Deira International School, Dubai Festival City
• 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
• Ongoing fine-tuning of teaching structure and delivery
Updated December 2016
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.
Deira International deserves particular praise for its outstanding parental communication. The school offers the most detailed, comprehensive and transparent online 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.
Deira International School is currently in the middle of a four-year re-structuring across every aspect of its schooling. This will see, by 2018, the school growing from its existing 1600 student capacity to 2000 students. Phase 1 is seeing completion of new facilities including a landmark theatre and auditorium. A new secondary building, Media Centre and further Play Centres are planned for Phase 2 completion by 2017-18. The aim is that the school facilities will be “amongst the best available in the Middle East.”
Prospective parents should note that Deira International fees fall squarely in the premium fee structure, ranging between 36,289 AED at FS1 to 73,115 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.
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. It has a 100% graduation rate for the IB Diploma with an impressive 34 point average. 10% of students entering for the IB score the full 40 points. At GCSE the results are equally impressive with a 97% A*C pass rate and 53% of subject entries scoring A*A.
The breadth of the curriculum is also evidenced by DIS provision of the new International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate (IBCC), an alternative to the Diploma focused on building extremely high levels of specific career related knowledge, in this case within 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. Excellent further information can 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 on full phase completion 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; landmark multi-purpose theatre and auditorium; new classrooms; multiple art rooms; computer laboratories by phase; science laboratories by phase; vocal and instrumental music rooms, design technology workshops, business studies centre, an indoor gymnasium, 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).
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 do not mould our students into what we want them to be; we simply unfold what is within.” Jeff Smith, Director, Deira International School
Diera International reports in detail on the take-up of ECAs. In 2015-16 a total of 1202 out of 1600 pupils took up 1 or more of 96 total ECA programmes.
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 and academic curriculum – and the outstanding results that it 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.Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Private, for profit
Under consideration 2016-17
YEAR 1: 47,204
YEAR 2: 47,204
YEAR 3: 47,204
YEAR 4: 47,204
YEAR 5: 47,204
YEAR 6: 51,290
YEAR 7: 51,290
YEAR 8: 55,388
YEAR 9: 55,388
YEAR 10: 58,119
YEAR 11: 66,292
YEAR 12: 73,115
YEAR 13: 73,115
"Adapted British Curriculum and International Baccalaureate Programme"
National Curriculum for England:
International Baccalaureate Diploma [IB DP]
International Baccalaureate Certificate [IBC]
International Baccalaureate Career-related Certificate [IBCC]
Cambridge International Examinations [CIE]
International Baccalaureate Organsiation [ IBO]
(1) 29 students entered for the IB Diploma programme Diploma [IB DP]
(2) 7 students entered for the IBCP Career-related programme [IBCP]
(3) 5 students entered for the IB Certificate [IBC]
(1) 3 students (10% of cohort) achieved 40 points
(2) Total cohort: 80
(3) Boys entered: 40
(4) Girls entered: 40
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: students have an interactive play session assessment.
(2) Year 1 - Year 10 and Year 12: students sit entrance assessments in English, mathematics and verbal/non-verbal reasoning. There may also be an interview.
(3) The school will accept children identified with Special Educational Needs [SEN] subject "to the school's ability to cater effectively for such needs and the threshold capacity we can take into each year group."
(4) Between 6% and 10% of students are identified with Special Educational Needs [SEN]
(5) Nearly 75% of children come to the school with English as an Additional Language [EAL]
Student capacity: 1600
Current role: 1544
(1) School is undergoing major capital improvements which will result in enhanced facilities and an enlarged school capacity of 2000 students by 2018. Staff to student ration will be maintained at 1:10.
(1) Largest class size is 26
Dubai Festival City, Al Garhoud, Dubai
Indian (largest nationality)
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 91 (6%)*
(1) School claims (2015) that 1:10 students are identified with Special Educational Needs [SEN]
Al Futtaim Group
Omar Al Futtaim, school co-founder, Vice Chairman & CEO, Al Futtaim Group
Walid Abushakra, school co-founder, Chairman and Superintendent of Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL)
(1) School fully managed by Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL)
+971 (0) 4 2325 552