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Best British Schools in Dubai – the SchoolsCompared.com Parent Guide 2017
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Best British Schools in Dubai – the SchoolsCompared.com Parent Guide 2017

by Jon WestleyFebruary 9, 2017

For many in the UAE, a British education for their children remains their goal.

For some parents it is simply because GCSEs and A’ Levels  remain the gold standard for education, on balance, worldwide.

For others – and not just those from the United Kingdom – it will be because British schools are an entrance to UK universities, and UK universities are, in turn, seen as a gateway to working around the world.

In the UAE its popularity is reflected in the fact that there are more schools following the England and Wales based curriculum than that of any other country.

Over the next few pages we reveal what we think are the best schools in Dubai offering an English National Curriculum based education. We have also included those equally outstanding hybrid schools which blend a UK education to age 16 with later IB Diploma (or the IB Career-related programme) as a post-16 alternative to A Levels.

It should be noted that only some of the schools here feature a pure “British” education, something based on a combination of factors, including school culture and a number of often intangible characteristics of a school , that sits on top of the basic delivery of an English National Curriculum.

Inevitably there are going to be many schools, parents – and students, who are going to be disappointed to find that their school is not listed here. And in many ways , they will each have a point. Inevitably, there is a necessary  degree of subjectivity in any list because no methodology is in itself beyond critique – and any school listed will only ever be as good as its fits for an individual child. There is, and can never be, a short cut for parents to investing time in school visits and making decisions based on their knowledge of their children.

In mitigation, our view of what constitutes a good school – and certainly one that we can recommend, is never limited to academic performance on performance in isolation.

In terms of methodology, our decision to feature schools has been based on weighting the independent feedback we have received from parents, teachers and students (both through SchoolsCompared.com and our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.com), visit and inspection reports; examination performance, school transparency and how well each school meets its own published aims. We have weighted a number of factors that are also unique to individual schools, including, for example, the impacts of leadership over time, ECA provision, a weighting of subject choice and facilities vis a vis fees – and our view of the potential of a school (something particularly important with new schools).

All of the schools we have featured carry a minimum KHDA “Good” rating except in a very limited number of cases where schools are awaiting their first public inspection.

All schools featured here score a minimum Outstanding rating from teachers, students and/or parents in three or more areas in our independent ratings and did not score less than good in any individual category.  One single school attracted significant negative feedback on launch but this has now been balanced by ongoing very positive feedback and the visit subsequently of both inspection teams.

What we have not been able to do, regrettably, is weight one very important element in understanding the performance of a school over time, namely value added.

There remains no agreed shared way of measuring this across British schools in Dubai. Instead we have had to incorporate a variety of different ways of measuring this from schools, in some cases this limited to simple assurances that value added is measured internally, an almost impossible task.

With Progress 8 coming on stream in the UK, we hope that British schools can begin to reach consensus on how best to measure added value across schools so that parents can understand simply how well each school is performing in meeting the individual needs, abilities and potential of its children. All schools here claim to internally measure added value, establish flight paths and meet the needs of all their children. There is just no shared agreement on how to do do this, or willingness, except in limited cases, to share this publicly.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com
9 Comments
  • Kashish
    February 23, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Hi i wnt to knw whch is best school horizon international or raffels international school

    • March 5, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Hi Kashish, this is a really tough question to answer. To some extent it will depend on the age of your child(ren) and what type of environment you are seeking. Raffles International is a very well established school consistently rated Good by the KHDA. It is a very international school in nature with students and staff from a diverse range of countries (with the highest proportion of students being from Europe) and around 1,700 students in total – so a large school, with a staff to student ration of 1:11. Horizon International is a much smaller school with under 1,000 students, the majority of whom are UK passport holders. Staff turnover at both schools has historically been relatively low, although there were significant changes at Horizon International at the end of the 2016 academic year. The staff to student ratio is 1:11, so lower than Raffles International. The new Principal (who joined from GEMS) appears to be popular with parents and has a clear focus on areas of development and improvement. Neither school has had students graduate from year 13 as yet, so it is too soon to comment on Sixth Form outcomes. Fees at Raffles International School range from AED 30,000 to AED 65,000, whilst at Horizon International, they are between AED 33,000 and AED 93,000 (though there is currently a large discount for children in years 10, 11 and 12 with fees being similar to Raffles). As you can see, there are many similarities between the schools and our advice would always be that you visit the schools and see for yourself which you feel is likely to suit your child(ren) better.

  • Kashish
    March 5, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for your comment and help.

  • Kashish
    March 5, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Thnank you, can you give me information on Regent International too?

    • March 5, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      HI Kashish, Regent is another long established school. It has recently reverted to Primary only with the opening of Sunmarke School which is part of the same group. Historically, the school has been rated Good by the KHDA for the past 5 years. Prior to the opening of Sunmarke, there were approximately 1,400 students at RIS. This number has now fallen considerably to approx 1,000 with the move of the Secondary students. The majority of staff and students are UK passport holders. The staff:student ratio was 1:13, this is likely to have improved with the changes. The Foundation stage, in particular, was praised by the inspectors. To some extent, the age of your child(ren) will determine if Regent is a good option as it does not offer the Through-school arrangement any longer and children would be expected to move to its sister school when they reach Secondary stage.

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