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Brighton College, Abu Dhabi

Brighton College, Abu Dhabi – Happiest School Video Entry Competition from Which School Advisor on Vimeo.

Brighton College Abu Dhabi (also known as BCAD) is a high profile (relatively) new entrant into Abu Dhabi. It is currently a K-12 school (taking its Year 12 for the first time in September 2014) located in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi. The school was established in 2011 and currently caters to approximately 1600 students (October 2015) – up 500 over two years. It is currently rated A2 by ADEC (Very Good) based on an inspection in September 2014. No school in the emirate has been rated A1.

Although clearly an “English” School, over 60 nationalities are represented in the student body, and British students are in the minority – although the single largest block of students accounting for over 30% of those enrolled (this is a declining percentage as the school has grown). Students are split almost evenly between girls and buys (currently there are slightly more girls than boys, unusual for any school in the UAE). Around 10% of students have been identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN) requirement.

The school follows a modified English curriculum, with the Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines followed at KG levels (termed pre-prep by the College to reflect its British public school origins).

The Prep School is for children aged between 7 and 13 (Grades 3 to 8). Interestingly the focus of the prep school is on 11+ and 13+ Common Entrance syllabuses, which are devised and monitored by the Independent School Examinations Board (ISEB). That makes some sense. 11+ and 13+ exams are the gateways to the best independent schools in the United Kingdom, and some academically selective UK schools (Henrietta Barnett’s for example) use similar style exams. Given the movement of the school’s target audience between the two countries, that could be a distinct advantage for pupils, and the school itself.

In Years 7 and 8, all pupils study a “cross-curricular and innovative programme” including history, geography, culture and ethics of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates entitled The Story of Our Land.

Pupils enter the Senior School of Brighton College Abu Dhabi in Year 9, at the age of 13. The college took on its first cohort of Year 9 pupils in 2011-12, taking the IGCSE exams in 2015/16 for the first time.

The school did very well – in fact the school claims “the best GCSE results in the emirate in the last academic year.” We cannnot verify that as not all schools release their results, however Brighton’s 53 pupils sat 537 GCSEs between them,, achieving strong results with  64% of grades A*-A, and 97% of grades A*-C. 


In 2016, Brighton released the first batch of A Level results at the school and they were good. 95% of the cohort achieved an A* to C grade while 72% scored between A* and B.

Even prior to the results, many of its Sixth Form pupils have already had a number of acceptances to prestigious universities in the UK, “with an impressive 70% of UK bound Year 13 pupils holding at least one offer from a top tier Russell Group university and over 25% holding offers from UCL, Imperial or Cambridge University”.

The success of UK university applicants has been reflected in its international applications as well: Pupils have received unconditional offers to study at Utrecht, Purdue, Colorado Boulder and Florida Institute of Technology.

Pupils at the senior school study Arabic, Islamic Studies, English, Mathematics, Science (taught as three separate sciences), History, Geography, French, Spanish, Mandarin (yes Mandarin – its UK sister school was the first in the country to make it a core subject), Latin or Literacy, Physical Education, ICT, Art, Music, Drama and Design & Technology. In addition, all pupils participate in Games (sport for non-public school people), and follow a course in Personal, Social and Health Education, delivered as a series of workshops.

Upon entering the Senior School of BCAD, pupils join either a boys’ or girls’ house where their welfare is overseen by a Housemaster or Housemistress. Tutors are allocated to each year group to help pupils plan and organise their work, and to oversee their academic progress.

During the year, an information evening for parents and pupils is held to assist in the choice of IGCSE/GCSE courses, which begin in Year 10. Heads of Departments review internal examination results and standardised tests to provide information about the suitability of pupils for particular courses and subjects.

The school includes comprehensive support for non-native English speakers as well as a number of learning support programs.

Did you know that Brighton College has its own information app? If you’re a parent of the school it may be downloaded onto your desktop or mobile. More info here.

The school has a number of sports on offer as well as extra-curricular activities, some expected – ballet, gymnastic, kayaking, equestrian, wakeboarding, some a little more eccentric – origami anyone?

Fees are hefty – ranging from 47,530 AED per year for reception to 72,680 AED per year for grade 10 students – making the college more expensive than either the British School or Al Yasmina – two highly popular schools for a UK curricula based education. However the school has launched scholarships of up to 50% for the brightest candidates entering Year 9 and Sixth Form.

“We are really excited to offer the most exceptional pupils in the region the opportunity to further their studies at our school.  We will endeavour to bring out the best in them and give them every opportunity of achieving the overwhelming success many of our current pupils have enjoyed,” Alun Yorath, Head Master of Brighton College, UAE said in a press statement.

Feedback, while early, is highly positive about progress made by the school so far. Students seem particularly happy at the school. Assessment of academic performance is not however yet possible. Without a history of past success, parents who choose to send their children to the school are of course taking a gamble – albeit one where the deck is highly stacked in their favour. The school is doing well in inspection reports. Its ADEC report we have noted; the school also subjected itself to an external review by the British Schools Overseas. It found attainment at KG, Foundation Stage level excellent, and good elsewhere in the school.

Teaching is said to be good, and in some cases excellent.

Admissions information may be found here.


WSA Visit Report

Brighton College is located close to the Abu Dhabi Education Authority building in the Ministry area of Abu Dhabi Island.

The building is impressive, with high walls and impressive wrought-iron gates, very reminiscent of a traditional British country seat of learning. Entry to the school is via one of the side gates at the main entrance and at the end of the driveway (not used by cars, of course) the porticoed columns make an impressive sight.

Walking towards the main entrance, expansive playing fields and sports facilities take up the area to the left and on the right is the Performing Arts Centre with Auditorium (which hosts concerts by the National Symphony 3 times per year and other artistic events on a regular basis). Adjacent to this is the Art and Design Centre with some impressive works of art created by students on show. This centre also houses the Design Technology facilities, which include the latest 3D laser printer technology.

This is a large school with approx. 1,560 students, but the school’s unusual design means that it rarely appears crowded. The main lobby effectively forms the trunk of the school and arching out from this are the fronds in which the teaching areas are housed and which give access to outdoor spaces for eating and play.

The school is organised on the lines of a traditional UK Public school, with the Pre-Prep school offering places to approx. 600 children from FS1 to year 2 via 6 form entry and approx. 25 children per class. The motto of the Pre-Prep school is “Work hard, think Big”. All classrooms have access to outside areas and are light, bright and colourful. FS1 has a teacher and 2 teaching assistants per class; FS2 has a teacher and teaching assistant, together with a further shared teaching assistant per class. The school has a very inclusive approach to English Language learners, but in the Foundation stage, this is based on an immersive approach without specific additional support.

The population of the school overall is mixed with approx. 35% of students native Arabic speakers, approx. 1/3 UK nationals and a significant population of the school having English as their mother-tongue. There is a specialised SEN and Dyslexia Centre and the school is aiming to receive the Dyslexia Award for its work in this field. Students from year 1 receive specialised EAL support if required.

All children receive 160 minutes per week of Arabic (either A or B) in Foundation and Year 1, although this is not obligatory under ADEC rules. From year 2, Islamic and Social Studies are added. All subjects are specialist led from year 5 (in keeping with UK public school tradition) with children joining the Prep School in year 3. All Pre-Prep classrooms and facilities are located on the ground floor with a canteen where staff and students eat together (children bring in their own meals until they reach year 3 when they may purchase hot meals). There is also a coffee shop operated by Spinneys for staff and students. After meals, there are plentiful outdoor play spaces together with a Quiet Garden, which was funded by money raised via parents following a recommendation from the Pupil Council. There are specialist Music and IT rooms, as well as a half-sized Sport Hall in the main building for Pre-prep.

Sports Facilities are excellent with a separate Sports Centre which includes 2 swimming pools (including a learner pool) which are outside, but heated, chilled and shaded. There is a very large Sports Hall and a Fitness Suite that may be used by staff and students from year 5 onwards.

Years 3 to 8 (the Prep School) occupy the first floor of the building whilst years 9 to 13 (the Senior ) occupy the second floor. In total, there are almost 900 students in the Prep and Secondary schools with no majority in terms of nationality, but approx. 48% native English speakers and 16-17% Emirati. Specialist rooms are shared across both floors by the Prep and Senior schools. All year 8 students sit the Common Entrance exam. For students not seeking entry to UK public schools for whom the Common Entrance is the standard form of assessment, the exam papers are marked by staff at the College. The remainder are sent to the UK for marking. Approx. 12-15 students per year do go on to enter UK public schools, but prior to this, the College is actively involved in counselling students and parents about their options.

The College has a very strong programme of Personal, Health and Social Education with the Secondary School have 6 full days dedicated to PHSE activities each year. Each day covers a specific topic which varies across the year groups and activities are also organised by House to span across the year groups.

Brighton College will have its first cohort of A Level students take their A2 examinations in June 2016. Numbers at this level in the school are significantly smaller than in the lower year groups, with 30 students in year 13 and 54 in year 12. However, the current year 11 has 90 students and demand for places in Sixth Form is expected to grow in the coming years. The school is already geared up for this demand with a very attractive Sixth Form Common Room (featuring a full size snooker table) and a very impressive Resource Centre featuring both quiet study rooms and a large open plan well-equipped work area.

The school is clearly targeting strong Academic results as illustrated by its GCSE results this year and the strong emphasis on the Common Entrance exam. Its popularity is evident in the number of applications received each year – with approx. 1,200-1,300 applicants per year. However, rather than leading parents to believe that they may have a chance of a place when there is no likelihood, the school maintains waiting lists of no more than 30 students per year group, so parents know where they stand at the outset. As with many schools in the UAE, turnover is higher and demand slightly lower in the Prep and Senior Schools and the College seeks to ensure that particularly able students are accommodated, if at all possible, particularly if they are coming from overseas.



British School Overseas Inspection, Jan 2014

ADEC Inspection Report – 2014

ADEC Inspection Report – 2012


Fast Facts

  • Curriculum: UK
  • Term dates: Sep-Dec, Jan-Mar, Apr-Jul.
  • Fees: AED 47,530-AED 61,640
  • Waiting list? On request
  • Transport? Yes
  • Location: Bloom Gardens, Near Sheikh Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi
  • Tel: 02 815 6500 (Reception)
  • Tel: 02 815 6506 (Admissions)
  • Web: brightoncollege.ae
  • Facilities: Libraries, auditorium, information and communication technologies suites, art studios, dance studios, recording studio, labs, fitness centre, aerobics room, football/rugby/cricket pitch (grass), 25m swimming pool.
  • Extra-curricular activities A wide variety, including football, hockey, rugby, swimming, badminton, karate, netball, rounders and horse-riding.





If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any factual inaccuracies, or would like to update any information, please do not hesitate to contact us at editor@edu2021.com.

Update on October 4, 2016 | Reviewed by David on July 7, 2012

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