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Dubai International Academy, Emirates Hills – THE REVIEW 2020
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Dubai International Academy, Emirates Hills – THE REVIEW 2020

by August 12, 2019

Dubai International Academy, Emirates Hills updated October 2020 – Innoventures Education, new school leadership, KHDA 2020

“We are the longest established IB continuum school in Dubai, offering an IB education from KG to Year 13. What sets us apart is our recognition, across everything that we do for our students, that education is about preparing them for the jobs that will emerge in the next 10 or 15 years that don’t exist now.”

Jayne Needham, Principal, Dubai International Academy



Occupying a circa 8 acre site, Dubai International Academy is very much a hub community school for the Emirates Hills community in Dubai with easy access directly from the Al Khail road.

Map showing directions to and location of Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills

The School is a dedicated International Baccalaureate all-through school offering the complete IB programme across PYP, MYP, International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB DP) – and International Baccalaureate Career related Programme (IB CP) to 2241 children.


Opened in 2005 with more than 500 students from 55 countries, and an equally diverse faculty of more than 50 members of 18 different nationalities, today the school has around 2250 students from over 85 nationalities, looked after by 190 teachers and 60 TAs. To all practical purposes, no one nationality seems to stand out in this truly international school.

The first school in the UAE to offer the Geneva based International Baccalaureate (IB), and in full across its Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP), the Dubai International Academy is innovative, well-established and academic. Of its many successes, the achievement in 2013 of one of its students, Xanita Saayman (now at the University of Toronto), of being the first DIA student, and one of only 108 worldwide, to attain the perfect score of 45/45 in the IB Diploma Programme, is particularly notable. The top score in 2015/16 was 44/45, so evidence that Xanita’s result was not a one-off.

The recent introduction of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme is telling evidence of the school’s ongoing commitment to its commitment to both its children, breadth of subject choice and inclusion.

The International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme at Dubai international Academy Emirates Hills

The IB CP is founded on Pearson’s BTEC National Diploma in Business. Further details can be found below, but we would very much like to see breadth of BTEC choice expanded to Sport and Tourism, for us, the constituting a Very Good standard of breadth of CP provision. Outstanding provision is benchmarked against the British School Al Khubairat, which provides expensive and specialised further provision (in a British curriculum school space) BTEC Engineering.

Further details of the programme follows:

Dubai International Academy Career Related Programme

Dubai Schools Inspectorate KHDA 2018 Verdict 

Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills achieved consistent annual KHDA “Good” commendations for its high standard of education over a six year period to 2015. In 2016 and 2017, Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills achieved “Outstanding” school status from the KHDA Inspectorate, one of only sixteen schools in Dubai to achieve its highest accolade. In 2018, in something of a surprise, Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, secured a still creditable Very Good with Outstanding Features school rating. This “downgrade” mapped onto a number of KHDA changes and also impacted on two other schools which, like Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, we continue to rate as outstanding schools for children: Jumeirah English Speaking School and The Indian High School. Parents should note that this followed new demands from the KHDA, particularly in data management and more effective monitoring of individual child progress that are now being addressed.

In 2018, highlights of the outstanding achievements outlined by the KHDA in its inspection of Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills include:

  • Outstanding whole child personal development across all phases, with supporting outstanding breadth and reach of ECA provision.
  •  An “outstanding curriculum that includes linguistic, physical
    and creative experiences ensuring the highest quality provision for students’ academic and personal achievements.”
  •  Warm and meaningful relationships between staff and students described as of an “exemplary” standard by the KHDA – its highest accolade. The KHDA praise the quality of personal and academic guidance and support for all students.
  • Fabulous and close parental links and broader community engagement.
  • Innovation and creativity are both systemically integrated within school life and the curriculum.

Weaknesses mainly fall in the area of Arabic subjects provision* (a difficulty faced by even the best international schools regardless of curriculum), data management, monitoring, recording and evaluation issues (important because better use of data allows schools to respond even more effectively to child progress, thereby ratcheting up attainment so no child is left behind) – and a related need to improve Gifted and Talented provision for children in areas in which they excel. Without the data issues (which are being addressed) Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills would still be a KHDA Outstanding School – the difficulty faced here is that in this area, weaknesses are like a house of cards, having impacts on scoring in a number of other related issues, including school leadership, which is to all intents and purposes, otherwise really impressive.

  • excepting in Arabic SEND provision which is overall of a Very Good to standard.


We rate facilities Tier 1, although the school is not a “Bells and Whistles” school. Facilities are clearly subject to high investment and of very high quality. They include:

  • Fully equipped science labs by phase
  • Computer labs
  • Design technology labs
  • Business Hub
  • Outdoor learning areas
  • Dedicated Exam Hall
  • 4 climate-controlled multi-purpose halls for sports and arts
  • 2 swimming pools
  • Outdoor playing field and shaded play areas –  increasingly rare in the UAE, these are fully grassed not artificial
  • Shaded outdoor basketball and tennis ball courts
  • Sky Garden
  • Cafeteria serving hot food
  • Networked Library
  • Further specialist rooms for Music; Design & Technology; Art, Dance, Drama and languages
  • KG Music and movement room with sprung flooring

Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills Bottom Line? The verdict 2019

So bottom line, this is a really fabulous school., and one certainly deserving of shortlisting. We rate the Innoventures model highly – they have shown themselves to be ongoing investors in children and their schools – with a very genuine commitment to deliver outstanding whole child and academic education for students. The new Dubai International Academy in Al Barsha is a case in point. Our review is in development, but like here, the Al Barsha school has been subject to extraordinarily high, and very considered investment – including in outstanding leadership.

For us, the key development has been the introduction of the IB CP in 2017. It’s expensive to deliver this – but an inclusive school, in our view needs it. We would really like to see the breadth of offer here expanded beyond business, but to be fair to DIA, these are early days. Even outstanding schools need time ….

In terms of dynamics, this school is a very happy one. We visit far too many schools where the children are timid, and seem to spend more time looking at the floor than engaging with their peers and teachers around them. There is none of that here. Children at Dubai International Academy are engaged, interesting and inspired with a clear love of learning for its own sake, not just for exams. That is test of a really good school. It requires outstanding, caring teaching, open door leadership and engagement in the bigger picture.

We rate Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills very highly. As importantly, the capacity is clearly here to excel still further….

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

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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


2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating


Rating FS

Very Good

Rating Primary / Elementary

Very Good

Rating Secondary / Middle


Rating Post 16 / High

Very Good - Outstanding

Type of school


WSA Good School

Under review 2019

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 40,157
FS2: 45,288
YEAR 1: 45,712
YEAR 2: 51,766
YEAR 3: 51,766
YEAR 4: 51,766
YEAR 5: 51,766
YEAR 6: 51,766
YEAR 7: 58,231
YEAR 8: 58,231
YEAR 9: 58,231
YEAR 10: 64,711
YEAR 11: 64,711
YEAR 12: 71,152
YEAR 13: 71,152


International Baccalaureate
International Baccalaurate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP)
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP)
International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB D)
International Baccalaureate Career related Programme (IBCP)
Pearson BTEC National Diploma in Business

External Exam Boards

International Baccalaureate (IB)
Council of International School (CIS)
NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)

IB DipM Pass Rate

94% (2017)
(1) DIA dos not publish the actual number of students who sit for either the IB CP or IB DP making accurate benchmarking impossible.

IB DipM Average Grade

34 points (2018)
33.7 points (2017)
(1) 18% of students achieved 38 points or more (2018)
(2) 75% of students scored more than 30 points (2018)


Fully inclusive

Waiting list


Value Added

Not published

Number of Students


Teacher to Student Ratio


Largest nationality teachers


Teacher turnover

20% (below average)

Year opened



Emirates Hills, Dubai

Student composition

European (largest nationality)
(1) Emirati: 26 students
(2) SEND: 84 students



School canteen



Innoventures Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 4 3684111 ext. 113

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM


Attainment Pri SEM


Attainment Sec SEM


Attainment Post-16 SEM


Progress Nur SEM


Progress Pri SEM


Progress Sec SEM


Progress Post-16 SEM


Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)


Arabic Secondary Results (Native)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)


Arabic Primary Results (Add.)


Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)


Islamic St. Primary Results


Islamic St. Secondary Results


Islamic St. Post-16 Results








Quality of teaching


Student personal responsibility


Quality of curriculum


School Governance


SEN Provision



• Fabulous school leadership - a stand-out feature of both DIA schools
• Provision of the IB CP - a real test of a genuinely inclusive school committed to meeting the needs of all children
• The school excels in its outstanding learning provision across both Kindergarten and IB Diploma Programmes
• Students’ personal and social development received the highest KHDA commendation, and this extended to the school’s outstanding provision for the health and safety of children under its care
• The quality of the curriculum across all phases is outstanding
• The outstanding quality of leadership and governance is mirrored in exceptionally good links between parents and the school
• The Dubai International Academy is a genuinely, and richly, inclusive school extending a broad welcome to students with special educational needs
• Older students in Kindergarten demonstrate a mature respect and sensitivity for others, providing exemplary role models for younger students
• Attendance and punctuality are outstanding across all phases of each child’s education
• The Academy nurtures in the children under its care a deep appreciation of Islamic values; children speak of Islamic values with admiration and articulate how those values underpin the development and growth of modern Dubai and the freedom it offers


• Weaker provision in Arabic subjects - a problem for all international schools
• Would like to see further BTEC options beyond Business introduced in the IB CP

Our Rating
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Arts & Drama
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities

• Dubai International Academy is a genuinely impressive school, and in some key areas it is an inspirational one. For us, the school goes from strength to strength each year with evident and creditable ongoing investment.
• Across all of its four education streams, Kindergarten to Diploma, the school offers a Very Good or Outstanding level of provision
• The Academy too is extraordinarily open and inclusive, not only in its Special Educational Needs provision, but also in its international and cultural openness which is genuinely impressive
• This is a friendly, hugely warm school in which children support each other and share an inspiring appreciation off Dubai and its freedoms
• We expect Dubai International Academy to re-secure its Outstanding rating from the KHDA in the short to medium term.
• Highly recommend

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

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