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The Aquila School, Dubailand – THE 2020 REVIEW

The Aquila School, Dubailand – THE 2020 REVIEW

by December 11, 2019

Updated December 2019 – The Aquila School EXCLUSIVE first review, fees updated, enhanced facilities, BSO Outstanding school status


“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, Former Director of Schools – Middle East, International School Partnership 


“The Aquila School is already an outstanding school which is delivering its missions, to ensure every child loves coming to school and makes as much progress as possible.”

British Schools Overseas.  First Inspection. April 2019.



“At The Aquila School Dubai we believe in providing students with ‘amazing learning’.

We help all our children to learn to levels that amaze them …. and we will inspire them to be successful.

We inspire and support children to discover and pursue their passion in learning.

We provide every child with maximum choice and involve each child in authentic learning experiences linked to life.

We discover and develop the potential within every child.

We enable every child to break boundaries and achieve excellence, with confidence, creativity and character.

Aquila children are resilient, independent, thoughtful and caring individuals.

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

Map showing directions to the new Aquila School in Dubai

The Aquila School is the first new all-through school in the UAE for the International Schools Partnership (ISP), the UK headquartered global schools group. As above, the school is positioned as ISPs flagship school not just in the UAE, but globally.

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 42 partner schools educating 40,000 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 is its “flagship” school worldwide.

As of 2019, The Aquila School has gained British School Overseas accreditation and been rated “Outstanding” across all eight areas of its assessment – a rare achievement from a first inspection.

The Aquila School is currently accepting applications for entry from FS1 to Year 8.

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 aims 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 Aquila 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 has 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 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




Photograph of the main School Reception area of The Aquila School in Dubai


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.

Currently we view this as 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.

Discounted fees (15% off KHDA approved fees) are available for families joining during the Aquila School during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years.

Year Group Registration
KHDA Approved
Annual Tuition Fee
2019 -2020
Founder’s Discounted
Tuition Fees
2020 – 2021
Founder’s Discounted
Tuition Fees
FS1 2,500 45,000 38,250 38,250
FS2 2,500 48,000 40,800 40,800
Year 1 2,500 50,000 42,500 42,500
Year 2 2,500 50,000 42,500 42,500
Year 3 2,500 52,000 44,200 44,200
Year 4 2,500 52,000 44,200 44,200
Year 5 2,500 55,000 46,750 46,750
Year 6 2,500 55,000 46,750 46,750
Year 7 & 8 2,500 60,000 51,000 51,000

Additional sibling discounts also apply for families with second and subsequent children in the same school.


British Schools Overseas 2019-2020

BSO report - The Aquila School, Dubai



Photograph of the School Library at The Aquila School in Dubai


Facilities at The Aquila School include science laboratories; auditorium; dedicated gymnasium; 25M swimming pool, separate Training Pool, multiple IT and technology rooms; Design & Technology areas; Hydroponics Farm; 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.

A photograph of exterior facilities for sport at The Aquila School in Dubai

At the heart of the Aquila School 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 engages with children through technology, food, design, music and IT and the broader Arts.

Wayne Howsen. Founding Principal. The Aquila School Dubai.


Bottom line? The verdict 2019-20

Photograph of the main school entrance at The Aquila School in Dubai

It is too early, without confirmation of full Sixth Form provision, to make an absolute judgement 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 and we, and parents, need to understand sooner rather than later the committed shape and breadth of IGCSE, BTEC and International Baccalaureate provision. With this, we will be more effectively able to benchmark the school.

We do, however, have confidence in Mr Wayne Howsen who leads 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, exceptionally positive, independent feedback from both parents and teachers on his leadership and ambition for children. We rate him as one of the highest performing school leaders in the UAE.

Mr Howsen is supported by Mrs Kylie Cleworth as Head of Primary. Mrs Cleworth 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 rate the school leadership at the Aquila School outstanding.

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.

The Aquila School has achieved the rare accolade of a BSO Outstanding rating from its first inspection. This is hugely creditable – and indicative of the very high quality of provision and care for children.

We were closely involved with discussion on the school’s shape and evolution with the ISP Director of Schools prior to the school launching – and we know that significant care, investment and expertise has been in place from the earliest planning stages of his school. When ISP brand this their global flagship it is saying something meaningful and not just marketing speak.

The Aquila School is one that has all the promise and ambition to stretch the limits of what parents currently expect from this level of fees – and on the basis of its current offer we rate the school very highly.


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.

Request School Information

Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Due 2020-2021
(1) BSO Outstanding

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating


2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating


2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating


Type of school

Private, for-profit

Average Cost Per Year

Founders Fees 2019/20 - 2020/21
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
YEAR 7: 51,000
YEAR 8: 51,000 (FROM SEPTEMBER 2020)

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

External Exam Boards

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

A Levels offered

The following were original advised to us but are now subject to confirmation as the school shapes its eventual provision:
(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

350 (December 2019)

Teacher to Student Ratio


Largest nationality teachers


Teacher turnover


Year opened

September 2018


Dubailand, Dubai

Student composition



Mixed, co-educational

School canteen



International Schools Partnership

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0)4 5862 777

Web Address

• World class, outstanding school leadership
• ISP globally benchmarked flagship school
• Extraordinary curriculum breadth originally promised (note the school has now pulled back and made this subject to later confirmation)
• BSO Outstanding school status from its first inspection
• 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 guide the development of a new school at launch


• School still in planning phases for Sixth Form provision
• School has been remarkably sure footed to date for a new school, but until Sixth Form provision has bedded in parents should expect inevitable teething issues.
• We are concerned that the school should not move away from its commitment to extensive BTEC and technical stream provision. This needs clarifying at the soonest opportunity.

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Arts & Drama
SEND Provision
Scl Community
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• One of the most ambitious school launches in recent years, promising to provide an exceptional breadth of educational choice, inclusive admissions across the SEND spectrum and distinctly mid-tier fees. Can it be done? On current progress, there is everything to celebrate here.

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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.

  • Aliaa Ibrahim
    December 15, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Dedicated teachers, Learning is full of fun and engaging children to the max. school is enriching children personality and experience through real life experiences and life skills.

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