This is an academically rigorous, modern British international school that caters to the expat community in Dubai, as well as globally minded UAE families.
The school is situated in central Dubai, on a contained campus. The school’s grass playing fields are a five-minute walk away.
Soft-spoken Marc Morris was previously chief education officer at Dulwich College International in Singapore, where he was responsible for nine international schools in China, South Korea, Myanmar and Singapore. An avid mountain climber, he has led World Challenge expeditions to Bolivia and Tanzania.
Prospective pupils are required to sit a CAT test and submit their most recent school report. Applications can also be supported by evidence of excellence in sport, drama, music and the arts, as well as potential in global citizenship, leadership and innovation. The main entry point is Year 7.
For entry into Year 12, pupils need at least four Bs (grade 6) and two Cs (5-4) at GCSE, two of which must be English language (as a first language) and maths. In order to study a subject at A-level, students will be expected to have gained at least a B (6) in it at GCSE.
Places are awarded in order of priority, with Emirati nationals first, followed by pupils coming up from Jumeirah Primary School and siblings. If applications exceed the number of places available, pupils are ranked in order of test result and projected Key Stage 2 levels. Every new arrival is required by UAE Ministry of Education law to provide a leaving/transfer certificate from their last school.
The school’s parent company GEMS has a broad scholarship scheme offering awards in academics, sport, Arabic studies, performing arts and innovation and digital technology.
Academics and university destinations
The school follows the English national curriculum, preparing pupils for IGCSEs and A-levels – and it's intense, with a heavy focus on academic progress and results. Every classroom has an interactive whiteboard, and there are currently more than 400 computers for students to use. They can also bring in their own laptops or iPads.
There is support for pupils with special needs, EAL and those who are exceptionally able. The majority of leavers continue their education at a university in the UAE but in recent years some have also gone to Harvard and Stanford in the US.
Great performing-arts facilities include a pair of drama studios, a music technology laboratory and recording studio, and a trio of art studios for painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, textiles, architecture and ceramics. Everyone studies art and design up to the end of Key Stage 3.
Sport isn’t a priority but is offered as part of the extracurricular programme, which also includes academic (languages, remedial classes in geography), special interest (robotics, debating, drone flying) and physical (rock climbing, Pilates) options.
There’s a real emphasis on parents being vital to the progress of a student and working in collaboration with the school. Communication is good and the college has regular parent consultations, both individual and group, as well as parent meetings and a comprehensive reporting cycle. The pastoral system is organised in year groups and form tutors are the first point of contact for any issues that may arise (pupils stay in the same tutor group throughout their time at the school).
For those wanting a British curriculum and high academic standards, this is a serious contender but be aware: results are the top priority.