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JESS voluntarily FREEZES secondary school fees, despite backdrop of rising fees in other leading Not For Profit schools

JESS voluntarily FREEZES secondary school fees, despite backdrop of rising fees in other leading Not For Profit schools

by Tabitha BardaMay 31, 2022

Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) has announced it will freeze its Secondary school and Sixth Form fees for the academic year 2022/2023, despite having the option to increase them. It will however be raising its Primary-school fees by 5%. This is to “address the disparity between primary and secondary fees”, according to a communication sent by JESS to parents today.

Freezing school fees despite investment

JESS is the third Not For Profit (NFP) school in Dubai to make an announcement about school fees this month, following the news that other leading NFPs would be raising their fees across the board. Dubai College has announced it will be raising its fees by 5%, and both Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) and Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) will be raising their fees by 8% and 5.5% respectively.

Not For Profit schools are exempt from the Dubai school-fees freeze applicable to For Profit schools that was announced by the KHDA, the Dubai school regulator, earlier this year.

They key difference with JESS’s fee rise compared to its NFP peers in Dubai is that it has taken the decision to raise fees only in the primary school, while the secondary-school fees will remain static. Shane O’Brien, Director of JESS, explains the reasoning in his letter to parents:

“When benchmarking across other schools in Dubai you will find that our primary fees provide incredibly good value. With this increase, we take a step towards the sustainable financial model required to achieve our development goals whilst showing due consideration to JESS families with children in secondary.”

The decision to freeze Secondary and Sixth Form fees comes despite the fact that JESS has made significant investments in staffing in, especially Learning Support, Counselling and the Performing Arts. This includes:

*   Increased number of social and emotional counsellors.
*   Increasing the number of Learning Support Assistants in the primary schools which from September will see two adults in every English and Maths lesson up to Year 6.
*   Increased number of Inclusion Support Assistants across all schools.
*   Introduction of in-house Speech and Occupational Therapy.
*   Heads of Strings, Brass, Piano, Woodwind have been appointed to support our vision for the Performing Arts across the three schools. A Head of Voice will join us in September.
*   Specialist Dance teachers across the three schools from September.
*   An additional AV Technician to support the Performing Arts.
*   Two additional sports coaches appointed this year.
*   Additional teachers in secondary over two years to support increased student numbers.
*   Additional University Guidance provision.

In his letter to parents, JESS Director Shane O’Brien explained the reasoning behind the school’s investments:

“All research says that the most significant influence on a child’s educational progress is the quality of the teacher. Accordingly, we continue to invest in quality staff. I hope that you can see from the appointments above that we are enhancing the provision for your children in essential areas that will make a difference.”

O’Brien added creditably that he would be inviting all families to a parents’ forum to discuss the JESS investment strategy.

How do JESS fees compare to other NFP schools after the rises?

JESS’s decision to freeze secondary-school fees means it will now be less expensive than its other leading NFP peer Dubai College in the academic year 2022/2023. Previously the two schools were on a par, with JESS being marginally more expensive at Dh82,521 for Secondary and Dh93,852 for Sixth Form, while Dubai College was 82,482 for Years 7-11 and Dh93,399 Years 12 and 13. Dubai College’s fees will now go up by 5% for the next academic year, while the JESS secondary fees will not change.

However, both schools have significantly higher fees than other leading NFP school, DESS (primary) and DESC (secondary).

Having reduced its fees dramatically to help families over COVID, DESS will raise its fees by 8% next year, while the secondary DESC will raise them by 5.5%.

Although these sound like significant rises, both DESS and DESC remain notably more affordable than their NFP peers: in 2022/2023 DESS fees will go up to Dh47,406 for primary (compared to Dh49,230 for JESS, which will go up by an additional 5% next year); Dh73,708 for Years 7-11, and Dh79,222 for Sixth Form.

NFP School Primary fees 2022-23 (FS2- Y6) Secondary fees 2022-23 (Y7-11) Sixth Form Fees 2022-23 (Ys 12-13)
JESS 51,692* 82,521 93,852
Dubai College N/A 82,482 93,399
DESS 47,406 N/A N/A
DESC N/A 73,708




*Estimated figure including 5% fee rise

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Do you have thoughts on Dubai school fees or UAE school fees? Please email me, in confidence, at [email protected]

The Bigger Picture…

Read more on Dubai school fee increases and the changing face of the for-profit and not-for-profit schools landscape:

  • Our Editors opinion on school fee increases to come, and what parents and schools can do to soften the blow – here.
  • The Dubai College decision to increase fees  by 5%  – full story here,
  • SchoolsCompared consultation with parents on the impacts of fee rises at a time of spiralling costs for parents – full story here.
  • Jebel Ali School joins Taaleem and becomes proudly for-profit – arguing that it will at least meet the quality of its old not-for-profit status and promising major new investment – full story here.
  • The DESSC decision to increase fees by up to 8% – here.
About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and's The School's Report - the global weekly round up of what matters in education for parents which is published every Friday, reviewing schools across the UAE - and features on issues that really matter. You can often find Tabitha on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

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