United Arab Emirates / Al Ain / Gafat Al Nayyar / Brighton College Al Ain

Brighton College Al Ain Review

Part of the Bloom Education Group (and officially bearing the Bloom College name according to ADEK), Brighton College Al Ain is the younger sister of the longer established Brighton College Abu Dhabi. A new sister-school opened in Dubai in 2018, and all three have strong connections to the original Brighton College in the UK. The three UAE schools follow - as would be expected - the UK National Curriculum.
At a glance
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
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Availability 2020/21
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Annual fee average
AED 65,500
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2014
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Dr Ken Greig
Owner
Bloom Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
Emirati
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Brighton College Al Ain
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2020/21
radio_button_unchecked No data
Annual fee average
AED 65,500
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2014
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Dr Ken Greig
Owner
Bloom Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
British
Main student nationality
Emirati
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First Published:
Friday 18 November, 2016

Updated:
Monday 18 March, 2019

Part of the Bloom Education Group (and officially bearing the Bloom College name according to ADEK), Brighton College Al Ain is the younger sister of the longer established Brighton College Abu Dhabi. A new sister-school opened in Dubai in 2018, and all three have strong connections to the original Brighton College in the UK. The three UAE schools follow - as would be expected - the UK National Curriculum.

The story so far...

Part of UAE-based Bloom Education, Brighton College Al Ain was the second school to be opened by the Property Developer in the UAE.  Unusually, the owners targeted Al Ain for their second school, rather than the rather more competitive market of Dubai; a decision that has clearly paid off.  A Dubai-based Brighton College finally opened in 2018-19.  All three schools have strong links to the original Brighton College, UK, which has recently been named as the UK's Independent School of the Year for 2017-18, following the receipt of the same recognition in 2013-14.

Setting itself apart from its sister schools - although to be fair, the Dubai school will not be inspected until 2021-22 for the first time - Brighton College Al Ain has succeeded in joining the elite number of Abu Dhabi Emirate schools to have achieved an Outstanding rating from the ADEK Inspectors - not once, but twice - with its second inspection in the 2017-18 academic year achieving the same rating.   Brighton College Abu Dhabi has also achieved the Outstanding rating for the first time in the 2018-19 inspection round.

Read our Visit Experience at Brighton College Al Ain here.

At the time of the ADEK inspection in March 2018, the school had expanded to some 890 students of whom approximately 46% were Emirati.  What is impressive in this context, is the fact that this is truly a school of many nationalities.  The second highest nationality group - at 21% - is from the UK, and a further 10% of students come from the USA and Canada.  

The 900 students are supported by 105 teachers and 31 teaching assistants, mainly from the UK, providing a staff:student ratio of 1:8 - a low figure ensuring that students are provided with plentiful individual attention.  At 19%, staff turnover is below average by UAE standards (the average is around 22%), although replacing one member of staff in five on an annual basis can, inevitably, lead to some disruption.

The ownership of the school by National Holdings, and its representation on the Board of Governors, together with a number of other exceptional Emiratis, representatives of Bloom Holding and of Brighton College UK, underlines the school's commitment to the provision of a "World Class Education, in the tradition of Brighton College UK, well known in the UK not only as one of the very top academic schools, but one which also consistently innovates and leads the sector in its approach to getting the best from every child and giving them a true sense of their place in the world".

The school states that it aims, in short, "to turn out well-educated, tolerant and intellectually curious men and women who are ready to take a full, active and positive rôle in the life of our country and of our world".

What about the curriculum?

The curriculum at Brighton College Al Ain is the English National Curriculum that leads to GCSEs and A Level exams. The school is an all-through school with grades FS 1 and FS 2 through Year 13.  In addition, the school follows the Ministry of Education syllabus for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

Brighton College operates a house system with four different houses each run by a housemaster or housemistress. Older pupils also have roles and responsibilities to lead. Students in represent their house in inter-house competitions. The houses are an opportunities for students to build friendships across year group as all grades are represented in each house. As Brighton College website says, "Each House has its own base, identity and ethos, but with a common framework for the pastoral support of the pupils."

On top of core subjects, there are additional extracurricular activities on offer at the school. These include sport such as basketball, cricket, football, netball and swimming; the music programme includes performance and practice facilities as well as student ensembles; facilities for painting, photography, pottery and printmaking.  Some 100 clubs and societies meet, including Arabic Poetry, Art Masterclass, Badminton, Beginners’ Mandarin, Canoeing, the Charity and Community Club, Chess, Computing Club, Drama, The English Society, Football, Golf, the iPad Club, Karate, Mural Club, Musical Theatre, Octopush, Science Club, Surfing, Swimming and Trampolining.

There is a strong focus on support for students in terms of Sixth Form and University options including the UCAS application process for students considering the UK, and also for students considering university in the USA.  In addition, students are provided with information on options for Gap Years, with many students proceeding to internships, scholarship placements with professional services firms, or charity programmes overseas. Careers evenings are a regular feature of the Sixth Form at Brighton College.

What about facilities?

As would be expected, the school's out of town location means that it stands on a substantial 28,000 acre (11,000 hectare) site.  The school sprawls across the site surrounded by plentiful outdoor space. Facilities include a 450-seat auditorium, a full-size IAAF-accredited athletics track, a 25-metre swimming pool, and all-weather football pitches as well as a large, fully equipped sports hall. Students also benefit from purpose built Science labs, Music, Art and Performing Arts facilities and the latest ICT technology in classrooms.   There has been some concern expressed in relation to the availability of Sixth Form facilities as this section of the school grows.  As yet, no information has been provided in terms of expansion of these facilities.

What the inspectors say

In its initial inspection in 2015-16, Brighton College Al Ain was judged to be ‘Outstanding’ in every category by Abu Dhabi Department for Education and Knowledge.  As Brighton College Al Ain's website explains, "[the school] has become the first school to ever achieve a ‘perfect score’ in the city of Al Ain". The ADEK reports notes that "the overall performance of Brighton College Al Ain is outstanding".

The report notes the "exceptionally high quality of challenge and support; teaching [that] is highly effective and significantly impacts on students’ rates of progress and attainment levels; extremely high quality of professional leadership; comprehensive, systematic and rigorous self-evaluation processes, and extensive data analysis".

Students at the school were assessed by the report as being "extremely courteous and respectful [with] maturity and a very responsible attitude to learning as they share ideas".

The 2017-18 inspection report again rated the school as Outstanding.  Again, most impressively, the school was rated Outstanding across all six key performance areas - almost unknown in terms of achievement.  More than this, every rating across the individual key performance areas was rated Outstanding with the exception of Student Achievement in Arabic 1 and 2 and Islamic Studies, where Very Good was awarded in a small number of measures.

The inspection team highlighted the strengths of the school as:

  • The quality of students’ achievement and learning across most subjects and levels.
  • Students’ love of learning, curiosity, independence and resilience.
  • Consistently high quality teaching and assessment across the school.
  • A curriculum which expertly blends the college’s international vision with the UAE national vision.
  • The school’s core values which provide students with a harmonious, nurturing environment in which they thrive.
  • The inspirational leadership of the headmaster and senior leadership team that empowers all staff to innovate and deliver a world class education.

Key areas for development were limited to only two:

  • Continue to develop innovative approaches for delivering the curriculum so that the existing very high standards are raised even further.
  • Continue to explore opportunities for parents and students to contribute even more effectively to the future development of the school.

In terms of student achievement, the inspectors commented that "Over half of the children entering the foundation phase are not first language English speakers. Students’ achievement is outstanding in English, mathematics, science and a wide range of other subjects. Students love learning, and work together very well to develop their understanding of the world and how they can influence it. They are developing all the skills and qualities needed to play a positive part in shaping the future of the UAE".

Inspectors also expressed high praise for Students' Personal, Social and Innovation skills, noting that these skills are outstanding. "Their leadership of initiatives which shape their own community is highly developed . They are highly innovative and imaginative and show outstanding qualities of tolerance and respect".

The school was found to have recruited, and developed, "highly skilled teachers who inspire students to develop a love of learning.Their detailed and comprehensive planning, based on rigorous assessments ensures that they provide challenging, personalised learning experiences for students".

Similarly, the Inspectors determined that "the curriculum is outstanding. Its innovative design provides motivating experiences that progressively develop students’ skills and qualities resulting, for example, in very impressive standards of English literacy. The curriculum is skilfully adapted to personalise student’s learning to their strengths, needs and interests, and to prepare them very well for the nextstages of their education".

The protection, care, guidance and support of the students was also found to be outstanding.  Inspectors commented that the "comprehensive student support structures enable students to develop outstanding inter-personal skills and to achieve very high standards".

Finally, in terms of the remaining key performance area of Leadership and management, this was again rated outstanding.  Inspectors reported that "The Headmaster and senior leaders provide inspirational leadership. A culture of continuous improvement permeates the school , and all stakeholders are dedicated to driving standards even higher so that the ambitious aspirations of the school leadership and staff can be achieved as quickly as possible".

Without doubt, Brighton College Al Ain's achievements in terms of its ADEK rating and performance should be the envy of, and inspiration for, other schools, not only in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the city of Al Ain, but also across the UAE. 

What about academic achievement?

Irrespective of what the inspectors may say, academic success for its students will, for many parents, be a key, if not the sole, indicator of success.  To their credit, Brighton College Al Ain has released its A Level and GCSE results in detail to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.  It must be said that students numbers are small compared with more established schools, but results are impressive.  The challenge, going forward, will be to achieve the same standards with larger numbers of students.

A level results are below.  As this was the first year in which students have participated in A Level examinations, there are no comparative figures for the previous year.

Name of School

 Brighton College Al Ain

No. of students in 2017-18 A level cohort:

 16

No. of students that passed

 16

% of grades A*

 11

% of grades A* - A

 40

% of grades A* - C

 81

Overall achievement %

 98

Highest grades achieved 2017-18

 A*A*A*A

Highest grades achieved 2016-17

 N/A 

University destinations

British Columbia, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol, California Davis, Cambridge, King's College London

GCSE results are as follows:

Name of School

 Brighton College Al Ain

No. of students in 2017-18 GCSE level cohort:

34

No. of students that passed

34

% of grades Grade 9

19.4%

% of grades A* (9–8)

34%

% of grades A* - A (9–7)

54%

% of grades A* - B (9-5)

76 %

% of grades A* - C (9–4)

90%

Overall achievement %

100%

Highest grades achieved 2017-18

A* 33.3%

Highest grades achieved 2016-17

A* 22.1%

We would like to see year on year comparison across all grades awarded going forward, but these provide a strong indicator of academic achievement at the school.  

In March 2019, the College announced that four of its pupils were awarded Exam Board Pearson Edexcel Outstanding Achievement Award recently, for attaining top GCSE marks worldwide and the UAE. Three Year 12 pupils attained the highest mark in the world for GCSE Arabic, whilst one further student was recognised for the highest mark in the UAE for GCSE Spanish.

Fees for Brighton College Al Ain start at AED 49,907 for FS1 and rise to AED 79,000 for Year 13. Students who are accepted to the school must pay a AED 2,000 placement fee which "will be off-set against the Tuition Fees for the first term."  The school also offers a limited number of bursaries - details are not provided, but parents are encouraged to contact the school for details.

 

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