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Nord Anglia International School Dubai – First Review

Nord Anglia International School Dubai – First Review

The second Nord Anglia Education school in the UAE opened in Dubai, on time, at the beginning of September 2014, following the British International School of Abu Dhabi (BISAD), which has been established for a number of years in the capital.

More: Read the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Q&A with Nord Anglia Dubai here

The 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 to be experienced. The school employs native-language speakers for non-English classes – for example, Arabic.

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Currently Nord Anglia Dubai is open to Year 10 and already full in almost all year groups. The school’s current population is, approximately, 600 students. Given the number of schools to have opened in September 2014, there is no doubt that it has done a very, very good job of attracting new students.

Key reasons will be the set up, facilities and the school’s location. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 – those taking Chinese, French, German and Spanish IGCSEs – got either an A or A*in their exams. If that is indicative of things to come, the school will have more than lived up to its promise.

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.

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.

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 will be rolled out Dubai in September 2016. 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.

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.

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 60,000 in Nursery (FS1) to AED 80,000 for year 9. Year 10 fees are 86,000 AED.

With Nord Anglia however, given its facilities, and level of staffing, it is already clear however where your fees go. It is early days, but WhichSchoolAdvisor.com could not help but be impressed with Nord Anglia’s progress so far. The school creates an impression of an enthusiastic, hard-working environment, with a dedicated leadership that knows that, alongside serious study, fun and play are key ingredients to a healthy school.

 

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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 August 17, 2016 | Reviewed by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com on November 2, 2014

2 Comments

Leave A Reply
  1. Sapna Thampi says
    June 16, 2016, 6:01 pm

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

    Reply
    • June 21, 2016, 11:30 am

      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.

      Reply

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