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Deira International School, Dubai Festival City – THE REVIEW
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Review

Deira International School, Dubai Festival City – THE REVIEW

by August 12, 2019
Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

Rating FS

Outstanding

Rating Primary / Elementary

Very Good

Rating Secondary / Middle

Very Good

Rating Post 16 / High

Very Good - Outstanding

Type of school

Private, not-for profit

WSA Good School

Under consideration 2019-20

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 39,938
FS2: 39,938
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

Curriculum

"Adapted British Curriculum and International Baccalaureate Programme"
National Curriculum for England:
EYFS
(I)GCSE
BTEC Travel and Tourism (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma)
BTEC Business (Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma)
International Baccalaureate:
International Baccalaureate Diploma [IB DP]
International Baccalaureate Certificate [IBC]
International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme [IBCP]

External Exam Boards

Cambridge International Examinations [CIE]
International Baccalaureate Organsiation [ IBO]
Pearson EDEXCEL

IB DipM Pass Rate

92% (2018)

IB DipM Average Grade

33 points (2018)

IGCSE A* to C

89%

IGCSE A* to A

40% (2018)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

27+

I/GCSEs offered

Art & Design
Biology
Business Studies
Chemistry
Co-ordinated Science I
Co-ordinated Science II
Combined Science
Design & Technology
Drama
Economics
English as a second language
Enterprise
First language Arabic
Foreign language French
Foreign language Spanish
Foreign language Arabic
Geography
History
Information & Communication Technology [ICT]
Computer science
English literature
Mathematics I
Mathematics II
Music
Hospitality (BTEC)
Physical Education
Physics

Selective

No

Notes:

(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.

Waiting list

Yes - in some year groups (2019). For current availability please contact the school.

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Student capacity: 2000
Current role: 1579

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:10
Note:
(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)

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

8% (Extremely low)

Year opened

2005

Location

Dubai Festival City, Al Garhoud, Dubai

Student composition

Arab (largest nationality)
Nationalities: 85+
Emirati: 226
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 91 (6%)*

Gender

Mixed, co-educational
Notes:
(1) Separate lessons for physical education are provided for boys and girls from years 5 to 13.

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Al Futtaim Education Foundation (AFEF)
AFEF Chairman: Omar Al Futtaim, Vice Chairman & CEO, AL Futtaim Group

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 2325 552

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

86.6%

Attainment Pri SEM

80%

Attainment Sec SEM

80%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

86.6%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

80%

Progress Sec SEM

86.6%

Progress Post-16 SEM

93.3%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

70%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

60%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

60%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

60%

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

85%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

100%

Strengths

• 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

Weaknesses

• Ongoing fine-tuning of teaching structure, data metrics and delivery

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
A-
B+
Value
A+
B
ExtraCurricula
A-
B+
Languages
A-
B
Sports
A-
B
Arts & Drama
A-
B-
Teaching
A-
B+
Communications
A
B
Warmth
A+
B
Differentiation
A-
B-
SEND Provision
A
B-
Scl Community
A+
C
Scl Facilities
A
B+
Opportunities

• A very, very good school offering an outstanding not-for-profit education for its students. Very highly recommended.

A-
Our Rating
B
User Rating
You have rated this
Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
48%
In my Top 5
15%
Shortlisted
4%
A possibility
4%
Pass
2%
No way
28%

Updated August 2019 – Deira International School KHDA 2019 update, SchoolsCompared.com verdict

Introduction

Imge of a child at Deira International School in Dubai Festival City highlighting the extraordinary commitment inclusion and cultural exchange of ideas and inspiration

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:

 

 (I)GCSE results

 2018

 2017

No. of students in GCSE level cohort

90

109

% of cohort entered for (I)GCSE exams

100%

100%

No. of exam entries

751

881

% of exam entries graded A*/9-8

12%

16%

% of exam entries graded A*-A /9-7

40%

41%

% of exam entries graded A*-B /9-6

69%

66%

% of exam entries graded A*-C /9-4

89%

88%

% of students achieving 5 A*-C/ 9-4 including English and Maths

88%

88%

Overall student pass rate A*-C

89%

88%

Number of students excluded from the statistics

0

0

Highest number of grades by individual students

9 A*

10 A*

 

 IB results at DIS

2018

2017

No. of diploma and retake candidates registered

51

63

No. of candidates who passed the diploma

47

59

% of candidates who achieved 40+ points

6%

11%

% of candidates who achieved 35+ points

32%

47%

% of candidates who achieved 30+ points

77%

63%

Highest Diploma points awarded to a candidate

43

44

Average IB points score

33

34

Average grade obtained at the school by candidates who passed the diploma

5.9

5.9

Total number of candidates excluded from the statistics

0

0

 

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

Image of children in KG phases at Deira International School in Dubai Festival City

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. 

Highly recommended.

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

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