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The English College Dubai Awarded Outstanding by British Schools Overseas BSO in across-the-board recognition of achievement for children

The English College Dubai has achieved the rare award of outstanding, across the board, in its October 2022 BSO inspection.

The English College Dubai has been awarded BSO Outstanding School status by Penta International 2022 - 2025

The Award is valid for three years covering the period between October 2022 and the end of December in 2025.

Worth noting too that The English College Dubai consistently achieves shortlisting in the region’s Top Schools Awards with particular achievements in the Awards for Happiest School and the School Most Loved by Parents categories.

The school was the recipient of the special award made by the Top Schools Awards in 2021-22 for The Most Outstanding Response to Covid 19 by a School in the United Arab Emirates.

BSO Reports explained – why they are important

BSO Reports are important because they are exclusively underwritten by the UK government’s Department of Education. BSO too is the only reporting regime to independently measure a school’s performance against private schools in the United Kingdom.

One key benefit for parents is to be able to understand the compatibility of an international school with the highest expectations of private schools at home, this important particularly for families who wish to transfer their children home at some stage either to board or for when they return home. They also, however, provide a certain way for families to measure the quality of a UAE school against that of private schools in the UK.

There are two types of BSO inspections:

• Compliance only

• Education quality with compliance

Parents should look for schools, like The English College Dubai below, that have been subject to both the full quality and compliance accreditation because of the depth of reporting and its grading of schools in each category of inspection between

  • Outstanding/excellent
  • Good
  • Satisfactory/met
  • Inadequate/unsatisfactory

There are 8 areas (“standards”) that are inspected, and which must be at least met, to achieve BSO accreditation – see below.

The British government permits only the following three active organisations to complete BSO inspections:

  • Education Development Trust
  • Penta International
  • International Schools Inspectorate

For the most part, schools in Dubai request an inspection through the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau which works in partnership with the Education Development Trust, although Penta International also has particular strength in the region. Penta International was established in 1996 by five headteachers and today works in the UK and across the world. Interestingly, the Education Development Trust played a pivotal role in establishing the DSIB, this explaining perhaps the similarities between BSO and KHDA inspections. The ISI, in distinction, probably the best known in the UK, currently inspects only one school in the UAE. All 3 organisations are quality assured by OFSTED and provide an identical, very high quality of inspection.

BSO Reports have a broadly equivalent role in private schools to OFSTED’s role in the UK’s state schools, although, unlike OFSTED, BSO (international schools) and ISI (UK-based schools) reports do not make a single overarching judgement on a school but, instead, make judgements on each aspect of its provision using one of the four grades above. This level of detail means they have much more in common with the detailed reports by the official UAE school regulators including ADEC (in Abu Dhabi) and the KHDA (in Dubai).

The English College Dubai – Key BSO Findings

BSO school inspected Logo

The inspection of The English College Dubai took place over three full days in October 2022, and saw inspectors monitoring more than 75 individual lessons, interrogating school documentation and policies and reviewing data. Students’ workbooks were seen in lessons and work stored online assessed. Discussions were held with the staff, parents and, informally, with students.

The 8 areas (“standards”) that are inspected, and which must be at least met, to achieve BSO accreditation are:

BSO requirement The English College Dubai Scoring
Standard 1: The quality of education provided by the school including the quality of its

  • Curriculum
  • Teaching; and
  • Assessment
  • Student attainment
Outstanding (Excellent)
Standard 2: The school’s achievement in the area of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils Outstanding (Excellent)
Standard 3: The welfare, health and safety of pupils Outstanding (Excellent)
Standard 4: School ownership, governance and management Met in full*
Standard 5: The quality of school facilities Outstanding (Excellent)
Standard 6: The quality of a school’s communication with parents, carers and other stakeholders Outstanding (Excellent)
Standard 7: The school’s procedures for handling complaints Met in full*
Standard 8: The quality of school leadership and management Outstanding (Excellent)

*Outstanding is not applicable in this category; they are either fully met, or not.

Inspectors noted the following key areas of achievement at The English College Dubai:

  • The school’s strong sense of community spirit
  • Outstanding school leadership
  • Outstanding school management
  • High quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • Impeccable behaviour, respect and self awareness from students across the whole school
  • the broad and balanced curriculum that supports learning very well
  • Integration of technology which genuinely enhances learning, not for the sake of it
  • Outstanding support networks for professional development of teachers and to ensure the meaningful integration of children into the school community
  • Very high standards of child academic and whole child attainment
  • Outstanding communication and interaction with parents creating a strong, unified school community which students, staff and parents are all proud to be apart of
  • Inspiring student body which effectively manages its own learning

Key quotes from BSO Inspectors

BSO Inspectors on school values:

“The school’s ethos and approach to education is recognisably British. The school values of aspiration, gratitude, integrity, resilience and respect align well with British values.”

BSO Inspectors on the quality of education:

“The quality of education provided is outstanding.”

BSO Inspectors on the quality of the curriculum:

“The quality of the curriculum is excellent and fully meets the standard. It is broad, balanced, relevant and in many subjects, innovative. As it is strongly based on the English National curriculum, students would be readily able to transfer to the UK education system. It meets the needs of students and enables them to make good levels of progress whilst also allowing students to develop personally. Schemes of work plan to challenge the most able as well as to support those with additional learning needs.

There is a comprehensive extra-curricular program across subjects with expectation that all staff offer two clubs per academic year to students.

There is a clear vision to help students to become well-rounded individuals who are able to thrive in higher education and in later life.

There is a clear focus in the school to stretch and challenge all learners to become high achievers.

The primary and secondary phases offer a balanced range of subjects in line with the UK education system with a range of options for students in Key Stages 4 and 5.

The option of BTECs is available to students to offer an additional pathway making the option process more inclusive to the students.”

BSO Inspectors on the quality of teaching:

“The quality of teaching and assessment is excellent.

A significant number of the lessons [we inspected] were outstanding.

The effective teaching at The English College Dubai enables students to acquire new knowledge, develop new skills and make progress according to their ability. The teachers plan lessons that encourage students to apply intellectual, physical and creative effort, to show interest in their work, to develop their critical and creative thinking and enable them to learn for themselves. This was reflected in many lessons seen. The excellent use of effective teaching tools in some lessons […] enriches the learning.

There are high expectations of behaviour, personal responsibility and achievement. In the best lessons, teachers provide students with numerous opportunities to learn collaboratively and work cooperatively with their peers.

Conversations with students illustrated that they are very positive about their learning. They value the learning opportunities provided both in the classroom and in the numerous extra-curricular activities afforded to them. Many teachers use humour very effectively… Teachers often give time and space for the students to talk and learn from one another.”

BSO Inspectors on student attainment

“The standards achieved by students are excellent.

The school are quick to identify any students who are having difficulties and they are monitored closely to ensure support is provided.

The students in EYFS are consistently achieving above UK national average shown by 93% at or above expected attainment in Literacy and 98% in Communication and Language at the end of the 2021-22 academic year. Internal and external data demonstrates excellent progress in all subjects and in all parts of the school.

GCSE, AS and A-Level results are above and sometimes well-above national standards in the UK in most subjects.

GCSE results for the 2021-2022 academic year were excellent with 74% of students achieve a grade of 6 or above in English, mathematics and science which is well above the UK average of 41%. The students also performed very well with the highest grades of 8 or 9, especially in mathematics where 53% of students achieved the top two grades compared to the UK average of 12%.

A Level results in English Literature and mathematics are also consistently above the UK National average for grades A*-C…

The attainment and progress of students is in line with the students exemplary behaviour and attitudes to learning. Students clearly love learning and expect high standards of themselves.”

On whole child development

“The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the students is outstanding. Students have positive attitudes to school life and the variety of learning opportunities that are on offer within lessons and in the extra-curricular sense are well attended. The students show care, respect and a community spirit in all areas of the school.

Students enjoy school, are confident and have strong self-regulation, as demonstrated by their considerate behaviour, positive attitudes and regular attendance.

The school prides itself on their 5 core values of ‘Aspiration, Gratitude, Integrity, Resilience and Respect’ and these are visible throughout the school.”

BSO Inspectors on the welfare of students

“The provision for welfare, health and safety of the students is excellent.”

BSO Inspectors on school facilities and the environment for learning

“The premises and accommodation are excellent…

The school buildings and sport facilities provide an environment which enhances the learning experiences of students…

Sport facilities and the school libraries are of a high standard. The library facilities are enjoyed by the students and are very welcoming. The swimming pool is well utilised by the PE department with a comprehensive programme of regular, well-supervised swimming lessons taking place throughout the timetable.

Students clearly value the standard of facility that they have access to as they are very respectful and look after their surroundings.”

BSO Inspectors on communication with parents

“The provision of information provided by the school to parents, carers and others is excellent.

Parents speak of their happiness with the links between parents and staff of the school. The school are proactive with involving parents in the school community with regular meetings with the parents council, frequent newsletters across different subject areas, regular coffee morning with the Principal and regular parent workshops. Parents regularly volunteer at school events and trips, along with attending school sports fixtures.

During the inspection, parents spoke about a strong community feeling within the school where their children feel safe and love attending school. They feel proud to be a part of the school’s community.”

BSO on school leadership

“The leadership and management of the school are excellent. A recent survey shows that 97% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that the school is well led and managed.

The school is very well organised on a day to day basis. All involved – teachers, assistants, administrators, operational staff – work together to the benefit of the students.”

Further information

Read our review of The English College Dubai here.

Visit the official English College Dubai web site here.

Download the full BSO inspection here.

A full list of schools BSO inspected by Penta International can be found here.

A full list of schools BSO inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate can be found here.

A full list of BSO schools inspected by the Educational Development Trust can be read here.

© A WhichMedia Group publication. 2022. All rights reserved.

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

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