JESS, Jumeirah English Speaking School (Primary), Al Safa 1, Jumeirah – The Review
Updated August 2019 – Jumeirah English Speaking School Primary provision, KHDA and SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019
Established in 1976, Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) is a genuinely outstanding, hugely impressive, not for profit co-educational primary school and, arguably, the best of its kind not only in Dubai, but the UAE. Jumeirah English Speaking School is one of an elite number of schools to have secured WhichSchoolAdvisor.com coveted Good School status and is rated by the Dubai Inspectorate of Schools with its highest “Outstanding” award, an evaluation it has achieved consistently for eight of the nine years since KHDA inspections were started.
Although the school offers a route for children seeking education to 18 through its Arabian Ranches namesake, Jumeirah English Speaking School operates very much as a stand-alone school focused on educating children between the ages of 3 and 11. For parents seeking an understanding of its slipstream secondary, our review of the all-through Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) Arabian Ranches can be found here.
Prospective parents considering later application to its sister school, should note that its all-through Arabian Ranches namesake offers a hybrid UK/International Baccalaureate education, with IGCSE provision to 16 and IB Diploma study at Sixth Form. This said, Ranches offers a choice of route for students to 18, with provision for BTEC study in Art, Business and Sport for those children seeking a UK benchmarked career related technical alternative to the more restricted academics of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The aim is to provide all children with the broadest range of options for graduating JESS according to their ability, passions and career or further study ambitions.
According to our sister site, whichschooladvisor.com, JESS Dubai “brims with warmth”, the clear passion of its teaching staff for their profession, a “tangible sense of happiness amongst children”, inspiring and sympathetic setting and a deserved reputation for being “the flagship school in its sector.” JESS is also one of a very small group of open schools that empower parents with transparent, honest and accessible information on academic performance.
Meeting the needs of students with Special Educational Needs [SEN] is at the heart of school life – provision, by a dedicated “Oasis” team, is exceptional in its professionalism, resources, care, integration and holistic, whole child approach. All children are afforded every opportunity to meet their potential – and excel.
Jumeirah English Speaking School educates around 700 students from 40 nationalities, of which the largest group is British. The role has remain static – there is absolutely no move or inclination to increase numbers despite the waiting lists and demand. Children, and the fabulous small scale human very community driven human dynamics that come from this, come first.
Teacher turnover at 6% is extremely low by Dubai standards, offering children an outstanding continuity of education. A teacher-student ratio of 1:14, reflects the school’s investment in teaching, and is reinforced by a significant increased investment in 33 teaching assistants. The approach is effective, and embraced on the conviction that it is better to have one-to-one support for children within a slightly larger class, than smaller class sizes where one child could be “left behind.”
Prospective parents should note that JESS deliberately, and very rarely in the Emirates, offers short term teaching contracts as standard to ensure that it retains only those teachers that provide the best fit with the school and its ambitions for its children. Other schools, which may well reflect lower teacher turnover ratios, are often those with extended fixed term contracts, something JESS believes can disadvantage both teachers and children if the fit is not right. The low teacher-turnover rate, in this context, is telling of a school operating with the very best and committed faculty.
Students at the school follow the classic British Early Years Foundation Framework Stage [EYFS] which encourages children to learn through play and through self-reliant, but guided, discovery. Students from primary school onward follow the National Curriculum of England.
Core subjects include English, Mathematics, Science, Physical Education, ICT, Music, Arts, Humanities, Islamic Education and Arabic.
JESS has a long waiting list, a minimum 3 years, but, as above, has refused the pressures to grow the school for risk of diluting student care. Entrance requires understanding of its debenture system and the best resource for understanding this can be found on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. Essentially it involves a significant up-front AED 20,000 investment by parents to join the waiting list. This is more than offset by the extremely low ongoing fees. ROI is very, very high.
Thereafter, JESS, uniquely, provides very straightforward fees without the often incremental, frankly incomprehensible annual increases that other schools provide to presumably increase profits once a child has begun school.
First year fees are set at a marginally lower level, otherwise fees are completely static to age 11. The level of fees, at AED 48,234 after FS1, are (extraordinarily) mid-table for an Outstanding school. JESS knows it could double them and still be over-subscribed – as a not-for-profit, and with an inclusive community ethos at its core, JESS remains impressively true to its ideals.
The Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) was awarded WhichSchoolAdvisor.com “Good School” status in 2012-13, 2013-14, 12014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and most recently for the academic year 2017-18:
“Visiting JESS Jumeirah, one cannot ignore its reputation of excellence in the community. Its facilities are truly amongst the best – not showy, not glitzy, just functional and for a clear purpose. As a not for profit school, it updates and adds to its considerable resources on a regular basis, assisted by a very active parents group. Walking around the school and seeing it during the course of a day, one cannot help but feel that it deserves to have the reputation that it does.” WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
We leave it though to a single stand-out and very rarely informal comment by the KHDA (there are so many we could have chosen ..) that we think best captures the education on offer:
“Across the school students buzz with the excitement of learning.” KHDA.
The KHDA is not known for hyperbole. This is about as good as it gets: a school that succeeds at extraordinary levels, but which does so whilst creating a learning environment that inspires.
Very highly recommended.
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See JESS Arabian Ranches (Outstanding)
See JESS Arabian Ranches (Outstanding)
Not-for-profit "Ivy League"
YEAR 1: 48,234
YEAR 2: 48,234
YEAR 3: 48,234
YEAR 4: 48,234
YEAR 5: 48,234
YEAR 6: 48,234
YEAR 7: NA
YEAR 8: NA
YEAR 9: NA
YEAR 10: NA
YEAR 11: NA
YEAR 12: NA
YEAR 13: NA
National Curriculum of England
National Curriculum Standard Assessment Tests [SAT]
Yes (3 years +)
6% (extremely low)
Al Safa 1, Jumeirah, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
+971 4 3945515
• Outstanding SEN provision
• Enviable reputation (deserved)
• Holistic, whole child centred learning and ethos
• Outstanding academic, cultural and extra-curricular attainment at every level
• Warm, happy, inspirational school environment
• Outstanding levels of teacher commitment, professionalism and care
• High community engagement
• Mid-tier fee levels, premium plus tier education
• Outstanding student work ethic and attendance
• Outstanding Ranches slipstream with hybrid UK IGCSE/IB provision balanced with extensive BTEC choices at Sixth Form
• Arabic as a first language teaching could be re-structured to improve the speaking skills of students and improvements to cross curricular links would provide greater opportunity to bring Arabic language and culture to life and give it meaning in the minds and hearts of the children