Best schools in Dubai considered by experts
Updated: Jan 4
There are many schools in Dubai but below summarizes the best picks from an expatriate perspective. The criteria of selection is defendant on the ease of assimilation, use of English as a language, proximity to expatriate localities and ease of access in terms of traffic and parking. Schools with a full GSGI review are noted with next to their names. By full GSGI review, we mean school write-ups that are completely selected, researched, visited and written by our own editors. Our final reviews take the good with the bad, warts and all, but we look for a preponderance of good before we drill down for in-depth details and descend on the school for an exhaustive visit. We are aware of the other schools on this page and we continually add or remove schools, as deemed appropriate.
American School of Dubai
Adapted curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,890 students
Founded in 1966 for the education of children of families working in the oil industry, currently approximately 65-75 per cent of students carry North American passports and very few non-westerners. Located on a large, modern (2010) campus at Al Barsha in Dubai. The vast majority (nearly 90 per cent) of graduates move on to North American universities. Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A Level; ages 11-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 950 students
Founded in 1978 by a determined English teacher and now supplying students to almost all the leading universities in the UK and several Ivies in the US. Exam results are consistently amongst the highest in global schools following the British curriculum. Recently nearly 90 per cent achieved A*-A at GCSE and 60 per cent gained the same grades at A Level. Approximately 50 per cent are British nationals and the school is an Accredited Member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS).
Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 4-11; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 995 students
The original half of the Dubai English Speaking pair of schools, founded in 1963 and located in Oud Metha, Dubai. An elementary school following the English educational system. Most students continue their education at its sister school. Very popular with expats and, recently, both schools were full for the following academic year.
Repton Al Barsha
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ Common Entrance; ages 3-13; co-ed; independent; privately owned; 520 students
Originally known as Foremarke School but now renamed as part of the partnership formed between Repton School (UK) and the Dubai company, Evolvence Knowledge Investments. Expanding organically, with Year 9 opened in September 2020 and the group's nursery 'Dovecote' having joined the campus early in the same year. Two thirds of the students are UK passport holders, with the remainder from over 40 other nationalities. Accredited as an Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS) World Hub School, only the second school, globally, to be awarded this status.
Jebel Ali School (formerly Jebel Ali Primary School)
Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 3-15; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,170 students
Founded in 1977 as a primary school for expat workers and now evolving into an all-through international school, aiming to provide a full British education, including IGCSEs and A Levels but retaining Arabic as a core subject. On a new, startlingly colorful campus on Emirates Road in Dubai. Approximately, 50 per cent of students hold British passports.
Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS)
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ IB Diploma/ BTEC; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 700 students
Original school in Jumeirah founded in 1975 to meet the needs of British families in Dubai. The Arabian Ranches campus opened in 2005 together with a sixth form added in 2009. Students follow the British curriculum followed by either the International Baccalaureate Diploma or the vocational BTEC program (first cohort graduated in 2019). Accredited Member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). Mightily impressive average scores for the IB Diploma.
GEMS Jumeirah Primary School
Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,470 students
Owned by GEMS Education group (one of the big educational players in Dubai) along with its senior school GEMS Jumeirah College. The vast majority of pupils move up to the senior school, made easier by the collaboration over the curriculum taught in the junior school.
GEMS Wellington International School
Adapted curriculum/ I/GCSE/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 2,690 students
One of the international schools opened by Wellington School, UK in partnership with other providers. Offering a British based education with International Baccalaureate options in years 12 and 13. Excellent exam results with an IB Diploma average in the mid-thirties and 60 per cent of A Level students achieving A-A*. Aiming to re-produce the Wellington UK approach and feel and has Prince Michael of Kent as its patron.
Kings' School Dubai (formerly Kings' College Dubai and British International School in Dubai)
EYFS/ adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 940 students
Founded in 2004, one of a group of three Dubai Kings’ schools, one in Dubai and the others in Al Barsha (1,660 students) and Nad Al Sheba (340 students). Kings’ School Dubai and Nad Al Sheba campuses are primary schools and the Al Barsha school is all-through. All three teach the English curriculum and the Al Barsha campus offers GCSEs and A Levels as well as a bespoke Kings’ Diploma to help in applying to UK and US universities.
Repton School (Dubai)
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers/ BTEC; ages 3-18; co-ed; day and boarding; independent; privately owned; 1,770 students
Established in 2007 in Nad Al Sheba. Divided into junior and senior schools with approximately 1,000 students in the former and 700 in the latter. Nearly 45 per cent of the students are UK passport holders with ten per cent from India and the remainder from over 70 other nationalities. The boarding side, introduced to reflect the composition of its sister school in the UK, has been slow to grow and still only numbers under 100 students. The average International Baccalaureate Diploma scores have been more than satisfactory, being in the mid-thirties range.
Dubai British School
EYFS/ Adapted National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A Level/ BTEC; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,140 students
Part of Taaleem, a school provider in the UAE since 2004, offering a variety of international curricula and partially owned by the Government of Dubai. Located on a campus, proudly now solar, in Emirates Hills, Dubai. Duke of Edinburgh International awards and LAMDA exams as well as vocational BTEC programmes. Graduates often leave for universities in the US and the UK (a few to Russell Group).
Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A Level/ BTEC; ages 11-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,660 students
Founded in 2005 and moved to its present site in Academic City in 2007, officially opened by Princess Haya of Jordan. A secondary school, sister to the Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) and now under the same principal but with its own headteacher. Roughly 150 students graduate annually and mainly head to universities in the UK (including most Russell Group) and the US.
Dubai International Academy
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 2,290 students
Established in 2005 and the first school in the UAE to offer the three stages of the International Baccalaureate program. Owned by the Innoventures Education group, a specialist manager of international schools and nurseries in Dubai. Indian students are the largest cohort amongst the over 80 nationalities represented. The average IB Diploma score is in the mid-thirties (against the global figure of 30) and students have gained places at some of the top global universities including Yale, Stanford, Cambridge and the LSE.
Dunecrest American School
American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP/ IB Diploma; ages 4-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 270 students
Only opened in 2018 and catering mainly for local children, at the moment. Too early to know about academic success but they are using the new American AERO curriculum and are authorized to teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
Dwight School Dubai
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned
This is a very new school (opened 2018), so there is little information available as yet, apart from the fact that they are officially authorized to teach three stages of the International Baccalaureate Program, the only absentee being the IB Careers Program.
Emirates International School (EIS-Jumeirah)
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers; ages 3-18; co-ed; independent; privately owned; 2,120 students
Owned by the Al Habtoor Group, one of the region’s largest conglomerates, involved in hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing. One of the few schools offering the vocational International Baccalaureate Careers Program. Scoring a very respectable average, in the low thirties, for the IB Diploma, the majority of graduates continue their education at universities in the UK or North America.
Emirates International School (EIS-Meadows)
PYP/ MYP/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,730 students
Opened in 2005, initially for children from 4-14, but now offering the original three stages of the International Baccalaureate program, although without the vocational element ( the IB Careers Program), that their sister school in Jumeirah delivers. Owned by the Al Habtoor Group, one of the region’s largest conglomerates, involved in hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing. Recently two students achieved the perfect score of 45 for the IB Diploma and the average is way above the global figure.
English College (The)
EYFS/ adapted National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A Level/ BTEC; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 740 students
Originally established in 1992 in Umm Suqeim with the neighboring Manor Primary, (under the same ownership and integrated into the college in 2019). The first (2016) and apparently successful step was made here (into the global education market) by LVS Ascot who manage three non-selective co-ed independent schools in the UK but the agreement was terminated in 2018 and the school handed back to the board.
Fairgreen International School
Adapted curriculum/ PYP candidate/ MYP; ages 4-16; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 200 students
Another Esol Education school, offering two stages of the International Baccalaureate programs and intending to offer all four, including the Careers Program. Unusually for Dubai, the majority of students have British or Dutch nationality.
GEMS Cambridge International School (formerly Cambridge High School)
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 2,710 students
Founded in 1983 and part of the GEMS Education group, now operating 55 schools across the Middle East. British curriculum throughout and strong in sports and debating. Graduates achieve places at a huge range of leading global universities including Oxbridge and Russell Group in the UK and Ivies in the US.
GEMS Dubai American Academy
Adapted American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ IB Diploma; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 2,750 students
Huge school as a result of the merger between Dubai American Academy and GEMS Nations Academy in 2017, now on a 23 acre campus in Al Barsha. Owned and run by the GEMS Education group, a heavy hitter with 55 schools in the region. In a recent year, 75 per cent of the graduating class elected to take the International Baccalaureate Diploma achieving an average score of 34 as opposed to the global figure of 30 and graduates moved on to leading universities, predominantly in the US but also the UK, Europe and Asia.
GEMS Founders School
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 4,325 students
A vast school, opened in 2016 as the newest GEMS Education group school in Dubai. Originally offering a British education for children aged three to twelve and has continued to expand upwards. Academics as yet unproven but the school is an Accredited Member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and inspected by the Education Development Trust on behalf of British Schools Overseas (BSO).
GEMS Jumeirah College
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A Level/ BTEC; ages 11-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,125 students
Founded in 1999, a secondary school following the British curriculum with instruction in English. Owned by the GEMS Education group, a serious player on the Dubai education scene with 55 schools across the Middle East. 95 per cent of entrants come from the neighboring Jumeirah Primary School. GEMS has stopped publishing performance in external exams but previously results were impressive.
GEMS World Academy Dubai (formerly GEMS World School)
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers/ BTEC; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,550 students
Started operations in 2008 as part of the GEMS Education Group’s stable of schools in Dubai. Located in Al Bashra South and located on a campus boasting an Olympic-sized pool and sports on offer range from riding to rock climbing. Graduates leave for several leading universities in the UK and the US, including Ivies. Recognized by several internationally acclaimed organizations and accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS).
Horizon English School
Adapted National Curriculum for England; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 940 students
A non-selective primary school, open to children with English as an additional language. The students come from nearly 50 different countries with UK passport holders as the largest cohort.
International School of Arts and Sciences
Adapted American curriculum/ UAE curricula/ ISAS School diploma/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 6-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 545 students
Managed by Academic Management Solutions International (AMSI) who run schools in Dubai and Lebanon. Bilingual, English/Arabic program in kindergarten followed by English as the primary language of instruction. Recently, 70 per cent of AP students scored 3 or above and just under 40 per cent of graduates were admitted to universities outside the UAE. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Kent College Dubai
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ (I)GCSE/ A Level/ BTEC/ candidate IB Diploma; ages 0-19; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 950 students
A relatively new school, opened in 2016 and now an all-through option, with a nursery taking children from birth. Not yet at full capacity but already teaching students from over 80 different nationalities Owned by a company which also owns the Lycée Francais de Dubai.. One of the few 'British' schools in Dubai that has close ties with its sister school in the UK.
Lycée Francais International Georges Pompidou Academic City
French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state; 2,240 students
Founded in 2006, as an AEFE (Agency for French Education Abroad) school and accredited by the French Ministry of Education. There is a newly built primary section and the larger secondary section has plenty of outdoor space. An academically successful school where all students take mandatory Arabic until the age of fifteen and can continue doing so until graduation.
Nord Anglia International School Dubai
Adapted National Curriculum for England/ I/GCSE/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,750 students
Currently, the second of Nord Anglia’s schools in Dubai, teaching a very wide range of nationalities (around 75), with the largest cohort holding British passports. Inspected by the Educational Development Trust (EDT) on behalf of the British Schools Overseas (BSO). Benefitting, as do almost all Nord Anglia schools from the relationship with the Julliard School in New York and with a STEM program developed in conjunction with MIT.
Pristine Private School
EYFS/ adapted National Curriculum for England/ IGCSE/ A Level; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,500 students
Founded in 1992 and based on a campus in the Al Nahda 2 area of Dubai. A school which follows the English curriculum but has close ties to the local government and does not publicize itself as an international school.
Raffles International School
Adapted Montessori/ EYFS/ Cambridge 1, 2/ IGCSE/ A Level/ BTEC; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,255 students
Originally a joint venture with Raffles Education, Singapore and now one of the schools in Dubai owned and run by the Innoventures Education group, specialist managers of schools and nurseries in the UAE. Located in Umm Suquein, the school has expanded and opened a year 13 class in September 2018, as well as offering a BTEC in Business.
Raffles World Academy
PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 1,715 students
Owned by Innoventures Education and opened in 2008, offering the full range of International Baccalaureate Programs and recently adding a pre-K program. Accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS). Originally, an additional campus for the Raffles International School, it is now a separate entity.
Universal American School Dubai
PYP/ adapted curriculum/ IB Diploma/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,030 students
Combining an American curriculum with two of the International Baccalaureate programs, with the choice of both graduating alternatives. A very low student: teacher ratio and dually accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Middle States Association (MSA). On a huge campus in Dubai Festival City (a name that might gladden a potential student’s heart).