United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Barsha / Nord Anglia International School Dubai

Nord Anglia International School Dubai Review

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. Its first inspection finds the school ranked as Good, the third highest rating for a school.
First Published: Sunday 2 November, 2014
Updated: Thursday 1 March, 2018
  • School Type
    All through
    Inspection Rating
    Curricula Taught
  • Availability 2017/18
    radio_button_unchecked No data
    Availability 2018/19
    radio_button_unchecked No data
    Annual Fee Average
    AED 78,500
    Annual Fees
    AED 62,160 - 94,000
    Year Opened
    Teacher Turnover A teacher turnover of 22-25% is currently average for schools in the UAE. Indian schools tend to have a lower turnover with an average of around 10-15%. Note: too high a turnover is likely to mean problems with continuity from one year to the next. Too low however and a school is unlikely to get fresh ideas and perspectives that incoming teachers bring with them. As in most things, the key is managing the balance.
    Matthew Farthing
    Nord Anglia
    Main Teacher Nationality
    Main Student Nationality

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. Its first inspection finds the school ranked as Good, the third highest rating for a school.

First Published: Sunday 2 November, 2014
Updated: Thursday 1 March, 2018

The Story so Far

The Nord Anglia Education School offers the National Curriculum of England and Wales to Year 11, eventually to be 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 teacher experience. 


Currently Nord Anglia Dubai is open to Year 11 and already full in almost all year groups. The school's current population is, approximately, 1365 students. 

What do the Inspectors Say? 

For this first KHDA report, Nord Anglia Education School has been rated as Good which indicates that the school was well prepared for its first review. Overall the inspection team noted: 

  • The outstanding provision and children’s outcomes in the FS.
  • Students’ attainment and progress in English, mathematics and science in the secondary phase.
  • Students’ personal and social development, their appreciation of Islamic values, their awareness of the heritage and culture of the UAE, their contribution to the community and their care for the environment.
  • The breadth of the curriculum, the range of languages on offer and the commitment to innovation and to the teaching of technology.

All of this is quite impressive for a school's first report. The FS stage of the school is Outstanding in almost all indicators, making this a very special place for Dubai's littlest learners. 

The report notes that beyond the academic attainment and progress of the students, there is a focus on whole child development due in part to the amount of activities on offer. "The large majority of students participate in the extensive, varied and exciting opportunities that the school offers. Students are proactive and resilient and their positive attitudes have a positive impact on their learning," explains the report. 

Furthermore, there is an inclusive ethos at the school that promotes a happy community where all students feed valued. "The large majority of students across the phases demonstrate exemplary behaviour... Students feel valued and as a result they demonstrate self-confidence, are respectful and take pride in all they do." This was clear to WSA in our tour of the school; student art is proudly on display and overall there is a learning "buzz" on campus. 

An area of focus for the school is Arabic and Islamic Education. Attainment and progress across the school in these subjects was found to be almost exclusively Acceptable with Secondary Attainment in Arabic as a First Language rated as Weak. However, the school has brought in a new Arabic teaching specialist from Scotland so chances are that this is one area of the school that will improve. 

Another area for development is the school's SEND program. Although currently rated as Good, the report notes that "Modification of work in the classroom to meet the needs of students with SEND is improving but is variable across subjects and phases. Regular rigorous monitoring of in-class support by SEND staff is not fully in place to identify where improvement is needed." 

What about the Facilities? 

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 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 school owns the land directly in front has been developed as a sports field for football, rugby and other grass sports.The school building itself is L-shape and 3-storey, with 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 interior of the building is light and airy, with a spiral central staircase in front of the reception, as well as a lift to the higher floors. There is a very novel and appealing special pathway, painted with a grass border, (via a tunnel) to the separate Early Years section of the school. The pathway leads to a circular-shaped classroom environment for the school's younger children.

Early Years classrooms are all bright and inviting, with small class sizes (the school has a maximum class sizes of 18 in EYFS grades, and up to 20 from Year 1 onwards), supported by a teacher and teaching assistant. Each room has windows to both the interior courtyard and exterior of the building. 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 during our visit.

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. Again, all the classrooms in this main section are light and bright, with windows opening to both the exterior and to the interior railed corridors that overlook the internal quadrangle areas. 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.

What about Student Achievement? 

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.

It is early days but 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.

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.

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. 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.

Info about Extracurriculars

Music and Sports are seen as key elements of the curriculum (the Principal is rumoured to have a drum kit in his office...) 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 Julliard.

Julliard'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.

Plans for Parents

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.

What are the Fees? 

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 89,096 for Year 11. 


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2 Archived Comments
Sapna Thampi
Archived 16th Jun 2016, 18:01

A query.. Is there a choice for the students between the IBDP program and the A levels? Thank you

Lyn Soppelsa
Archived 21st Jun 2016, 11:30

Dear Sapna,

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.