United Arab Emirates / Abu Dhabi / Shakhbout City / British International School Abu Dhabi

British International School Abu Dhabi Experience

The British International School Abu Dhabi (BIS AD) is a rapidly growing FS- Year 13 (K-12) private school for students between the ages of 3 to 18 years. The school, located between Khalifa City B and Madinat bin Zayed City behind Abu Dhabi University, was established in September 2009, and is run by Nord Anglia Education as part of its group of international schools.
Parents' Rating
3.6 out of 5 based on 58 reviews
At a glance
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Very good
Availability 2021/22
Availability 2022/23
Annual fee average
AED 61,500
Annual fees
AED 50,300–68,700
Price band help
Patrick Horne
Nord Anglia
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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The building is clearly a traditional school design, similar in fact to the university buildings in front of it. 

Classrooms are located around 2 large quadrangles with a central spine joining the buildings which contain many of the specialist rooms and sports hall.

FS1 and year 1 on one side and FS2 and years 2 and 3 on the other, are located on the ground floor and have access to the quadrangles which are shaded and well equipped with large outdoor equipment and other specialist play materials for these age groups.

Years 4, 5 and 6 are located in one second floor wing, whilst years 7 to 13 are located in the other.

Like many newer schools in the UAE (BISAD was established in 2009), the student numbers lessen through the school with just over 100 students in the current Sixth Form.

Access to the school is through a centrally located reception which is small and friendly.  Much of the turquoise colour that is included in the school uniform is reflected in the soft furnishings of the entrance.  The Administration and Admissions Offices are located off the main reception.

Walking through the school, students appear well turned out, courteous and busy!

The school has many good quality facilities for students including a number of large outdoor play areas and sports fields (including grass football pitches and 2 covered basketball courts) plus swimming facilities. The strong focus on Sports activities and BISAD's involvement in both the ADISSA and DASSA school leagues, has recently led to our sister website, www.schoolscompared.com, including BISAD on its list of Best Schools for Sports in the UAE.

There are two dining rooms split between the younger FS to year 2 age groups and older students with an outside caterer providing hot meals.  The Dining Room for older students includes a top table to which the highest achievers are invited on a weekly basis.  Among the other facilities are two ICT labs with i-pad usage from year 4 onwards, specialist Art studios which are used by year 5 onwards,  two Dance studios, a Black Box Drama studio, specialist music rooms and a large double height PE Hall which is used for assemblies held by Key Stage weekly. The library is a feature of the school which has been carefully and cleverly laid out with special seating areas to attract students to read a while.  French and Spanish are taught from year 1 and Arabic A from FS2.

With the growth of the school, the management team has been strengthened with a new Head of Secondary and some restructuring of the management team in Primary.

The school is felt to be more British than international currently and the aim is to change this slightly by integrating more of the features of truly world class international schools focusing on Academic rigour (with a focus on the academic requirements of IGCSE and IB Diploma), a strengthening of the Arts curriculum to celebrate cultural diversity and different art forms, a greater emphasis on Sports and Extra Curricular activities and expansion of Modern Foreign Languages (Korean for example), based on the demographic requirements of students.

Given the focus on academic excellence, it is interesting to note that BISAD is a non-selective school and provides strong support for children with additional learning requirements and language support.

A Curriculum Access team carries out case by case assessment of students and creates Individual Education Programmes tailored to their requirements.  The Language Centre (a school within the school) works with students will little or no English on a tiered admissions basis.

Much of the structure of the school is based on the guidance of Professor Deborah Ayre which essentially provides that all Children can achieve and that IQ can grow. Staff are constantly being challenged to change their attitudes towards teaching with a more open approach to the curriculum.  This is also evident in the way in which the integration of the national language and culture is being addressed within the school with the Arabic team involved as part of a mentoring team with a more integrated approach to teaching.

Another key focus of the school – and indeed all Nord Anglia schools – is professional staff development.  In this case, staff are able to participate in professional training through the Nord Anglia University where courses are accredited by Kings College London.  The aim is to ensure that staff remain motivated and feel part of a supportive, community  environment, so that staff turnover (a constant issue in this transient part of the world), is reduced.

Overall there is a real sense of dynamism within this school.  Although the buildings themselves are traditional in aspect and lack the flair and grandeur of some of the new schools that have opened in Abu Dhabi in recent times, there is a strong feeling of enthusiasm, drive and commitment from both staff and pupils alike, all contained within a really vibrant environment. 

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

British International School Abu Dhabi 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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