We base our staffing on having 250 students in each year group. So in total, we aim to have 1750 students across Years 7 to 13. This sounds a lot, however, we employ enough staff to maintain a ratio of approximately one teacher for every 10 students.
We encourage you to watch our tour video and read our FAQ's to find out why DESC would be the right fit for your child.
Step 1) Watch the below DESC Tour Video and / or Sixth Form Tour Video.
Step 2) Read the below Frequently Asked Questions on Tours at DESC.
Step 3) Our in person tours are closed for this term. New tour dates will be released week commencing 8th January 2024.
Step 4) Should you have any questions, our Admissions Department can be contacted at [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions on DESC Tours
At Key Stage 3, the size of the teaching classes that your child is in varies on the subject. In classroom based subjects such as Maths and English, class sizes range between 16 and 24. In practical subjects this is often lower. At Key Stage 4 it is a similar picture, however, class size often depends on the popularity of the GCSE option. In some cases, classes can have less than ten students, however, they very rarely have more than 24 students. At Key Stage 5, classes are typically no larger than 16 to 18 students. Class size has actually been shown to have very little impact on student performance, however, we will always keep a close eye on the size of the classes.
In some subjects at Key Stage 3, students are usually set according to their attainment in that subject at that time. This suits subjects like Maths and Languages where a better learning experience can be provided if all of the students are at a similar stage in their learning. At Key Stage 4, students are set into broad attainment bands in the core subjects, however, they are taught in mixed-ability groups for their option subjects.
Whenever students are in attainment-based sets, we aim to promote consistency in their teaching and learning and to develop their confidence in that subject; for that reason, we do not make frequent changes to the setting arrangements.
Currently, approximately 40% of the students at the College are British. However, we have an extremely diverse student population with approximately 75 different nationalities found within the DESC community. Along with Brits, other nationalities with a significant number of students include Indians, Egyptians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Pakistanis and Canadians.
DESC is unique in that it is the only British Curriculum college in Dubai that is fully inclusive as well as being not-for-profit. Our focus is on the development of your child, allowing them to grow and mature to become the very best version of themselves. We aim to offer opportunities and platforms that allow your child to engage in activities that they enjoy or that they have never tried before.
Our inclusive ethos pervades through every aspect of the College; opportunities and experiences are for everyone, not just high-performers or those who may have been identified as Gifted and Talented at another school. We strive to create polite, responsible adults who are able to stand on their own feet and face the adversity that life presents at times with courage and maturity. We always try to ensure that DESC students enjoy their learning and enjoy being at school. We teach the students how to be kind and how to care – we feel that the development of their character far outweighs their ability to pass exams when it comes to future happiness.
There are no entry examinations that need to be taken in order to gain a place at DESC. We do ask that students complete a cognitive abilities test as part of the admissions process that provides us with information that we use when placing the students into tutor groups. For the Sixth Form, all of our Year 11 students are guaranteed a place in Year 12, however, entry onto certain courses requires particular grades to have been attained at GCSE. That said, we offer a variety of academic pathways for students across the entire attainment spectrum.
As a not-for-profit College, we have no owner or shareholders. We are managed by a team of Trustees who have other jobs in their own right. All of the school fees that are collected each term go towards paying for the upkeep of the College and its continued improvement. No funds are removed from the College, everything gets reinvested to allow DESC to have the world-class facilities that we enjoy each and every day.
At DESC we assess in a number of ways. First through summative assessments, often referred to as assessment of learning. This covers those assessment events that aim to provide information about how much a student has actually learned at the end of a particular section/unit of work. Second we use ipsative assessment where a student’s performance is assessed based on their previous attainment, normally over a number of assessment events.
This can be highly motivational as there is no direct comparison with other students. Third there is formative assessment, often referred to as assessment for learning. This is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by students and their teachers to decide where the students are in their learning, where they need to go, and how best to get there. This is at the heart of effective teaching. Last, there is diagnostic learning, which is an assessment event which seeks to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses.
At DESC we demand that all of our staff and students personify our motto of Dare, Excel, Share, Create in the lessons that we deliver. All of our teachers produce well planned lessons based around our innovative Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). The TLC encompasses 5 key areas that we believe are pivotal in delivering outstanding lessons:
Inspiration and Motivation: Ensures teachers plan engaging and challenging activities and create a positive, stimulating learning environment.
Assessment and Questioning: Is a key part of the learning process and teachers incorporate this into all lessons to probe students to develop deep thinking.
Marking and Feedback: Is essential to provide students with positive reinforcement on what they have done well and clear guidance on how to improve their work.
Personalisation: Means that activities and tasks are planned to meet the needs of every individual and offer both challenge and support to all of our DESC students.
Technology: Is used effectively, when appropriate, to enhance the learning of students .
In addition, our Super 16 skills ensure that our students also develop skills and character strengths that we believe are vital in preparing young people for further study and the world of employment.
If you have a concern with your son or daughter’s attainment, progress or wellbeing, you can contact us at the College by sending an email through to the Parent Liaison that looks after your child’s specific House or Year Group if they are in the Sixth Form. If they are in Years 7-11, you can send your query through to one of the House Parental Liaisons and they will assess the nature of the communication and then send it on, confidentially, to the relevant member of staff. If your child is in the Sixth Form, we have a dedicated Pastoral Support email address that you would use. We aim to reply to all communications within 48 hours, however, most communications are replied to within 24 hours.
We always aim to communicate professionally, effectively and in a timely manner as we appreciate how frustrating it can be when you don’t get a rapid reply to your queries or concerns.
We have a dedicated, onsite Uniform Shop at DESC that supplies all of the uniform items that your child would need. Please refer to the Parental Handbook that can be found by clicking HERE for details on what items your child may require. Details of the opening hours of the Uniform Shop can be found by clicking HERE.
Any questions relating to the routes that the buses take need to be addressed to our bus coordinator at [email protected]. Please be aware that our routes are designed so that students spend the least amount of time on the buses as possible. Changes in the route that suit your child may well inconvenience a large number of other children.
We run a late bus service, which departs after our extensive ECA programme finishes.
There are three cafe outlets at DESC. Our catering company are dedicated to consistently delivering tasty, healthy meals using the highest quality ingredients at an affordable price. Students can also choose to bring a healthy packed lunch into College each day. We encourage students to bring a refillable water bottle and there are ample water coolers available around College.
Students have the option to take a locker to assist them with managing their books and equipment. Lockers are assigned in their House Block where possible.
Yes we do. Due to the infrastructure of our school and network, along with the planning and resources used in the classroom, we request that all students are equipped with an Apple device from the recommended devices list below.
Years 7 to 11 – Acceptable devices:
An iPad that can run iOS 15 or above. A list of compatible iPads is below:
- iPad – 6th Generation (or later)
- iPad Air – 2 (or later)
- iPad Pro – All models
Due to the size of the screen, an iPad Mini would not be recommended. Students should also have a compatible keyboard and an Apple Pencil.
Years 12 and 13 – Acceptable devices:
The curriculum in the Sixth Form lends itself more to working on a laptop device and as such, students should use a MacBook that supports macOS Catalina 10.15 or above. However, an iPad from any of the models listed above is also an accepted device.
Of course, devices are only able to be used whilst following our BYOD and Network Policies.
Usually, when international travel is not so disrupted and it is easier to move between countries, there is a rich calendar of international trips that our students can access. Not only do we run trips to other countries, we also have a good selection of trips that take place within the UAE. Currently, schools and colleges are not allowed to take students on any type of school trip, however, when this situation changes we will continue to offer school trips.
Homework is organised to ensure that there is a fair distribution between subjects and a reasonable time allocation for pupils from year 7 to year 11. For Key stage 3, this will follow a two week timetable where homework will be split between core and non-core subjects. Students are given at least two nights to complete homework tasks, although the two week timetable allows for greater flexibility (i.e. set in Week A, collect in Week B and vice versa).
For Year 10 and Year 11 students, subject teachers are asked to issue the homework in a manner that will not overload the pupils, but will give them some opportunity to plan their homework schedule during the week and over a longer period of time for larger pieces of work, some of which will contribute to formal coursework requirements.
Sixth Form homework will be issued at the discretion of the subject teacher and in order to gain maximum benefit for the stage of the course. Sixth Form students have far greater control over the work which they do outside the classroom, much of which will be in the form of wider reading and personal research and, therefore, goes outside the prescription of a set amount of homework. For A Level option subjects a guideline of at least 4-5 hours per subject, per week of the student’s personal study time (at school and home) is recommended. The amount and frequency of internally assessed homework will vary from subject to subject, but will form an important part of the learning and continuous assessment procedures alongside personal research and wider reading. Sixth Form students are expected to manage their own homework schedule to meet submission deadlines.
We have an extremely strong pastoral system. Each House has a team of tutors and support tutors who are the ‘college parents’ and have the holistic view of your child. Tutors meet regularly with the House Leadership team to ensure all students are monitored (pastorally and academically) to ensure there your son/daughter is flourishing. We focus on knowing every student very well. 1:1 conversations are scheduled regularly between students and their tutors to ensure a student feels supported and that help build relationships between and staff and students.
We have induction days where students are allocated a ‘buddy’ who helps familiarise them with their new environment and new peers. New students will follow the timetable of their buddy for a couple of days to ensure they learn their way around the College and get to know staff and students, along with learning some of our systems and procedures. New Students also follow an Induction Programme which ensures they have a smooth and seamless start to DESC.
We have a comprehensive induction process which facilitates making new friends and getting to know as many people as possible. Collaboration between House teams allows buddies to be allocated across Houses if needed.
There are a variety of student centred activities which help facilitate social integration such as: House events, ECAs, House Socials, Mentoring and Breakfast club. House ambassadors and leaders also help to get everyone involved. The Student Advisory Service also works closely with the House team to help support students who do not settle.
Our induction programme is continually refined and is research based to ensure it covers all the areas that facilitate a student's transition to a new school. This programme educates students on the expected demeanours and explain the importance of these in life beyond DESC. It also ensures students feel comfortable with the systems that are in place to help them and to make sure they know how and where to access them. Overall, the induction helps students adapt to the culture of the College.
The House system at DESC is part of the fabric of the college and creates communities within our student body, helping our students experience a greater sense of belonging as part of a team. The college is split into four mini schools; Desert, Earth, Sky and Coast and each student is allocated to one House at the point of their enrollment. Each House has a pastoral leadership team which consists of a Head of House, Deputy Head of House, House Parent Liaison and a team of Tutors and Support Tutors. Houses are identified by a variety of factors including, house colour, logo, mascot, ethos and values. Each morning, Students will spend 25 minutes with their tutor group within their House environment before they integrate with the rest of their year group for their timetabled lessons. Students will have learning experiences with students from all four Houses.
Behaviour is exemplary at DESC. Teachers have very high expectations of students and as a result the learning environment is extremely positive. There is a whole school push to develop character, both implicitly and explicitly and our mantra of ‘developing great people’ is something that is central to what we do at DESC. At DESC, we do not leave interpersonal skills to chance but seize as many different opportunities to develop these. Whether it is the ‘Like a DESC Student please’ initiative or our repeated references to having good manners or being kind, we are continually trying to build the soft skills of our students to develop them into great people. As a result of this, we have a community of kind, caring students who have mutual respect of all stake holders
Bullying at DESC is rare. With both preventative and reactive measures in place to ensure any potential instances are dealt with as professionally as possible. Our Getting Ready For The Outside World (GROW) programme contains units of work specifically related to education students about Counter-Bullying Policy
We have an exceptional pastoral leadership team who are very experienced at dealing children who make mistakes. The pastoral team will manage incidents on an individual basis and will regularly communicate with parents regarding this. The key message is that we approach incidents from a supportive approach for all students involved.
When staff leave DESC it is rarely for another school in Dubai or the UAE. When staff leave it is generally for personal motives and normally to return to their country of origin. However, we always have a massive amount of interest from staff in other local schools who aspire to join us at DESC. The percentage of our staff body who leave each year is approximately 10% - 15%. Importantly, the Senior Leadership Team is very stable and are highly experienced, long-term members of staff at DESC.
At KS3 the curriculum is broad and balanced. Subjects are organised into four categories: Diverse, Emirati, Specialist and Core depending on how many lessons they are allocated per week. Students are exposed to a wide range of opportunities and have use of all parts of our extensive campus. Lessons are taught by subject and are an hour in length, but many cross-curricular links are developed between subjects alongside our Four to Grow skills which feature across the curriculum.
Red weeks are quiet, calm weeks in the College, typically in the penultimate week of each half term, when KS3 students are assessed in a summative manner in a set number of different subjects. The assessments are low stakes and used to inform future curriculum planning and to provide an opportunity for KS3 students to reflect on their progress. There are six Red weeks planned for each academic year with the dates published in advance to parents and students.
Recognise sheets are one-page documents prepared by each subject assessing during a RED week. They are an incredibly useful tool for both parents and students to learn exactly what form the summative assessment will take, what to revise, how to rehearse and how to refine their responses to achieve the best grade possible. Recognise sheets are collated and published to parents and students in a timely manner before each RED week.
Grey weeks are celebration weeks at KS3, typically the last week of each half term and always following a RED week. Activities during Grey weeks take many forms but usually include trips, special activities, theme days, awards and exceptional experiences. Lessons during Grey weeks are spent reflecting on performance during RED weeks and setting SMART targets for the next unit.
The RED and Grey week system has transformed the organisation of the curriculum at KS3 and mirrors the natural rhythm of the school year. The system allows for students to take ownership of their learning and forward plan. Rather than subjects assessing independently of each other, the system is seamless and organised with a shared, focused mindset during RED weeks followed by the release, reflection and joy of Grey week.
Typically, students take 9 or 10 GCSE subjects but, as an inclusive College, personalised pathways are developed for students who are better suited to a different number or combination of subjects. All students study the Core subjects of: Maths, English Literature, English Language, Double or Triple Science and can then choose from a plethora of option subjects in four different blocks. At KS4 DESC students are fortunate to enrol on subjects that they have not studied previously including; Media, Psychology and Business Studies.
The majority of subjects studied at KS4 result in a GCSE qualification with many subjects opting for AQA or Edexcel as their preferred examination board. However, a small number of subjects do offer an iGCSE in their subject where the content of the syllabus is more suited to the students that we have here at the College.
In years 12 and 13, or the Sixth Form as we more commonly refer to it, students can choose between thirty-six different A2 level and BTEC qualifications. Again, students can choose a personalised pathway that best suits their style of learning and which will best lead them to their chosen career or University. Typically, students choose three A Level subjects which they study for two years with terminal examinations in their subjects in term three of year 13.
DESC offers A Level and BTEC qualifications as a strictly British Curriculum College. A Level qualifications are suited to academic learners whilst BTEC qualifications are suited to vocational learners who prefer coursework to examinations.
Super Curriculum is a term used to refer to all of the extensive academic activities that take place alongside the Daily Curriculum. These activities are most prevalent at KS5 and refer to clubs, societies, competitions and extra courses that supplement and compliment the daily lives of our students.
DESC is serious about Sport and has won many awards and accolades for its incredible performances and facilities. Some families choose our College based on our unrivalled reputation for Sport resulting in strong competition to gain a place in teams. However, like with everything else at DESC, our approach to sport is inclusive.
With a large campus and a huge Sports Faculty, we are able to coach, train and facilitate multiple teams and squads, including sessions for purely recreational purposes. If you wish to participate at a competitive level, there are ample opportunities and world-class coaching that you can avail of. Our EDP (Elite Development Programmes) in Netball, Football and Rugby ensures that serious competitors receive extensive coaching, strength and conditioning training and lessons in mindset. In contrast, if you just want to keep fit and play recreational football, your sporting needs can also be met.
Each year students from DESC avail of places in the top universities all over the world. If your child is particularly academic the College will ensure that they are stretched in lessons and challenged in a wide range of activities both in and outside of the classroom. Despite our inclusive ethos many families of highly intelligent children choose us for the well-rounded education that we offer. Many of our students achieve grade 9 across the board at GCSE and go on to study Medicine or Law at Russel Group Universities. With a curriculum that is designed to facilitate personalised pathways we ensure that academic students are kept motivated, busy and fascinated.
We do not select our students on an academic basis yet we are regularly ranked amongst the best International Schools for our examination results. Students at DESC get outstanding examination results due to the solid foundation given to them by their teachers throughout their time at the College. Our results over the last few years have been exceptional, with over 90% of our Year 11 students consistently attaining five or more GCSE C grades including English and Maths.
Our overall results for GCSE students in 2020 show that 49.2% achieved grades 9-7; 98.2% of students achieved grades 6+. Our highest achieving 7 students received 8 or more grade 9s, with 23 students receiving 8 or more grades 8/9. At post 16, 40% of our students achieved an A* or A grade; 77.7% of students achieved A* – B and 100% passed with grades A* – E. Our 52 BTEC students, across four subjects, achieved 100% merit merit pass rate with 88% gaining a double distinction (AA equivalent). Most students have received offers from their university of choice and this includes Oxford, Cambridge and US Ivy League. Our 3 highest achieving students gained 3 A* with thirty-two other students gaining at least 3 A*/A.
At DESC we discourage early entry for examinations. The main argument against early entry is that statistically, early entry candidates perform worse overall than those who do not enter early, even when taking account of resits. This suggests that some students are being entered for GCSEs before they are ready. Also, early entry could lead to the programme of study being delivered over a compressed time period, which in turn could result in coaching to the test rather than delivery of a broad curriculum. Early entry also increases the number of retakes (to secure the required grade) which has additional cost implications. We believe it is better to ensure students are adequately prepared for the exam first time round within a programme of study that is broad, balanced and appropriately challenging.
Since the cost of different qualifications fluctuate year on year as well as being dependent upon the provider and the course, no one can give you a concrete answer to this question. However, we always ensure that these costs are made clear as soon as we are provided with the information ourselves from the qualification provider.
Ready to enrol?
We would encourage you to explore the Admissions Section of our website including details of our Admissions Process, Fees and Admissions Policies. If you are ready to proceed with our application form, please select the appropriate form below: