A guide to Abu Dhabi's nine top ranked private schools

The majority of top schools in the capital follow the British curriculum

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Abu Dhabi’s nine top ranked private schools include some that have been named among the world’s top 100 and one more affordable school that aims to educate future rocket scientists.

All but one of the nine private schools ranked as outstanding by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Knowledge follow the British curriculum.

Inspection ratings for private schools in Abu Dhabi were last published in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Schools are judged in several categories, including pupils’ achievement, personal and social development, innovation skills, teaching and assessment, and leadership and management of the school. While a very good school is one which is exceeding expectations, an outstanding school substantially exceeds expectations.

The National has listed Abu Dhabi's top ranked schools, in no particular order:

The British School Al Khubairat

Curriculum: British

Location: Al Mushrif

Fees: Dh43,160 in foundation stage one to Dh70,630 in year 13

The British School Al Khubairat has long been considered one of the best schools in the country and has celebrated more than 50 years in the country.

British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) started in 1968, after the UAE's founding father, Sheikh Zayed, donated a plot of land for its location.

It was previously called Al Khubairat Community School and later renamed the British School – and Al Khubairat (BSAK) in 1980. It is one of the oldest schools in Abu Dhabi.

The school has hosted many special visits over the years from dignitaries such as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

The school lays great emphasis on children and staff’s wellbeing and has won global accolades for its mental health programmes.

Alumni at the school have been accepted at some of the most prestigious universities, including Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge.

Brighton College Abu Dhabi

Curriculum: British

Location: 175 Das Street, Abu Dhabi

Fees: Dh48,900 in nursery to Dh77,720 in year 13

Brighton College Abu Dhabi was named one of the world’s top 100 schools in Spear's Schools Index 2021.

The school works to ensure pupils develop a love of learning for its own sake, and grow up to be well-educated, respectful, intellectually curious, and confident.

Pupils at the school have gone on to study at Oxford University, Imperial College London, St Andrews, and Warwick University .

While many of their pupils choose to pursue higher studies in the UK, the school has seen an increasing number pick the US or Europe.

Brighton College UK was founded in 1845, and the Abu Dhabi school is part of the Brighton family.

Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi

Curriculum: British

Location: Al Saadiyat

Fees: Dh65,000 in foundation stage one to Dh96,333 in year 13

In September 2020, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi was named among the best 100 private schools in the world in the inaugural Spear's Schools Index. The aim of the index is to help parents choose the best school for their children.

The school was also named New British International School of the Year in 2017. The award was given at the British International Schools Awards ceremony in London.

The school places great focus on pupils' wellbeing, sustainability and community.

Cranleigh has more than a 150-year history in England, and the vision of the school when it was launched in the Emirates was to create something unique for the region. Cranleigh Abu Dhabi celebrates the many cultures in the country.

Merryland International School

Curriculum: British

Location: Mussaffah

Fees: Dh23,850 in kindergarten to Dh42,500 in year 12

Merryland International School in Mussaffah earned the top rank of outstanding for the first time in 2018 and proved that schools do not have to charge a fortune to offer quality education. Annual fees at the school start at Dh23,850.

The school aims to educate future astronauts and rocket scientists, and to this end has a 3D laboratory, a robotics lab and a weather station.

The school is accredited by the University of Cambridge, and offers Cambridge Primary, Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge AS & A level Courses.

The school focuses on providing equal opportunities and preparing pupils to be future-ready.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - - -  January 17, 2013 ---  "We love science. We plan to grow up and change the world," quipped the students from Merryland International school that were excitedly touring the last day at WFES in Abu Dhabi.   ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )

Al Yasmina Academy

Curriculum: British

Location: Khalifa City

Fees: Dh42,900 in foundation stage one to Dh61,150 in year 13

Al Yasmina Academy in Abu Dhabi produces some of the best I/GCSE and A Level results in the UAE.

Al Yasmina Academy is run by Aldar Education, which owns and operates 20 schools across the UAE.

The school has a new state-of-the-art campus built across 180,000 square metres in Khalifa City.

Pupils from nursery and foundation stage two will transition to the new campus in August 2022.

The school’s current campus will be active for now, with pupils relocating to the new campus in August 2024.

The school’s new campus includes a large auditorium for performances and conferences, a range of swimming pools, specialist science laboratories, state-of-the-art computer suites, and an audio, film and TV recording studio.

The Pearl Academy

Curriculum: British

Location: Muroor Road

Fees: Dh41,700 in foundation stage one to Dh43,150 in year six

The primary school prides itself on its family feel and works to nurture adaptable, creative future leaders.

The inclusive British primary school is located in central Abu Dhabi on Muroor Road.

Pupils at the school get priority placement at Aldar Education's secondary schools.

Al Muna Academy

Curriculum: British

Location: Zayed the First Street

Fees: Dh43,500 in foundation stage one to Dh45,260 in year six

At Al Muna Academy children are encouraged to reach their potential and staff are asked to innovative in their teaching.

The school has a multi-purpose sports hall, a swimming pool and a netball court.

Raha International School

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate

Location: Khalifa City

Fees: Dh39,330 in Early Years to Dh61,900 in grade 12

Raha International School is the only school offering the International Baccalaureate programme on the list of the top ranked institutions in the emirate.

The school has more than 2,800 students from more than 80 nationalities.

The school has teachers from various countries including the UK, US, Canada, UAE, and Ireland.

The school is operated by Taaleem, one of UAE’s largest school developers, and it says it focuses on inspired, imaginative teaching centred on the learner as an individual.

Brighton College Al Ain

Curriculum: British

Location: Al Ain, Abu Dhabi

Fees: Dh51,404 in foundation stage one to Dh81,370 in year 13

Brighton College Al Ain is part of the global Brighton College family of schools.

The school is the only one rated outstanding by ADEK in the city of Al Ain.

The school aims to foster intellectual curiosity in pupils while promoting confident debate and involving pupils in a wide variety of activities.

Brighton College Al Ain says it believes in celebrating each pupil for their skills and talents.

Updated: July 01, 2022, 11:54 AM
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