Dubai Schools Pushing Drama to Centre Stage

From state-of-the-art auditoriums to international music, dance and drama curricula, schools in Dubai are increasingly putting the spotlight on the performing arts.
Dubai Schools Pushing Drama to Centre Stage
By Veathika
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Kent College Dubai has opened its new auditorium, named after Sir Tim Clark.

The President of Emirates Airlines inaugurated the auditorium himself, his speech emphasising the role of performing arts as an integral part of school life. The school’s Principal Patrick Lee-Browne agreed, predicting the great performances that would soon come.

Kent is not the only school making a drama of its performing arts pedigree. In recent years, a number of schools in Dubai and the UAE, have opened state-of-the-art auditoriums for their students, while some have even enlisted international music and performing arts institutions to elevate curriculum delivery.

Schools following GCSE, and the England and Wales based framework to 16 claim to place  a particular emphasis on the arts, although a cursory glance at school Facebook pages shows they are far from alone. Our sister site, has actually rounded up what it believes are the top schools in the UAE for the performing arts here.

Karen Bourdillon, Head of Music at Kent College Dubai said 75% of its students had chosen to study a performing arts subject (music or drama) at GCSE, "a highly encouraging figure in any school".

“Schools are increasingly valuing the skills that the arts can bring to other curriculum areas and the development of the whole child, and therefore wish to provide the best possible venues for enabling this. Like labs in Science and Design Technology, a state of the art auditorium allows the opportunity to work in an environment that is as close as possible to a professional one.”  


Kent College Auditorium
Kent College children performing at the Sir Tim Clark Auditorium inauguration

Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, told that performing arts have always been valued at the school as an essential element of the English National Curriculum.  

Heather Mann, Principal of DBS Jumeirah Park said:

“What is noticeable is that parents are now more aware of the broader benefits of children engaging in performing arts. Our after school clubs are full and our external providers of dance and musical theatre have seen a rise in student numbers. Performing arts is growing in popularity as an out of school pursuit as well."

The school is about to launch its first GCSE drama course which may lead to students taking performing arts further.

One of the most impressive and well known alliances between a school group and an international household name for the arts is that between the Nord Angia Group and Juilliard. The Juilliard School, located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, is a performing arts conservatory established in 1905. The school trains about 850 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama, and music. In 2016 it was ranked it as the world's best institution for Performing Arts.

 Nord Anglia International School (NAS) Dubai introduced the Julliard Curriculum last year for all students up to Year 8. The school says dance, music and drama are very much core to its curriculum.

The school backs up the partnership with Juilliard an auditorium that seats 550 people and is fully equipped with professional sound and lighting equipment.

A drama class in progress at NAS

Joy Stibbs, Music Teacher at NAS, says performing arts is a key to a child’s overall development.

“Performing arts provides children with the necessary skills to build confidence, teamwork, presentation skills and the ability to perform in front of their peers. From a young age our students are exposed to a broad range of Performing Arts media, which encourages creativity, concentration skills, growth in their self-esteem and strategies to overcome anxieties. With the regular performance opportunities our students have their personal development continually growing.”

NAS Dubai students perform 'Hairspray' 

Abbey Mack, who teaches Drama at NAS told the school was proud of the 100% A*-A it achieved for its first set of GCSE results last year.

However this is seen as very much the start of the journey... "Now those students have the opportunity to work towards a LAMDA acting qualification.

"Many are keen to continue to study drama at IB and even university...”

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