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Nord Anglia International School Dubai, Al Barsha – THE REVIEW 2021
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Updated January 2021 – Nord Anglia International School Dubai introduction of A’ Levels and BTEC, new recognition as a SchoolsCompared “UAE Top school”, KHDA Inspection, IB and GCSE Results and SchoolsCompared.com outstanding verdict 2021

“Nord Anglia International aspires to be the best school in Dubai.

We are different.

We challenge and empower our students to develop new ways of thinking and raise their expectations of what they can achieve.

We connect every child globally through our worldwide Nord Anglia network.

Every child learns the social graces, confidence and skills that are critically important outside purely academic pursuits so they will thrive on graduation.

Our ambition is simple.

To be the school in Dubai which is known to be the best because it is the place where the learning is great, where the results are outstanding and where the community is distinguished.

SOUTH_VIEW_DESKTOP_MPU

Joining together each of these is a fundamental commitment to each child’s happiness and well-being – and a spectrum of whole child initiatives and specialist programmes, including our Juilliard Performing arts programme, that are unequalled in the Emirates.”

Matthew Farthing, Principal, Nord Anglia International School Dubai

 

Background

Rigorously selective (although it is not just about the academics), Nord Anglia International School Dubai has swiftly established its reputation as a high performing school within the UAE premier league of elite schools. The schools is rapidly expanding with a student role jumping some 743 students to 1198 students in 2015, to some 1380 students, aged three to sixteen years of age in July 2017, to 1524 students in 2018-19. Around 60% of students are British and the broader student body is drawn from 80+ other nationalities; Italian, French, German and Australian children also have strong representation.

This is the second Nord Anglia school to open in the UAE, following the opening of Nord Anglia’s British International School in Abu Dhabi, review here.

Nord Anglia International School Dubai is based in Al Barsha 2, close to the Hessa Street and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road junction, with a catchment stretching from Arabian Ranches to Dubai Investment Park, Emirates Hills and Umm Suqeim:

Map showing location of and directions to Nord Anglia School Dubai

Offering full all-through education to Year 13, Nord Anglia International School Dubai has secured International Baccalaureate World School status and the KHDA “Very Good School with Outstanding features” rating, this after only its second inspection since opening in 2014. As of 2020, Nord Anglia International School Dubai has now retained its Very Good School with Outstanding Features now for three years in succession.  Nord Anglia received its first KHDA rating in 2017 achieving Good School status – with both Outstanding and Very Good features.  The opening to full all-through provision has been one of the fastest in the UAE to date, a testament to both the investment made in the school from ‘Day One’ and the considerable expertise of Nord Anglia. Within the sector, many see Nord Anglia International School as the benchmark for how to open a new outstanding school in the UAE.

 

(I)GCSE Subject Breadth and Opportunities for Students

Nord Anglia International School Dubai offers 22+ options at IGCSE. Particularly impressive is the breadth of subject options offered across Design; Technology; Fine Art; Drama; and, Music. The Creative Arts are an absolutely stand-out feature of the school. I/GCSE options include Drama, Music, Photography, Design and Technology. The creditable stretch of subject options is exemplified in academic options including Economics and Psychology.

Nord Anglia International School Dubai GCSE options 2021

We rate subject choice outstanding at Key Stage 4 as outstanding plus – this backed, in the Creative Arts, by investment in the cultural life and education of students that places the school top five in the UAE in this area.

Nor are subjects like Dance provided in a context that focuses only on girls – the creative arts are celebrated and integrated universally at the school for all children. Mathew Farthing. Principal. Nord Anglia International School Dubai, reinforces this: “{d)ance is something we can all share and something we can all relate to.”

In the following video, GCSE dance students have choreographed their individual solo performances to show their support for Black Lives Matter.

Worth noting that subject breadth is important because it maximises the statistical probability that every child will be able to access subjects that meet their needs, interests and passions, gifts and ambitions for the future. Schools that cut down on subject breadth inevitably limit the chances that they can meet the needs of their students – and this can have damaging impacts in forcing students into studying subjects in which they have no interest or ability and win which they will not perform to their best. This is not to say that we believe parents should measure a school’s offer by how many subjects a child sits. A very good article on why can be found on our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor, here. A measure of an outstanding school, in short, should be seen in its ability to deliver to the needs of each student – and individually.

 

Post 16 Subject Breadth and Opportunities for Students.

Until 2021, Nord Anglia International School was vociferous and outspoken in its evangelism of the International Diploma, insisting that the International Baccalaureate Diploma was the perfect options for all students at the school. Schools Head, Matthew Farthing, is a well known proponent of the IB Diploma over A’ Levels as can be seen here.

Unlike many of its its peers too, Nord Anglia International school remains resolute that it will not offer the International Career-related Programme. The basis for this decision is the school’s clear focus on attracting the most academic students. Our view, in the round, is that all IB schools should be offering the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme. It is both an academic and technical programme, unlike pure BTEC technical stream qualifications in the British curriculum, does not penalise non-linguists, is arguably truer to the IB ideals of polymathic education – and undoubtedly best fits the needs of some children. Worth noting that a number Nord Anglia schools elsewhere do offer both the IB Career-related Programme and IB Diploma Programme options for students. One lesson here is that not all IB schools are the same. A school that only offers the IB Diploma Programme for its student does not offer the full array of post-16 International Baccalaureate options for students. This is not to say that a school that only offers wither the IB Diploma or Career-related Programme, will not do so at a higher quality than schools that only offer one or other of the post-16 alternatives. We rate the Diploma offer at Nord Anglia International School in Dubai, on its own terms, as outstanding.

Investment in Sport for Girls is a priority at Nord Anglia International School in Dubai

Nevertheless, on the basis of its limited IB offer for students, until this year (January 2021), notwithstanding the academic focus of the school, its extraordinary Creative Arts curriculum and stellar whole child broader curriculum, we were not able to recommend post-16 provision at Nord Anglia International School with the same strength of praise as we award the school’s Key Stage 4 provision (see above).

More information on the International Baccalaureate Diploma and International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme can be found here, and here, respectively.

As of this year (2020), however, the school has performed something of a volte-face – and a creditable one, if in an unexpected form.

Whilst we might have expected the school to strengthen its post-16 provision by introducing the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme, in fact it has chosen to introduce parallel stream options for students in British A’ Levels.

Currently, Nord Anglia International School Dubai is exploring offering A Level options in:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Sports Science
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • Psychology

The school already offers BTEC options in:

  • BTEC Business
  • BTEC Leisure and Tourism

Whilst a (relatively) limited array of subject options, the reason for the change of heart is illuminating. The school has listened to its students and now accepts that, by only offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma, it was, in fact, limiting the ability of the school to meet the needs of all its students. This was particularly the case for talented students in Sport. For these students, the new options now enable them to continue their academic and technical development in Sport in combination with graduate entry subject options relevant to top tier universities that can be drawn from both the Arts and Sciences.

Whether the school’s choice to offer a parallel stream A Level curriculum makes better sense than offering the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme is arguable, particularly as the school already has experience in delivering BTEC.  In many ways, however, it is a moot point. What should be taken from this radical change to the school’s post-16 provision is that this is a school that has been willing to eat humble pie in order to meet the needs of its students. That is hugely creditable.

With the introduction of A’ Level options for students, Nord Anglia International School now achieves our unequivocal praise for the quality of its post-16 provision. The school is now significantly better able to meet the needs of all its students – and, should A ‘ Level subject (and BTEC) choice grow in future years (and logically it should into Creative Arts subjects given the school’s deserved reputation and achievements in this area), the offer here will be pretty much unbeatable.

Worth noting that this radical expansion of opportunities is not about diluting the IB Diploma offer for students, but much more about strengthening the ability of the school to meet the needs of every child:

“We are incredible conscious of not diluting the commitment to our IB programme. Anyone who knows me will know that I am something of an evangelist for [the] IB [Diploma] and that will not change.” [Clarification added. Ed.]

Matthew Farthing. Principal. Nord Anglia International School Dubai, in conversation with WhichSchoolAdvisor 2021. 

 

Nord Anglia International School Exam Performance

Results in 2018 were stellar with a 99% AC/9-7 pass rate and 36% of children securing A/9-8 grades:

Nord Anglia International School GCSE Results 2018

In 2020, with a cohort of 89 students and a total of 786 exam entries, 46% of exam entries were graded 9-8 (A), 71% of exam entries were awarded grades 9-7 (A-A), 89% of exam entries were graded  9-6 (A-B), and 100% of exam entries were graded  9-4 (A-C). 100% of students achieved 5 A*-C/ 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Table summarising Nord Anglia International School Dubai GCSE Results in 2020

In 2020 IB results were outstanding. Based on Internal Assessment, the average International Baccalaureate Diploma Grade point score achieved by students was 39 (up from 37.1 on Algorithm based grades against an average in UAE schools of 32.8) with a 100% pass rate. 29 students in total say for the International Baccalaureate Diploma with 100% of students scoring above 30, 80% of students scoring above 35 and 40% of students scoring above 40 (up from 37.1 on Algorithm based grades).

Table showing Nord Anglia International School IB Diploma Results in 2020

We rank the school second in terms of overall academic performance in the UAE for the IB Diploma, although exact comparisons are fraught with difficulty as many schools have much larger cohorts of students sitting for the Diploma and manage their IB Diploma (and IB Career-related Programme pathways) differently.

Around one in five Nord Anglia students win places at the world’s top 30 universities; there is a history of students receiving full marks on their IB diploma; and around 15% of all Nord Anglia Education students who sat the IB Diploma have historically achieved a score of around 40 or above, more than double the global average.

We would like to see BTEC and A’ Level results, in future years, given equal prominence in the school’s celebration of the achievements of its children.

This said, what we particularly like about the way that Nord Anglia International School communicates the achievements of its children, and the school as a whole, is its clear attempt to focus on the much bigger picture of whole child achievement in which examinations play only a part.

 

Juilliard Performing Arts at Nord Anglia International School Dubai

In September 2016 the school launched its ground-breaking Performing Arts education programme, a first in the UAE, developed in conjunction with internationally renowned Juilliard. The aim is to provide all Nord Anglia International School Dubai students, aged 3 to 18 years, access to a world class arts education, balancing and matching the rigour and excellence of its academic programmes and meeting the needs of gifted child in music, dance and drama.

The Creative Arts, more broadly, is extraordinarily well resourced and students deserve to feel proud of their achievements which we rate stand-out.

Examples from Art and Photography below:

 

Facilities

Image showing children playing on sports playing fields at Nord Anglia International School Dubai

Facilities are targeted to meet or exceed those of Dubai’s elite schools, designed ground up to offer a “nurturing environment for students, as well as the next generation of athletes, statesmen, thespians and musicians.”

Sports facilities and competitive sports at Nord Angloa International School in Dubai include swimming

To this end there are impressive open plan art studios, craft centres, a cleverly designed theatre space, urban classroom areas, a state-of-the-art auditorium, three refectories and extensive outdoor sports facilities including a swimming pool.

Facilities include:

 

Fees

With original fees stretching from an eye watering AED 63,447 (the end point of a number of  mid-tier schools in Dubai) and rising to AED 95,946, the costs of a Nord Anglia education will stretch the majority of parents, if they are remotely affordable at all. Fees align with the most expensive in the UAE – but they do buy you a Tier 1 education which, now with the introduction of A Level and BTEC options for students, is without compromise.

Feedback from parents has been outstanding, with a particular focus on the exceptionally individualised whole child and academic education each child receives.

In 2021 Nord Anglia has, unlike many schools in the UAE, chosen not to make adjustments to its fees to reflect the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic to ensure that it can continue to provide a consistently high quality of education to its students. Worth noting too, the school, creditably, does run a scholarship programme.

Year 2020-21 KHDA

Approved Fees

Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
FS1 63,447 25,379 19,034 19,034
FS2 63,447 25,379 19,034 19,034
Year 1 74,021 29,608 22,206 22,206
Year 2 74,021 29,608 22,206 22,206
Year 3 79,308 31,723 23,793 23,793
Year 4 79,308 31,723 23,793 23,793
Year 5 79,308 31,723 23,793 23,793
Year 6 79,308 31,723 23,793 23,793
Year 7 84,596 33,838 25,379 25,379
Year 8 84,596 33,838 25,379 25,379
Year 9 84,596 33,838 25,379 25,379
Year 10 90,940 36,376 27,282 27,282
Year 11 90,940 36,376 27,282 27,282
Year 12 95,946 38,378 28,784 28,784
Year 13 95,946 38,378 28,784 28,784

 

Nord Anglia International School Dubai bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2021

Photograph of the Buildings of Nord Anglia International School in Dubai 2021

Nord Anglia International School Dubai is a fabulous, genuinely ground breaking school for academically gifted children, and particularly polymaths with abilities in languages, Nord Anglia School is in our view an outstanding one. This was our verdict last year. Then, we wrote that “[t]his is definitively not a school for less academically gifted or high performing technically able children.” In 2020 we cautioned parents considering shortlisting the school that: “[they] do need to match school and child so that the school and child “fit.”

We have now to eat humble pie. We also wrote:

“Do not expect any deviation from Nord Anglia International School Dubai from the IB Diploma – a hugely ambitious qualification even for bright children. It’s one that arguably is ill-suited for non-linguists too. Whilst Nord Anglia International School Dubai does invest heavily in language provision (across French, Spanish, Mandarin and German), not all academically bright children are natural linguists and the Diploma, unlike the Career-related Programme, penalises them.”

Well, Nord Anglia International School Dubai has just pulled the rug from underneath us – and it could not be better news for its students. It has indeed deviated – and more significantly than anyone could possible have predicted.

We have always steadfastly believed that even selective IB schools should offer the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme. Nord Anglia then and now believes it’s not necessary. As we argued then that “there are strong arguments that, in a Tier 1 like this, provision of subject choice should come with the territory and just because a child is academic, does not mean that many will not be vocationally and technically  minded too. The IB created the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme for good reason.”

Nord Anglia International School may not (yet?) have embraced the Career-related Programme, but what it has done, in introducing parallel stream A Level and BTEC provision is arguably an even better way to properly meet the needs of every student at its school. It would have ben so easy for them to introduce the Career-related Programme – but they have been actually so much more ambitious than even this.

Today, out of nowhere, Nord Anglia has gone from a school that we could only recommend for a relatively limited group of highly academic children, to one which will surely now be top of the list for so many more parents’ shortlist of the perfect school – one now better placed to meet the needs of all children. We said last year that many parents of younger children will simply not know how their children will develop and this made choosing Nord Anglia difficult. This issues has dissolved – this is a school that delivers for all.

Photograph of students graduating from Nord Anglia International School in Dubai 2021

The rate of progress made by Nord Anglia International School Dubai since launch is absolutely remarkable and questions just what the school is capable of in the medium term. The sky would seem to be the limit.

Nord Anglia International School has now shown itself not only to be an outstanding school, but a courageous and principled one one too.Many schools talk the talk about being committed to their students. Norda Anglia International School Dubai has just proved it.

Nord Anglia International School was officially shortlisted for the Best Blended Curriculum International Baccalaureate School in the UAE in the annual SchoolsCompared.com Education Awards 2019-20. We said then, that If it had offered the Career-related Programme for its students it very may well have won. We also said that Outstanding school status was being held back by its limited Post-16 curriculum.

In 2020 we wrote:

“Our uncomfortable summary? For the right child, very (very) highly recommended.”

In 2021 we write:

This is an outstanding school for all children. Full stop. Schools in the UAE do not come better.

And we are absolutely delighted to do so.

Bottom line? “Wow!” does not even come close …..

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 SchoolsCompared.com in association with our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features 2020
Very Good with Outstanding features (2019)

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Very Good with Outstanding features

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good and Outstanding features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA

Rating FS

Outstanding

Rating Primary / Elementary

Very Good

Rating Secondary / Middle

Very Good - Outstanding

Rating Post 16 / High

Very Good

Type of school

Private for-profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2020-21

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 63,447
FS2: 63,447
YEAR 1: 74,021
YEAR 2: 74,021
YEAR 3: 79,308
YEAR 4: 79,308
YEAR 5: 79,308
YEAR 6: 79,308
YEAR 7: 84,596
YEAR 8: 84,596
YEAR 9: 84,596
YEAR 10: 90,940
YEAR 11: 90,940
YEAR 12: 95,946
YEAR 13: 95,946

Curriculum

National Curriculum of England:
EYFS
IGCSE
International Baccalaureate World School accredited:
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Note: No International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme

External Exam Boards

Cambridge International
International Baccalaureate

IB DipM Pass Rate

100%

IB DipM Average Grade

37.1% (Algorithm) to 40% (Internally Assessed) (2020)

Number of A Levels offered

8 plus two Level 3 BTEC

A Levels offered

English
Mathematics
Business Studies
Economics
Sports Science
Biology
Geography
Psychology

The school already offers BTEC options in:

BTEC Business
BTEC Leisure and Tourism

A Level A* to A

Phased launch

A Level A* to C

Phased launch

IGCSE A* to C

99% (2018)

IGCSE A* to A

65% (2018)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

22+

I/GCSEs offered

English language
English literature
Mathematics
Additional Mathematics
Double Science
Triple Science
Computer Science
History
Geography
World Languages
Arabic
Islamic Education
Economics
Business Studies
Drama
Music
Physical Education
GCSE Art & Design - Fine Art
GCSE Art & Design - Photography
IGCSE Design & Technology - Graphic Products
IGCSE Design & Technology - Resistant Materials
IGCSE Food Technology

Selective

Yes

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1524
1900 Capacity

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:11 (KHDA verified)
Note:
Nord Anglia claim 1:10

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

7% (extremely low)

Year opened

2014

Location

Al Barsha, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Nord Anglia Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0)4 2199 913

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

80%

Attainment Sec SEM

93.3%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

80%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

80%

Progress Sec SEM

80%

Progress Post-16 SEM

80%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

30%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

40%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

50%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

50%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

NA

Leadership

80%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

79.3%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

80%

SEN Provision

79.3%

Strengths

• Targeted provision for the academically gifted child, and, as of 2021, for all children with new BTEC and A' Level streams
• Elite school standard infrastructure, academic, extra-curricular and sporting
• Nord Anglia reputation for academic excellence and proven programmes and leadership
• International Baccalaureate World School accreditation
• Juilliard developed performing arts programme integrated within the education of all children with targeted development of the gifted child in music, drama and dance
• Outstanding provision across the Creative Arts
• Nord Anglia is widely considered a bench mark for new schools in the UAE in terms of how it opened - on time, and running at high performance
• Very strong focus on soft skills critical for young adults graduating to university and industry
• IB Diploma scholarship programme - if you are committed to Nord Anglia but are struggling, do contact the school.
• Small class sizes between 1:10 and 1:11
• A' Level and BTEC options at Sixth Form
• Very strong focus on meeting the needs of students talented in Sport
• Outstanding ROI if you can afford the fees.
• Outstanding communications - equals the best of any school in the UAE

Weaknesses

• No International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme/technical stream pathway - yet?
• Expensive.
• Would like to see the outstanding strength of the school in the Creative Arts reflected in A Level and BTEC options in the years to come.

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
A+
A-
Value
A
B
ExtraCurricula
A+
B+
Languages
A+
A
Sports
A+
B-
Arts & Drama
A+
A
Teaching
A+
A-
Communications
A+
B
Warmth
A+
A-
Differentiation
A+
A
SEND Provision
A-
B+
Scl Community
A+
B
Scl Facilities
A+
B+
Opportunities

An outstanding school that justifies its place within the elite Tier 1 premium schools in the UAE, Nord Anglia has a recognized history in supporting academically gifted children. That it has achieved so much, so quickly is absolutely remarkable.

The Juilliard Performing Arts programme has the potential to lead performing arts provision within the UAE and provides a natural home for gifted child in music, drama and dance.

As of 2021, with a strong commitment to A' Level and BTEC now in place, Nord Anglia, overnight, has become the school to benchmark.

Outstanding PLUS.

A+
Our Rating
B+
User Rating
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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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