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Horizon English School Dubai

Horizon English School Dubai

For profit private primary school, Horizon English School, has slipped from an Outstanding rating, held for three years, albeit to a very credible Very Good rating. The fall will have hurt, especially as it is the only Outstanding rated school to have dropped a place.

Horizon is a member of the British Schools Middle East (BSME) network.

The school was first established in 1992, and currently caters to 738 students (almost doubling from the 400 in the 2011/12 academic year) from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities, but predominantly the United Kingdom.

Horizon English School employs 51 full time teachers, largely from the UK, and 22 assistants. The school claims class sizes of between 19 and 26. Teacher turnover is a very high 37% – meaning over one in three teachers is new this year. The teacher:student ratio is a credible 1:14.

Classes are taught in English with a number of core subjects including Maths, Islamic Studies, Music, I.C.T., P.E. and swimming. The school has adopted the English National Curriculum.

In terms of strengths, the KHDA notes the inspirational vision of the principal, who has “the confidence of the staff and parents”. The school seems to have been blessed in terms of leadership. WSA was impressed with the passion that former principal Ms. Sinclair clearly had for the school – a leader many current parents speak of. Ms. Sinclair used to personally conduct the school tour every Monday morning for prospective parents.

Since WSA’s first tour (we have been back for a JWI test, see below) Horizon English School has been acquired by Al Najha Education, an investment company, and parents have spoken about a change in the climate of the school. Clearly this has not yet affected the overall quality of the school, and although Ms Sinclair is missed by those who knew her, the new principal, David Baldwin continues very much continues in the tradition.

Despite the drop in rating, student outcomes are said to remain strong, particularly at the end of primary school. The curriculum in the Foundation Stage is “interesting and exciting”, providing excellent opportunities for children to explore and develop their investigation skills.


The aim of the curriculum is to encompass and promote the enduring values that equip individuals “to live in a challenging world”. Speaking to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, the school’s former Principal, Marilyn Sinclair, spoke very eloquently about the requirement for physical development to enable brain development and also about reading and the lack of pressure that there should be on children to read at an early age.

The fall from Outstanding seems to have taken place largely in the Foundation Stage, where both attainment and progress dropped a grade to Very Good in English, Maths, and Science. Attainment in Maths has also dropped in Primary and is now rated Good. Previous reports had noted outstanding attainment and progress in the subject. Assessment, self governance, and curriculum adaptation to meet differing needs have also all fallen in rating this year. (In its 2011 report the KHDA noted a need to improve the challenge provided, particularly for the more able students. That requirement was not referenced in the 2012 reports onwards, but has reappeared for the 2015/16 inspection).

The inspection team also note the need to improve Islamic Studies and Arabic as a second language provision.

On a more positive note however, aside Mathematics, attainment and progress at the primary phase have actually improved in the last year, as has teaching for effective learning in both Foundation and Nursery stages.

Horizon English School is said to welcome students with SEN needs. The school is said to have “excellent identification procedures” that ensure that the needs of students with special educational needs and disability (SEND) are addressed early.

According to the school’s 2014/15 report: “Assessment procedures, the curriculum and arrangements for protecting and supporting students, particularly for students with special educational needs, [is] outstanding.” According to the 2015/16 report “students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) [make] at least good and often very good progress because their needs [are] very skillfully identified and activities were usually very well planned to meet their individual needs.”

“Tuition” fees for Horizon English School range from between 27,000 AED to 38,000 AED per year, depending on the age of the child. Horizon comes with quite steep additional/’optional’ costs – see below. Many parents complain [to us] that these fees are not really optional.

The school teaches up to Key Stage 2. It was said to have a progression agreement for Year 6 students with Dubai College (DC)Dubai English Speaking College (DESC), and The English College in Dubai – three highly regarded schools in the UAE. Students now have entry to Star International – now Horizon International – from year 7. Horizon International is well regarded but does not yet have the pedigree of the likes of Dubai College (few schools do…).

Note 1: Star International and Horizon are now owned by the same investor, Al Najah Education, which also owns Horizon Kid’s Nursery and has recently signed an agreement with TAFE, Queensland to operate training centres in the GCC.  TAFE provide technical, vocational education. Star International has now been renamed Horizon International.


What’s in like to just walk in? WSA’s JWI Test

Horizon School
Friendliness/Warmth: A
Able to provide information: A
Availability of Registrar: A
Overall: A

Located between al Wasl and Sheikh Zayed roads, Horizon School is truly a community school and slowly one of the older ones. This becomes immediately apparent as one enters the school premises.

There is parking in front of the school and security is good with a sign in system. The entrance lobby, located in the centre of the first school building, looks like the lobby of a school – functional and well used. A large new extension has been added to the school at the back, so the first building you come to is the original building. All the school buildings are white, with windows and shading in blue.

Although there is little vegetation around, and no trees, there is plenty of outdoor space for the children all around the school. Facing the building to the right is a large shaded area with sand flooring and a selection of play equipment. Children at the school are very much encouraged to get real life experiences to enhance their learning. To this end there is very much a policy of trying things out for themselves. Messy play is encouraged, rather than frowned upon.

On the left hand side of the building, there is a massive green area used for all kinds of outdoor sports with an excellent view of the tower blocks along Sheikh Zayed road in the distance. The far end of this field is shaded and used for netball, amongst other sports.

Behind the first building, fenced off, are the training pool and main school pool. These are both partially shaded, in medium blue casting a cool, dark shade, and surrounded by astro turf. At the time of the visit a training session was in progress.

The playground for the Early Years section of the school boasts some trees as well as shading – a happy combination.

The music room is inviting, with a lived-in look. The fact that passionate music making happens here was evident from the equipment and the You tube link open on the whiteboard. Musical instruments, music sheets and other paraphernalia scattered around revealed this to be the hub for music lovers.

The school has over 600 children, 26 to a class, with 27 if a child is leaving during the term. As the school grows, more classes are being added organically, so there are 5 FS 1 and FS2 classes, but only 2 year 6 classes. Despite the obvious mix of nationalities – there are currently children of 47 different nationalities at the school – this is very much a British school, providing education for children who may be returning to the UK before the end of their schooling. Following on from this, all school year cut-off dates are in line with both UAE and UK guidelines.

The school has 2 libraries, containing 60 000 books in total. The school’s ethos is that as community libraries are more of a rarity here in the Emirates, children at the school should be able to access books through school in a similar sort of fashion. Browsing, even with parents after school, is encouraged. The libraries are well-laid out and have a broad range of books for the age groups at the school. Both libraries are very pleasant places.

At the back of the new building there is a state-of-the-art sports hall. With high see through security fencing, this is a very spacious, light area, reaching up 2 floors, equipped for a range of sports activities. At the time of the visit a PE lesson was in progress for FS 1 children with a coach and two assistants supporting the activities of the children.

The upper floor of the new building is occupied by years 5 – 6. Lively displays of topic related work was visible along the walls. Glass roofs at various junctions add natural light to parts of the very wide corridors, which look well-used and show no evidence of being in their first year of use. Clearly a good portion of school life goes on in these wide spaces, which could be used as central areas as well as lobbies. There are seats, drinking fountains, staff rooms and many other signs of an active school in evidence. Individual lockers, clearly marked with the children’s names and form, are in front of classrooms, cutting down on the usual classroom clutter.

Classrooms have glass walls towards the internal areas as well, making them both airy and light. There are dedicated language rooms, an ICT area, as well as a large open multi-use science lab which doubles up as an art and craft / cookery room. Portable blue stools enable children to use this room for a range of activities according to their needs. Cookers and ovens are located at one end of the room, where regular cooking sessions are held. The school has a firm belief in rearing children for future life, for a time of complete independence and self-sufficiency. With this in view, exercising common sense and learning life skills, such as the principles of healthy exercise and eating habits, are very much a focus of the type of education the school wants to provide.

The school exudes a warm, community feel. It is very much a place where children are at home as well as learn, and the atmosphere around the school is testament to this. Tucked away in Jumeirah, it is a hidden gem.



Note, the tuition fees below are a fraction of the actual fees parents seem to get charged at Horizon. We note the optional services (that do not seem to be that optional) below.

FS 1 27110
FS 2 27110
YEAR 1 37969
YEAR 2 37969
YEAR 3 37969
YEAR 4 37969
YEAR 5 37969
YEAR 6 37969


* + “Optional Services”

* Foundation stage 1
Supplies & consumables – Additional specialist activities – IT and Media ( hardware / software & Specialists): Dhs 7,048
Enhanced Mobile Technology & additional learning plus activities out-with the core/basic areas of the curriculum: Dhs 2180

* Foundation stage 2
Supplies & consumables – Additional specialist activities – IT and Media ( hardware / software & Specialists): Dhs 13,402
Enhanced Mobile Technology & additional learning plus activities out-with the core/basic areas of the curriculum: Dhs 2180

* Year 1 – 6
Supplies & consumables, Additional specialist activities – IT and Media ( hardware / software & Specialists): Dhs 9135
Enhanced Mobile Technology & additional learning plus activities out-with the core/basic areas of the curriculum: Dhs 2180


KHDA Reports

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



The Horizon School, Dubai is located behind the Gulf News building, near Al Safa Park, between Al Wasl and Sheikh Zayed roads.



General Information

School Name Horizons English School
Curriculum UK
Telephone 04-3422891
Fax 04-3429759
P.O.Box Al Wasl
Email arabicsec@horizonschooldubai.com
Website www.horizonschooldubai.com


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. Alternatively (or additionally) please complete the WSA School Q&A which you may find here.


Update on August 2, 2016 | Reviewed by David on July 28, 2012


Leave A Reply
  1. Anita Henry says
    October 20, 2016, 5:35 pm

    Having visited this school last night for an amazing presentation by the Librarian Roz, I am back in my own library working out how fast I can recreate and use her ideas. The school oozes child friendly areas of play coupled with learning this has been done beautifully, it’s inspiring and well presented, I would love to see it in action. This school is outstanding to me plus I was here in 1982 and it was one of the other schools that was really small and noone really payed much attention to. Big mistake if you do now. Loved it.

  2. Rachel Douglas says
    October 1, 2016, 2:11 pm

    Iv just signed my three children up to this school for September 2017 my middle child has special needs so will go to the school with a shadow. Iv lived in fear for years that my child will not be schooled in dubai as the schools are very academic, competitive and commercial loosing the sense of doing the right thing in society. This school Horizon English has the best values and ethics I have ever seen or heard of in Dubai. The headmaster and senco have proved their ethical and values led approach and are more than willing to take my Sen child into this school. Highly commend them and I hope the other schools folllow suit. KHDA should assess schools not just on developing existing Sen pupils but inviting a quota per annum of Sen children to be permitted entry.

  3. Nathalie says
    December 16, 2014, 3:06 am

    Dear, was checking your review and the comments, noticed that you said you have updated the fees? So the total annual fee for foundation stage 1 =32,000 and stage 2 =38,400 are incorrect? Or they are the updated ones? Please clarify

    • Professor says
      December 16, 2014, 1:49 pm

      Hi Nathalie, they are correct as of the August 2014 update.

  4. DB says
    August 20, 2014, 9:52 am

    The fees listed still fall short. My son is going into Year 1, and the fees for one term are set at AED15k. This is without any extra-curricular activities.

    • Professor says
      August 20, 2014, 10:09 am

      School fees have been updated to 2014/15 fees.

  5. DG3 says
    December 12, 2013, 11:55 am

    The fees stated here are incorrect, add another 10k to the above figures .

    • Bill says
      December 12, 2013, 4:14 pm

      Many thanks for this DG3. We will look into this and update accordingly.

      • RG says
        May 31, 2014, 7:28 pm

        The fees listed are 50% below the actual fees.

      • Professor says
        May 31, 2014, 8:52 pm

        Hi RG – many thanks for your note. You make a valid point. We have quoted tuition fees alone, but there are substantial additional costs at Horizons. These have now been added.

  6. Zuwaira Mohammed says
    September 17, 2013, 5:28 pm

    I like the school,I will want my daughter to attend the school because we are planning to relocate to Dubai,thanx.

    • Bill says
      September 17, 2013, 6:12 pm

      Hi Zuwaira, yes, Horizon is a well regarded primary.

      You need to contact the school and to apply. I would first make sure that there is availability however. Contact details are provided on the review.


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