors and senior leaders are aware of the importance of good welfare support for staff. Surveys indicate that staff morale is high.
• The school provides a range of opportunities and systems to support student wellbeing. Most lesson plans refer to wellbeing opportunities. Systematic review of the curriculum will inform the further enhancement of student’s wellbeing experiences across phases and subjects. The clinic staff carefully monitors students’ physical well-being and promotes healthy lifestyles. Students feel safe, valued, and cared for. They have very good relationships with their teachers and with each other. Most persevere very well when challenged by the work. They have very positive attitudes and work independently when given opportunities.
Star International School Mirdif's Good inspection rating looks to be a solid and well-deserved one. The key to this development has been the improvement in Student Achievement, and this must be where the focus remains in order for the school to improve further.
Star International School Mirdif really does seem to be a school that cares and is creating a caring community. We, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, hope it continues down this path; such schools are increasingly difficult to find in a market where big is seen as beautiful.
KHDA approved (and discounted) fees at the Mirdif-based school for 2023-24 start at AED 28,000 at FS1 and rise to AED 41,600 by Year 6. Secondary fees range from AED 44,200 for Years 7 and 8, and AED 46,200 for Year 9, and AED 49,200 for Years 10, 11 and 12. The lower fees in Secondary are exceptionally moderate for this level of the school. By contrast, the full fee figure is AED 70,000 for Year 12.
In addition to the tuition fees, there is also an additional Digital and Physical Resource Fee which ranges from AED 700 in FS to AED 1,200 in the Secondary school.
Star International School Mirdif 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.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information