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.
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3.9 out of 5 based on 19 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Availability 2021/22
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Availability 2022/23
Annual fee average
AED 67,000
Annual fees
AED 51,404–81,370
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Principal
Mr Scott Carnochan
Owner
Bloom Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Arab Emirates
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Brighton College Al Ain
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Availability 2021/22
hourglass_empty
Availability 2022/23
Annual fee average
AED 67,000
Annual fees
AED 51,404–81,370
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Principal
Mr Scott Carnochan
Owner
Bloom Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Arab Emirates
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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 was 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 - 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.  Brighton College Dubai achieved a Good rating on its first inspection in early 2022 - the highest rating awarded to Dubai schools by the KHDA on first inspection.

Check out our most recent Experience Visit to Brighton College Al Ain from March 2022, to get a real feeling for day to day life at the school.

It would seem that the team from Bloom Education is keen to ensure that the high standards are maintained at the Al Ain school, with the announcement, in August 2021, of the appointment  of Mr. Simon Corms, latterly the Headmaster of the Abu Dhabi school, as interim Headmaster at Brighton College Al Ain, following the retirement of Dr. Kenneth Greig. 

Commenting on his move to Al Ain, Mr. Corms said “I am privileged indeed to be moving from one outstanding Brighton College to another and I am very much looking forward to getting to know pupils, staff and parents.”

Following on from his interim appointment at Brighton College Al Ain, Mr. Corms has followed his former colleague in Al Ain into retirement.

In December 2021, Brighton College Al Ain announced Mr Scott Carnochan as its new Headmaster. He will join the college in April 2022. 

With over 11 years of Headship experience and in-depth knowledge of the English National Curriculum, GCSEs and A Levels, Mr Carnochan will join Brighton College Al Ain from his current position of Head of Holmewood House School in Tunbridge Wells, which is a day and boarding school founded in 1945, based in the United Kingdom. 

With an Honours degree in Education and a Master’s in Educational Leadership, Mr Carnochan has held senior leadership positions at both Repton School in Derbyshire and St John’s College School in Cambridge. He was then appointed Headmaster of Sedbergh Prep School in Cumbria at the age of 35, where he played a pivotal part in opening their first international schools.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Carnochan said: “I am very much looking forward to joining Brighton College Al Ain, a school that champions the same values of kindness, self-belief and aspiration as my current school. I am confident that my love of education coupled together with the school’s excellent College Leadership Team and teaching staff will continue to deliver an outstanding education.”

At the time of our most recent visit to the school in March 2022, the school had expanded to some 810 students. 490 students are in Junior School, 280 in the Senior and 40 in Sixth Form. Students come from a mix of nationalities from around the world with around 60% being native Arabic speakers. What is impressive in this context, is the fact that this is truly a school of many nationalities. 

Read all about our most recent Visit Experience in March 2022 here.

Students are supported by 110 teachers including specialist teachers, and 45 teaching assistants, providing a staff:student ratio of 1:8 - a low figure ensuring that students are provided with plentiful individual attention.  

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?

In keeping with UK public (which means private!) schools, the College is divided into an Early Years/Pre-Prep section (for children in the Nursery/Foundation Stage 2), Prep School (equivalent to Primary age from Years 1 to 5), Secondary (for students aged 11 to 16 years, split between Middle School for Years 6 to 8 and Senior School for Years 9 to 11) and Sixth Form for students in their final two years of study.

The curriculum at Brighton College Al Ain is the English National Curriculum that leads to IGCSEs and A Level exams. 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.

Find out what the school leaders, students and parents have to say about Brighton College Al Ain by reading about our March 2022 Experience visit here. 

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 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 for the first two years in which exams were entered.  

A Level results 2019 2020 2021
No. of students in A level cohort: 22 24 24
No. of exam entries 74 66 71
% of exam entries graded A* 6.8 24.2 47
% of exam entries graded A*-A 27 54.5 75
% of exam entries graded A*-C 81.1 95.5 97
% of exam entries graded A*- E 98.6 100 100
Overall pass rate A*-E 98.6 100 100
Highest grades achieved by an individaul student  3 A levels (A*A*A)  3 A levels (A*A*A*) 4  A Levels (A*A*A*A*)

GCSE results are as follows:

I/GCSE results 2019 2020 2021
No. of students in I/GCSE level cohort:  37 38 28
% of cohort entered for I/GCSE exams  100  100 100
No. of exam entries  325  324 228
% of exam entries graded A*/9-8 39.4 37.4 36
% of exam entries graded A*-A /9-7 59.7  56.5 56
% of exam entries graded A*-B /9-6 75.7 72.2 78
% of exam entries graded A*-C /9-4  95.3  96.6 99
% of students achieving 5 A*-C/ 9-4 including English and Maths  94.6  100 99
Overall student pass rate A*-C 95.3  96.6 96

In March 2019, the College announced that four of its pupils were awarded Exam Board Pearson Edexcel's Outstanding Achievement Award, 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.

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. 

The Buzz

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a relatively limited response to its School Survey;  but those parents who have provided their feedback are largely positive about the College, rating it 3.6/5 - or a 72% approval rating.

Children clearly enjoy going to school and have a strong sense of belonging, and parents are largely satisfied with the academic performance of the school.  Communication is clearly a strength and parents are satisfied with the school's disciplinary policy and its implementation. Close to 40% of respondents felt that the school had improved their child's confidence 'a tremendous amount'.  77% of respondents would unreservedly recommend Brighton College Al Ain to other parents.

As is so often the case, if parents have reservations about the College, this relates to the school fees. Whilst 69% of respondents agreed that they partially represented value for money, only 23% entirely endorsed this view, and 8% totally disagreed with this premise.

If you are a parent, teacher or student at Brighton College Al Ain, please help us to obtain a broad number of views and share your experience and opinions with other potential members of your community by completing the survey.

Our View

There is little doubt that in terms of quality of education provided, both we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com and ADEK as the regulator would agree that that there is no other school in Al Ain that can currently match this - although without question, there are several other schools catching up rapidly. 

For expat families seeking a truly international education for their children in Al Ain, the broad mix of nationalities and the strong support of the school by local families makes Brighton College an obvious choice.  After a period of uncertainty due to the changes at the top, we are sure that the College will only continue to go from strength to strength.

What about the fees?

Tuition Fees for Brighton College Al Ain start at AED 51,404 for FS1 and rise to AED 81,370 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." Tuition Fees do not include individual use laptops/tablets/computers, uniform, food services, transport, examination fees or extra-curricular activities outside school hours.

The school also offers a limited number of bursaries - which are based on parents' individual financial circumstances and may result in a reduction in fees of between 5% and 25%. Parents are encouraged to contact the school for further details.

 

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Brighton College Al Ain is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:

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