The second Nord Anglia Education school in the UAE, opened in Dubai at the beginning of September 2014, follows the British International School of Abu Dhabi (BISAD), which has been established for a number of years in the capital.
Nord Anglia International School Dubai (NAS Dubai) part of the Nord Anglia Education Group of over 30 international schools, offers the National Curriculum of England and Wales to Year 11, followed by the IB Diploma for post-16 students. Teachers have been recruited predominantly from the UK, but with a fairly typical UAE mix from other native English-speaking countries, such as Australia, Canada and South Africa. All are said have a minimum of three years teaching experience.
What does Nord Anglia International School feel like? Click here for the Nord Anglia International School Experience.
Currently Nord Anglia Dubai is open to Year 12 and already full in almost all year groups. The school's current population is, approximately, 1,525 students.
Nord Anglia Dubai occupies a large rectangular plot of land in Al Barsha 2, close to the Hessa Street and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road junction and within reach of all the residential areas around Arabian Ranches, as well as Dubai Sports City, Dubai Investment Park, Emirates Hills and Umm Suqeim. Access is via a private road, with plenty of space for parking and no other buildings in the immediate vicinity.
The 3 storey school building itself is L-shape has a very modern appearance, set off by the shading outside the windows. Internally, classrooms are set around two large quadrangles that are used for meeting areas and central common areas, including assemblies and other gatherings that do not require use of the large, 450 seat theatre/auditorium, which is at one end of the building.
The Early Years section is separated from the remainder of the school with small class sizes (the school has maximum class sizes of 18 in EYFS and up to 20 from Year 1 onwards), supported by a teacher and teaching assistant. The Early Years section also has a dedicated library, an indoor, multi-purpose space used for PE, and an outdoor play area which features a fabulous pirate ship, already a firm favourite judging by the reactions of children.
The main building houses the remaining classrooms and specialist teaching areas, including IT labs, science labs, Art and DT rooms, Music rooms, fully sprung floored dance studios, libraries, as well as a canteen serving hot meals. One of the unusual offerings of the school is its Lego room, which will be used as a centre for children to participate in robotics competitions, which are becoming increasingly popular globally.
Nord Anglia International School Dubai is well equipped for sports facilities, with a large gymnasium housed on the ground floor and a purpose-built, shaded outdoor swimming pool area on the second floor, which includes two pools (for non-swimmers and swimmers) and overlooks the expansive playing fields located at the back of the school site. The school owns the land directly in front which has been developed as a sports field for football, rugby and other grass sports.
What about inclusion?
Nord Anglia Dubai aims to offer an inclusive environment with some support for students with special needs - although this, it points out, is limited. In the 2017-18 KHDA report, a total of 114 students are noted as having been identified with SEND requirements. Inspectors note that "The school is inclusive and provides a very good level of care and support for students with a diverse range of educational needs. A capable special needs coordinator and small team of skilled professionals have successfully raised the quality of the provision since the last inspection". The school says it mostly focuses on Gifted and Talented extension work, but some support can be provided for children with, for example, moderate dyslexia. The school does not have an educational psychologist. More information on the level of learning support can be found in the Q and A.
Academically, the Nord Anglia group globally has been extremely successful, with students regularly achieving excellent results at IGCSE and the IB diploma. The academic focus of the school is reflected in its small class sizes – no more than 18 students in EYFS and 20 from Year 1 upwards in each class.
An incredible 25% of Nord Anglia IB Diploma students from among its 31 schools achieve 40 points or above, compared with a global average of 5-6%. One of the areas of particular focus in Dubai is the teaching of foreign languages for native speakers, with languages as diverse as Chinese, German, French and Spanish being offered. The school has recently become the only international school in the UAE to act as an official HSK testing centre for Chinese speakers.
In its early days, the school's first cohort of exam takers in 2016 - those taking Chinese, French, German and Spanish IGCSEs - got either an A or A*in their exams. That was indicative of things to come. For the first full cohort of GCSE students, the school achieved 71% A* to A and 98% A* to C. This places the school second in the country.
2018 I/GCSE results for the school's second full cohort achieved equally impressive grades, with 36% of results at A* (9-8 under the new GCSE system),65% A*- A (9-7), 90% A*- B (9-6) and 99% A*- C (9-4).
This is a very impressive achievement. With its first students now embarked on their Sixth Form studies for the rigorous IB Diploma programme, it will be interesting to compare their results in July 2019 with the Nord Anglia group's average IB score and that of other IB DP schools in the UAE.
Nord Anglia International School Dubai, makes no secret about the fact that it is academically selective, and we understand that the school was true to its policy, refusing places to students whom they felt the school might not be able to support adequately, or where they felt that parents might not be willing to support the school fully in its goals.
Music and Sports are seen as key elements of the curriculum and the school also offers a number of languages (French, German, Spanish and Chinese) for native and non-native speakers, as well as Arabic and Islamic Studies.
Underscoring its credentials as a school that cares more than just about the 3Rs is Nord Anglia's partnership with the world famous US-based Juilliard School of Performing Arts.
Juilliard's Performing Arts programme has been rolled out and it is a significant coup for the school and its students. The undergraduate music school is widely regarded as one of the world's best. The partnership established with Nord Anglia will provide for exchange of specialists from Juilliard to the school and enable students to study a programme developed specifically for the NAS Group. Further information can be found here.
A wide range of sports and extra-curricular programmes are also provided.
For this first KHDA inspection, Nord Anglia International School was rated as Good - the minimum rating that the KHDA is targeting for all Dubai schools - which indicates that the school was well prepared for its first visit by the DSIB inspection team. The achievement of a Very Good rating one year on and only in the second inspection year, indicates that the recommendations from the first report have clearly been acted upon.
Evidence of this can be seen in the number of categories which show improvement in the new report - 13 of 40 in the Students' Achievement indicator alone - with all measures of attainment and progress for English, Mathematics and Science now being rated Very Good or Outstanding.
The most significant improvement has been within the Primary Section of the school for these specific subjects, and the Learning Skills across all four sections of the school have now been rated Outstanding in Foundation and Very Good in Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form.
As tends to be the case in many international schools in the UAE, if there is an Achilles Heel, this is in relation to Arabic and Islamic Studies. Whilst progress in Primary and Secondary for Islamic Studies has improved to Good, attainment remains only Acceptable and this is also the rating 8 of the 10 Arabic language criteria. More significantly, attainment in Arabic as a first language in the Secondary school is rated Weak, although this is counter-balanced by a Good rating for progress in Secondary for Arabic as an Additional Language. However, any rating of Weak is significant and will no doubt be a focus for the school over the coming year and beyond.
The other key performance measures of Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation skills; Teaching and Assessment; Curriculum, and Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of Students were rated Outstanding or Very Good across all measures, with 18 of 36 indicators having improved from a year ago - this is a significant achievement. More significantly, 20 of the 36 indicators are now rated Outstanding. The Leadership and Management criterion has also seen all five measures improve with Parents and the Community and Management, staffing, facilities and resources improving to Outstanding.
The KHDA inspection team describe the school's strengths as:
Areas for improvement require the school to:
Inspectors summarise their impressions of the school as follows:
"Children and students are cheerful, positive,and confident and take pride in being active members of the school community. They enjoy positive relationships with each other and adults and display splendid self-discipline. Their behaviour in class and around school is excellent". " Students are highly motivated and engaged in their own learning". "Parents value the high-quality communications they share with the school and are actively engaged in their children’s education".
Furthermore, there is an inclusive ethos at the school that promotes a happy community where all students feed valued. "Personalisation and students’ choice in learning are pervasive at this highly inclusive school. The curriculum is outstanding and teachers devise adaptations to meet the needs of almost all groups of students. Opportunities for students’ innovation skills are actively promoted; they experience creative, physical and practical activities that promote inquiry-based learning. Students and parents value the excellent range of quality extracurricular activities".
Nord Anglia plans a Parent Advisory Board that will liaise with the Principal in looking at the strategic direction of the school, and a strong commitment to a very Parent-friendly and engaged environment. There is a Parents’ Association that will organise social activities aimed at growing the school community and this has already taken charge of the Parents’ Café on the ground floor.
Nord Anglia Dubai is clearly setting itself up as one of the emirate's top-tier schools, and fees do reflect that. Fees range from AED 62,160 in Nursery (FS1) to AED 94,000 for Year 12.
What does Nord Anglia International School feel like? Click here for the Nord Anglia International School Experience.
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A query.. Is there a choice for the students between the IBDP program and the A levels? Thank you
No, there are no UK curriculum schools in Dubai offering both options. This is due to the logistics involved in offering both options from a staffing perspective.
There are a number of UK curriculum schools that offer the IB in Sixth Form and several that offer A levels, but none the combination of both currently.