UAE's best schools honoured at awards ceremony

More than 850 teaching staff turned out for the Top School Awards at Bollywood Parks on Thursday

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One of the oldest formal primary schools in Dubai has been named the best school in the UAE.

Dubai English Speaking School, founded in the upstairs room of a villa in 1963, won the ultimate accolade of the Top Schools Awards 2019 at a ceremony in Bollywood Parks on Thursday night.

Organised by education ranking website, a total of 21 awards were up for grabs at the Rajmahal Theatre.

Dubai English Speaking School, and the primary school's collegiate counterpart, Dubai English Speaking College, shared the top prize.

"What a brilliant year we are having. So proud of our amazing school community," a statement on the school's Twitter account read.

"We did it! Dubai English Speaking School and College is the Best School in the UAE."

Schools across the Emirates jumped to the top of the class in a range of categories, from nursery and primary school of the year to schools which lead the way in music, theatre, art and technology.

More than 850 teaching staff from in excess of 100 schools were in attendance as the cream of the education crop in the UAE were revealed.

Other winners included Gems Modern Academy in Dubai, which was crowned Indian School of the Year.

Brendan Law, vice president of education at Gems, said he was proud of the school's achievement and said it home to a thriving community of pupils and teachers.

British School Al Khubairat, based in Abu Dhabi, was named British School of the Year.

Elaine Rawlings, primary school head at BSAK, was delighted with the award win.

"I am absolutely stunned. We are very very privileged to get the award. We try to do the best for our school," Ms Rawlings said.

Raha International School secured the International Baccalaureate school of the year title and the American school of the Year award went to American School of Dubai.

Jumeirah English Speaking School won the award for the best blended international baccalaureate curriculum school of the year.

Safa Community School won the award for best new school while Sasha Crabb of Victory Heights won for best principal of the year.

Schools were also awarded for their work in developing art and music. Nord Anglia International School Dubai was recognised for its efforts in music.

Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi's work in theatre and the performing arts was recognised with a prize while Brighton College Abu Dhabi won for art.

Dubai English Speaking College took home a second prize, for the best school for sport, and Riverston School Dubai won for best international initiative.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - March 07, 2019: HE Dr Abdulla Al Karam wins Outstanding contribution to education in the UAE at the Top School Awards 2019 at the Rajmahal Theatre, Dubai. Thursday the 7th of March 2019 at Bollywood Parks, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Abdulla Al Karam, director general of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai's private education regulator, received the Outstanding Contribution to Education award.

He thanked teachers for their sterling contribution to the education sector in the UAE.

It is the second time the schools comparison site has given out the awards in the UAE — but the first to have a ceremony.

The Awards recognise schools that have had the biggest impact on parents and pupils’ lives.

The nominations first opened to all schools, parents, and editors of the website. then made a shortlist and then respected educationalists in UAE chose the winners.

Schools were selected on the basis of their ability to bring to life pupils’ imagination and offer something unique to children.

The awards move the focus away from exam results and put on emphasis on places of learning that are fostering all the abilities and potential of children.

"We had more than 170 nominations, but actually it was the quality, not the number of submissions that was truly surprising," said Jonathan Westley, editor of

"We had stressed to [schools] not to apply for everything but to focus and spend the time compiling data for where they felt their strengths lay. What we had, as a result, was an unparalleled amount of data for both our editors to use to shortlist, and then for the judges to make the final decisions.

“Just to appreciate the scale of work that went into this, the final document sent to judges, with arguments and analysis for each of the finalists, came to 91,220 words. Add all of the tables, data, and graphs and we basically gave them a book to internalise and consider, in order to make truly informed decisions.”