Top Schools in the UAE, 2019 - The Winners

22 awards were won last night in 21 categories, at an incredible awards ceremony held at the Rajmahal Theatre in Bollywood Parks, Dubai. Over 800 educators from across the UAE attended the second SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards.
Top Schools in the UAE, 2019 - The Winners
By David Westley
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The winners for the 2019 SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards have been revealed, with 21 schools taking home a Top School title from 21 awards. 

The five finalists, and an overall winner, for each category were announced at a glittering awards ceremony held at the stunning Rajmahal Theatre Dubai, at Bollywood Parks, last night.

"This year we opened up the nomination stage to schools, to give them the opportunity to let their passion for what they do shine through. The result was an unparalleled amount of data that we could use to shortlist schools, and the judges could access to make their final decisions,” commented Jonathan Westley, the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com.

The final document sent to the judges contained over 92,000 words - excluding data tables and stats. “We basically sent them a book to internalise,” said Mr Westley. “Fortunately we had a set of formidable judges, and they were up for the challenge. What the arguments gave them, however, was the ability to make truly informed decisions.”

Everyone at Which Media is truly proud of this event,” commented David Westley, Which Media’s GM. We took on board a lot of the feedback that came from the first event, and made considerable efforts to address concerns that were told candidly to us by the wider industry. The result was a much more challenging event to put together, but one we believe has been done properly, from start to finish.”

Only one of the 21 awards announced last night was chosen by editors at Which Media - Outstanding contribution to Education in the UAE,  won by H.E. Dr. Abdulla Al Karam of the KHDA.


H.E. Dr. Abdulla Al Karam tells the audience to expect more, after the award for Outstanding Contribution to Education

In a speech on the night the Co-Founder and MD of Which Media, James Mullan, told the audience, "Competition is in the DNA of Dubai. We can debate if education should be treated as a special case but what is beyond debate is that Dr. Abdulla Al Karam has achieved what he has the Dubai way. This means having an outward looking view, searching for partners who will bring tried and tested talent to the table and making an enemy of complacency..."

Accepting the award the chairman of the KHDA told a packed audience that the successes being made in the UAE was due to its educators, their support and their trust. "Everything we do is always done for the right reasons... This award is only going to make us do more with you, so gear up and be ready!"

The remaining 20 out of 21 awards were decided in three phases. Firstly a nomination phase open to schools, parents and to Which Media's own journalists; secondly a shortlisting phase conducted by SchoolsCompared.com's editors; and finally an independent and closed judging phase by 7 leading educators, all with experience of the school sector in the emirates.

"Well done to the teams who have produced such a comprehensive and fascinating brief. You have made the judging extremely challenging as there is so much which is commendable" Jonathan Hughes D'Aeth, Judge, SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards 2019

“This was without question one of the most difficult tasks I have ever been asked to undertake. Fortunately, my grey hair could not get any greyer...”
Lyn Soppelsa, Judge, SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards 2019

The Awards took place over two hours, culminating with School Principal of the Year and the Best School in Dubai, almost impossible categories for the judges to choose a winner.

School of the Year was won by Dubai English Speaking School and Dubai English Speaking College in a Joint Award, while Principal of the Year was won by Victory Heights' Sasha Crabb.


DESSC takes home the SchoolsCompared.com Top School of the Year Award.

"In Sasha, I believe we have a winner who is simply quite unique," Lyn Soppelsa, a Which Media consultant and Judge, Top Schools Awards 2019 wrote as part of the justification of her choices.


Which Media's Co-Founder, David Westley hands the Principal of the Year award to Sasha Crabb.

She continued:

"I do believe she is truly inspirational as a leader, an educator, and a woman who cracked the glass ceiling and climbed right through it without a backward glance... Interestingly, all 4 runners up schools are, or are expected to be, rated Outstanding by the relevant UAE regulator. VHPS will be too, but it will get there Sasha’s way - ensuring that the happiness of "her children" and the whole school community remains the priority."

Isobel Abulhoul OBE, Founder of the Dubai Literature Festival, and Top Schools Awards Judge, threw her weight behind DESS/DESC for the"single-minded determination" to ensure that a child’s education can continue whatever the obstacle, and to enact the necessary changes for this to happen.

"I have personal experience of this," she said, "when for example many years ago, ramps were put in place to accommodate a child in a wheelchair and to ensure that she was included in every activity in a very tactful manner.

"Every child counts - and for me that has to be the key to giving each child the best possible chance of an excellent education and of achieving their potential."

SchoolsCompared.com will be publishing a full analysis of each award in full over the next week or so. "We will be running these as features, so our readers can see the truly extraordinary things happening in our schools, Jonathan Westley told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. "The depth of talent in UAE schools is extraordinary."

Until then a simple list of winners, and finalists may be found below.
 
- Outstanding contribution to education in the UAE
Winner: H.E. Dr Abdulla Al Karam
 
- British curriculum school of the year
Winner: British School Al Khubairat
Finalists
• Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
• Cranleigh Abu Dhabi
• Dubai British School Emirate Hills
• Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
• Jumeirah College

- International Baccalaureate school of the year
Winner: Raha International
Finalists
• Dubai International Academy - Emirates Hills
• GEMS World Academy Dubai
• Greenfield Community School          
• Jumeira Baccalaureate School
• Uptown School
 
- Best American curriculum school of the year
Winner: American School of Dubai
Finalists:
• Clarion School Dubai
• West Yas Academy Abu Dhabi
 
- Indian curriculum school of the year
Winner: GEMS Modern Academy
Finalists:
•  Ambassador School and Kindergarten, Dubai
• Delhi Private School
• The Indian High School (Senior Campus)
• The Millennium School
 
- Arabic Blended curriculum school of the year
Winner: Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Boys
Finalists:
• American School of Creative Science, Dubai
• Next Generation School, Dubai
• School of Research Science
• Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Girls
 
- IB Blended curriculum School of the Year
Winner: Jumeirah English Speaking School Arabian Ranches
Finalists:
• American Community School of Abu Dhabi
• Deira International School Dubai Festival City
• GEMS Dubai American Academy
• Nord Anglia International School
• Repton School Dubai
 
- Best Primary School
Winner: Dubai English Speaking School
Finalists:
• GEMS Jumeirah Primary School
• Horizon English School
• Jumeirah English Speaking School - Jumeirah
• Kings’ School Dubai
• Victory Heights Primary School
 
- Best Nursery
Winner: Aga Khan Early Learning Centre
Finalists:
• Children’s Oasis
• IDEA Early Learning Centre 
• Little Land Nursery
• Yellow Brick Road Nursery
 
- Best post-16 education
Winner: British School Al Khubairat
Finalists:
• Dubai College
• Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
• Jumeirah College
• Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) Arabian Ranches
• Repton Dubai
• Sunmarke School
 
- Best school for technical education
Winner: Dubai English Speaking College
Finalists:
• British School Al Khabairat (BSAK)
• GEMS Wellington Academy - Dubai Silicon Oasis
• Greenfield Community School
• Sunmarke School Dubai
 
- Best new school
Winner: Safa Community School
Finalists:
• Cranleigh Abu Dhabi
• Dubai Heights Academy
• Kent College
• Nord Anglia International School Dubai
• Ranches Primary School
 
- Best school for music
Winner: Nord Anglia International School Dubai
Finalists:
• American School of Dubai
• Brighton College Abu Dhabi
• Cranleigh Abu Dhabi
• GEMS Music Hub at GEMS World Academy
 
- Best school for theatre and the performing arts
Winner: Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi
Finalists:
• American School of Dubai
• American Community School, Abu Dhabi
• Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
• Nord Anglia International School Dubai
• Raha International School Abu Dhabi
 
- Best school for art
Winner: Brighton College Abu Dhabi
Finalists:
• British School Al Khabairat
• Nord Anglia International School
• Jumeira Baccalaureate School
• Jumeirah College
• Raha International School
• Springdales Dubai
 
- Best school for sport
Winner: Dubai English Speaking College
Finalists:
• Dubai College
• British School Al Khubairat
• Jumeirah College (JC)
• Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) – Arabian Ranches
 
- Best school for child progress and value add
Winner: Jumeirah College
Finalists:
• British School Al Khubairat (BSAK)
• Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
• Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) - Arabian Ranches
• Repton School Dubai
• The English College
 
- Award for outstanding use of technology
JOINT Winners: Fairgreen School and Jumeirah English Speaking School – Arabian Ranches
Finalists:
• GEMS Dubai American Academy
• Hartland
• Repton School - Abu Dhabi
 
- Best international initiative
Winner: Riverston School Dubai
Finalists:
• Dubai English Speaking School (DESC) and Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
• Dubai International Academy - Emirates Hills
• Fairgreen International School
• Nibras
 
- School principal of the year, 2019
Winner: Sasha Crabb, Victory Heights
Finalists:
• Catherine Dando Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
• Simon O’ Connor Jumeirah College
• Rachel Higgins GEMS Jumeirah Primary School
• Mark Leppard MBE British School Al Khubairat (BSAK)
 
- Best school in the UAE, 2019
Winner: DESC and DESS
Finalists:
• American School of Dubai
• Brighton College Abu Dhabi
• British School Al Khubairat (BSAK)
• Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi
• GEMS Modern Academy
• Jumeirah Primary School (JPS) and Jumeirah College (JC) [Joint nomination]
• Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) Primary & Arabian Ranches [Joint nomination]
• Raha International School
• Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Boys
 

 

 

The Awards featured a show by the resident artists at Bollywood Parks Dubai during the intermission. "We hope that we were able to bring some magic to events. We know our dancers left the audience suitably wowed!" Milton D’souza, Director of Operations Dubai Parks and Resorts at DXB Entertainments told us.


A stunning display of Bollwood dancing at the intermission in the SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards.

"This was the biggest awards event we have hosted to date. Education is very important to us and so when SchoolsCompared.com asked Bollywood Parks to be their partner, we embraced the opportunity to get involved. Helping to put on a world-class event at our stunning theatre to celebrate the fantastic achievements of leading schools is of paramount importance."

While the Top School Awards clearly celebrated achievement and success, the biggest goal of the event according to Jonathan Westley, the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com, was simply to bring the industry as a whole together, to allow its members to make new friendships and cement existing ones. "We believe this is the first time in UAE history that schools have been brought together, on such a scale, for an event such as this," he added.



"Obviously this fills the whole of Which Media with a huge amount of pride," continued the MD and Co-Founder of Which Media, James Mullan. "We hope to have given the whole industry the rocket fuel they need to go back into their schools tomorrow, with the energy that will power them onwards and upwards until our next awards."

"We aimed, rather ambitiously, to build the Oscars of the education sector with these awards," said the GM and Co-Founder of Which Media, David Westley. "At the beautiful Rajmahal Theatre at Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, I do believe we have taken one giant leap forward in that direction."

Images from the night!
Gallery - The Awards Part 1, on SchoolsCompared.com
Gallery - The Awards Part 2, on SchoolsCompared.com

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