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Best British Schools in Dubai – the Parent Guide 2017
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Best British Schools in Dubai – the Parent Guide 2017

by Jon WestleyFebruary 9, 2017

All Through and Secondary British Curriculum Schools

Dubai British School Jumeirah Park

“Positives abound. The school draws on a considerable history from Taaleem, its experienced owners, and in particular, on the ground, its namesake Dubai British School which opened in 2005.”

Hartland International

“In terms of its whole child provision, (extremely impressive) language offer, inclusive philosophy, freely resourced ECA provision, individual tutor/mentor, and its extended day designed to make enrichment integral to each child’s journey, this is a school that promises much. In terms of actual delivery, however, Hartland remains a new school bedding down. New schools need time to develop their own character and identity and work at their best. Hartland is still on this journey.”

Horizon International School



“In terms of breadth of (I)GCSE provision the school is operating within the very top-tier of schools in the Emirates. Scholarship provision is genuine and impressive. It is simply too early, however, as with all schools midway through significant phased expansion and development, to provide a clear view. What can be said is that Horizon is doing most things right to provide an outstanding school experience for its children – and quickly.”

The English College Dubai

“A Level subject choice in particular is outstanding, offering a breadth of choice to students that competes, and in some cases overtakes, many Tier 1 ultra-premiums – and The English College includes BTEC provision to maximise the school’s ability to match its offer to the needs of each individual child. GCSE provision is almost as expansive.”

Dubai College

“Extremely impressive academics fuel the Oxbridge and significant Ivy League and Russell Group placements. However, arguably as telling, is its securing a placement for a gifted child in performing arts at the prestigious Elmhurst, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, for one student in 2015-16. GCSE results put it in line with the 12th best co-educational independent school and the 3rd best co-educational state school in the UK.”

Jumeirah College

“Despite scoring academically above UK benchmarks and within the top tier of UAE exam attainment, Jumeirah College is resolutely not a hot house school, and refuses to be one. Nor is it academically selective. A graduating class of well-adjusted, happy men and women, armed with a network of peers and friendships that will stand the test of time, with the examination grades to attend their University (or performing arts college) of choice, is the College’s bigger picture focus.”

Dubai English Speaking College

“Established in 2005 with just 35 Year 7 students, the Dubai English Speaking College [DESC] takes its name from the much loved Dubai English Speaking School [DESS], of which it is a part; the oldest British school in the Emirate established in 1963. Today DESC is a rapidly growing school, educating more than 1253 children between 11 and 18, parents inspired by the increasing value of its fee structure against a background of expensive new “elite” schools in the Emirate and DESC’s consistent achievement, since 2012-13, of an “Outstanding School” rating by the Dubai Schools Inspectorate.”

Dubai British School – The Springs

“There are a number of schools in Dubai that, notwithstanding inspection data, offer a very high level of education for children across all phases and which present very little difficulty in securing our recommendation. Dubai British School in Emirates Hills (DBS) falls into this category.”

Dubai British School – Jumeirah Park

“Opportunity to join a potentially trail blazing school in its infancy with huge potential for children and parents to make their mark on the school. A fabulous new school, rich in potential and the quality of its whole child and academic provision, but the higher fees make its Springs namesake seem extraordinarily good value.”

GEMS FirstPoint

“The best value GEMS British School in the Emirates? In its balance of breadth and quality of facilities, specialist technology provision, GEMS foundations and fee structure, this is a school offering a Tier 1 education well beyond legitimate expectation.”

GEMS Founders School

“It is sometimes easy to forget with new schools and all the excitement that comes with them, that buildings are the skin-deep part of the equation. It is children that count, and parents will have invested everything in GEMS to deliver for them. The first year of a school can so often define its course, both in terms of expectation but also culture. Getting the nuts and bolts working together, for any new school is never easy. But there comes extra pressure for GEMS given its reputation and the commitments it has made for Founders.  It’s early days but on balance we think the new school is delivering.”

Pristine Private School

“Pristine’s new Principal offers students something rare – an internally promoted Head with a knowledge of the school based on her 10 years’ experience working within it. The level of understanding, care and commitment that comes from this – and the advantages that come from her ability to translate experience into school improvements both over the short and medium term should not be underestimated. Pristine is a very good school, and, as a school that is already touching on outstanding in some areas, one that has the capacity, particularly under its new experienced leadership, to improve even further.”

GEMS Metropole School

“Bells and whistles do not make a school. On the basis of driven, inspired leadership, the GEMS reputation for excellence, genuine warmth of the school – and a fee structure offering exceptional value for money, GEMS Metropole has all the promise of being a very high performing school. There are no guarantees with any school – and there are consequences that follow a (relatively) affordable fee structure. But equally, given the positives, many parents already have not dismissed the school out of hand for the trade-offs inevitable in a school at this price point.”

Jebel Ali School

“Fabulous, very highly recommended school. From first inspections by both schoolscompared and our sister site, whichschooladvisor, teams, it is clear, at the least, that everything is being done to retain, and build on, the “magic” of the founding school. Whilst it is early days, there are so many examples of where that commitment is reaping rewards.”

The Winchester School – Jebel Ali Gardens

“It is a rare thing to be able to be so positive about a school that many parents will simply not have heard of, this partly because it (confusingly) shares a name with another very different GEMS school, GEMS Winchester- Dubai (the poorest performing of all GEMS schools). The two schools could not be further apart. For parents seeking a high quality English National Curriculum based whole child education for their children, operating on a tight budget, that can forego the bells and whistles of the Tier 1s, it is hard to think of a better school. Yes, the teacher: student ratio is high (1:30) – but, with the drive and quality of teaching on offer here – in combination with the blending effect that comes from a school that genuinely nurtures the talents of its 90 strong nationality mix, it just works.”

Foremarke School

“There is no doubt that Foremarke School is offering a very, very good education to its children. We particularly draw the attention of prospective parents to the small class sizes that remain fundamental to Foremarke’s approach – and in no small part provide justification for its very high fees. But we also draw attention to the new Head who has undertaken very significant changes to the school, particularly in the area of inclusivity and investment in teachers and children. It really shows. Foremarke is a school that has found its soul. Highly Recommended.”

GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail

“Inclusive, innovative Tier 1 school that will not rush the journey of its students to meeting their potential, with all the potential as it reaches capacity to be a flagship British school in the Emirate.”

Safa Community School

“Very exciting, forward-looking community school in an excellent location, Safa has a lovely welcoming feel with highly motivated and enthusiastic staff throughout. As a new school you would expect it to have good equipment but the standard here was well above that. SCS is led by a dynamic Principal who also teaches. The specialist departments are standout. Highly recommended.”

Sunmarke School

“The opening of Sunmarke School, in its combination of a proven whole child provision being brought across from RIS with all the opportunities of the new school’s facilities and its enhanced curriculum, presents a genuinely inspiring, rich and Tier 1 option for new and existing parents alike. The passion and commitment of staff should not be in question.”

Al Diyafah High School

“Diyafah serves a very predominantly Indian expatriate demographic with 29 other nationalities also represented at the school. Facilities are efficient rather than ground-breaking, but are subject to ongoing investment and improving outperforming the value segment average. The relatively new Head has a lot resting on her shoulders.  Many of the pressures are financial. The foundations are there, but she will not be able to achieve what the founder undoubtedly sought without maintaining significant increases in the school’s budget. This said, Diyafah is rooted in community, with warmth and the happy environment able to inspire children to develop as young men and women beyond books and exams. A happy school is something to be admired, and happiness at Al Diyafah comes in abundance. Recommended for what it does so well – and for what it is on course to achieve.”

Al Salam Private School

“Al Salam Private School’s low level of fees limits its ability to invest in a number of areas including British teaching staff; post-16 subject choice; A2 provision; facilities (which are relatively basic); and SEN, compared to Tier 1 English national curriculum schools in the sector. This however must be offset by the school’s achievement of excellent examination performance which competes with the best Tier 1 schools at (I)GCSE and post-16 Mathematics; a highly nurturing and unique school culture that stems in part from the villa nursery grounding of the school; continuity of leadership (the Head, Susan Johnston has been in post for 28 years since the school’s founding); and fees that run up to 25% less than those of Dubai’s most expensive schools.”

Kings School Al Barsha

“In conjunction with outstanding school leadership, steadfast, genuine and passionate support from the school’s founders, an extremely rich, unique (and radical) whole child centred RSA backed framework – and absolutely stellar facilities, Kings School Al Barsha is set to deliver for academic children.”

Dubai GEM Private School

“One of Dubai’s best kept secrets in the sector with outstanding academic success hidden behind tired old buildings and limited facilities. For the many parents clamouring for a place at the school, and the many alumni who have left for top-tier universities worldwide, beauty really is only skin deep. Dubai GEM sparkles – rarely has a name been more apposite, or a school more deserving of its description.”

St Mary Catholic High School

“For an English National Curriculum based education, particularly to O’ Level standard, the school’s scale, warmth and affordability, together with its unique profile in the history of Dubai’s educational provision, continue to make it a considered choice for a number of parents. But there are compromises.”


Next: Hybrid Arabic-British Schools

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]
  • 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?

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