United Arab Emirates / Dubai / The Villa / The Aquila School

The Aquila School Q & A

The Aquila School opened in September 2018.  Located in the new neighbourhood of Wadi Al Safa, an  area of Dubailand that runs between the Al Ain road and The Centro/Villa communities, the school is surrounded by numerous high rise, apartment complexes. Once construction is complete Aquila will be a school right in the heart of a densely populated community.
Parents' Rating
4.1 out of 5 based on 22 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
Availability 2022/23
Annual fee average
AED 43,000
Annual fees
AED 36,000–52,800
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Mr Wayne Howsen
International Schools Partnership (ISP)
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
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Welcome to the The Aquila School 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.

If you have to highlight three strengths of your school, what would they be?

As a school we are very proud to say all of our children make outstanding progress with their learning during their time with us. All of our children LOVE coming to school and we truly are a community school – welcoming pupils from over 60 nationalities.

Does your school have a waiting list? In which years?

We offer a waiting list in some year groups when seats are not available immediately.

What are qualities and characteristics that define your school and its students?

The Aquila School opened in September 2018 to serve the growing educational needs of the surrounding communities in Dubailand, and across Dubai. We offer a high-quality and engaging curriculum, enriched to meet the needs of our culturally diverse community. Our curriculum is driven by our children and is tailored to their interests, through topic and project learning, which ensures all of our children are equipped with the necessary tools to make as much progress as possible.

At Aquila, our core belief is AMAZING LEARNING. We empower our teachers to teach the children what they need to learn right now, making the curriculum more individualised and relevant to our children. Our staff work tirelessly to ensure that every child makes as much progress as possible and that lessons are engaging, memorable, fun and relevant, underpinned by academic rigour

As a community school we work closely together, valuing happiness and school connectedness, guiding families on how to help their children at home, to provide the very best education possible and ensuring that children love coming to school.

Our vision-

A happy community school with amazing learning at its heart where pupils are empowered to make choices, engage in meaningful learning experiences and make exceptional progress.

Our mission –

• Lessons that promote enquiry, innovative thinking, making decisions and problem solving lead our pupils to be independent, creative and resilient learners.
• Engaging, memorable and fun lessons, underpinned by academic rigour ensure every pupil makes as much progress as possible. Teachers are empowered to teach pupils what they need to learn right now.
• A community school where courtesy and respectful relationships are key to our success. Through collaboration with families and school connectedness our pupils love coming to school and love learning. We aspire to be the school of choice for the community we serve.
• Our pupils are safe, supervised and well cared for at all times- pupils know that the first priority of every adult in school is their well-being.

This is what matters in our school-

1. Our children are safe, supervised and well cared for at all times- children know that the first priority of every adult in school is their well being
2. Amazing learning is key, lessons are enjoyable and relevant
3. Every child makes as much progress as possible
4. Teachers are empowered to teach the children what they need to learn right now
5. We celebrate and respect the culture, traditions and heritage of the host nation
6. We are a community school- courteous and respectful relationships are key to our success

Why choose The Aquila School?

The Aquila School provides a supportive and engaging international environment, delivering an exciting and creative curriculum, which is based on the National Curriculum for England (NCE), combining science, technology, maths, and the arts, as part of a broader curriculum.
Opportunities to understand and celebrate the culture and heritage of the UAE and the diversity of our local community are integrated into the curriculum, and we also focus learning through enquiry – children make things, take things apart, and discover how things work!

We are the flagship school for International Schools Partnership - a global family of 50 schools across thirteen countries (and growing). Being part of this group ensures The Aquila School has outstanding international learning connections, quality assurance and excellent governance.

The Aquila School has been rated as Outstanding by British School Overseas (BSO) across all of its eight areas of assessment. The Outstanding grading this early on in a school’s operation is rare and The Aquila Team is very proud of this achievement.

Amazing Learning is our core purpose. You will see learning that will amaze you. Wherever you think your child might be in any subject or area, we will do all we can to allow them to do better than you can ever imagine possible.

For the last ten years, The Aquila School’s Principal and Head of Primary have worked together, beginning their journey at the first-ever school in Abu Dhabi to have been graded as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas, and the only primary school to be awarded outstanding twice.
We have recently appointed Benjamin Atkins as our Head of Secondary who brings extensive knowledge and experience to further develop the Secondary School at The Aquila School, ensuring even more success for the pupils who attend the school.

All of our class teachers are native English speakers and bring with them many years of UK/ international experience. Some of our teachers have also worked with the Leadership Team at their previous outstanding school.

How many nationalities are represented in your school? How international would you say your school is?

The Aquila School is a fully inclusive school representing children from all over the world.

Are there high proportions of a particular nationality?

Our community is very mixed – there is not any nationality that prevails.

What is the teacher: student ratio in your school?

Class sizes are no greater than 24. There is a large number of learning assistants across the school.

Please describe your approach to teacher recruitment in terms of the balance of staff you seek in terms of nationalities and in terms of years of experience/ qualifications you look for. Please also provide details of how you use teaching assistants.

Apart from our Arabic and Islamic teachers, all of our teachers must have a UK teaching qualification and UK experience – we train, coach and support every teacher to be the best they can be – and have teachers from all stages of their careers. Our LSAs are used to support learning and work closely with the class teachers.

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

We use our carefully moderated teacher assessment, KS3 test scores and GL data to ensure that our progress is consistently higher than expected.

If external examinations and assessments are part of your curriculum, which ones do you offer?

For older children we will offer IGCSE, IB and BTEC.

Please provide details of how well your school did in its previous external exams for students at 16 and at 18 years of age? Please provide sufficient detail to allow parents to have a view on how academic your school is?

For our secondary children, we will be offering a range of IGCSE subjects in years 10 and 11, progressing on to offer the IBDP and IDCP in years 12 and 13 with the options of Level 1 and 2 BTEC qualifications.

What percentage of your sixth form that take exams at 18 go to university, and where, in general, do they go?

The school is currently open for children in FS1 to Year 9 and will grow each year to eventually become an all through school offering BTEC and the IB curriculum.

Describe your school's approach to education and teaching?

We have appointed excellent class teachers with UK qualifications and experience. When selecting teachers we look for the ability to make learning relevant and engaging so that children love coming to school and make as much progress as possible. We empower our teachers to choose the best methods to motivate the children while encouraging them to be creative and resilient learners.

Learning at The Aquila School is never dull and there is not a worksheet in sight. Our teachers get the children actively learning and not passively listening - from the very start of the lesson.
The children have access to a range of technologies to support their learning in all age groups. By combining all subjects and being underpinned by a focus on academic rigour, The Aquila School is truly unique.

Our core belief is AMAZING LEARNING. You will see learning that will amaze you. Wherever you think your child might be in any subject or area, we will do all we can to allow them to do better than you can ever imagine possible. The Aquila School embraces the individuality of every learner. We support learning through a robust, child-focused curriculum, and enriching after-school programmes. The Aquila School focuses relentlessly on each child’s ability to amaze. Whether through mentoring, enrichment or personalised study, we recognise and nurture each pupils’ abilities so that they amaze themselves and inspire others.

Amazing learning is central to everything we do at The Aquila School. We are a lively, busy, happy and hardworking school where we support our children to develop a love of learning and achieve to the best of their ability.

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

We recognise that many children have busy lives. They work very hard while at school so we do not set formal homework in primary. We expect all children to read at home regularly to develop a love of reading. There will be a range of projects each term that children will be able to do at home if they choose. Secondary pupils are introduced to small amounts of homework, in core subjects, to help prepare them for more independent study for IGCSE.

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

As well as PE and swimming being an integral part of the curriculum we ensure that learning how to keep healthy, both physically and mentally, are a key part of our curriculum. We also have a number of events such as community sport, family events and pupil-led assemblies. The principal even leads a weekly whole school aerobics session every Thursday!

How does your school promote healthy lifestyles?

We know the importance of being healthy. As well as providing regular opportunities to be active, our curriculum cores learning about physical, mental and emotional well-being.

How do you promote healthy eating?

We actively promote healthy eating at school as we know that when children eat nutritionally-rich food they have more energy and approach their studies with more enthusiasm. We enjoy our own in-house canteen provision, where families can select from a daily choice of healthy nutritious meals for their children.

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

A catering company serve hot and cold meals to children on site. There is also a cafe in the reception area for families to use.

What is the approximate average cost of a lunchtime meal?

Our school meals are affordably priced; the actual price varies based on the selection they choose.

What is the starting and finishing time of your school day?

Children should be in school from 7.40am. The school day begins for all pupils by singing the national anthem. On Sunday and Thursday school leaders host whole school assemblies.

Sunday to Wednesday
FS1 & FS2: 7.40am to 1.45pm
Year 1 to Year 6: 7.40am to 2.40pm
Year 7 to Year 9: 7.40am to 2.40pm

FS1 & FS2: 7.40am to 1.15pm
Year 1 to Year 6: 7.40am to 1.20pm
Year 7 to Year 9: 7.40am to 1.20pm

Is there a school uniform?

Yes, our uniform is contemporary and European in style. We have made it practical for children’s learning. Our school uniform shop is located on the school premises.

Please advise on your discipline policy?

Positive relationships permeate all aspects of The Aquila school. We use a positive approach to behaviour management based on Jenny Mosely’s ‘golden’ approach, with rewards for exceeding our golden rules and sanctions for not meeting them. We live our school vision and six values – respect, kindness, excellence, empowerment, co-operation and honesty.

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

We ensure that families are fully informed of what their child is learning in school and how families can help at home, through weekly newsletters and meetings for families. We also have regular family workshops in all areas of the curriculum.
We recognise that many children have busy lives. They will work very hard while at school so we do not set formal homework. We expect all children to read at home regularly to develop a love of reading. There are a range of projects each term that children will be able to do at home if they choose to.

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

In line with best UK practice, we use assessment for learning principles. This means that teachers think carefully about what individual children have learnt within lessons on a daily basis and use this knowledge to plan for what they need to learn next. While in primary, there may be occasional tests (such as in Arabic and Islamic or as required by the local regulator), we believe that children demonstrate their learning best through the way they independently apply the knowledge and skills they have applied in class. What matters is that every child makes as much progress as possible and they demonstrate their learning at every opportunity. Every piece of work the children do is assessed to help the teacher plan their next steps of learning.

We regularly moderate standards of work across the school so that we know how well our children are doing against the curriculum expectations but more importantly what they need to learn next. More formal testing is introduced as the children enter key stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9).

Twice yearly we issue a formal report which summarises your child’s learning as well as setting their next step targets. At three other occasions during the year, families receive a short snapshot of their child’s learning which identifies what they have learnt and their next step targets in reading, writing and maths. For native Arabic children they will also receive an Arabic snapshot which includes- Arabic reading, Arabic writing and Arabic speaking and listening.

Which languages are taught at your school - please detail any as a first as well as second language?

To enable cultural connections with other schools in the family of schools (Internationals Schools Partnership) we teach Spanish to children in year 3 up.

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

We support all of our children through quality first teaching and by immersing children in a language rich curriculum.

Do you offer a dedicated prayer room/s for students? For which faiths?

Yes, we have two prayer rooms.

How do you support gifted, able and talented students?

We are a fully inclusive school and will ensure that all children are challenged to make as much progress as possible in all areas

Do you have a learning support team in your school?

Yes – this includes 5 experienced teachers and a skilled team of LSAs.

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?

If a child’s needs can be met in a mainstream school with support from the class teacher and the inclusion team we would be happy to accommodate them.

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

Our Inclusion head will be able to signpost families to a range of services

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

If advice is needed from an external professional – families can use the Hemam centre on our school site – or we can put families in touch with other highly regarded professionals.

Do you have a parents’ group supporting the school?

At The Aquila School we have an active parents group called the Friends of Aquila School (FOAQs) who work with the school to organise events and involve families in our community school.

Are there opportunities for parents to support the learning, activities and events within the school or on trips other than through the parent group?

The Aquila School believe family is the heart of learning and we wish to create a diverse and happy community of parents and children. We encourage families to be involved in everyday learning, activities and events the school. Training will be given to families who wish to get involved.

Is there an opportunity for parental representation on your school Board of Governors?

Yes, we have a governing board and there are elected representatives of families on it.

Do you offer specific activities, events or information sessions for those parents new to the school and/or area?

Families are welcome to come and visit our Principal and admissions team at our school anytime Sunday to Thursday, or during our Saturday open days. Please call our admissions team on 04 586 2777 to arrange an appointment (booking required).

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

The Aquila School 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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