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The Aquila School, Dubailand

The Aquila School, Dubailand

by Jon WestleyAugust 8, 2018
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Average Cost Per Year

Founders' fees 2018-19 (Inclusive 15% discount)
FS1: 38,250
FS2: 40,800
YEAR 1: 42,500
YEAR 2: 42,500
YEAR 3: 44,200
YEAR 4: 44,200
YEAR 5: 46,750
YEAR 6: 46,750

KHDA Approved Fees
FS1: 45,000
FS2: 48,000
YEAR 1: 50,000
YEAR 2: 50,000
YEAR 3: 52,000
YEAR 4: 52,000
YEAR 5: 55,000
YEAR 6: 55,000
YEAR 7: 60,000
YEAR 8: 60,000
YEAR 9: 66,000
YEAR 10: 66,000
YEAR 11: 66,000
YEAR 12: 72,000


Hybrid British IB School
(1) National Curriculum for England to IGCSE
(2) Dual stream International Baccalaureate/British BTEC at Sixth Form

External Exam Boards

(1) Cambridge (IGCSE)
(2) Edexcel (BTEC)
(3) International Baccalaureate (Diploma and Career-related Programme/IBCC)

A Levels offered

(1) Level 3 BTEC Travel and Tourism
(2) Level 3 BTEC Sport
(3) Level 3 BTEC Performing Arts and Music
(4) Level 3 BTEC Hospitality
(5) Level 3 BTEC Creative Media Production
(6) International Baccalaureate Diploma
(7) International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme

A Level A* to A

Phased launch from 2022

A Level A* to C

Phased launch from 2022

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

(1) The Aquila School "will offer a wide range of GCSE/IGCSE options, which provide breadth and balance in terms of Arts, Science and practical subjects."

I/GCSEs offered



Fully inclusive:
(1) "The Aquila School welcomes students with additional and unique needs and strives to ensure they are fully appreciated within our learning community and achieve excellence within a nurturing and challenging ethos. We do not subscribe to the notion that students at either end of the ability spectrum are expensive to teach, as we believe our resources and strategies are designed to meet the needs of all learners."

Waiting list


Value Added

Not published

Number of Students


Teacher to Student Ratio


Largest nationality teachers


Year opened

September 2018


Dubailand, Dubai

Student composition



Mixed, co-educational

School canteen



International Schools Partnership

Admissions Telephone



• Extraordinary curriculum breadth
• Mid-tier fees
• Very high potential ROI
• ISP backing and experience
• Inclusive ethic
• Promise of significant investment in SEND across the spectrum of abilities
• British faculty
• Opportunity to be guide the development of a new school at launch


• School still in planning phases
• Devil will be in the detail
• Inevitable teeth issues of any new school

Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
In my Top 5
A possibility
No way


“Of our 28 schools, operating in 8 countries, across 8 curricular, The Aquila School is the flagship school for International Schools Partnership worldwide.”

Christine Simmonds, Director of Schools – Middle East, International School Partnership 


“At The Aquila School Dubai we believe in providing students with ‘amazing learning’ – we will help all our children to learn to levels that amaze them …. and inspire them to be successful.

We will inspire and support students to discover and pursue their passion in learning by providing them with maximum choice and involving each child in authentic learning experiences linked to life.

We will discover and develop the potential within every child to enable them to break boundaries and achieve excellence, with confidence, creativity and character.

We want Aquila children to be resilient, independent, thoughtful and caring individuals, well equipped for future work and life experiences.

Our vision places the interests and needs of children at the absolute heart of everything we do.”

Wayne Howsen. Founding Principal. The Aquila School.


The Aquila School is a planned new all-through British schools offering the English national curriculum to IGCSE and a dual-stream International Baccalaureate/British technical BTEC education at Sixth Form. The school is set to open in September 2018 and will be located in the heart of Dubai Land – map below.

Map showing directions to the new Aquila School in Dubai

The Aquila School will be the first new all-through school for the International Schools Partnership (ISP), the UK headquartered global schools group. Currently ISP is best known in the emirates for their taking over and current turnaround of Abu Dhabi-based Reach British School, reviewed here, and Dubai’s Nibras International School, reviewed here. Both schools are subject to considerable investment with the aim of transforming them into high performing emirate schools. ISP currently has 28 partner schools educating 22,000 children from 3-18 years of age in the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Mexico, Malaysia and the Middle East (Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai). With The Aquila School the bar is being set extremely high: this will be its “flagship” school worldwide.

The aim of ISP with the school is to deliver the first “genuinely affordable dual stream British IB school in the Emirates” – and one that achieves this without compromising on the breadth of subject and curricular choice by offering:

  • Cambridge-backed National Curriculum for England provision from FS1 to IGCSE
  • Multi-track British Sixth Form provision to include the choice of the International Diploma(IB DP), International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IB CP) and broad technical BTEC streams across a wide array of subjects for children between 16 and 18 years.

Currently the school is aiming for BTEC Level 3 provision in a minimum five areas:

(1) Travel and Tourism;
(2) Sport;
(3) Performing Arts and Music;
(4) Hospitality; and
(5) Creative Media Production.

If the school achieves this, its Sixth Form parallel stream offer across IB Diploma, Carer-related Programme and BTEC will be one of, if not the broadest, of any school currently operating in the emirates.

These are of course early days and the school will need to go through an extended period of IB accreditation to secure this – but the ambition is impressive. We, and our sister site,, have long campaigned for both the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme across IB schools and the introduction of as broad a range as possible of BTEC options to provide technical stream options for children at traditional British A Level dominated British schools. We believe that the provision of a choice between technical and academic streams for all children is a measure of a school’s commitment to meeting the needs, ambitions and potential of its students.

Our Guide to the International Baccalaureate Career-related programme can be found here. Our Guide to post-16 curriculum choices, including BTEC, can be found here.

For us, what really stands-out in this ambition, however, is the aligning of the Aquila School aim to be genuinely inclusive with the curriculum structure to deliver it. This level of choice, effectively delivered, will enable the school to meet the full spectrum of child abilities. The school promises to be inclusive to the broadest range of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), from both ends of the spectrum including Gifted and Talented children:

“The Aquila School will have a distinct character based on ‘inclusion’ and ‘maximum choice.

First, we welcome students with additional and unique needs and strive to ensure they are fully appreciated within our learning community and achieve excellence within a nurturing and challenging ethos. We do not subscribe to the notion that students at either end of the ability spectrum are expensive to teach, as we believe our resources and strategies are designed to meet the needs of all learners.

Second, we aim to provide a diversity in curricula to meet every student’s unique needs. We will ensure maximum choice in applied subjects through BTEC and IB Career- related programmes (IBCP).”

International Schools Partnership. 2017.

School Corporate Brochure for parents




Image showing the Main Reception area of the Aquila School Dubai opening in September 2018


This inclusive approach is matched by very strong ROI – The Aquila School has agreed fees with the KHDA that range between 45,000 AED at FS phases to 72,000 AED in Year 12. These are low fees given the breadth of curriculum choice.

By the time the school launches provision we estimate that this will be the most affordable of any new IB school currently operating in the emirates, let alone one also offering both the Diploma and Career-related Programme – and BTEC.

The level of ambition here to set fees mid tier within our averaged fee structure for Tier 1 schools (because of the school’s aim to be as inclusive as possible), as with the curriculum offer, is extraordinary.

Founders fees for 2018-19 have now been published and include a 15% discount:

Year GroupRegistration
KHDA Approved
Annual Tuition Fee
2018 – 2019
Founder’s Discounted
Tuition Fees
2019 – 2020
Founder’s Discounted
Tuition Fees
Year 12,50050,00042,50042,500
Year 22,50050,00042,50042,500
Year 32,50052,00044,20044,200
Year 42,50052,00044,20044,200
Year 52,50055,00046,75046,750
Year 62,50055,00046,75046,750
Year 72,50060,000Opens 201951,000




Image showing children engaged in experiential learning at The Aquila School Dubai


Facilities at The Aquila School are set to include science laboratories; auditorium; dedicated gymnasium; 25M swimming pool, multiple IT and technology rooms; Design & Technology areas; hall; dance studio; library; music rooms;  food technology rooms; shaded outdoor play areas; and, an outdoor five-a-side/netball pitch. As the school grows and opens its Senior School, facilities will expand further and will include a educated Sixth Form. At the heart of the curriculum will lie subject choice and the ambition to meet the needs, aspirations and potential of the broadest range of children:

“As well as focusing on academic excellence, our curriculum will engage with children in technology, food, design, music and IT and the broader Arts.

Wayne Howsen. Founding Principal. The Aquila School Dubai.


Bottom line?

It is too early, however, to make a considered judgment beyond our recognising a school that, if it can deliver on all of the above, will be transformational for the Emirates.

The devil, of course, is in the detail.

We are awaiting clarification in a number of key areas, including the breadth and quality of facility provision, eventual school capacity and the nationality and qualification base of teaching faculty.  We do know that the school is currently recruiting senior faculty from the UK and has now recruited Wayne Howsen to lead the school as Founding Head.  Mr Howsen led the Band A Outstanding Al Muna Academy in Abu Dhabi and both we and our sister site,, have received significant positive independent feedback from both parents and teachers on his leadership and ambition for children.

We can also now confirm that Mr Howsen will be joined by Mrs Kylie Cleworth as Head of Primary. Mrs Cleworth also worked with Mr Howsen at the Band A Outstanding Al Muna Academy in Abu Dhabi and is seen as instrumental in achieving for Al Muna the first ever Outstanding rating for a primary school in Abu Dhabi.


We can also confirm that class sizes are capped at a maximum of 24 students across all phases of the school with significant investment in Teaching Assistants to support class teachers.

As more details are released, and following our first Hard Hat Tour of the school, we will be better able to build for you a picture of the eventual school. There must be compromise somewhere to deliver this. Our best guess is that it will, at the least, be in the eventual capacity of the school. A large school would deliver the economies of scale to make this breadth of curriculum provision and fee structure begin to stack up.

We anticipate being able to report on further developments from The Aquila School in the coming months.

The Aquila School is one that has the promise and ambition to stretch the limits of what parents currently expect from this level of fees.

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]
  • Bharat
    August 16, 2018 at 9:05 am

    New school with a dynamic and experienced principal. Lovely building design with large classroom and corridor spaces. School team dedicated to taking children on an Amazing Learning journey.

  • Marwa
    August 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    An amazing new school with full fantastic facilities, the school’s plans and vision encourage all parents to enroll their children.

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