Best Schools in Abu Dhabi - And Why?

Looking at inspection reports and exam results, which schools topped the rankings this year? What is the highest performing curriculum in Abu Dhabi and how much can you expect to pay for a top school?
Best Schools in Abu Dhabi - And Why?
By David Westley
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What are the best schools in Abu Dhabi? 

There are 196 schools (seven of which are new for 2017/18 academic year), in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, of which only four are currently rated Outstanding, 19 rated Very Good, and 56 rated Good.

The 2017/18 inspection process saw one new school rated Outstanding - Merryland International School  - by the regulator's inspection teams and one school - Emirates National School at Mohammed Bin Zayed City - moved up to Very Good. 


What Is the Top Curriculum In Abu Dhabi?

The highest performing curriculum in Abu Dhabi is the British/UK with all but one Outstanding rated school utilising this curriculum.  The exception to this rule is Raha International, one of the few full IB curriculum schools in the emirate.

The British curriculum also outperformed the others across Very Good rated schools too, with a total of eight of the 19 schools. 

Interestingly, across the Good ratings things differ, with the 22 schools in this category using the US curriculum, whilst 12 offer the UK curriculum and 10 the Indian curriculum.

However, it should be noted that curriculum alone does not determine the quality of a school. There are three British and two US curriculum schools rated Weak or Very Weak by ADEK too.


Just How Expensive Are Abu Dhabi's Top Schools?

Well, first the good news, Abu Dhabi's top schools ARE significantly cheaper than their counterparts in Dubai, however, fees can still be significant, depending on the school you choose.

The average early years fees for an Outstanding school is AED 45,237 rising to AED 66,248 for later years.

The most affordable Outstanding option is Raha International School with fees between AED 36,100 and AED 56,900.

In the Very Good rated schools the average cost of Early Years is AED 41,728, while the senior years cost an average of AED 59,784.

There are bargains to be had however, the German International School charges only AED 41,600 per senior year, while Merryland School is even more affordable at AED 41,100.

The schools rated Good vary greatly in price. With the Indian schools often charging less than AED 10,000 per year through to the premium offering such as the US curriculum West Yas Academy asking over AED 60,000 per year.


How Do Inspectors Rate Abu Dhabi's Schools?

In 2015 ADEK introduced the new unified inspection framework for school inspections. In addition to offering more insight, the big change was the move away from the 'old' alpha/numeric inspection grades to a new 'simplified' ranking of  Outstanding through to Very Weak.  

  • Outstanding: Quality of performance substantially exceeds the expectation of the UAE
  • Very Good: Quality of performance exceeds the expectation of the UAE
  • Good: Quality of performance meets the expectation of the UAE (This is the expected level for every school in the UAE)
  • Acceptable: Quality of performance meets the minimum level of quality required in the UAE (This is the minimum level for every school in the UAE)
  • Weak: Quality of performance is below the expectation of the UAE
  • Very Weak: Quality of performance is significantly below the expectation of the UAE

As Abu Dhabi works on a two-year inspection cycle, all Abu Dhabi schools now have at least one new inspection report using issued with the new grading system.


Why this isn't the whole picture...

Abu Dhabi schools are rated every two years - meaning a school could well have improved, but its rating does not yet reflect that new level of performance.

In addition, ADEK inspectors can and do visit schools during their first year of operation. Depending on scheduling this can fall after just a few short months of operating, a tough time for any new school!


What about Abu Dhabi's Exam Results?

There's no doubt, parents also want to know how well the school performs in external testing and exams. acknowledges that increasing numbers of schools in Abu Dhabi are now choosing to publish their GCSE/A Level and IB Diploma results. And in 2018, Abu Dhabi's schools did really rather well, with some of the UAE's top scores coming from the emirate's schools.

Read more: The UAE's GCSE Results 2018

Read more: The UAE's A Level Results 2018

Read more: The UAE's IB Diploma Results 2018


The British Schools Overseas Inspections

As well as inspections by ADEC, British schools can opt into British Schools Overseas (BSO) accreditation and inspection. These usually take place every three-years and involve a team of OFSTED inspectors visiting from the UK.

Abu Dhabi has several British Schools which have opted for these additional inspections, visit here to find out which they are and how they did.


According to ADEC Inspectors the best schools in Abu Dhabi are:

Outstanding Schools in Abu Dhabi:

Al Muna Primary School Abu Dhabi  (UK Curriculum)

Brighton College Al Ain (UK Curriculum) 

Merryland International School (UK Curriculum)

Raha International School (IB Curriculum) 


Very Good Schools in Abu Dhabi:

American Community Private School (IB Curriculum)

American International School of Abu Dhabi (US/IB Curriculum) 

Al Yasmina School (UK Curriculum)

Al Ain American Private School (US Curriculum)

Al Ain Academy(UK Curriculum)

Brighton College Abu Dhabi (Bloom Gardens) (UK Curriculum)

Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi (UK Curriculum)

Emirates National School MBZ (US/IB Curriculum)

GEMS American Academy  (US Curriculum)

GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi (IB Curriculum)

German International School (German Curriculum)

Japanese School of Abu Dhabi (Japanese Curriculum)

Lycee Louis Massignon School (French Curriculum)

Pearl Academy  (UK Curriculum)

Repton Foundation School (UK Curriculum)

Sheikh Zayed Academy for Boys (US Curriculum)

Sheikh Zayed Academy for Girls (US Curriculum)

The British International School, Abu Dhabi  (UK/IB Curriculum)

The British School of Khubairat (UK Curriculum)


Good Schools in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi International Private School (US/IB Curriculum)

Abu Dhabi International Private School, branch (US/IB Curriculum) 

Abu Dhabi Grammar School Canada (Canadian Curriculum)

ADNOC School Ruwais (US Curriculum)

ADNOC Sas Al Nakl (US Curriculum)

Ajyal International School Al Falah (US Curriculum)

Al Adhwa Private School (US Curriculum)

Al Andalus Private Academy (MoE Curriculum)

Al Bashair Private School (MoE Curriculum)

Al Basma British School (UK Curriculum)

Al Bateen Academy (UK Curriculum)

Al Bateen Scientific School (US Curriculum)

Al Danat KG Private School (US Curriculum)

Al Dhafra Private School (UK/US Curriculum)

Al Dhabiana Private School (MoE)

Al Ittehad National Private School - Abu Dhabi (US Curriculum)

Al Ittihad National Private School Al Ain (US Curriculum)

Al Mamoura Academy (UK Curriculum)

Al Nahda National School Boys (US/UK Curriculum)

Al Najah Private School (UK/IB Curriculum) 

Al Nash'e Alsaleh Private School (US Curriculum)

Al Rabeeh School LLC (UK Curriculum)

Al Sanawbar Private School (US Curriculum)

Al Yasat Private School (US Curriculum)

Amity International School (UK Curriculum)

Asian International Private School Ruwais (Indian Curriculum)

Bright Riders Private School (Indian Curriculum)

Belvedere British School (UK Curriculum)

Canadian International School (Canadian Curriculum)

Diyafah International School (UK Curriculum)

Emirates National School Al Ain (US Curriculum)

Emirates Private School (UK/US/MoE Curriculum)

Future International School Al Ain (US Curriculum)

GEMS Cambridge International School (UK Curriculum)

GEMS United Indian School (Indian Curriculum)

GEMS Winchester School Abu Dhabi (UK curriculum)

Good Will Children Private School (UK Curriculum)

Horizon Private School (US Curriculum)

International Community School Branch  (UK Curriculum)

International Indian School (Indian Curriculum)

International Jubilee Private School (US Curriculum)

Liwa International School (US Curriculum)

Liwa International School for Girls  (US Curriculum)

Mayoor Private School (Indian Curriculum)

Our Own English High School Al Ain (Indian Curriculum)

Private International English School (Indian Curriculum)

Rawafed Private School (US Curriculum)

Rosary Private School (MoE Curriculum)

Ryan Private School - now Indian Modern Private School (Indian Curriculum)

St Joseph's Indian School (Indian Curriculum)

Sunrise English Private School (Indian Curriculum)

The Cambridge High School (UK Curriculum)

The Gulf International Private Academy  (US Curriculum)

The International School of Choueifat (Khalifa City) (Sabis Curriculum)

West Yas Private School (US Curriculum)


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