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The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen – The Review 2021
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Background – The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi; location and Opening. 

The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi is a new Spanish curriculum school which opened in September 2020. The school has been purpose built ground up and is located on Al Faye Street in the heart of Al Bateen. The school has already attracted a plethora of Spanish Families with around 30% of the school role made up by Spanish children.

Map for parents to arrive at the Spanish School of Abi Dhabi 2021

The school is the first Spanish curriculum school in the UAE. Whilst it is difficult to be precise, it is estimated that the Spanish population of the UAE numbers around 20,000 individuals of which around 8,000 live in Abu Dhabi. For families seeking a genuine Spanish curriculum education the opening of the schools will be something of a godsend.

 

Curriculum

The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi has opened with Nursery to Grade 6, but the school plans to open to all-through provision by gradually opening year groups each year.

The Ley Orgánica de Educación sets out the legal requirement to educate children in Spain between the age of six years and 16 years. Primary education (primaria) lasts six years, this  followed by four years of compulsory secondary education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria or ESO). At the end of this period children receive their Certificate of Education. Students receive vocational technical stream training at secondary level within the structure of the curriculum. .

FOS-In-Article-safa

The four stages of the curriculum are:

  • Nursery and preschool (educación infantil) – optional
  • Primary (educación or escuela primaria) – compulsory [Primer ciclo – age 6–8 years, Segundo ciclo – 8–10 years, Tercer ciclo – 10–12 years]
  • Compulsory secondary education (educación secundaria obligatoria)
  • Upper secondary education (bachillerato) – optional

The Primary curriculum focuses on Spanish language and literature, Mathematics, the natural and social science (including history, geography and biology), the Arts, a foreign language and physical education. All pupils have daily reading time.

After primary school, students enter secondary education (Educación Secundaria Obligatoria) between the ages of 12 and 16. Secondary education is divided between education for those between 12 and 14 years, and that for students between 14 and 16 years. Both programmes offer a mix of core subjects and options. Core topics include Spanish language and literature, Mathematics, geography, history, a foreign language and physical education.

The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi has yet to define its curriculum for older students but options will generally include music, technology, natural and social sciences, languages, visual arts and social studies.

Completion of Secondary School results in the awarding of the Graduado en Educación Secundaria, the pre-requisite qualification to continue studies toward the bachillerato. In Spain this is not compulsory, but is required for university entry. The Bachillerato certificate requires a full two years of further study, taking students to age 18.

Academic performance is formally measured and benchmarked against Spanish National Assessment.

 

Fees

Fees at the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi fall in the borders of mid-tier-premium. This is justified, we believe, on the basis of the heavy investment in a purpose built new school and the absolute lack of any alternative. Parents who can afford the fees are promised an education that will allow a seamless return to the Spanish educational system when they return home – no other alternative curriculum can do this. Whilst not published, we would expect fees to top AED 60K in later years based on equivalent fee structures elsewhere in the emirate. Parents should seek clarification from the school for clarity. As the school develops its plans we will update our review. Published fees to Grade 6 reach AED 37,000.

Fees are inclusive excepting text books, this pretty standard across the emirate’s private schools.

Fees 2021-22 AED
Preschool (Nursery, KG1 and KG2) 35,500
Elementary 37,500
Textbooks Preschool 800 (Pre-KG) 1,000 (KG1 and KG2)
Textbooks Elementary 1, 500
Registration fees (adjusted against tuition fees) 1,000
Administrative fee (non-refundable) 500

Teaching

The school currently employs around ten highly experienced faculty employed directly from the Spanish Mainland. These are supported by Arabic and Support Teachers to teach the Arabic subjects curriculum and provide focus for SEND and EAL. The teacher:student ratio of around 1:10 in KG and 1:6 in the Elementary School we rate outstanding. Classes currently have no more than ten students school wide – and the school has committed to permanently capping KG provision to ten students and later provision to just 15 students.

The impact? This is an extraordinarily warm, very small scale school  with all the intimacy and attention to children individually that comes with the very best community schools.

As the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi grows, we would expect it to retain this approach to highly individualised learning.

 

Facilities

Photographic render of facilities at the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi.

Facilities include:

  • 43 digital-ready classrooms – Apple School certified.
  • Auditorium (for Performing Arts and School Assemblies)
  • Sports facilities

 

Bottom Line? The SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2021

The Spanish School of Abu Dhabi has been championed by our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor, rightly in our view, for providing Spanish parents (as well as the many expat Latin American families) in Abu Dhabi with a school that they can call home.

In an age where it seems so many schools have opened without a clearly defined sense of purpose, here is a school that steadfastly knows its mission – to deliver an outstanding Spanish curriculum education for families in Abu Dhabi who previously had to fall back on schools that never quite made the grade. It is also a testament to the school that its warmth and inspired leadership has attracted families from many nationalities – all inspired the very gentle approach to learning so characteristic of Spanish education. With debates questioning about the fitness for purpose of schools still hung up on various forms of excessive rote learning and examinations, the Spanish School of Abu Dhabi plays a much more balanced hand – placing child happiness, innovation and gradual learning before hothouse indoctrination.

Small classes and community school dynamics, high investment in new purpose built infrastructure, commitment to technology – and an inspirational commitment to delivering a pure celebration of the joy of Spanish curriculum schooling – all these rsult in a school with so much potential.

This is a school that so many families had to make do with dreaming about. Today those dreams are made real with the first Spanish School in the UAE.

This can only be a first looks review, given the very young age of the school – but what has been achieved in such a small space of time is creditable.

We wish the school well.

© SchoolsCompared.com. All rights reserved. 2021

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

NA - New school in phased launch

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA - New school in phased launch

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA - New school in phased launch

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA - New school in phased launch

Rating FS

To be published 2022

Rating Primary / Elementary

To be published 2022

Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Nursery/Pre K: AED 35,500
KG1: AED 35,500
KG2: AED 35,500
Year 1: AED 37,500
Year 2: AED 37,500
Year 3: AED 37,500
Year 4: AED 37,500
Year 5: AED 37,500
Year 6: AED 37,500
Year 7:
Year 8:
Year 9:
Year 10:
Year 11:
Year 12:

Curriculum

National Curriculum of Spain

Selective

Fully, unambiguously inclusive

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Capacity 1200 (TBC)
Current role: Circa 90 students (February 2021)

Teacher to Student Ratio

KG: 1:10 (Capped at 10 children)
Elementary: 1:6 (Capped at 15 children)

Largest nationality teachers

Spanish

Teacher turnover

NA

Year opened

September 2020

Location

Al Bateeen, Abu Dhabi

Student composition

Spanish/ Emirati largest nationalities
10 nationalities total (February 2021)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

Admissions Telephone

+971 23101888

Web Address
Strengths

• First Spanish curriculum school in the UAE.
• Hugely committed owners and school leadership.
• Benchmark for small class sizes.
• Rigorous delivery of the Spanish Curriculum.
• Gradual opening with the opening of later years phased gradually.
• Opportunity to shape the dynamics of a new school.
• Very small community school dynamics.

Weaknesses

• All new schools have teething issues and need time to bed-in provision.

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A valuable school for Spanish and Latin American families seeking a Spanish curriculum school in Abu Dhabi. Few thought it would happen – but in the UAE those of little faith in the supposedly impossible generally end up being surprised. We wish the school every success – there is absolutely no doubt about the commitment of the owners, school leadership and teaching faculty to delivering an outstanding education for every child. On a secondary note, we are pleased to see our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor, working so hard to celebrate this school's opening. It absolutely deserves it.

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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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