Dubai English Speaking School [DESS], Umm Hurair, Oud Metha
• Outstanding early years/primary curriculum
• Inspirational world class teaching
• Exemplary core subject attainment in Mathematics, English and Science
• Extraordinarily inspiring extracurricular programme
• Significant whole child development based on altruism and global understanding
• Visionary, driven and innovative leadership embarking on new Development Programme further strengthening the school’s provision across all subjects including Arabic
• Fabulous school atmosphere – happy, creative, welcoming and inspiration-filled at every corner
• Slipstream to top UAE Dubai English Speaking College
• Remaining weakness in Arabic language provision with some worsening of attainment
• Reduction in the number of teachers per student would seem to have had knock on impacts in reducing some aspects of academic performance
Updated December 2016
Note to existing and prospective parents: please read this review in association with the review of DESS’s sister, Dubai English Speaking College.
One of Dubai’s most loved Early Years and Primary schools, Dubai English Speaking School [DESS] is also the Emirate’s oldest British school, established in 1963. A consistently KHDA rated “Good “school over the last seven years, in 2016 DESS secured a rating of Outstanding in its British Schools Overseas Inspection and “Very Good” under the Dubai Inspectorate’s new 6 gradings of inspection. We rate the school as this side of Outstanding.
Read the 2016-2018 British Schools Overseas Report here
DESS educates 966 pupils aged between 3 and 11 years of age from FS1 to Year 6 across the English National Curriculum. Core subjects focus on Arabic, Performing Arts, French, Geography, History, Islamic Studies, Numeracy, Literacy, Physical Education [PE], Science and Personal Health and Social Education [PHSE].
An automatic slipstream offers all DESS children places within the prestigious Dubai English Speaking College [DESC], its sister college, this offering a British secondary education to KG13.
In 2015 the school embarked formally on major structural changes under the newly-created Joint Principal for both DESS and DESC, Andrew Gibbs, and Catherine Dando, DESSs new Headteacher. This saw the creation of a completely new, highly strategic Development Plan for the school, now integrating Arabic centrally into school life within a dedicated Centre of Learning as well as a spectrum of other changes focused on building on the strengths of the DESS curriculum, community engagement and making all learning “irresistible” for children. Parents should note that these changes are not reflected in the current KHDA grading.
The school itself has a uniquely engaging feel; colour abounds and children’s attainment speaks through displayed work around almost every corner. The school very much retains the warmth of its roots; DESS is resolutely not a post-modern adventure in glass architecture, despite the quality and breadth of facilities being Tier 1.
Facilities include a “lovely” swimming pool (whichschooladvisor), playing fields and an abundance of play equipment designed to inspire the pupils from hula hoops to skipping ropes.
Teachers are predominantly British, but there is a good mix of other nationalities and the sense of common purpose, and happiness, is palpable across the teaching and student body. whichschooladvisor found in their annual walk-in inspection a traditional British school with an inspiring, and unusual balance of calm and enthusiasm.
Results are outstanding across core areas of English, Mathematics and Science. Tellingly, DESS has a high number of level 3 writers at the end of Key Stage 1 and level 5 readers at the end of Key Stage 2. In 2015-16, 100% of DESS children “achieved level 4 and 83% level 5 with some children making significant progress to achieve level 6 for the first time.” Attainment in Mathematics is exceptional: 97% of the children achieve level 4, 62% level 5 and some reach level 6. Pupils excel across the range of arts, sports, music, drama, computing and languages, including French – the only weakness in Arabic language where progress meets an acceptable KHDA standard, a common weakness of British Schools DESS is tirelessly trying to address. The school’s Headteacher is keen to emphasise that it is early days in its new Development Plan and whichschooladvisor is optimistic that the school’s (and pupils’) perseverance and drive will eventually be rewarded. Part of the new “real world” rather than labored text book approach to teaching Arabic is described by the BSO:
“Children effortlessly learn Arabic through song, interactive wall displays and by hearing Arabic used interchangeably by adults in the classroom and in the non-statutory, Arabic lessons taught by specialist subject teachers.”
If commitment alone won an Outstanding award, DESS would have two.
Like other traditional British schools, DESS has embraced the traditional English public school house system. At DESS all children are assigned one of four houses from Leopards, Lynxs, Panthers and Jaguars, and the camaraderie and competition, team spirit, sense of community and belonging each inspires is integral to each child’s life as he or she moves through the school.
Cultural whole child development based on altruism and care for others includes a colourful International Shine Day in which over 40 nationalities across the school develop stalls, music and dance, food tasting and clothing based activities to celebrate diversity; its own DESS charity in which children raise funds for good causes and an annual “Pink Day” for breast cancer awareness:
Extra-curricular activities are truly extensive offering breadth across sport, music, performing arts and play including swimming; ballet; netball; gymnastics; Pilates; yoga; cooking; gardening; (boys and girls) football; French; debating; creative writing/poetry; guitar; origami; blogging; sewing; choir; karate; boys rugby; basketball; “scrapbooking;” Formula One; drawing; Arabic drama; recorder; wind instruments; Hamma Beads; calligraphy; Arabic singing; cricket; philosophy; Lego; choir; Quran; storytelling; boxing; musical theatre (DESPA Academy); and Futsal (5 aside football).
Both the KDHA and BSO describe school life as “exciting”; a rarely used word by both bodies. The curriculum is designed ground up from the moment children enter the school to fire the imagination. For whichschooladvisor, Dubai English Speaking School, like its sister College, has a richly deserved reputation for delivering a world class, truly Outstanding education for its children. A much loved, and worthy whichschooladvisor Top 11 “Ivy League” school in the UAE and, new for 2016-17, now a recipient of whichschooladvisor Good School status, its highest awarded accolade.Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the UAE “IVY LEAGUE” SCHOOLS on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
YEAR 1: 42,078
YEAR 2: 42,078
YEAR 3: 42,078
YEAR 4: 42,078
YEAR 5: 42,078
YEAR 6: 42,078
YEAR 7: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
YEAR 8: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
YEAR 9: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
YEAR 10: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
YEAR 11: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
YEAR 12: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
YEAR 13: NA (Slipstream to Dubai English Speaking College)
National Curriculum for England
Not published (High)
Umm Hurair, Oud Metha, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
53 Special Educational Needs [SEN]
00971 (0) 4 337 1457