Horizon English School, Al Safa, Jumeirah
Updated August 2019 – Horizon English School KHDA 2019, new facilities, outgoing Headmaster, SchoolsCompared.com 2019 verdict
“By focusing purely on the primary years of education we can instill the right values in our children from an early age.
We take pride in our sports teams and music groups (both of which form a huge part of school life) being inclusive, and we make a point of making sure that no child ever feels left behind.”
Ian Wallace. Headteacher. Horizon English School.
Horizon English School continues to drive its credentials as one of Dubai’s top-tier (mixed) primary schools, although it has lost its ‘Outstanding’ rating (held for three years in a row), picking up a Very Good rating (with significant Outstanding features) in all three of the KHDA’s round of inspections in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The Horizon English School KHDA Inspection took the school to “within a whisker” of re-securing Outstanding School status.
Horizon is rated ‘outstanding’ by the British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspectorate and is a member of the British Schools Middle East (BSME) network.
Established in 1992 Horizon School caters to 926 students from a variety of backgrounds and 43 nationalities. 43% of students are from the United Kingdom and 12% from Australia.
The school employs 65 full and part-time teachers with between 19 and 26 students per class and a staff: student ratio of 1:14. Significant growth in student and staff numbers were noted in the 2015-16 KHDA report and teacher turnover in 2018 (at 24%) has stablised somewhat – now around average across all UAE schools. The school role is still growing, around 8% last year.
The changes may be attributable to the purchase of the school by Al Najah Education and the subsequent departure of the school’s Founding Principal, Marion Sinclair. Her (very impressive) replacement, David Baldwin, left the school after 3 years in post, returning to the UK in 2018 to take up the role of Director of Cognita Schools.
Current Headteacher, Ian Wallace, has been in post since November 2018 and, tellingly, has been promoted from within the school. We note outstanding feedback from parents and teachers across both WhichSchoolAdvisor.com and ourselves.
Horizon English School now delivers an across-the-board Very Good accredited level of education across all phases in Science, English and mathematics. As staff turnover and school expansion settles down this is a school that clearly has Outstanding school status realistically in its short-term trajectory.
Both new and improved facilities are being introduced at the school (2018 – 19) including:
- New specialist teaching spaces including a creative zone to stimulate new ideas, innovation and invention, especially among older primary children.
- Upgraded sporting facilities including (1) a raised playing area with a view of the iconic Dubai skyline; (2) upgrades to the pool’; and, (3) new fitness facilities.
- New dining and auditorium facilities
- Improved parking with additional parking spaces designed to minimise congestion during morning drop off and afternoon pick up timings
- New classrooms to allow the school to meet demand from its Waiting List
Sport is one of many of the outstanding features of life at the school.
Fees for Horizon English School range from between AED 28,249 to AED to 39,564 per year, although parents considering the school should note that the school comes with relatively steep ‘optional’ costs that parents claim are in practice required. Option costs can add more that AED 10,000 to the basic fees.
Historically, slipstream schools include Dubai College, reviewed here, English College, Dubai, reviewed here, Dubai English Speaking College, reviewed here, and more recently Al Najah Education’s sister school, Horizon International School, reviewed here.
Horizon English School bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019
It is increasingly difficult in Dubai’s landscape of new Tier 1 schools to find dedicated Primaries, and to find one that remains on a small-scale with genuine community dynamics and the happiness that flows from this and outstanding caring teaching faculty even harder. Horizon delivers this – and with one of the broadest spectrum of slipstream choices for parents including some of the best schools in Dubai.
Horizon English School has quite a reputation and amongst Dubai parents is very much seen as part and parcel of the best of the dedicated group of pure flow Primaries. It may not have the not-for-profit “Ivy league” cache of some, nor the support of one of the landmark school groups behind it – but year-on-year it builds its own highly creditable, very happy and successful school identity without these.
The choice of Mr Wallace to take over as Headteacher is in our view an inspired one. He knows the school and has all the experience of what has made it such a loved school built into his DNA. This, combined with the commitment and investment of the relatively new owners, should prove a formidable partnership.
The school is constrained by its location from all-through expansion – but we think that should be seen as a strength. This is a school dedicated to Early Years learning and the celebration of childhood unencumbered by the pressures that inevitably come with older children.
A highly recommended school – and one too that continues to play an important role in educational life and culture in the UAE. It’s a school that we think deserves an Outstanding rating from KHDA inspectors – it just needs to fine tune those wonderful educational cogs already in place to reach for the stars that are surely only a blink away from being reached.
Note for parents: the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau refer to the school as the “Horizons English School” whilst it is also known as “Horizon English School.”
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good (2016)
Very Good (2017)
National Curriculum of England
Al Safa, Jumeirah, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
Al Najah Education Limited (Al Masah Capital Limited (alternative investment/private equity fund))
(1) Shailesh Dash, Chairman
(2) (Mr) Raza Khan, CEO
+971 (0) 4 3422891
• Children’s attainment and progress is outstanding in English, Mathematics and Science at Foundation Stage and in Mathematics at Primary level
• Students achieve outstanding learning skills, and excel in personal and social development
• The quality of the curriculum, support for students and Special Educational Need [SEN] provision is outstanding
• School governance and leadership is outstanding with best-in-class parental partnership and communications
• The School is committed to a significant and recognised role for Governors in improving staffing, facilities and resources
• Horizon offers an extremely warm, inviting and inspiring atmosphere for its children's education
• Students’ progress in Islamic Education and Arabic language is not as impressive as in other core subjects
• The school is facing stresses from rapid growth of population including 22 new teachers and an increase from four to teen classes at Foundation Stage - at 21% teacher turnover is high
• In Arabic as an additional language, students show slower progress in writing and reading skills
• The quality of the teaching of Arabic as a first language is only acceptable and some students are not sufficiently challenged or inspired
• The school balances the needs of the majority ahead of provision for the gifted child