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Dubai English Speaking School [DESS], Umm Hurair, Oud Metha
WSA Good School
1
Review

Dubai English Speaking School [DESS], Umm Hurair, Oud Metha

by January 26, 2016
Strengths

• 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

Weaknesses

• 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

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

• Whichschooladvisor “Good School” status new for 2016-17
• British Schools Overseas “Outstanding” School 2016 -2018
• Extraordinary leadership driving through change already reaping rewards
• The total package – an extraordinary, inclusive, inspirational and exciting school firing on all cylinders for all its children
• Recommended without qualification

A
Our Rating
A
User Rating
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Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
83%
In my Top 5
17%
Shortlisted
8%
A possibility
0%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

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
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, not-for-profit

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 34,000
FS2: 42,078
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)

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England

Selective

No

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published (High)

Number of Students

966

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:20

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

13%

Year opened

1963

Location

Umm Hurair, Oud Metha, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)
46 nationalities
53 Special Educational Needs [SEN]
Emirati: 7

Gender

Mixed co-educational

Owner

Private, not-for-profit

Admissions Telephone

00971 (0) 4 337 1457

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

93.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

86.6%

Attainment Sec SEM

NA

Attainment Post-16 SEM

NA

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

86.6%

Progress Sec SEM

NA

Progress Post-16 SEM

NA

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

30%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

NA

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

80%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

NA

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

NA

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

90%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

90%

School Governance

60%

SEN Provision

90%

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com
1 Comments
  • Mrs.K
    August 7, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Wholesome school with a very active parent community. Very sporty school in addition to great academic results. Good all round education.

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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities