Hartland International School, Sobha Hartland, Nad Al Sheba
Updated February 2019 – KHDA 2018 and SchoolsCompared verdict 2019
Hartland International launched with many of the teething pains that we expect of new schools opening in the UAE, but under new leadership the school has thrived. Hartland School made it to the top 5 of our sister site, WhichSchooolAdvisor.com, rated “Top New Schools for 2016,” largely on the back of the schools facilities and its stated aspirations: Hartland International has been established ground-up as a premium, Tier 1, full-phase KG to Year 13 school.
Hartland International School has been built at the heart of the newly developing Sobha Hartland Community in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City; the community continues to evolve around it and the school today has evolved to be a social, cultural and family hub for the new community. Links with Parents are this side of outstanding.
The actual design of the school is impressive, and as importantly the bells and whistles have warmth, with the white buildings and glass/steel façade designed around intimate groups of grassed quadrangles at the heart of Foundation, Primary and Secondary sections of the school.
The school owners established Hartland International School ground-up to offer the sort of prestige and specialist programmes able to attract families from across Dubai.
Hartland International School was the first of Sobha’s flagship schools to launch in the Emirates and was followed in September 2017 by the prestigious all-through IB North London Collegiate School Dubai in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City.
Whilst the school is for-profit, the owner, PNC Menon, through his company Sobha, is a philanthropist, educating more than 11,000 of India’s poorest children free-of-cost in schools he established in Kerala. Hartland launched with a dedicated 5-year academic scholarship programme offering 50% fee remission, in part to ensure that gifted children were not excluded from the school on financial grounds.
In March 2017 Hartland announced details of its scholarship programme for 2017-18. 10 places offered 100% fee remission in the first year reducing to 50% fee remission over the subsequent three years of the award. The Award could be extended dependent on the financial circumstances of the parents.
More information can be found here.
We recommend that all parents of children who are specially gifted academically, or in the broader Arts, including Performing Arts, or Sport, facing hardship, do contact the school regardless of the time of year. Hartland is genuinely – and impressively, committed to the principles of its programme and scholarships more broadly.
Our only critique is that we would like to see a guarantee that any scholarship awarded, subject to parental hardship, should be available for the duration of the relevant child’s education at the school.
Hartland is, impressively, fully inclusive with a commitment to welcome all children. This is backed by “significant” investment in staff to ensure that the curriculum is individualised according to the needs of each child.
The ultimate aim at launch was to phase its opening to offer comprehensive parallel stream English National Curriculum / International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBD] provision, this to be launched at Sixth Form from 2020-21.
Hartland is currently accepting applications across Foundation, Primary and Secondary faculties to Year 9, offering a British education founded on the English National Curriculum at EYFS onwards to prepare children for(I)GCSE with a wide-range of subject choices across the arts, social sciences and performing arts.
The school is committed to language provision and offers Arabic, French, Mandarin, German and Spanish to compliment core English provision with the ambition that all children will be proficient in 3 languages on leaving Hartland.
One interesting twist on this is that a core partnership with Emirates has seen an influx of children from South America, this feeding the language ambitions of the school, particularly in Spanish, which is taught as an option from Year 2. From Year 2 children also have alternative language options, apart from Spanish, in pursuing French, German, or Mandarin. From Year 7 French, Spanish and Arabic are compulsory.
The feel of the school is very international, in a really positive way – there is a sense that children are experiencing a very grounded academic curriculum, but one supported by the experiences, and bigger picture, that comes from a dynamic mixed role. We have updated our scoring to reflect both the enhanced internationalism of the school and the clear language focus of the school: securing genuine proficiency in three languages for all children is, we believe, quite some ambition – and impressive.
Hartland operates a “Day-Boarding” model of school. By this the school simply means it is not all about the academic day – Hartland runs through until 4:00pm, Sunday to Wednesday, from Primary phases onwards (rather than the typical 2:30pm) in order that every child automatically benefits from co-curricular provision as an integral part of their education.
Current enrichment programmes include those for football; gymnastics; swimming; taekwondo; horse riding; environment/eco; a culture club; journalism; drawing and sketching; singing and choir; public speaking and debating; musical performance; drama and acting; e-book creation; Lego Mindstorms based robotics; and 3D Computer Aided Design. The programmes are themed across 6 areas of whole-child provision: Physical, Community, Intellectual, Creative Performance and Technical. Interestingly, and very impressively, all ECA’s are provided for free – something we have not seen before in a school offering such a comprehensive programme. The ratio is about 50/50 between teacher led activities and those provided by external professionals (including football and music).
The programme is supported by a Hartland Passport which is completed as each student grows in talent, experience and learning.
The building and facilities are excellent, and you can sense that as you enter the school. The lobby area is impressive and is adjacent to the 700-seat Auditorium and so has the benefit of a double height wall of wood panelling, There is a small coffee counter and 8-10 tables with comfortable chairs. The School Canteen is spacious and airy; children can bring lunch or buy lunch at the school. Children in FS 1 and FS 2 have lunch in the classrooms.
The IT lab is for Year 4 upwards and is linked to the well equipped Design and Technology facility (for wood, plastics and metals). There is a lovely flow between these 2 work spaces. The Science Lab is again specified for children from Year 4 upwards.
The main Library is in a glass wing of the school and is well equipped with 7,000 books, with an additional 5,000 recently delivered and awaiting placement on the shelves.
The Art room has been well thought out and the design is really impressive. There are 3 sections within the large area all divided sympathetically. One for artwork, one for clay work ( with sinks) and the final area at the end of the section is a glass area with bean bags and comfy spaces for the children to think creatively. A wall runs almost the full length of the art room which creates a wide corridor where a gallery of work has been displayed. Its a lovely feature.
There is a separate Sixth Form Centre with full provision across research, ICT, common room based meeting and discussion and specialised IB learning.
There are 9 technical laboratories covering robotics, graphics design, 3D CAD and manufacturing, digital technology, food technology, materials, virtual learning and core physics, chemistry and biology sciences. iPads are provided for children in Year 2 upwards, Laptops are provided for the older children as needed.
Hartland also offers quite specialist facilities: a photography studio; dance studio for provision across ballet and jazz to modern and tap (mirror, railed and with fully spring floors); dedicated black-box rooms on the gallery level each with a piano; recording studio (currently being updated); recital rooms; multiple music/instrument practice rooms (one for Years 1 – 6, and one, currently, for Year 7)) as well as prayer rooms and a Special Educational Needs [SEN] / Counseling Centre.
Naturally the school also offers a cafeteria for its students.
Sporting facility provision takes shape with an 8-lane 25M (shaded) competition swimming pool with separate, supporting splash/learner pool; indoor sports centre with competition grade football field and athletics provision for running; and fabulous (shaded) extended rooftop areas with 2 tennis and netball courts and play areas.
On its first visit WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke with parents who at the time “had nothing but enthusiastic comments to make about the school and its staff, many of whom were singled out for their inspirational information sessions.” They noted “committed owners, leaders, staff and parents”.
The school’s Head, Fiona Cottam, the former Principal and CEO at Outstanding rated Jumeirah College and with almost five years at GEMS Education behind her, has transformed the school almost out of recognition for the better. From her early days she made clear that she took the role as something of a mission:
“For me this is about getting the school back on track… I think the heart and soul of the place has got the right feel.” Fiona Cottam. Principal. Hartland International School.
Under Ms Cottam the school role numbers around 500 students with more than 56 nationalities represented across the school across its broadly gender equal role
There is no doubt that in the early days of the school, the sheer scale of ambition ran into issues of delivery. This is not unusual – it is rare for launching schools to have no teething issues.
The school currently supports FS1 to Year 9 with further grades consecutively opening to full all-through provision by 2022.
There are presently around 3 FS1 and 3 FS2 classes with a maximum of 5 classes. Each has a maximum of 20 students. Year 1 to Year 9 classes have a maximum of 24 students and benefit from a Teaching Assistant [TA].
Fees at Hartland are currently premium and run between 49,750 AED at FS phases to 87,000 AED in Year 10. Likely to edge towards 100,000 AED when Year 13 comes on stream, the school will, in terms of fees, be a Premium Plus school. Scholarships (see above), will provide some help for those less able to pay.
Hartland International School was rated Good with Very Good and Outstanding features in its 2018 inspection – a very creditable (and in our view much deserved) result given its first inspection and early phased opening of the school.
- Outstanding school facilities, investment and infrastructure
- Very good levels of child progress, particularly in English
- Stand Out Secondary phases progress and attainment in Science
- A very well mapped and inspiring curriculum that engaged children and promotes a love of learning for its own sake
- Very good standard of personal development with children engaged in thinking through the bigger picture – whole child development is a real feature of the school
- Care of children is top-notch.
It’s worth quoting the following in full:
“The passion, commitment, determination and enthusiasm of the principal and senior leaders are a real strength. Staff share the school’s vision and work very hard to raise achievement.” [KHDA 2018]
Weaknesses are really just a reflection of those that would be experienced by any school working through careful phased opening together with general weakness in Arabic subjects which always stretch international schools.
Hartland International School bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019
In terms of its whole child provision, extremely impressive language offer, inclusive philosophy, freely resourced ECA provision, individual tutor/mentor, and its extended day designed to make enrichment integral to each child’s journey, this is a school that we continue to rate as outstanding. Hartland is a very ambitious school.
There is no doubt that Hartland International School has come a very long way since our first visit. It is worth quoting out thoughts even then:
“There is a definite intention to evolve and create a school which is at the heart of the community and the existing parent that we spoke with informally, and independently, was genuinely very pleased with developments, and the approach, at the school.
Under Fiona Cottam there is without doubt a really cohesive push, one shared by all the staff we spoke with, to provide a world class, highly creative and whole child curriculum.
The children we saw at break, seemed very settled and were very polite. Children throughout the school, in fact, seemed very happy. The atmosphere is very friendly, welcoming and warm.
“And there are some things Hartland is doing, particularly with languages and ECAs, that have the capacity to set benchmarks for the sector over time.”
Our view is that the foundations are all now in place for Hartland to be one of the stand-out schools in the UAE as it moves carefully and thoughtfully to all-through IB provision. We do want to see provision of the IB Career-related programme with the Diploma – technical education is important for any school to meet its responsibility to offer the fullest breadth of course provision to children. Equally we would like to see A Level provsion balanced by BTEC. The exact shape of Sixth Form provision has yet to be confirmed but we expect it to be of the highest order. If dual stream IB and A Level is eventually provided, as is the ambition, Hartland International School will offer the most child-centric Sixth Form in the UAE.
Facilities and ambitions are all in place to deliver the exceptional.
If there is one single, broader lesson to be learned from Hartland during these first years, it is the importance of leadership in bringing together a school to deliver at the highest level for its children. Ms Cottam has shone a light on just how important outstanding school leadership is in any school. In Hartland, together with parents, exceptional teaching faculty and the children that are the absolute heart of the school, Ms Cottam has delivered a school to be very proud of.
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Good with Very Good and Outstanding features
Under review 2020-21
YEAR 1: 65,000
YEAR 2: 67,000
YEAR 3: 68,000
YEAR 4: 70,000
YEAR 5: 75,000
YEAR 6: 78,000
YEAR 7: 80,000
YEAR 8: 81,000
YEAR 9: 83,000
YEAR 10: 87,000
YEAR 11: TBC
YEAR 12: TBC
YEAR 13: TBC
National Curriculum for England:
(I)GCSE O' Level
GCE A' Level
International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBD]
International Baccalaureate Organisation
Arabic - First language
Arabic - Foreign language
Design and Technology - Product Design (3D)
Design and Technology - Food Technology
Design and Technology - Resistant Materials
Physical Education (PE)
Art & Design
Other subject to be confirmed
No - fully inclusive school
(1) Including full Special Educational Needs provsion
(2) Gifted and Talented [G&T] programme
(3) Every child assigned individual tutor/mentor
(Current role circa 500) (2019)
Years 1-11: 1:24
Years 12-13: TBC
Sobha Hartland, Nad Al Sheba, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
60+ nationalities represented
+971 (0) 4 407 9444
• Tier 1 facilities
• Individualised learning
• Whole-child provision
• Hartland passport supported by free and comprehensive ECA provision
• Phased opening to parallel stream GCE A’ Level and International Baccalaureate Diploma – arguably the best curriculum combination available across the educational sector
• 5-year Scholarship programme
• Outstanding language provision and internationalism
• Outstanding school leadership
• Exceptionally low teacher turnover (0%)
• General teething issues of a school in launch to all-through provision - but outstanding is on the radar
• Arabic subjects