Login | Register
Email Twitter Facebook YouTube Google+ 2013 Survey
Al Diyafah High School, Dubai

Al Diyafah High School, Dubai

Al Diyafah High School, which has been operating since 1982, is located in Al Qusais / Al Ghusais. It serves a predominantly Indian expatriate demographic, but with 29 plus other nationalities also represented at the school.  The school teaches the UK’s national curriculum, but “modified”, with International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations at Grade 10/11, and Advanced/Subsidiary Level examinations at the post-16 phase.

About 28 per cent of the students study Islamic Education. Kindergarten (Foundation Stage) comprises about 5 per cent of the school’s population and the post-16 phase about four per cent.

The school is presently attended by 1547 students, and served by 136 full-time teachers. The school has recently celebrated 30 years – its current headteacher has been in the role for the last two. The school suffers from a relatively high teacher turnover – currently running at 26%.

The school had identified 17 students as having some type of special educational need.

Al Diyafah High School has been rated Good by the KHDA for the last four years, up from Acceptable for the three years before that. Improvement had come from the school’s action on the recommendations in the previous inspection report, including improvements in teaching, learning and developing the role of parents in supporting the Board of Governors.

Dubai’s education regulator commended the school for improving the quality of education in all core subjects for its students. The curriculum had a greater focus on teamwork and problem-solving skills through recently introduced enrichment programmes. In addition, increased course options were offered to senior students.

In its latest report the KHDA notes as strengths that:  Post-16 students make outstanding progress in English; Secondary and post-16 students show outstanding personal and social development qualities; Curriculum design is outstanding in most parts of the school; The school’s arrangements for students’ health and safety as well as the quality of support are outstanding; and the school’s links with parents and the community is outstanding.

In previous reports the inspection team has noted that in general students display a positive attitude toward learning, and that the school has a warm and purposeful atmosphere, as well as excellent guidance and support – including careers advice – given to the students.


Current weaknesses of the school include the need to improve all aspects of provision for children in the Foundation Stage to ensure that they make good progres; to ensure that students make good progress in Arabic as an additional language by improving subject leadership and improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment; to improve governors’ monitoring of school leaders’ evaluation of the quality of teaching, improvement plans, and the time allocation for the teaching of Arabic as a first language.

The school has a very good web site, but unfortunately does not publish its academic results. Like many schools in the UAE it cherry picks and publishes only the attainment of its best students, its “toppers”. While it’s good to acknowledge success, this is meaningless in terms of understanding how good the school is when it comes to  academic achievement across the board.

WSA strongly believes all schools should be transparent about the results of their students. It urges schools to take leadership and unilaterally make the move for others to follow.

The last data we have available is from 2014. Then students achieved a 43% A*-C (2014) at A’ Level, and  87% A*-C including English and Mathematics (2014) at IGCSE.

Parents are satisfied with the quality of education in the school. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has had limited feedback for its survey, but so far results show that of those responding most were pleased with their children’s academic attainment, and school discipline. Students feel they are treated fairly, feel safe and enjoy being at school – and are largely proud of it, though they did speak out against homework.

Facilities at the school include interactive boards in each classroom, a library located in the senior school, science laboratories, and a canteen. The school offers a wide range of after school activities – the long list of both sports and more cerebral activities is available here.

Fees at the school range from 8300 AED per annum at KG, rising to 17,902 AED for Grade 12 / Year 13 A Level studies – full details below. That makes it one of the most affordable UK curriculum based schools in the UAE, however parents should note one of the trade offs is the range of subjects on offer. A Levels include: Mathematics(to A2), Physics (to A2), Chemistry (to A2), Biology (to A2), Business studies (to A2), Economics (to A2), Accounting (to A2), Art & Design (to A2), Applied ICT (to A2), Psychology (to A2), Physical Education (to A2), English (to A2) and Environmental Management (to AS only). Like many schools focused on an Indian demographic, there is a clear focus on either science or commerce, although Diyafah is broader than some of its peers, with its Art, English and Psychology offerings.


The JWI Inspection Report

Al Diyafah High School is one of the oldest British Curriculum schools in Dubai. Located on the Sharjah Dubai border (behind Dubai Women’s College), the school was established by Mrs. Winnie D’Cunha in 1982 and is still a family run organisation with a much newer sister school – Diyafah International School – in Abu Dhabi. The management of the Dubai school still lies directly with Mrs. D’Cunha’s daughter, Michelle, whilst the Abu Dhabi school is managed by Winnie’s son Alan.

Over 30 years after its foundation, Diyafah High School still has the very strong sense of community that was fundamental to its establishment, and Winnie D’Cunha’s influence is still felt strongly throughout the school. Winnie’s motto for the school was and remains “Let your light shine” from a popular song from the last century. It encompasses entirely the ethos of the school which is essentially about being the best you individually or as an organisation can be. This is reflected not only in what staff and students aspire to achieve as individuals, but also in terms of making the best use of the school’s buildings and facilities in ways which in many instances are creative and unusual.

Family values remain a key feature of the school with the Principal describing its characteristics as those of warmth, humaneness and a personalised approach to all members of the school community. The school is very proud of the range of 24 nationalities that blend together, the majority of whom are Indian. There is an outstanding parent community which is kept informed and involved through on-going communication and themed Coffee mornings, as well as an active Parent Council with an established charter. A representative of the Parent Council attends Board meetings of the school and has their own school email address to which parents may direct any specific questions or concerns that they do not wish to raise with the School management directly. The school communicates with parents via the School Communicator, regular emails and its Facebook page.

Parents organise events such as Teacher Appreciation days and Community Outreach activities including food packages that are distributed to labour camps, blood donation drives and similar actions. Fundraising activities tend to be non-cash and parents instead are encouraged to support field trips, offer career advice and participate in parent engagement weeks in school.

The current Principal (Patricia Johnston) joined the school from the Abu Dhabi branch in September 2015. Her responsibilities are for the strategic direction and focus of the school. Lisa (the Head of School) has been with DHS for several years and is responsible for the day to day operation of the school and management of the teaching staff. Staff aim to be accessible and visible.

There are currently just under 1,600 students at the school from FS1 to year 13, with a team of 136 teachers and 14 learning support assistants. Class sizes at 25 in FS and around 30 through the rest of the school are quite large by many standards, but Foundation Stage classes each have a teacher, teaching assistant and LSA and all Key Stage 1 classes have a teacher plus LSA. A staff of 5 SEN teachers support students with additional needs, be these children with learning support or gifted and talented requirements. The school is essentially full through most year groups but has recently added additional space and resources in order to grow the Sixth Form which is currently approximately 150 strong. Generally parents prefer their children to follow the more traditional courses and professions including Law and Medicine. The school maintains regular contact with approximately 50 of its past alumni.

The buildings themselves are very traditional in appearance from outside with a columned façade and grand entrance to the light and bright reception area. Visitors pass through the fenced off Foundation stage play areas to enter the school and both equipment and shades have recently been replaced and bright rubberised flooring added. At the side of the building, an outside learning area has been added which features a garden where children grow their own plants and vegetables. This will be extended for year 1 students in September.

The school was originally an L shape with classrooms along the front and to one side of the building. Over the years an additional section has been added to the right of the original building and this now incorporates at its centre one of the shaded outdoor sports and play areas with a stage built in to one side for assemblies and performances. In addition, there is a large Astroturf field at the back of the buildings which includes a running track as well as additional play equipment to one side.

Outdoor spaces are routinely used as teaching spaces and even areas of corridors and entrance area are turned into learning environments on a regular basis in order to make use of all available space. External corridors around the outside of the building and its boundary walls are fitted with white boards for teaching outside and every outdoor area has been shaded to enable its use for as much of the school year as possible. No space is allowed to be redundant. Classrooms are also well equipped with Promethium boards, appropriate furniture and lots of bright and colourful display boards.

Specialist IT, music and art rooms are available, as is a specialist Sixth Form Centre that opened in September 2015. There is a Bring Your Own Device policy with WIFI (protected by a firewall) available to students throughout the school. The school has found that boys from year 5 can be more actively engaged by incorporating technology in their learning. Boys and girls are segregated for lessons and playtimes from year 5 onwards. Since many children travel by school bus, the school also offers a range of in-school extra-curricular activities during the lunch break (from 12.10-1.30pm). There are currently 22 clubs including STEM and Robotics in addition to the more traditional sport and creative activities.

It is evident when visiting the school that the staff take enormous pride in, and give immense thought to, the students and their families. They aim to ensure that the curriculum, resources and facilities take into account the needs of both students and their families. In many ways, Diyafah High School is a very traditional school in terms of its ethos, appearance, and organisation, but its use of its resources, the manner in which it tailors its curriculum and activities to its students and the very strong community focus sets it apart and should be the envy of many larger, new and grander facilities.



Grade / Year (Annual fee (AED)
FS 1 8312
FS 2 8312
YEAR 1 8440
YEAR 2 8440
YEAR 3 8440
YEAR 4 8759
YEAR 5 8759
YEAR 6 8759
YEAR 7 8950
YEAR 8 10230
YEAR 9 11382
YEAR 10 14833
YEAR 11 14833
YEAR 12 14833
YEAR 13 17902


KHDA Rating

2008-2009 Acceptable click here
2009-2010 Acceptable click here
2010-2011 Acceptable click here
2011-2012 Good click here
2012-2013 Good click here
2013-2014 Good click here
2014-2015 Good click here





If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any factual inaccuracies, or would like to update any information, please do not hesitate to contact us at editor@edu2021.com.


Update on April 23, 2016 | Reviewed by David on June 30, 2012


Leave A Reply
  1. Ahmed Siddiqui says
    January 26, 2015, 2:01 am

    Indeed the point highlighted regarding transparency in publishing exam results is very important. Parents should also look how transparent the school while considering.

  2. Sharona says
    March 7, 2014, 2:58 pm

    http://edu2021.com/ is so informative.


Share YOUR experience... Have your say here...