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United Arab Emirates / Abu Dhabi / Al Khubairat / British School in Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi

British School in Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi Review

Seen by many as the best UK curriculum school in the capital, non-profit based British School in Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi serves approximately 1800 students from 50 nationalities, from the ages of three to eighteen years old. The school was established in 1968, making it one of the oldest schools in the emirate.
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British School in Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi

At a glance

School Type
All Through
Year Opened
Annual Fees
AED 41,500 - 62,300
Annual Fee Average
AED 53,500
Inspection Rating
Mark Leppard
Curricula Taught
Main Student Nationality

At British School in Al Khubairat, sixty-two percent of students are British, Emiratis account for 12% of the school's population and 4% are Australian. Nearly 10% of students receive some form of learning support.

The school is currently rated A3 by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and has been since 2015. This is actually a slip of one grade since its previous inspection. It is one of a handful of schools to have fallen in its rating.

The school is still praised widely by ADEC for its academic approach, as well as its attainment. Standards, teaching, and results are said to be very good, and in some cases outstanding. Wider personal development is also praised. As with most schools across the UAE, the teaching of Arabic, which had been improving, and Islamic Studies, which have not, are singled out areas for further attention. They are a significant reason behind the fall in rating.

In April 2016 the school made headlines when one of its students, Derek Lee, 18, its head boy, was accepted to 17 elite universities such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Browns. Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Stanford, Princeton among others.

Lee received full merit scholarships from Boston University and Fordham University for undergraduate studies, winning an aggregate scholarship amount of $705,000 (Dh2.53 million approximately).

Lee finally decided to study economics at Harvard University. He is the first in his family to go to university.

BSAK is mixed gender with a fairly even split between boys and girls - in 2013, 918 boys and 897 girls. In 2011, the breakdown was 200 pupils in Foundation Stage, younger than five, 745 in the junior school and 837 are in the senior school, including 208 in the sixth form. Given the maturity of the school, the ratios are unlikely to have changed.

The school has also been inspected by the British Schools Overseas and its latest inspection report says it is a Good school with many Outstanding features (2015). Despite being non-selective the report notes that "students consistently achieve well above National Curriculum (NC) averages and many go on to study at high quality universities".

The school publishes the results of its external examinations. In 2012, the school achieved a 99 percent pass rate for A' Levels, with 12 percent of examinations resulting in an A*, 36% A* to A, 67 percent an A* to B and 87 percent an A* to C. At GCSE 49.6% received A*-A, 79.0% A*-B  and 95.7% A*-C. These are results worth shouting about.

In 2013/14 the school did one better with 8.8% getting A* and 37.3% of students achieved A* to A, 66.5% A* to B and 88% A* to C at A Level. At GCSE, 55.3% achieved A* to A, and 96% A* to C.

In 2015/16 BSAK achieved a 100% pass rate at A Level with 72% at A*-B.

If these results were not impressive enough, at GCSE, 95% of grades were A*-C and 47% A*/A.

You can find highlights of school results here.

The school is the only school in the Gulf that is a part of the both the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), as well as the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), all of these associations promoting excellence in British education.

The school claims to be a "centre of excellence for music and performing arts in the region". It offers lessons in more than 20 instruments as well as voice coaching; has "numerous instrumental ensemble and choral groups meeting weekly"; and collaborates with some of the world’s leading musicians and orchestras who visit Abu Dhabi throughout the year. The school is also "committed to becoming" a centre of sporting excellence for the region, offering specialist sports coaching in rugby, netball, cricket and football, with a team of leading sports coaches from the UK. Its growing success in the field of competitive sports has recently seen our sister website - - include BSAK among its list of the Best Schools for Sports in the UAE. 

The school runs more than 100 clubs, and over 85 per cent of secondary students taking part in at least one after-school activity a week.

Facilities at the school are excellent. It has a purpose built theatre opened in September 2005 and seats up to 340 people; a large auditorium that can seat up to 600 people; a full-size synthetic-turf pitch on campus, as well as exclusive use of a high quality grass pitch adjacent to the school. It also has two well-equipped libraries.

In 2014 the British School Al Khubairat appointed Mark Leppard is its principal. For seven years prior Leppard had been principal of Doha College, shortlisted along with three other schools for “Best International School” in the UK Independent School Awards.

At Doha Leppard had received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Since his arrival, Leppard has injected some much needed stability after two previous heads in quick succession - Elaine Rawlings (as acting head) and Dr. Christopher Ray.

Leppard did take over an institution built on very solid foundations. According to the school's previous ISI report, the "quality of governance [at the school] is excellent.... With outstanding strategic vision and astute financial planning, governors have masterminded the school’s growth into an all-age school which acts as a focal point for the British community and enjoys Emirati support.

Perhaps unsurprisingly this is a school that has a reputation of being incredibly difficult to get into. If you're on this track, other highly regarded British schools in Abu Dhabi include Al Yasmina School, and Brighton College.

This may be a not for profit school, but those facilities, reports and high quality staff clearly cost. Fees at the school are top end. FS1/Nursery fees start at 41,500 AED; from FS2 to Y6 fees are 46,400 AED yearly while secondary fees are 62,300 AED. The school also charges an entry fee. For FS 1 this starts at 1,460 AED, rises to 7,740 AED from  FS 1 to FS 2. For FS 2 to Year 13 the fee is 9020 AED.

ADEC describes the fees as "Good Value" in its report, an unusual comment by the education authority, and also for the premium nature of the fees (they are top-end) but no less true given the quality of education on offer, and what you get for your money. 

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4 Archived Comments
Archived 19th Jun 2015, 13:39

This review, that was says: "Update on June 14, 2015" is totally totally inaccurate! Doctor Christopher Ray left BSAK over a year ago.

The school is now run by Elaine Rawlings whose previous management experience was head of year 8 containing 70 kids in a UK independent school.

A new Head Teacher has been appointed from Sept 2016, someone that has worked in the middle east for 17 years very successfully in Doha. His appointment will bring about some big changes in the school.
Archived 19th Jun 2015, 15:32

Thank you anon. We have updated the information in the review.

Note: We had to edit the comment. Very interesting information, but we would need a lot of it verified!

Archived 11th Apr 2013, 09:35

Much as I would like to appreciate the school; I would like to comment that the school is very biased with the admissions application system. They don't entertain non-siblings or kids other than British expats.

Up until last year, they would clearly tell you on the phone that your child stood no chance unless he/she was a sibling of an existing student or a British passport holder.

Personal experience with admissions - very negative.

Archived 18th Mar 2015, 12:34

But...38% of the students are not British citizens. Where did they come from if the school does not admit British citizens? It sounds like sour grapes from your end.