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Dubai College

An academically selective, coeducational school for ages 11 to 18, Dubai College is a BSO inspected school that follows a British curriculum with GCSE and A level examinations.

  • Dubai College
    Al Sufouh 2
  • T +971 4 399 9111
  • E dccommunicatio…
  • W
  • School Ages: 11-18
  • School Gender: Mixed
  • Total School Numbers: 1,094
  • Teaching Language(s):
    • English
  • SEN: Mainstream with SEN support
  • Boarding: Not available
  • Uniform: Yes
  • School Year: Three terms: August/September-December; January-March; April-July
  • School Hours: Monday-Thursday 7.45am-3.35pm, Friday 7.45am-12.00pm
  • Annual Fee Range: AED 89,205 - AED 101,010
  • Fee Information: Personal debenture: AED 25,000; Medical fee: AED 200; Transport (optional): AED 2,100; Music (individual): AED 2,425.
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Memberships: HMC (Headmaster), COBIS, BSME, DASSA (Sports)
  • State/Independent: Non-profit


  • A levels
  • GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
  • National Curriculum for England


  • BSO (British Schools Overseas inspection programme)
  • Council of British International Schools (COBIS)
  • Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) of KHDA

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What The Good Schools Guide International says


Since 2015, Mr Michael Lambert BA (Oxon) MA (Lon) PGCE MBA FRSA FCCT. Previously head of sixth form for three years. Studied classics at the University of Oxford, and then followed his dream of working in the City. Realising he wasn’t getting enough fulfilment, started a tutoring company on the side and applied for a PGCE and master’s in social anthropology at SOAS. At the same time, he got his first teaching job at Royal Grammar School Guildford (RGSG) in the UK where he worked for three years as a classics teacher and deputy head of the sixth form. He subsequently decided that, while he had gained invaluable experience at a rigorous, academic boys’ school, education was broader than just high performance and that he had only completed one half of his journey. He moved to Bedales as head of classics and resident tutor of a boys’ boarding house and says that ‘the guiding principle of don’t create needless work for others', offered a much more philosophical, thoughtful way of bringing up young people.

As you’d expect from such an impressive CV, he speaks in the most eloquent, entrancing manner. Parents say he is ‘extremely approachable’, ‘down to earth’, ‘forward-thinking’ and ‘has everyone’s best interests at heart’. We didn’t hear a single bad word said about him, although some would like him to give even more to the students - not an easy feat, we concluded, especially as he still teaches classics concomitantly.

During his tenure, he has introduced the TopUP program (top university preparation) and appointed a deputy head of learning and teaching to ensure that evidence informed teaching practice is front and centre of school life. His wife, Sarah, who he met at RGSG, is a teacher at the school and they have two sons.

Free time is limited to school holidays, when the family likes to take road trips. His love for travel dates back to a young age, when he claims to have ‘almost bought a felucca boat in Aswan’ just after he graduated from Oxford, following an adventure down the Nile. Things could have been so different, but luckily, for Dubai College at least, the stars aligned. He is the perfect fit, in our opinion: an academic wedded to the school and committed to good, timeless values of education, transferable and applicable to whichever path the students take next.


Academically selective, with main entry point into year 7. A few rare places in older years, but usually with long waiting lists. Students apply online in August/September of year 6; year 5 school report and extracurricular profile required. The four-to-five-hour entrance exam (maths, English and CAT4) is sat in November. With three to four applicants per place, this means a lot of students sitting the exam - potentially daunting for a 10-year-old, but importantly giving every child the opportunity to secure the prize they all hope to achieve. The minimum mean CAT4 score for entry is 110, but the first 100 students are selected from the top of the pile. The remaining 76 places are allocated from students that pass the test, show academic potential but also excel in either sport, music, drama, or all the above. Applications from expats who have not yet moved out to the UAE are welcomed and the entrance exam can be sat at their current school.

Strictly no sibling policy or preferential treatment for anyone, and it is not advised to seek tutoring either, as the child will likely struggle further down the line. There is no interview post entrance exam; rather the school invites accepted students in for taster sessions throughout year 6. No applications are accepted for years 11 and 13.


In 2023: 50 pupils going to international universities. Eighty-one per cent secured their first choice university, 24 per cent received offers from top 10 universities (according to QS 2024 rankings), 13 students received places at Cambridge or Oxford, 76 per cent are going to Russell Group universities in the UK, 66 per cent are going to study science-based degrees; seven pupils are going to study medicine or veterinary science.

Those heading to the USA reach the dizzy heights of Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Pennsylvania, Duke, Brown, Boston etc. Others head to University of Amsterdam and Toronto to name a few. The lecture theatre regularly gets booked up as universities come to speak (as part of the fore-mentioned TopUp University programme) and guests in certain fields are invited to give students a preview of their professions.

The alumni group remains connected to the school, with past pupils and staff members acting as mentors to current seniors.

Latest results

2023 A level results: 73 per cent of all grades were A*/A and 92.5 per cent A*/B.
In the same year, I/GCSE results: 92 per cent of all grades were 7-9 with a 100 per cent pass rate.

In 2022, 71 per cent A*/A at A level (90 per cent A*/B) and 93 per cent 9-7 at I/GCSE. In 2021; 81 per cent A*/A at A level (95 per cent A*/B). and 96 per cent 9-7 at I/GCSE.

Teaching and learning

Unequivocally the leading academic school in Dubai and top of the target list for ambitious parents wanting the best results from their children, but it is equally recognised for its extracurricular programme, thereby offering an all-rounded education.

Comprehensive curriculum up to the end of GCSEs, with six compulsory (including Arabic) and three optional subjects (including one language, one creative art and one social study subject). Around a third take four A levels – maths by far the most popular. Latin has grown in popularity, as well as computer science and economics, whereas subjects like music, sport and performing arts are undertaken primarily at extracurricular level.

Stellar results from recent graduating classes, although this is just one part of a pupil’s academic journey here. ‘We are helping our students to be articulate and to challenge, not just to be book smart,’ says the head, who explains that the Harkness and oracy programmes provide a dynamic education, preparing students for when they are out in the world and sitting around a boardroom table. The school also teaches independent study skills, particularly in sixth form - and there is a broad focus on metacognitive processes, enabling students to reflect on their own learning.

The academic enrichment programme gives students enviable skills via the many clubs. We were impressed by the debating team (far too many trophies to count from both local and international competitions) and Model United Nations, where children engage in real world problems and current affairs.

Class sizes for years 7-9 are capped at 22, with a max of 16 in a GCSE class and 13 at sixth form. Students are taught in their form groups except in maths where they are put into one of three bands depending on their knowledge and experience, and they are tested regularly (‘around twice a month on average’, said one father). While you could argue this instils a pressurised environment, particularly for the youngest students, parents unanimously claim this prepares children well for exams, which quickly become normalised. ‘It is very helpful because, at the end of the year, they don’t have to revise a large volume of work,’ added a mother.

Not much feedback to parents other than the standard end of year reports and parent/teacher meetings. ‘The school won’t suit families that want constant engagement on the progress of their child’, concluded one parent, mirroring the general feel that the college expects parents to trust that they are doing their job and will deliver. With an impressive faculty of scholarly teachers, with far more than just basic teaching qualifications, we are more than assured that the children are in the best possible hands.

Learning support and SEN

No screening of children who may have special education needs prior to entry. If you pass the minimum academic threshold by way of the entrance exam, then you are in. Only then will the school, if necessary, offer provision for students that need it, from either their inhouse team or external providers (at no supplementary cost). A happy parent commented, ‘The school have been true to their word and the team supporting our daughter have been exceptional. We never thought we would see her thriving as she is now.’

Language support

Most students with EAL are bilingual so there is no need for extra help. Where support is required, the school integrates this into the pupil’s timetable.

The arts and extracurricular

Year 7s choose between learning a brass or wind instrument and play in a beginner band. As their love of music grows, there are many other options, including various choirs (including an exclusive boy choir), different level instrumental bands (the samba band sounds fun) and the house music competition. Throughout the year, performances and concerts are scheduled for the children to show off their talents - including the popular annual school musical and Young Musicians of the Gulf competition.

The school offers an extensive ECA (extracurricular activities) programme covering almost anything you can dream of, including an artificial intelligence society (where we would love to be a fly on the wall), gardening group, film alliance, plus all sorts of sports and games activities and a Duke of Edinburgh international award scheme starting in year 10.


Vast range of sports on offer, with rugby (for boys) and netball (for girls) by far the most popular and almost in a league of their own. Throughout the year, both squads participate in home leagues and the rugby teams tour internationally, including attending the National School 7s at Rosslyn Park, London. The netball teams also fly to the UK in the summer term for the World School Games. One mother felt, ‘The A team members are seen as the golden kids - which can be a little premature, especially as late developers can come through - and this sometimes creates a hierarchy in class which needs monitoring.’ This is not, however, unique to this school.

Other sports include athletics, basketball, cricket, football, golf, rounders, swimming and tennis, with teams competing at a high level, while other children do them merely for fitness and fun. Complementing all sports is a fantastic new gym facility in the SPACE (Sports and Performing Arts Centre of Excellence). The warehouse style is modern and offers students the ability to train and focus on their strength and conditioning. Alongside the gym, there are multi-purpose rooms used for classes such as barre, body pump and spinning. There really is something for everyone!

There’s a newly built 25m swimming pool and indoor sports hall, and we weren’t surprised that parents and students also applaud the grass full size rugby, football and cricket pitches – superb by all accounts.

If the trophy cabinets are anything to go by, we would say they are developing some really promising athletes across the board.

Ethos and heritage

The campus, located in Al Sufouh 2, does not boast new and innovative facilities (yet!) and has limited room for expansion. Parents don’t moan about the buildings though, despite being quite dated, with some expressing that it forms part of the school’s character. But those at the top are constantly working on improvements. The introduction of the SPACE building was warmly welcomed and smaller renovations, notably writable walls to almost all the classrooms, have made a huge impact as the children explode their learning onto the walls for all to see and are made to stand by their decision making and challenge each other’s work.

On the horizon is a massive renovation of several department blocks, due for completion by 2030. These have been carefully thought out, with the introduction of flexible spaces to allow inter-disciplinary learning. Students were asked for their input and requested a biophilic design, incorporating greenery to their spaces to add value to their wellbeing. On the tour, we already noted a mini zoo with iguanas, turtles and birds, plus an indoor vegetation plot in the science block - it seems the integration of nature is already somewhat celebrated. The remodel will also mean a bigger catering space, which should please parents who say that generally children bring pack lunches and only really use the school canteen for snacks and the odd meal. There is also no dining hall at present; the children eat their lunch outside or in their form rooms. The sixth form canteen, Charltons, offers a more comfortable place to relax on break times with comfy chairs and light, delicious snacks available to purchase.

All students are members of one of the four houses - Barbarossa, Chichester, Cousteau, and Heyerdahl, named after famous explorers. Another nod to the spirit of the school, which is most certainly emerging as a pioneer both in education and student development. The houses compete in a range of activities, from sports to academic and team building to drama.

There are various leadership positions that students can apply for. Votes for prefects and head girl and boy are cast by students and staff members. while most other leadership positions are also appointed democratically. Only sports and music leaders are appointed based on merit.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Wellbeing is important at DC and the school is fully alert to potential pressure felt by pupils in such an academic school. Initiatives have been introduced for different year groups, including a positive psychology intervention programme for year 9s, to help with emotional self-regulation, and for which the school were presented the Best Initiative to Support School Wellbeing and Safeguarding in 2020 at the ISC Research Awards. A UK mindfulness programme, called .b, is in place for year 10s as they gear up for GCSEs. A positive education programme dedicated to stress management, friendships, diversity and inclusion has also been inaugurated to all on a rotating timetable basis.

Coupled with a team of counsellors, who are fully qualified psychotherapists, the provision from the outside seems quite exemplary, although one parent said, 'You have to get an appointment to see a school counsellor, all who have really long wait lists, and at this age, waiting for weeks on end is far from ideal.' School says this has been addressed and they now have three licensed counsellors and no waiting list - a welcome improvement, especially since, like many of the top academic schools in the UK, children at DC push each other. Those that seek help undergo a recommended six week block of support and if a long term plan is necessary, outside agencies are contacted.

Pupils and parents

It might be one of the most sought-after schools in Dubai, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. Almost all students accepted are high achievers (be it academically or in the sports/arts etc) and show self-discipline, resilience and motivation. It is rare to find a fish out of water here, however, as the admissions team excels at ensuring the right fit. ‘Every student wants to be here and works very hard. It’s cool to get high grades, not nerdy,’ a parent verified.

The principal three nationalities are British, Indian, and Pakistani, but the school has a diverse mix of families with over 63 student nationalities. All feel part of the DC community, even down to the school bus drivers. Parent get-togethers and events are organised by the FDC (Friends of Dubai College).

Money matters

School is not-for-profit, with the land gifted in 1978 by Emiri decree. It is governed by a board, made up of members of the local community, which exists as an entity where decisions can only be made by consensus. The senior leadership team, led by the headmaster, are the executive directors for the school and they work to make recommendations to the board and then once approved, execute them.

The last word

An internationally recognised senior school with a historic reputation of academic excellence, Dubai College is a dream come true for many. Highly driven students will fit like a glove, and with a strong community spirit, families will only have positives to share.

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