Deira International School, Dubai Festival City – THE REVIEW
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good - Outstanding
Private, not-for profit
Under consideration 2019-20
YEAR 1: 51,950
YEAR 2: 51,950
YEAR 3: 51,950
YEAR 4: 51,950
YEAR 5: 51,950
YEAR 6: 56,446
YEAR 7: 56,446
YEAR 8: 60,956
YEAR 9: 60,956
YEAR 10: 63,962
YEAR 11: 72,957
YEAR 12: 80,465
YEAR 13: 80,465
"Adapted British Curriculum and International Baccalaureate Programme"
National Curriculum for England:
BTEC Travel and Tourism (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma)
BTEC Business (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma)
International Baccalaureate Diploma [IB DP]
International Baccalaureate Certificate [IBC]
International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme [IBCP]
Cambridge International Examinations [CIE]
International Baccalaureate Organsiation [ IBO]
33 points (2018)
Art & Design
Co-ordinated Science I
Co-ordinated Science II
Design & Technology
English as a second language
First language Arabic
Foreign language French
Foreign language Spanish
Foreign language Arabic
Information & Communication Technology [ICT]
(1) FS1 and FS2 admissions: students have an interactive play session
(2) Year 1 – Year 3 students: complete a short written assessment. This information is used to determine class placement and any support required.
(3) Year 4 – Year 10 students complete a CAT4 test. This test is used to understand how the student accesses the curriculum and whether support is required.
(4) The school does accept students identified with Special Education Needs (SEN).
(5) Between 5 and 10% of students are identified with Special Education Needs.
Yes - in some year groups (2019). For current availability please contact the school.
Student capacity: 2000
Current role: 1579
(1) FS phase class size: capped at 18 children (classes may be smaller)
(2) Year 1 and Year 2: capped at 22 children (classes may be smaller)
(3) Year 3 – Year 11: capped at 25 children (classes may be smaller)
8% (Extremely low)
Dubai Festival City, Al Garhoud, Dubai
Arab (largest nationality)
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 91 (6%)*
(1) Separate lessons for physical education are provided for boys and girls from years 5 to 13.
Al Futtaim Education Foundation (AFEF)
AFEF Chairman: Omar Al Futtaim, Vice Chairman & CEO, AL Futtaim Group
+971 (0) 4 2325 552
• Now a not-for-profit school driven solely by the care for its children and giving back to children and education in the UAE. Hugely commendable.
• Very, very transparent school for parents, excellent communications and meaningful, rich detail in its vision, planning and delivery.
• Academic performance
• High performing English National Curriculum-IB schooling
• IB Career-related programme
• Breadth and quality of ECA provision and reporting
• Leadership supported by Governors and Owners deeply committed to the success of the school for its students
• Tier 1 facility provision
• Whole-child provision
• Systemic culture of innovation
• Happiness and inclusion are built into the DNA of the school
• Significant investment in outstanding school leadership
• Ongoing fine-tuning of teaching structure, data metrics and delivery
Updated August 2019 – Deira International School KHDA 2019 update, SchoolsCompared.com verdict
Deira International School is an extremely impressive school and one that only just misses KHDA “Outstanding” school status. In the majority of areas DIS is already hitting, and in some cases at the very highest level, this standard and, in its combination of outstanding curriculum provision, leadership, academics and whole child development, it’s a school worthy of prospective parents’ attention.
As of 2019, Deira International School is also resolutely not-for-profit with all income re-invested back into the school for the sole benefit of its children and families. In so doing Deira International School joins the very small number of “Ivy League” not-for-profits that count in their number some of the most outstanding schools in the UAE. The impact of this decision should not be under-estimated: the sort of commitment shown by the All Futtaim family to education in the UAE in making this decision is rare and extremely creditable.
Transparency of information, celebration of children and parental feedback
Deira International deserves particular praise for its outstanding parental communication. The school offers the most detailed, comprehensive and transparent on-line presence of any school we have reviewed in the UAE.
Online information evidences the management thinking and strategic vision behind the school’s choice of academic curriculum and broader whole child provision. Deira International provides complete, richly detailed breakdowns of strategic school plans, internal management reviews of attainment and complete examination performance at both (I)GCSE and the International Baccalaureate. In its richness, breadth, honesty and clarity we believe DIS sets a benchmark for existing and prospective parental communication that other schools should, but rarely provide.
It’s always a telling indication of a school that genuinely celebrates the success of its children.
Capital investment and school development
Deira International School is currently completing a four-year re-structuring across every aspect of its schooling. This has seen the capacity of the school grow from its existing 1600 student capacity to a potential for up to 2000 students. Phase 1 has seen completion of new facilities including a landmark theatre and auditorium. Phase 2 sees a new secondary building, Media Centre and further Play Centres are planned for Phase 2.
The aim is that the school facilities will be “amongst the best available in the Middle East.”
Fees and ROI
Prospective parents should note that Deira International fees fall squarely in the premium fee structure, ranging between 39,938 AED at FS1 to 80,465 AED at Grade 13. This offers good value and ROI when compared with similar levels of provision in core areas to a number of newer schools operating in the more expensive premium plus fee school equivalent where fees stretch beyond the 100,000 AED mark.
Blended, hybrid British IB inclusive curriculum dynamics – outstanding results
Deira International School defines itself as a British international school delivering an adapted English National Curriculum in combination with the International Baccalaureate Programme in Years 12 and 13. Teaching staff are overwhelmingly drawn from the UK whilst students are drawn from across more than 80 countries. For parents looking for a first class British education but one in which the local and broader international context is both intrinsic to school life and represented in a strongly international student body, DIS delivers.
The decision to adopt the International Baccalaureate at Post-16 has significant repercussions for the English National curriculum preceding phases to IGCSE. The IB is hugely academically demanding in the investigative critical and philosophical demands it makes on students. As a result, all teaching from FS level at DIS has to adopt a much more conceptual, multi-disciplinary approach to learning to ensure that children are ready for the IB.
It is important that prospective parents note two further impressive features of the school in this context.
Firstly Deira International welcomes students with low to moderate Special Educational Needs across its scale from the less able to the most Gifted and Talented [G&T), subject to meeting manageable thresholds and moderate levels. Currently the school states that 10% of its student body is defined on the Special Educational Needs spectrum.
Second, Deira International School also welcomes children at FS level for whom English is an Additional Language [EAL]. Currently close to 75% of children entering the school have a defined need for EAL provision.
Taken together, the scale of its curriculum ambition becomes even more striking. However, when this is further contextualised with both (I)GCSE and International Baccalaureate results the school shines:
No. of students in GCSE level cohort
% of cohort entered for (I)GCSE exams
No. of exam entries
% of exam entries graded A*/9-8
% of exam entries graded A*-A /9-7
% of exam entries graded A*-B /9-6
% of exam entries graded A*-C /9-4
% of students achieving 5 A*-C/ 9-4 including English and Maths
Overall student pass rate A*-C
Number of students excluded from the statistics
Highest number of grades by individual students
IB results at DIS
No. of diploma and retake candidates registered
No. of candidates who passed the diploma
% of candidates who achieved 40+ points
% of candidates who achieved 35+ points
% of candidates who achieved 30+ points
Highest Diploma points awarded to a candidate
Average IB points score
Average grade obtained at the school by candidates who passed the diploma
Total number of candidates excluded from the statistics
The breadth of the curriculum is also evidenced by DIS provision of the new International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme(IB CP), an alternative to the Diploma focused on building extremely high levels of specific career related knowledge, in this case underpinned by a choice of Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Business or Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Travel and Tourism – and fully backed with all the academic rigour of full Diploma core subjects. DIS is a pioneer school in its introduction and one of few IB schools in the Emirates to have been an early adopter.
Details of the breadth of course provision can be found below:Deira International School IB CP and DP
Excellent further information can also be found here.
For students who do not wish to study for either, the school offers the International Baccalaureate Certificate.
Across the whole of post-16 IB provision at DIS, 100% of students graduate.
Facilities and ECAs
Facilities include an 80,000 square metre fully digital campus; new primary Early Years building; secondary classroom and IB centre building; a media and resource centre; primary pool; Primary gymnasium; extensive outdoor play spaces; Sport Pavilion; staff prayer building, school owned staff accommodation, fenced artificial Primary and Secondary turf areas; central staff room; new Secondary building; multiple free-flow seating areas with canopies; further hard-surfaces sports courts; multi-purpose gym which doubles as the auditorium with retractable seating; new classrooms; multiple art rooms; computer laboratories by phase; science laboratories by phase; vocal and instrumental music rooms, design technology workshops, business studies centre, a Senior swimming pool; extensive sports fields and library equipped with ICT and meeting areas (the school manages a visiting speaker programme and engages in the Emirates Literature Festival), Design Technology, Music Rooms and Dance Studio.
Prospective parents can get a real measure of how seriously a school genuinely invests in the whole child in the breadth and quality of a school’s Extra Curricular Activity [ECA] provision. In the worst performing schools this can number just a handful of options with low levels of student participation. ECA provision at DIS is some of the most extensive of any school in the Emirates.
The ECA programme includes school Learn easy Chinese; Chinese for native speakers; Kidz Art; Primary Soccer; Hip Hop; Gymnastics; Learn to Swim; Russian Club; Karate; Tennis, Ceramic and Pottery Club; Pobble writing club; Ballet; Zumba; Arabic support club; Papier Mache Club; Cooking Club; Junior Life Fitness; Chess Club; Disney Club; French Club; Mad Science; Yogalates; Junior Life Fitness; VLE Student Parent Support Club; Primary Table Tennis Club; Primary Dance School; Young Writers’ Club; Primary Swim Squad; Netball; Jewellery Making Club; Advanced Cricket Coaching; Dis Chess Club; IB2 Islamic Club; Islamic Homework Club; IB Clinic; Duke of Edinburgh; Under 14 Boys Football; Under 19 Boys Football; Under 15 Boys Cricket; Creative Writing; DIS Show Band; Book Worms; HTML5 Games Development Club; Under 14 Girls Football; Under 13 Boys Cricket; Secondary Swim Squad; Badminton Squad; Aspiring Authors; Deira Divas; Sewing Club; Secondary Table Tennis; YEC Entrepreneur Club; Junior MUN conference club; Adventure Club; Touch Rugby; Zentangle Art Club; Golf; IGCSE Arabic First Language Club; Secondary Dance; Youth Theatre Club; MinecraftEDu; Boys Football; Under 16s Boys Football; Under 12 Girls Football; Under 16 Girls Football; Secondary Dance Crew and Model United Nations.
Core competitive curriculum sports include football, netball, rounders, basketball, cricket, rugby 10s; Rugby Union; swimming and Tag Rugby.
Deira International further runs an extensive programme of out-of-school visits and camps both within the UAE and overseas. Trips include visits to Austria, France, Belgium; New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Lebanon, Germany, Nepal, Mauritius, Vietnam and Malawi. The school provides camps expeditions for all Year 4, 5, 6, 7 & 9 students, these integrated as a compulsory whole-child focused component of the curriculum.
All of the above is supported by extensive community engagement programmes beyond the scope of this review except to remark generally to remark on their thoughtfulness and the clear passion of the school underlying their creation and implementation.
“We truly believe in every child’s potential. We are convinced that every child’s curiosity must be nurtured and inspired at an early age – and, by doing this, ambition, excellence and success will grow naturally and powerfully. Curiosity is the absolute foundation of the special way that we ensure that the academic and whole child development of all our children at Deira International School absolutely shines. ” Ruth Burke, Director, Deira International School
Diera International reports in detail on the take-up of ECAs. In 2015-16, for example, a total of 1202 out of 1600 pupils took up 1 or more of 96 total ECA programmes.
Deira International School leadership
Current Deira International School Principal, Ruth Burke, appointed in September 2018, brings with her 30 years of educational experience, twenty of which are drawn from the UAE. This included latterly her role as Principal and CEO of the KHDA Outstanding GEMS Wellington International School. She also worked as Head of the equally outstanding Jumeirah English Speaking School. This sort of experience is rare and special – but in this context it shows just how serious the commitment of Deira International School is, to delivering the very best for its children.
Stand-out, for us, is Ms Burke’s commitment to developing B and C teams in Sport to engage and celebrate all children. Too often we see in schools, attention focused on a limited number of high performing children in Sport to satisy the need to score highly in league tables. The net result in these schools is far too many children who never gain an appreciation of sport at all – a genuine gift in later life. Under Ms Burke the aim is that there will never be children forgotten and left on the sidelines whilst the in-crowd are celebrated getting on the buses to league matches.
Deira International School bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019
The area in which Deira International has, for KHDA Inspectors, to focus improvement strategy is, broadly, in its consistency and structure of teaching. It just misses being Outstanding. But we believe a view on this must be balanced with the context of an ambitious whole-child, hugely inclusive and academic curriculum – and the outstanding value-add results that Deira International School achieves.
Deira International School certainly has the capacity to achieve the further demands being asked of it – and its plans are transparently provided for parents, and prospective parents so that they can measure progress on its journey.
This is a fabulous, hugely inspirational, now resolutely not-for-profit school with an important place in the history and evolution of the International Baccalaureate in the Emirates. Its long-standing commitment to the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme is, for us, the stand-out, telling feature of a school that has always offered the broadest inclusive welcome to families and children driven by the conviction that every child should have the opportunity to meet his or her individual ambitions, interests, abilities and potential.
Deira International School achieved shortlisting by SchoolsCompared.com for the Best Blended International Baccalaureate School in the UAE 2019 in its annual education Awards, held in association with Dubai Parks and Resorts.
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