New Schools, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, 2014-2015

2014/15 looks set to be one of the UAE's biggest years for new schools. Here we detail the new schools opening, focusing on what each one will bring to an increasingly diverse educational landscape in the emirates.
New Schools, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, 2014-2015
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As the UAE's population continues to grow, and expatriates around the world come to the region, so education has come increasingly under the microscope as one service that needs to be in place to support growth. In this roundup we detail schools that have either just opened or are on their way. Note: We will continue to add new school profiles to this page as details become available.

Kings’ School Al Barsha

Curriculum: National Curriculum of England
Opening: September 2014
Location: Al Barsha South, Dubai
Fee level: 52,000 to 82,600 AED.
Initial age groups: FS1 to Year 9 (growing to Year 13 by 2016)
Capacity: 1760 students (starting with 868 in September 2014)

Kings’ School Al Barsha will open in September 2014. Secondary students who have been temporarily housed at Kings’ School in Umm Suqeim 3 will move to their new premises at Al Barsha and will be joined by Early Years and Primary children, meaning all years from Foundation Stage 1 up to and including Year 9 will be catered for.

Fees range from 52,000 AED for FS1 rising to 82,600 AED for Year 9. The school will offer Year 13 places as soon as 2016. At this point fees will have broken the 100,000 AED mark to weigh in at 100,300 AED for Year 12, and 103,200 AED for Year 13.

The school is currently accepting places for FS 1 (5 classes), FS 2 (4 classes), Year 1 (4 classes), Year 2 (4 classes), Year 3 (2 classes), Year 4 (2 classes), Year 5 (2 classes), Year 6 (2 classes), Year 7 (4 classes), Year 8 (4 classes), Year 9 (4 classes).

Each class will have 24 children apart from FS1 which will have 20 per class.

Kings’ school is the only school in Dubai to have been rated Outstanding since inspections began and the school will no doubt be hoping it can transfer some of its undoubted operational excellence to its new location. Kings' claims to offer "the very best of British education", but adds its curriculum is also "relevant to young people living and growing in Dubai".

According to Kings', building work and approvals processes are on track.

Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba

Curriculum: National Curriculum of England
Opening: September 2014
Location: Nad Al Sheba, Dubai
Fee level: 52,000 to 82,600 AED.
Initial age groups: FS1 to Year 6 (expanding to include Secondary by 2016)
Capacity: 1760 students (starting with 580 in September 2014)

Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba will open in September 2014. Phase 1 will see the opening of the Early Years and Primary school, offering Foundation Stage One up to and including Year 6. The Secondary school is to planned open on site in 2016.

Like the new Al Barsh brance, Kings' will undoubtedly be hoping to take some of the culture that has resulted in six Outstanding ratings in a row for its Umm Suqeim location and transfer it to the new location. Fees range from 50,200 AED at FS1 and rise to 63,700 AED for Year 6.

The school is presently recruiting pupils for FS 1 (5 classes), FS 2 (4 classes), Year 1 (4 classes), Year 2 (4 classes), Year 3 (2 classes), Year 4 (2 classes), Year 5 (2 classes), Year 6 (2 classes).

Each class will have 24 children apart from FS1 which will have 20 per class.

According to Kings' building work and approvals processes are on track.

Capital School 

Fees: 30,000 AED to 49,600 (FS1 to Year 7), Initial discounted rate 26,000 - 37,000 AED (FS1 to Yr 6)
Other fees: 500 AED non-refundable registration fee. The cost of bus transport to and from the school will be charged separately at the cost of AED 7,000 per annum for transport one way and AED 11,000 per annum if transport is required to and from the school. Price will depend on number of journeys and distance from the school.
Location: Baghdad Street, Al Qusais, Dubai
Tel: +971-4-2988-776
Email: [email protected]

You can't keep a good school principal down. William Johnston, the former head of the primary school of the English College (rated Good by the KHDA, and very liked by parents), which unexpectedly announced its closure earlier this year, is taking up the reins of the Capital school, to be located in Al Qusais in Dubai, when it opens its doors in September 2014.

The school will open as a full Primary School and Foundation Stage in September 2014 and than in successive years the school will into expand into Secondary School operations.

The Capital School is to be based on the English National Curriculum, "but with a strong programme of Arabic and English language to ensure that all students have good communication skills".

The school is expecting a very international student demographic and will have in place a programme of English language support "that will give all our students both the confidence and skill to be able to access the English National Curriculum successfully".

The school will also offer "excellent facilities" in sport, technology and learning support. Primary and Foundation Stage schooling will be housed in its own purpose-built facility with large classrooms, access to an outdoor play area and sports facilities as well as multi-purpose gymnasium, sports hall as well as two outdoor swimming pools.

The secondary school will offer specialist facilities for technology, art, and science.

The school is in an established location and almost certainly ready for opening. However, it is still recruiting for teachers.

The school will be inclusive, i.e. non-selective, and co-educational.

Reach British School

Opening: September 2014
Grades on opening: FS1 - Yr6
Fees: 19,800 - 23,100 AED
Other fees: 500 AED registration fee
Eventual Capacity: 2500
Location: Abu Dhabi, Baniyas East
Tel. 026767751
E-mail: [email protected]

A school developled by Reach Holding at an investment cost of $29 million, and with an eventual capacity for 2,460 students.

Reach is not an educational specialist, but rather invests across industries, and across the Middle East. "Reach Holding [has] established over 15 companies that invest in different sectors of economies in the Middle East, from Industrial, Real Estate and Service to Healthcare and Education... We are continually seeking new investment opportunities in various forms."

The company is 80% owned by GulfCapital, a private equity and investment company.

What's different about the school?
Too early to tell. It has the basis covered with a pretty impressive looking building, and a curriculum in place for its students. Reach will follow the Cambridge Primary Programme.

The school seems to be setting itself up for sizable number of students who will have English as a second language. The curriculum "includes extended... frameworks and a new curriculum for English as a second language.

"There are built in Progression Tests for English, Mathematics and Science from the third year of teaching placing the learners performance into three bands (Gold, Silver and Bronze) which is aligned to the Cambridge Primary Checkpoint examinations taken in Year 6."

Eventually the school will provide International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and finally A Levels using the CIE external examinations board.

Facilities look good. Construction of the school has been managed by Firas, a company responsible for a number of schools in the capital.

The school is a purpose built facility with a foundation stage block with its own entrance, two almost identical teaching blocks (the second opening in 2015), a multi -purpose block housing a 25-meter swimming pool, with a large indoor sports hall, changing rooms and a canteen. There is also an administrative block.

A shaded play area, and sports areas are positioned between the two teaching buildings.

Ontario International Canadian School

Start date: September 01, 2014
Fees: 43,750 AED - 66,750 (KG1 to Gr 6); Discount 37,200 AED - 60,075 AED for early joiners. The discounted rate will apply to joiners for the next three years. There is an additional discount for Canadian students
Other fees: Application Processing Fee: 300 AED; Textbook Fee (50% refundable at year end if books returned in reasonable condition), Medical Services Fee,Transportation Fee – if service selected, Activities Fees (based on cost of activities selected)
Location: Algeria Road and 15 Street, Uptown Mirdiff, Dubai
Tel: +971 4 255 9880 /+971 4 255 9899
Email: [email protected]

Dubai's first Canadian school will open in September in Mirdiff, with the curriculum provided by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Arabic, Islamic Studies and UAE Social Studies provision will be based on UAE requirements.

The school begins with KG to Grade 6, but says it will add additional grades each year and eventually provide a complete educational sequence through to the end of Grade 12.

Students will then be able to graduate with a Canadian high school diploma.

The school also plans to establish a waiting list for Grades Seven from opening, "and will consider adding those grades to its programme for 2014-15 if there is sufficient interest".

The school's principal, Gregory Cosgrove, has Middle East experience, having been Director of the Canadian International School of Egypt for almost 6 years, up to July, 2011.

This school says it will become known for its academic rigor, and its focus on each learner "as a unique individual".

The school also seems to want to promote a strong student – parent – school partnership. "We will succeed based as much the strength of that partnership as on the strength of our instructional programming."

We like the look of OICs' language school. English is the language of instruction at the Ontario International Canadian School, however students will also study French as part of their daily classroom schedule. In addition, the school will operate an optional after-class language academy offering Mandarin, Spanish, Russian and German.

As part of UAE MoE guidelines the school will teach Arabic.

Nord Anglia International School

Curriculum: National Curriculum of England
Opening: September 2014
Location: Al Barsha South, Dubai
Fee level: 52,000 to 75,000 AED. There is a (very slight) founder's discount.
Initial age groups: FS to Year 8
Capacity: 2000 students

Nord Anglia specialises in a British curriculum for international markets. The 27 schools it operates seem very highly regarded by parents around the world. The group itself is headquartered in Hong Kong, but its education HQ is based in Oxford.

The group is well-funded: Nord Anglia Education recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange and shares rose as much as 12 percent on their U.S. market debut on March 26 2014, valuing the group at about $1.7 billion. The group itself raised some $304 million from the float.

Some 1,200 students from over 70 nationalities already study in one of its schools in the UAE. The British International School Abu Dhabi has been operational in the capital since 2009. BISAD is currently ranked B4 by the Abu Dhabi Education Authority - the highest grade in its Satisfactory banding. Parent feedback we have received has been predominantly positive.

Anything different about the Dubai school?
Clearly the school follows the Nord Anglia Education model. It is selective*, and has a focus on British education and the IB. The school is being built from scratch, in Barsha South, which is going from desert when it comes to schooling, into a bit of a cluster. The building is due for handover in May, and the school says this is on course. Facilities look very good indeed.

Nord Anglia Education Schools students score four points above the global average in their IB diploma - according to the school group itself. From the WSA Q and A: "In 2012, one in five Nord Anglia Education students won places at the world’s top 30 universities. Three of its students received full marks on their IB diploma, a feat achieved by only 109 of the 119,000 who sat this exam worldwide. 15% of all Nord Anglia Education students who sat the IB Diploma achieved a score of 40 or above, more than double the global average of 6%." More here.

*  Nord Anglia Education schools are not specifically academically selective, but are selective based on attitude. Some of its schools are selective based on ability to access the curriculum (for example IB). The school's interview process is based on this selection criteria.

Looks very good, and currently seems on track. Regular updates on the school's Facebook page.

Credence High School, Al Quoz

Opening: April 2014
Curriculum: CBSE
Age group on launch: KG to Gr 6. Further grades will be added each year up to Gr 12.
Fees: 15,000 AED to 21,000 AED
Other fees: 500 AED registration, AED 750 admission fee. Plus: Books and Resource, Uniform Fee, Tuition and transport Fee
Location: Al Quoz, Dubai
Tel: +971 052 9858300

A new CBSE based school in Al Quoz will help greatly with considerable demand for Indian schools in the emirate, an area where there is a distinct lack of focus from education providers.

According to early press releases the school would be a "day-boarding" school for levels Grade 3 to Grade 12, although this does not seem to have come to fruition.

Developers or owners are Indian expat businessmen in the UAE: Nalapad Ahmed Abdulla (MD of Nalapad Group Overseas), Sameer K Mohammed (MD of Jaleel Holdings), and Dr Azad Moopen (chairman of DM Healthcare Group). Source: Dubai FAQs.

Anything different about it?
The school heavily promotes its curriculum and methodology - XSEED, a "syllabus [that] seamlessly integrates with schools following CBSE, ICSE, state boards or even international certifications such as IGCSE."

It has already had its inauguration, and should be open and full of students by the time you read this...

Safa Community School

Opening: September, 2014
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Non-selective
Age on opening: FS1 to 6 initially. Secondary School from September 2015 (Year 7, 8 & 9 initially, growing to Year 13 over time). Non-selective.
Where is it? Miracle Gardens, Dubai Land
Fee Level: 47,000 - 55,000 (FS to Y6). A discount will apply initially - 38,500 AED to 49,500 AED annually. More expensive than its current school.
Capacity: 2,100

The existing Al Safa school is a well-regarded foundation, primary and middle school now located in Al Quoz (since 2012). The new campus has been seen as a positive step for the school, “with modern facilities promoting good student learning experiences,” according to the KHDA, Dubai’s education regulator. The school has a Good rating. It is well liked by its students and their parents. See the review here.

The school clearly hopes to emulate Safa School. From its web site: "We will embrace the good practice already displayed at our sister school and carry this forward into the new site through a shared vision and mission for both the schools. By sharing the same values and approaches we will recreate [its] warm and friendly atmosphere."

Anything different about it?
From a curriculum and cultural point of view, clearly the school is trying to be "more of the same" - why fix something that isn't broken? What will be different will be the design of the school.

Safa Community School says it has worked with leading educational architects and planners, Fielding Nair International to design a “school as a learning community”. The 3.5 hectare campus is spacious and is "set amongst the beautifully landscaped Miracle Gardens".

Each building has been designed as a “Small Learning Community”, designed to meet "the developmental needs of each age group. Each floor contains different sized learning studios arranged around a multi-purpose learning commons designed to support multiple learning modalities" - or in english, each area of the school has been designed to meet the requirements of what is being taught.

The design does look rather fabulous, although one caveat - don't all 3D rendered designs?!

The school has contingency plans if not ready in time, but is publicly confident that it will be.

Dubai British Foundation School

Opening: September 2014
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, EYFS. Non-selective.
Age on opening: FS1-2 - this is a foundation stage based school
Where is it: Jumeirah Islands (behind JLT, nr the Meadows, Springs), Dubai. Temporary Admissions Office located on the corner of 43 and 36B Street in Al Barsha 2 (side entrance to The Children’s Garden Barsha), Dubai, UAE.
Fee level: 60,000 AED (55,000 AED opening year).
Other fees: Application fee: AED 1,000 (one-time, non-refundable, non-transferable); Registration Fee: AED 7,000 (non-refundable, non-transferable), to be adjusted against Term 1 fees.

Dubai British Foundation is owned by the Taaleem group, which operates Dubai British School, Jumeira Baccalaureate School, Greenfield Community School, Uptown School, Al-Mizhar American Academy, The Childrens’ Garden (Green Community, Al Barsha 2, Jumeirah 2) and Raha International School (Abu Dhabi). The group operates 10 schools in total, nine of which are in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. Dubai British Foundation will be a feeder school to a new British Taaleem School, which is planned to open in September 2015 in Jumeirah Park, offering The National Curriculum for England for Year 1 to Year 13.

Anything different about the school?
A British foundation stage only school makes it pretty unusual, and will certainly be an environment that will be enjoyed by the pupils that attend.

The new campus is situated on approximately 5,800 square metres in Jumeirah Islands, an attractive destination. It will include a large, multi-purpose indoor hall; a specialist music room; a specialist language room; an outdoor, fully shaded swimming pool; indoor learning spaces; a health centre and a large creative outdoor play area on split levels including a bicycle track.

The school is putting regular updates on its web site, which you may find here.

GEMS Firstpoint School - The Villa

Opening: September 2014
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England
Age Group: FS to Year 8 initially, eventually up to Year 13
Fees: 38,000 AED to 55,000 AED (Yr 8). Discounted initial rate of 30,400 AED to 44,000 AED.
Other fees: Registration Fee: AED 1,000, Entry Fee: AED 2,500 non refundable.
Location: The Villas, Dubai
Capacity: 4,300

GEMs Education is by far the largest education provider in the UAE, with schools in every curriculum, and tailored to pretty much every demographic segment of the emirates.

As a result GEMs is not a stranger to opening new schools in the UAE, which means that, all things being equal, you can rely on its schools being open on time, and for processes to be in place from day one.

In fact GEMs is not just opening one school in Dubai in September 2014. It is also opening the GEMs Metropole school, just down the road in Motor City.

Both schools are currently recruiting students from FS to Yr 8. Both are English curriculum schools, although FirstPoint is the more 'upmarket' - at least in terms of fees - of the two.

Both schools are rather large - First Point has a capacity for 4,300 students, a shade bigger that the Metropole which has a capacity for 4,100.

Anything different about it?
Two comments stand out in the Principal's statement.

1. "The school will be a pioneering “GEMS Skills School” with a strong emphasis on the development of Entrepreneurial and Professional Skills through the delivery of a wide range of applied learning courses." We have not heard of a "GEMs Skills School" before, and could find no other reference to them, but we very much like the idea. There is a considerably lack of skills based learning in the UAE, and teaching entrepreneurship has to be a first.

2. "Our curriculum will offer a full, broad and balanced range of learning opportunities but with strong ties to local culture. Together with the rest of the school, Foundation Students will study Arabic." The principal also notes the school is very much for local and expatriate students.

In terms of facilities, this is GEMs, and therefore it has the bases covered well. It will have a 500 Seater Auditorium, 25m Swimming Pool, Learners Pool, 6 Court Sports Hall, Specialist Drama Space & Black Box Theatre Space, Music Technology Suite, Ensemble Room, Recording Studio...

The 3D rendering of the building looks very nice too...

GEMs Education has a pretty good track record of delivering on time. No reason as of yet to see why FirstPoint, would not be.

GEMS Metropole School

Opening: September 2014
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England
Age Group on opening: FS1 to Year 8
Fees: 33,000 to 44,000 AED (Yr 8) initial discounted rate 26,400 to 35,200 AED
Where: Motor City, Dubai
Capacity: 4,100

The second of the two GEMs England curriculum school that will open in 2014, and literally just down the road from First Point.

Fees are lower than its sister school by about 10,000 AED per year, but the school follows the same Cambridge based curriculum. In fact, this is the most affordable new, English curriculum based schools to be opening next year.

Fee differentials are often based on school size, classroom sizes, teacher profiles, facilities on offer, and the breadth of courses.

GEMs Education often comes under fire for its commercial approach, however no other school group comes close in catering for the markedly different levels of purchasing power in the UAE.

Anything different about it:
It is another well thought out GEMs school that will take children from Foundation Stage all the way through to A' Levels.

One area of difference may come from its location. GEMS Metropole School is located in Motor City, close to Sports City and Studio City. "Recognising this, the school will place added emphasis on health and wellbeing and digital media through the curriculum and after school activities and will seek to develop sporting and media links within the area."

Bilva Indian School

Opening: April 2014
Age groups on opening: KG1 to Grade 6
Curriculum: CBSE
Fees: 12,000 to 19,000 AED
Location: Al Ghusais School Zone, Deira
Capacity: 3,000
Tel: +971 56 1158701 / +971 56 1158702

A new CBSE based Indian curriculum school. The school says it will be based on Indian culture and values with an international outlook.

The school's inauguration ceremony was held in March. The school is all set to go.

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi

Opening: September 2014
Age groups on opening: FS1 - Y9 (Y13 by 2019)
Fees: 65,000 to 80,000
Other fees: Registration fee, 500 AED, offset against Term 1 fees for successful applicants.
Location: Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Capacity: 1500
Web site:
Tel: 06 8008342

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will be approximately three times the size in terms of student numbers as its UK namesake - 1600, as opposed to 600, when it reaches full capacity in 2020.

Teaching staff will grow in number to around 140 when the school is fully mature.

It makes sense then that the project team involved have not tried to "clone" its 150 year old, considerably more bespoke sister school in the United Kingdom, but to create something new and modern for Middle East.

That said, it's unlikely the team will want this to be known as Cranleigh in name only either. The UK school's motto - ‘Ex Cultu Robur – from Culture Comes Strength’, is peppered liberally across the school's web site, and used to fuse into its local setting - Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi's cultural centrepiece.

The school will be built across seven hectares making Cranleigh Abu Dhabi the largest school campus in the capital when it is complete. That includes boarding facilities – a first for Abu Dhabi - which will become operational in 2017.

The school does not yet know whether it will offer A' Levels, or the IB.

"The A-level system has recently finished an extensive review in the UK, though the details are yet to be specified. Once these are in place, we will have time before 2015 to implement whatever Year 12 and 13 course is felt appropriate."

Anything different about the school?
Signs are good that Cranleigh will be an extraordinarily well put together school. Its facilities look truly first class, and its grounds magnificent. However it is the location, Saadiyat Island, that could - when the island's projects are complete - be the true differentiator of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.

From what we can see it's looking good. The school does however still have a rather large number of teachers, including some quite senior positions, it is still looking to recruit. Time is ticking...

Mayoor School

Curriculum: CBSE
Grades on opening: KG2 to Grade 6
Opening: April 2014
Fees: 12,000 - 20,000 AED
Location: Al Wathba South, Abu Dhabi

Another brand name from the education world, this one a collaboration with the 135 year old Mayo College, Ajmer, India.

The school is a partnership between Taaleem National Private Educational & Facilities Management Company L.L.C, Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with a 138 year old Mayo College General council (MCGC , India). It is Mayo's first branded day scholar school outside India.

Anything different about it?
Clearly the school is embracing technology. The school will have one laptop per child (from Grade 6 onwards) and will have class sets of Tablets with stylus, for use with KG and Primary students.

It should be open by the time you read this.


Schools opening in 2015

Canadian International School
Curriculum: Canadian
Fees: 37,000 - 73,000
Grades: K-12
Capacity: 2000

Dubai School of Excellence
Curriculum: US
Fees: 38,000 to 75,000
Location: Nad al Sheba, Dubai

GEMs National Academy
Fees: 84,000 to 135,000
Grades: K-12
Curriculum: American
Capacity: 2,624

Sobha International Academy
Fees: 37,000 to 74,000
Grades: K-12
Curriculum: UK
Location: Meydan, Dubai
Capacity: 2,500

Community West First School
Fees: 42,000 - 44,000 AED
Grades: FS - Yr 2
Curriculum: UK
Location: Dubai Investment Park
Capacity: 750

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