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Dubai English Speaking School

Dubai English Speaking School

Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) is located in Oud Metha, near St Mary’s in ‘older’ Dubai. After consistently achieving a Good rating since Dubai school inspections began, the school achieved a Very Good Rating in 2016. It is one of a handful of schools to achieve the award.

DESS is also one of the most established schools in the UAE, opening its doors in 1963 and was the first school to offer a British based curriculum – the school itself has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.  A considerable milestone.

The Oud Metha branch has 966 pupils from KG to Grade 6. The single largest nationality is British, but as with all Dubai schools, a multitude of nationalities are represented. The 69 full time and 32 assistants are also largely from the United Kingdom.

dess_31 The teacher turnover of the school is excellent, currently running at 13% year on year – about 10 points off the Dubai average. (More detail in our JWI below). Teaching across the board is described as “energetic and motivating”, well supported by skilled support staff.

The school has a sister branch – Dubai English Speaking College with 1253 students, which brings the size of the school up to, approximately, 2200. DESC, an Outstanding rated school, picks us where DESS leaves off, and offers education for 11 years up to 18 (Grade 12).

Leadership and the students seem to be at the core of the school’s progress. The Dubai based inspectorate, the DSIB, notes a senior leadership team that has established “a strong and consistent vision for the school’s future development built around the concept of ‘irresistible learning”. Children make “outstanding progress in all areas in the FS and students in the primary phase performed strongly in English, mathematics and science…”

The school’s curriculum, based on EYFS and the National Curriculum for England, is described as innovative, and results in “excellent learning skills” and “excited and engaged students”. It also delivers outstanding personal development with opportunities for students to develop responsibility and leadership.



The noted outstanding vision of the leadership team is not new. It has been a regular of DESS reports since inspections began, and clearly is now part of the culture and DNA of the school.

For improvement, the report noted the need to improve Arabic – a common issue of 99% of Dubai’s private schools. Previous comments regarding Islamic Studies seem to have been dropped from the school’s latest report.

To its credit the school publishes some information on SATs, although less than in the past. Last year it recorded some of its “best results ever”, notably in English and Maths at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2. In reading 100% of pupils achieved level 4 and 83% level 5 “with some children making significant progress to achieve level 6 for the first time”. In Maths 97% of children achieved levels 4, 62% level 5 and some reached level 6

“Our SATs results and end of summer assessments are as consistently high as previous years, showing outstanding progress and stability.”


The school offers a wide array of extra-curricula activities designed to build well rounded school leavers: It has sports days, careers fair, athletic championships, drama festivals, and literature days.

Students are strongly encouraged to develop their own interests and talents.

Fees for the school are currently range from 34,000 AED to 42,000 AED. More detail below.


What’s it like to Just Walk In?

DESC is situated in one of Dubai’s oldest areas, Oud Metha close to Rashid Hospital. It is a single-storey, traditional white block building. There’s a low white wooden fence with a variety of established trees at the front. When we visited, a group of children were happily involved in a sporting exercise on a large shaded playground with teachers talking on tannoy, while music played, all designed to encourage the children.

Security directed WSA straight to the reception where we waited, briefly, for Sarah Vince the Headmaster’s PA. The small reception area has comfortable red sofas and chairs and is lined with cabinets full of trophies. Photos of all the staff decorate the walls along with award certificates and a TV screen showing the parent portal information about DESS.

Children from the school come in and out to ask questions or use the phone. The friendly receptionist is at ease with the children and is kept busy with questions from visitors. Three sets of parents were waiting anxiously as their little ones were being assessed for potential places at the school. This is a sought after school.


The school uniform is a red and white striped dress or tops and skirts/shorts which are grey. Their bright red hats stood out clearly. In the playground the children played with basketball hoops, skipping ropes and hula hoops with great enthusiasm. The teachers were chatting together but at ease and there was a relaxed atmosphere. Someone rang a traditional school bell to announce the end of play-time. There is a lovely swimming pools and spacious playing field behind the school with some play equipment for the children to enjoy.

The Head’s PA informed our consultant that there are 20-25 children per class from at least 39 nationalities. The staff are mainly from the UK and they recruit using the traditional TES or local media. Staff retention is high and the school celebrates at least one member of staff who’s been there 25 years. Teachers are regularly encouraged to take professional development courses.

The PTA is described as ‘wonderful’ and some parents treat it as a full-time job. The school is very proud of the way it monitors students’ progress with regular reports.

There is a lovely IT suite, very up-to-date with iPads for the kids.

The arts are a big part of the school – choir, orchestra, art etc. There are many ECAs run by the teachers but several specialist outside groups come in for specific activities such as ballet or yoga. The school teaches Islamic studies to Muslim students as well as Arabic and introductory French. There is a bus service but most of the students are fairly local.

There is a strong learning support department and many children are taught one-to-one but if a pupil requires a ‘shadow’ parents need to provide this individual. The parent portal/communicator is updated daily. Year 6 children continue their schooling in Dubai mainly at DESC but several also go to JC or DC.

Overall, a traditional school, clearly well-experienced with a calm environment.

Friendliness/Warmth: B+
Able to provide information: A
Availability of registrar — F
Overall B+


The Buzz

A highly regarded school among both parents and children who attend the school who appreciate the level of attention and care provided. As an older school some facilities are not as impressive or up to date as those in more recently built institutions, but neither parents nor students are likely to be found complaining. The school’s not for profit status is also a source of good feeling towards the school, with fee payers confident money goes towards improving care/teaching/facilities for children.  Said to be a “happy” school.

In the latest Which School Advisor Survey, parents reported strong satisfaction levels with academic performance, and all said they would recommend the school. There was slightly – and we mean slightly – less unanimous approval over feedback of pupil performance.

With such a strong and long history, it also has a reputation of being a difficult school to get into. Expect a waiting list.



FS 1 34000
FS 2 42078
YEAR 1 42078
YEAR 2 42078
YEAR 3 42078
YEAR 4 42078
YEAR 5 42078
YEAR 6 42078


KHDA Reports

2008-2009 Good click here
2009-2010 Good click here
2010-2011 Good click here
2011-2012 Good click here
2012-2013 Good click here
2013-2014 Good click here
2014-2015 Good click here
2015-2016 Very good click here





If you are the owner 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 August 2, 2016 | Reviewed by David on July 7, 2012

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