United Arab Emirates / Abu Dhabi / Saadiyat Island / Cranleigh Abu Dhabi

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi Q & A

Following our last visit to Cranleigh, our team described the school by saying that “Arguably this is the most successful school at achieving the feel of a British public school of any in the UAE, in the best sense of the word”. Since this visit, more well-known UK public schools have opened branches in the UAE (albeit most in Dubai) and it was time to revisit Cranleigh to see if this significant accolade still holds.
Parents' Rating
4.2 out of 5 based on 15 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
AED 80,500
Annual fees
AED 65,000 - 96,333
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
Michael Wilson
Aldar Properties
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
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Welcome to the Cranleigh Abu Dhabi official Q and A page. Here we ask the questions, and the school answers directly. It is its chance to have its say on specific areas you have told us you want to know about. If you think there are additional questions we should be asking you may contact us here.

What is the teacher: student ratio in your school?

The ration of teacher to student differs depending on the school (Pre-Prep, Prep, Senior). The school aims for no more than 18 per class but in some areas we are below this.

Does your school measure Value Added data? Please provide details of how you measure, and current Value Added benchmark scores.

No, with our small public exam cohorts, the value added data we have had is mostly reported as statistically insignificant. We are also dealing with base data problems that extended back to when Admissions used CEM tests in the first two years of the school which, in short, has been difficult. We are not in a position to quote or publish any reliable value added data at present.

Describe your school's approach to education and teaching?

Teachers should play to their strengths, but be prepared to show flexibility and be prepared adopt methods that are effective in addressing school targets, such as Innovation, Differentiation, Challenge and, for the Sixth Form, Harkness Learning.

No two teachers teach the same, no lesson is replicated, so that by the end of the year, students have a varied and unique set of experiences (often beyond the curriculum) that in combination, ensure they are well placed to perform optimally. Teachers know all their students, not just by name but in regards to their abilities, interests and attainment. There is a respect between the teacher and student which leads to a purposeful learning environment.

Lessons are planned to ensure students are able to actively take part. There will be elements of lessons when it is important for the teacher to lead the discussion but there will also be time for the students to have their input. The purpose of engagement is to build understanding. Through the varied use of questioning, collaborative or independent tasks and assessment methods students are encouraged to add, develop or consolidate their ideas and knowledge frequently. Problem solving plays a key part of lessons and students are encouraged to develop unique and creative responses.

The aim of each lesson is simple; to ensure each student learns something new or develops a deeper understanding of a concept by the end of the lesson. Students are afforded the time to consider how they could improve upon their ideas. This may involve simply improving an oral response to redrafting a piece of written work.

The cornerstone of a successful teacher is recognising when a lesson could have been better and making the necessary steps to ensure it is better in the future. All teachers are encouraged to reflect on their practice and are encouraged to take risks with their planning. To support this Action research has been introduced to allow teachers to take on the role of researcher. Teachers are also encouraged to use peer observation and team meetings as a platform to share new ideas and receive constructive advice from colleagues.

Do you develop independent learning through homework and, if so, what are your recommendations regarding this, particularly time spent on homework?

Homework, or Prep as it is called at Cranleigh, is highly valued as a medium of work which is used to reinforce learning, develop skills such as time management, focus and discipline and encourage independent learning. We have also identified that with younger pupils, by focussing on developing skills in lessons such as independent research and collaborative projects, we can reduce the need to send too much home with our younger pupils.

At Cranleigh, students from Year 7 and above receive Prep. There are opportunities to complete a large proportion of their Prep at school, in designated daily Prep sessions which run from 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm. We believe that students benefit from completing their homework in a classroom setting, with teachers on hand to assist, rather than at home, when they are tired. This then allows students to stay after school for clubs and activities free from the pressure of pending work. Pupils up to Year 5 do not receive formal Prep but are expected to read, learn spellings and mathematical facts at home. In Year 6 we introduce Prep in the final term and teach our pupils how to handle and organise Prep workloads.

All pupils in Year 5 and above receive prep during term time. Years 3 and 4 will receive some homework-style tasks during some afternoon work sessions, but not formal prep. No prep is set in the holidays unless it is for external exams or in discussion with students and parents. The length of time that it takes to complete prep is incrementally increased depending on the age and subjects of the students.


Physical education and sport is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. How does your school ensure children engage in physical activity?

All students in FS1 – Y2 participate in one PE lesson and 1 swimming lesson per week; Y3 – Y9 pupils participate in one Games based lesson and one PE lesson; Y10 – Y13 participate in compulsory Games lessons. On top of this students have the option of participating in recreational and team sport through the popular Cross-Curricular Activities programme.

Recreational sports include football, netball, badminton, tennis, cross country, fitness, karate, little ruckers, girls rugby, boxing, ballet and dance. Our sports teams run from A through the C teams with Cranleigh fielding more teams than any other Abu Dhabi school. We run at least one inter-house sports competition per term to ensure all students can compete including sports days, cross country, football, netball, basketball, swimming and many more. Our intention is that is when students leave Cranleigh that every child will have found one sport that they enjoy and will continue to participate in as they grow up.

How does your school promote healthy lifestyles?

Physical Education is an integral part of school alongside a healthy eating meal plan. The school provides a very active enrichment and after school activities program for children to engage with. Pastoral care is provided and encourages healthy lifestyle amongst pupils.
Mindful May and other initiatives encourage a balanced healthy lifestyle among staff, parents and pupils.

Activities that are run through the school include:
• PE and Games lessons each week for all pupils
• Swimming and Dance taught on rotation for Year 7 and above so all pupils experience these
• Healthy Body and Healthy Mind covered in MEP lessons
• Slices – focus on balanced, nutritious meals
• A wide array of CCA’s – catering for all interests
• Sport teams and recreational sports offered. Training and fixtures for those involved in teams
• Morning and after school swimming lessons provided on site through respected external provider
• Active participation (and hosting this year) in BSME Games with additional training sessions after school
• Mindfulness activity in Prep School every Thursday morning.
• Increased tutor time to monitor weekly loadings of pupils and ensure their activities are balanced
• Regular assemblies on Healthy Lifestyles
• Pupils complete weekly reflections for tutors to check in how they are getting on
• Dedicated month (May last year, March this year) to be "Mindful" with an extra push on looking after yourself
• Community Seminars & Talks dedicated to promoting well-being – James Shone talk, Darkness into Light Mental Health session, and Hayley Milne Parent talks
• Pastoral staff trained in Mental Health First Aid this year
• CRC created Secret Buddies to enhance staff well-being

How do you promote healthy eating?

Meals are prepared at the schools’ kitchen, serving fresh-made meals developed by a specialist in pediatric nutrition. Student visits to the local farm are facilitated by Slices and informal sessions on healthy eating and healthy habits are facilitated by the school nurse.

Does the school have cafeteria facilities for the students? How does it promote a balanced diet?

The school has 2 formal dining rooms where hot lunches are served, plus an additional take-away canteen and cafe option for senior students. Hot meals are prepared on site and served in two formal dining rooms.

What is the approximate average cost of a lunchtime meal?

Hot meals cost AED24 for FS1-Year 4 and AED26 for Year 5+

How do you feedback progress and attainment to students and parents?

Feedback is a consistent dialog between teachers, pupils and parents at Cranleigh and we have an open door policy, encouraging productive communication to ensure maximum progress. Written reports are produced twice termly and parents have the opportunity to meet their child’s teachers at designated parents’ evenings twice per year. In addition to this, parents have access to all their child’s teachers email addresses should they have particular concerns.

Under the whole school academic umbrella, progress is continuously monitored with departments running both formative and summative assessment, from classwork, prep and projects to end of unit assessments, exams and online baseline tests.

How often is the more formal feedback such as reports and parent/teacher meetings?

Report grades for attainment and effort are available half termly with a more fully detailed written report written in the summer term. Each year group has two parent/ teacher meetings per year.

Do you offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language?

English as an additional language is offered to students who are new to the English language and learning in an English speaking school. Teachers across the curriculum work to support the learning of English. Pupils who speak English as an additional language and have had little exposure to learning in English are offered support from the foundation stages up until Year 13.

On admissions, pupils are identified as being EAL and a further assessment is completed to ascertain their level of English. Pupils in Pre – prep and Prep are offered both individual, small group or in class support. For years 3 and 4, pupils may be withdrawn from their life skills lessons. In years 5 and 6, pupil would complete their individualised program during private reading lessons.

In Years 7 and above, the EAL program is undertaken by pupils in lieu of the study of a third language (Spanish / Latin). The program is in addition to the English program and gives pupils additional support in English. Speaking, listening, reading and writing skills are reinforced, in addition to grammar and increasing the usage of descriptive vocabulary.

There is no formal assessment in the EAL program as the main objective is to help further support the pupils.

How do you support gifted, able and talented students?

Heads of Department submit a list of pupils Year 5+ for the Gifted and Talented Register. These pupils should represent the top 2%-5% of each cohort. These pupils can be identified according to CEM Baseline Data, Formal School Exam Results, Attainment Grades and Effort Grades. Heads of Departments in every subject will write tailored Gifted and Talented Extension Assignments to extend the current curriculum, allowing pupils to explore each subject in a concentrated and focused way. Pupils should have these Extension Assignments assessed by their subject specialist teacher and promptly returned with feedback. Completion of such work can be mentioned in subject report and in Parents Evening. The goal is to target the identified Gifted and Talented Pupils, as well as have these assignments available to all pupils who wish to pursue enrichment in any subject.


Not all schools are staffed or resourced to offer learning support to those children with either moderate or significant learning needs. To what level can you offer support for those with learning differences?

Cranleigh is a mild inclusion school. We believe strongly in meeting the needs of our pupils. We have a small but well qualified, highly effective Learning Support department which caters for needs of students from FS1 to Year 13 with mild learning needs by providing in-class support, small group support as well as 1:1 withdrawal support.

Does your school have particular expertise in dealing with a specific learning need such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, aspergers syndrome and so forth?

Cranleigh has experience of supporting pupils with a range of specific learning difficulties including dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, speech and language and autism.

Does your school have an educational psychologist or access to one to assess and support those youngsters with more challenging learning and emotional needs?

Cranleigh has a Specialist Teacher Assessor who is able to conduct a range of specialist assessments so that we can identify specific learning difficulties and recommend strategies of how the students can best be supported both at school and at home. A Clinical Psychologist works at Cranleigh one day a week and conducts psychosocial assessments and helps support, along with our school counsellor, the mental health and emotional needs of our pupils.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Cranleigh 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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