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West Yas Academy, Yas West, Yas Island – The Review 2022
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West Yas Academy – background and location

Launched in September 2016, West Yas Academy, situated, perhaps unsurprisingly, in Yas West, is the first school to have adopted the American curriculum in the Aldar Academies network. West Yas Academy was the second major school to open on Yas Island after SABIS International School situated in Yas East. The school is one of Aldar Education’s Tier 1 Premium ‘Academy, schools and the group as a whole today has grown into one of the UAE’s leading providers of private education with over 20,000 students across a network of eight Academies and Aldar Education partner and stand-alone schools. Aldar Education established its first school in the Emirates, The Pearl Academy, in 2007 – a school ranked Outstanding by ADEK (Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge), the Abu Dhabi regulator of schools.

West Yas Academy is a kindergarten to Grade 12, mixed co-educational US curriculum school and follows the Massachusetts State Curriculum (a first for the Emirates), arguably the most highly regarded and successful public school curriculum in the United States. The Massachusetts Curriculum draws on a rich history of academic excellence and rigor, and has historically benefited from proximity to and interaction with higher education institutions including both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Historically, the curriculum was established by a coalition of three major schools and universities in 1952: Lawrenceville School, Phillips Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy with the support of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Graduates of West Yas Academy are awarded the American High School Diploma, the globally recognised standard qualification for entry into US universities and colleges. More on the impact and prestige of the Massachusetts State Curriculum (“Massachusetts tops all other states with the highest percentage of top-ranked public high schools”) can be found here.

West Yas Academy, today (June 2022), is ranked by ADEK as a High Performing, Good School with Very Good features, particularly in its personal and social development of children, the care for students demonstrated across every aspect of school life, stand-out progress and attainment of children in KG phases, very high quality breadth and quality of facilities and resources – and the warm and genuinely two-way relationship with parents. We anticipate a new inspection imminently. EDSTATICATM, the independent data metrics organisation, ranks West Yas Academy in the “Top 5 of all US curriculum schools in the capital” with “approximately 9 in 10 parents recommending the school without qualification.”

Photograph of students at West Yas Academy in Yas Islan in Abu Dhabi. The school is an Aldar Education school and one of its premium Tier 1 Academy schools. Offering an American curriculum, here we see students engaged in Art projects based on contemporary US literature and political science.

West Yas Academy students engaged in an Art project exploring contemporary themes in US cultural and political life. The broader investment in the whole child curriculum is a strong feature of the school, which follows closely the Massachusetts state standards. Investment in American trained teachers is another feature of the school’s commitment to Tier 1 educational delivery and ethics.

West Yas Academy is located on a landmark 14.4 acre site in the heart of Yas Island, often regarded as “the entertainment capital of Abu Dhabi”, a major hub for the broader Arts  and culture in Abu Dhabi including Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Etihad Arena, Yas Mall (literally on the door step), Yas Marina Formula 1®Circuit and the new Warner Brothers Theme Park. A large Sea World  Aquarium is close to completion (2022) – more on this here. The area is resolutely family-friendly and driven.

Aldar Education West Yas Academy is the hub school for West Yas Island in Abu Dhabi - a major cultural and sports centre for the capital

The school is very well positioned as the hub school for West Yas, with close proximity to the mainland, attractions and major communities:

Outline location map of West Yas Academy on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi showing proximity to the main land.


Map with Directions to West Yas Academy Abu Dhabi - an Aldar Education US curriculum school.

West Yas Academy currently educates around 973 children of its eventual 1500 capacity through KG to Grade 12.


School Timings and Age Groups

The school day begins for all students at 7:45 AM. Students may arrive at school from 7:30 AM. Kindergarten students finish their school day at 2:45 PM. Elementary and Middle school students finish at 3:00 PM. High School students complete timetabled lessons at 3:00 PM and may choose to study additional Electives or participate in ECA activities until 4:30 PM.

The minimum age for entry to KG1 is three years, eight months on the 1st of September (or four years old by the following 1st January). Grade 9 to 12 High School graduation is for students between 15 and 18 years of age.


Fees and ROI – 2022-2023

Year Group School Fees Per Annum Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
KG1 – KG2 52,470 20,988 15,741 15,741
Grade 1 – Grade 5 54,530 21,812 16,359 16,359
Grade 6 – Grade 8 58,650 23,460 17,595 17,595
Grade 9 – Grade 12 63,280 25,312 18,984 18,984

To put some context to the ROI on offer with these fees it is worth noting:

(1) The investment in significant subject breadth and innovation within the Tier 1 Massachusetts Curriculum

(2) Rare provision of Post-16 Advanced Placement and High School Diploma qualification.

(3) Outstanding facility provision and investment in technology and whole child infrastructure

(4) Meaningful Taaleem accreditation of the High School Diploma backed by highly regraded accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Not all High School Diploma qualifications awarded in the UAE are of this high quality.

(5)  Low teacher turnover at around 12%, demonstrative of the commitment of faculty

(6) Taaleem not-for-profit ethical framework – all profits are reinvested in Taaleem schools.

(7) Significant investment in teachers and school leadership. More than 1 in 3 teachers are British, American or Canadian. 1 in five teachers are recruited from Ireland. Remaining teachers are internationally drawn with recruitment distributed across Australasia, the Arabic world and South Africa. School leadership is British:

“People, pedagogy and place – are the special foundations that make a WYA education unique. Our teachers are highly-qualified international specialists. We recruit only the very best and invest in constant training and development for our staff.”

Steve Lewis. Principal. West Yas Academy.

On this basis we rank ROI for parents and the effective practical value of the fees when set again its offer as Outstanding+/very high.


School Leadership

Photograph of Steve Lewis, Principal of Aldar Education's West Yas Academy in Abu Dhabi - a US curriculum school following Massachusetts state standards.

Principal Steve Lewis, who took up his post in January 2022, brings to West Yas Academy more than three decade’s global experience as an educator and school leader, latterly as Principal of Oeiras International School (2019-2021) in Lisbon, Portugal, a non-selective IB World School not-for-profit recognised for its specialism in STEM and entrepreneurship. Prior to this Mr Lewis led Cairo English School (2017-2019), the ESOL Education British school offering a dual stream IB Diploma/A Level pathway education at Sixth Form. ESOL Education is best known in the UAE for its IB World, Fairgreen International School in Dubai, which is a pioneer in STEM based environmental science, and both the American International School in Abu Dhabi and Dunecrest American School in Abu Dhabi. Prior this, Mr Lewis led Nord Anglia Education’s British School of Beijing for four years (2013 – 2017).

A chemist by original training (Leicester), Mr Lewis went on to study for his PGCSE and specialism in Science (Leicester) and Masters in Educational Leadership (Bath). An accreditation visitor for the Council of International Schools, NEASC and MSA, specialisms include curriculum management, teacher development, emerging technologies and entrepreneurialism.

Mr Lewis explains how he brings this STEM and broader whole child focus to West Yas Academy:

“We aren’t bound to an old-fashioned, restrictive syllabus.

At West Yas Academy we develop aptitudes and abilities in the usual broad range of disciplines but also specialise in creative technologies such as Engineering, Computing, Robotics, Electronics, and Art.

Our students learn calculus but also cookery, English but also entrepreneurship.”

Mr Lewis has been married for 15 years and has two children in secondary school.


Commitment to child happiness

Photograph of a happy child and teacher working together to solve a problem at KG phase at West Yas Academy in Abu Dhabi

The commitment to deliver a happy education for every childhood begins from KG1 and cascade through every phase to graduation in Grade 12.

The happiness of each child is placed centre stage within the ethical and operational foundations of school life.

To ensure child happiness the school has a strong focus on personal development and the whole child, one stand-out feature of school life recognised by ADEK.

To achieve this, the school leverages a House System, tellingly rooted in the colours of the UAE flag (Onyx, Diamond, Ruby, Emerald). The House system plays an instrumental role in:

  • Creating smaller vertical communities within a larger school community
  • Encouraging team spirit
  • Increasing a sense of belonging and community
  • Creating a means to reward students for their personal achievements
  • Encouraging inter-grade level friendships
  • Supporting younger students gaining role models
  • Providing older students with a greater sense of caring and responsibility
  • Promoting a healthy sense of competition
  • Developing leadership skills

School Principal Steve Lewis told us:

“All teachers work through an understanding that every happy memory created for a child is another treasure of a lifetime.

We want our students at West Yas Academy to leave school with the foundations for a successful and happy adult life, being able to move on with confidence to further education or the work force.  We aim to equip them with the skills needed to function in the world outside of West Yas. The West Yas Way, the principles through which all life at West Yas is conducted, aims to ensure that students are able to show respect to themselves, to others and to the environment, showing pride in their achievements and the achievements of others and caring for their surroundings.

We have high expectations of the students at West Yas and hope for them to have the same high expectations of themselves.  Growth mindset is referred to regularly in lessons and students are mentored to have self-belief that if they try hard, they can achieve. For those who struggle to meet their challenges and expectations, support is put in place through interventions, scaffolded challenges, and achievable targets to continue to boost their confidence and self-belief. Extra-curricular activities aim to support and develop children in the areas that go beyond the curriculum, further enhancing their experiences of school life.

At West Yas Academy we passionately believe that our pastoral system fosters child happiness – and replicates a family environment every day for children and students at our school.”


Stand-out features

Advanced Placement class at American curriculum West Yas Academy in Abu Dhabi

Investment in STEAM subjects and the Sciences is just one of many examples of the breadth of Advanced Placement investment at West Yas Academy.

So what makes West Yas Academy stand out?

First, the West Yas Academy curriculum is further (significantly) strengthened by US College Board Advanced Placement [AP] which provides University level study in up to 37 subject areas with accreditation awarded against these courses when students enter university in Canada or the US. The critical importance of Advanced Placement provision in US schools is discussed here.  Senior students at West Yas Academy may sit for Advanced Placement examinations in May of their graduating year.

There is a reason for this. There are remarkably few pure all-through American curriculum schools in the UAE. The benchmark currently is the American School of Dubai, which, like West Yas Academy, focuses purely on graduating students with the High School Diploma and Advanced Placement.

Advanced Placement examinations open the door for West Yas students to apply to the best universities in the world globally – without any need to sit for a foundation conversion year of study. 

It’s a proven model, despite the choice of the vast majority of US schools in the UAE to partner post-16 provision with the International Baccalaureate.

Arguably West Yas Academy, with the American School of Dubai, offers a much more focused US education than its counterparts.

Parents should note that Advanced Placement is internationally (and not only in  the US)  recognised by top-tier universities as a pre-qualifier to university entrance.

West Yas Academy seeks to provide a broad spectrum of student choice drawn from the current 37 courses and exams available through the AP Program.

Advanced Placement subjects include art history; biology; calculus AB; chemistry; Chinese language and culture; Computer Science A; English language and composition; English literature and composition; environmental science; European history; French language; German language; government and politics (comparative); government and politics (US); human geography; Italian language and culture; Japanese language and culture; Latin (Vergil); macroeconomics; microeconomics; music theory; physics 1; physics 2; physics (electricity and magnetism); psychology; seminar AP Capstone 1); research (AP Capstone 2); statistics; Spanish language; Spanish literature; studio art (2D design); studio art (3D design); studio art (drawing); United States history and world history.

“Our Massachusetts curriculum is based on common core standards. West Yas Academy delivers this curriculum through the Inquiry Approach to learning. Inquiry is an effective and dynamic process where students make connections across the subject groups of Physical Science, Social Science, History, Numeracy, Literacy, The Arts and Physical Education, to know and understand the world. We also provide an emphasis on the richness of the Arabic world and its culture and history, so that children understand the context of their studies here in the UAE – a USP for university entry worldwide.

Inquiry allows the student to engage, think, create and be active in their learning and actions. It provides critical opportunities for students to investigate, pose and solve problems – and to then test and further analyse their own discoveries.

West Yas Academy offers AP (Advanced Placement) classes during the high school years. These are courses taught using university-level syllabi that can later be accredited to a degree program in US and Canadian universities (as per the liberal arts tradition) as well as opening doors to Tier 1 international university study worldwide.

The curriculum provides our students with guidance and preparation for taking the SAT (the standardized examination required by US university admissions).

Where appropriate, West Yas Academy students can take enhanced Arabic and Islamic Studies syllabi, preparing them for the unified Ministry of Education examinations.”

Second, because US university selectors places such significant weight on whole child education, Aldar is focused on further “saturating” West Yas Academy students with extra-curricular and co-curricular opportunities to balance academics with broader sport and culture provision, something that Adar’s strength in the Arabic core curriculum will also feed into:

“The West Yas core Massachusetts sets curriculum is supported by a robust emphasis on co-curricular and extra-curricular pursuits which helps foster well-rounded students.”


Facilities and Whole Child education

Children learning musical instruments at West Yas Academy

Children learning percussion as part of the whole child focused Music curriculum at West Yas Academy

Whole child provision is extensive, but stand-out in the breadth of ECA provision which includes societies and clubs in art; graphic design; photography; jewellery making; Mandarin Chinese; Spanish; Arabic calligraphy; reading; the Qu’ran; Music; choir; drama; dance; theatre and performance; cookery; football; cricket; basketball; netball; swimming; rugby; badminton; sailing and water sports; expeditions; and international award schemes More on the latest ECA options provision at West Yas Academy (2022) follows.

West Yas Academy facilities are Tier 1 and include:

Swimming pools

  • 2 large size swimming pools with changing room facilities that is suitable for every year group. Each pool is secured with doors fitted with access control system to avoid unauthorized access and pool related incident especially to unsupervised kids.

Multipurpose Sports Hall

  • A well-designed multipurpose sports hall suitable for different ball games and PE activities. As an emphasis to safety, a well fitted safety paddings are installed on walls to avoid hard impact related incidents, and a ceiling net to prevent balls hitting light fixtures that can cause falling debris accidents.

Shaded Playgrounds

  • Different sizes of shaded and soft flooring playgrounds equipped with age-appropriate play equipment that are strategically situated around the school

Astro turf pitch

  • Well maintained outdoor Astro turf pitch with standard line markings suitable for different outdoor ball games and running track and field.

School libraries

  • State of the art libraries and well stacked with reading materials suitable for each year group level as well as teaching faculty.


  • Large size classrooms equipped with the most advanced interactive whiteboard systems (2022) and age-appropriate furniture needed for teaching and learning.

Specialist rooms

  • Well designed and fully equipped dedicated centres for provision in Food Technology (“Foodtech); Art; Engineering; Music; and; Science specialisms.

School Clinic

  • 2 fully equipped school clinics which are both managed by registered and well-trained nurses who can provides basic health care support to students and school staff.

Multipurpose fitness rooms

  • Fully equipped fitness rooms including spin bikes, yoga and dance studios accessible for students and school faculty.


  • A new STEAM lab fully equipped with age-appropriate furniture and equipment.

Students cafeteria

  • Multiple cafeterias where students can enjoy nutritious foods that are freshly cooked by a trained chef in the school kitchen.

Further facilities include:

  • interactive robotics labs;
  • dedicated libraries by phase;
  • design technology centres across textiles, food and graphics;
  • art studios;
  • 3D design labs;
  • pottery studio;
  • recording studio;
  • recital hall;
  • research labs;
  • separate Senior School centre;
  • drama studio;
  • video conferencing suites;
  • shaded play areas by phase;
  • dance studio;
  • cafeterias by phase;
  • Prayer Room and access to local mosque for Muslim students
  • Astroturf playing fields;
  • black box theatre;
  • medical facility
  • Dramatic Arts auditorium capability including 500 capacity theatre AV; and,
  • multiple outdoor play areas.

A key feature of West Yas Academy architecture is provided by 9 beautiful palm filled lightwells plunged into the main school building to provide flow between classes, enhanced light to classroom areas; intimate performance space; social and cafeteria areas and outdoor class facilities.

The school has abundantly equipped music and choral rooms for vocal and instrumental lessons, along with a large auditorium and smaller black-box theatre where assemblies and dramatic performances are regularly held. Musical instrument lessons, including those in guitar, saxophone, cello, clarinet, drums, euphonium, French horn, flute, piano, recorder, trombone, trumpet, violin and viola, are available through the Academy Music Service.

STEAM subjects are delivered in specially designed practical science laboratory spaces, art, design and textile studios, as well as engineering workshops and industry standard culinary arts kitchens.

West Yas Academy also has a well-resourced and fully staffed medical clinic with qualified health professionals on duty throughout the school day.

ECA provision is extensive and includes:

  • Arabic Stories
  • Arabic Support
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Ballet
  • Basketball Squad
  • Beautification Committee
  • Board Games and Puzzles
  • Colouring
  • Drone Academy
  • Drop Everything and Read
  • FUN Fitness
  • Gymnastics
  • Islamic Stories
  • Karate
  • Lego & Construction
  • Literacy Support
  • Math Support
  • Media
  • Netball Squad
  • Quran
  • Recreational Basketball
  • Recreational Soccer
  • Rugby Club
  • Running Club
  • Set Design
  • Soccer Squads
  • Special Events Committee
  • Special Olympics Lego Robotics
  • Swim Lessons
  • Swim Squad
  • Tennis
  • Yearly Show/Production (previously Wizard of Oz)


Sport at West Yas Academy

Photograph of children at play at West Yas Academy in Abu Dhabi

Sports facilities at West Yas Academy include extensive playing fields providing for up to 20 individual sports, full-sized football pitch, basketball and netball courts. Major sports at West Yas Academy include volleyball, basketball, softball and soccer. Both the large and small playing fields have third generation AstroTurf (3G) for use in all kinds of weather. The Lower school, Middle and High School sports areas also include indoor and outdoor viewing galleries. In addition, there are two large swimming pools which allow swimming to be delivered to as a core part of the curriculum.

The breadth of sporting opportunities at the school we rate outstanding.

Physical Education lessons include student immersion in the following sports:

  • Aerobics
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Boxercise
  • Cricket
  • Cross Country
  • Dance
  • Dodgeball
  • Floor Hockey
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Health Related Fitness
  • Netball
  • Personal Survival
  • Softball
  • Spin
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Tchoukball
  • Tennis
  • Touch Rugby
  • Trampolining
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Yoga

Competitive squads at West Yas Academy include those in:

  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Netball
  • Swimming
  • Touch Rugby


ADEK Inspections 2017 – 2020

ADEK Inspection results West Yas Academy

We have kept this section very much as a historical reference. As with all new schools, on launch there were some (inevitable) teething problems. In the case of West Yas Academy, these fell in the area of senior leadership, with the school losing two Principals in quick succession over the first sixth months of the Academy opening. Aldar Education, however, building on considerable experience, stepped in quickly to establish more gradual phased opening to all-through provision – a welcome recognition of the time it inevitably takes to bed in a new school successfully. One test of  the quality of a school is the way it manages the many challenges of opening a new school – and in this case a very ambitious school to boot – and one with the considerable prestige (and pressures) of being the hub school for West Yas. Aldar met the test with considerable speed and imagination, bringing in highly accomplished leadership to build on the significant strengths of a curriculum designed ground-up to be both diverse on opportunities and stretching in academic rigour.

Positives identified by ADEC at the time of the first inspection of West Yas academy included:

  • “Very strong” partnerships between the school, parents and wider community
  • Good levels of added value attainment with children swiftly achieving above average levels of attainment across most subjects from low baseline scoring on entering the school
  • A very exciting school environment for learning with Very Good quality of faculty provision and broader resources.

Each of these features very much hold true today. As a parent, a school that recognises your importance, by both listening and engaging, delivers to the potential of your children – and exceeds it,  and being one, finally, which provides an inspirational learning environment filled to bursting with high quality facilities and learning opportunities for every child, is one providing at least the core of an outstanding education from which to build as it establishes those strengths and others.

It was evident very quickly, as Aldar Education’s first US curriculum Tier 1 Academy school, the focus on delivering here, and investment, would be serious – and it shows.

Latest inspection results in 2019 see ADEK celebrating:

  • Provision in English and Mathematics
  • School culture
  • Personal development of children
  • Relationships with parents and the broader community which is rated “very successful” in a rare example of emphasis from an Education Inspectorate sparing with its praise.
  • Care of students
  • School leadership
  • Teaching and innovation
  • Value add and attainment from an inclusive school baseline
  • Governance
  • Capacity for improvement to achieve higher grades of accreditation.
  • Investment in environmental sustainability, innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship backed by relevant whole child ECA provision.

ADEK recommendations include ratcheting up investment in both Arabic Subjects and the Gifted and Talented stream for the most able students.

We are expecting the latest ADEK [Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge] inspection results imminently (2022). Our view is that the school should achieve at least a Very Good School with Outstanding features rating. It is not inconceivable that West Yas Academy will be the first US curriculum school in the capital to achieve ADEK Outstanding School status.

West Yas Academy School Prospectus 2022

The West Yas Academy prospectus can be found below:



Testimonials – 2022-2023


“West Yas Academy is the best school for a child to come to because of its welcoming community. Students are constantly helping each other and teachers are always going above and beyond to provide us with support.

I have never personally had an issue that couldn’t be helped by someone in the school and I’m thankful for that.

On top of this sense of belonging, I also benefit from receiving outstanding teaching in amazing facilities that have developed me as a person inside and outside of the classroom.

West Yas Academy is unique because everyone is immediately friendly and you instantly feel like you have been here for years.”

Karrington Nagle, Student and Deputy Head Girl, Grade 12, West Yas Academy

“Studying at West Yas Academy gives endless opportunities for students to thrive and be creative. Teachers are always producing lessons which make students think outside of the box and learn in fun, exciting ways!

Teachers and pupils make the school feel like one big family by creating a friendly atmosphere through the House system. This makes me feel really valued and know that people are looking out for your best interests.

When I first came into West Yas Academy, I was nervous and scared to be in a new school. Something that really helped me settle was the positive, friendly approach from staff and I am sure anyone new would also receive this welcome; it is something that has stuck with me since and allowed me to get some excellent grades in my subjects.”

Noora Gasim, Student, Grade 7, West Yas Academy.

‘West Yas Academy gave me a turning point in my education and it was the reason for a great leap in my self-confidence.

Here, I have started to believe in myself despite having physical and learning disabilities.

I wasn’t afraid to read in class, participate in group discussions, and to commit mistakes because my teachers taught me that I am capable of learning the skills I need in order to attain my goals, just like any other students in my class.

In my two years at West Yas Academy, I can see a bright future is waiting for me. I didn’t see this from my old school.

WYA is unique and exceptional, and it has built me into the person I am today.’

Jawad Salti, Student, Grade 8, West Yas Academy.


“Joining WY Academy was a beautiful and professional experience.

Ffrom having the first tour of the school, to the support of the admission staff, staff at West Yas Academy have all been welcoming and assuring.

All the teachers so far have extended full support to my daughters and that has made me feel safe in my conviction that they will receive the best education and environment.”

Dr. Rasha Almarzooki. Mother of Sara Ahmed (Grade 7) Reem Ahmed (Grade 4) and Noora Ahmed (KG1)

“We have been at West Yas Academy for years. And from this experience, I can confirm that it is a great school.

The curriculum and teachers are excellent.

There are many opportunities for West Yas Academy students to be creative.

Teachers support students to implement their ideas – and share them with others.

West Yas Academy is a safe learning environment.”

Mr. Sultan Alzaidi. Father of Khalifa Alzaidi (Grade 5), Falah Alzaidi (Grade 2) and Latifa Alzaidi (KG1)

“Finding the right school for our daughter has not been easy but, once we did, the Admissions Team at WYA really helped us to ensure that the school was a right fit.

After the initial application, they guided us through a virtual personal tour, they arranged interviews with all parties concerned and helped us gather all the supporting documentation for the complete application package.

Prompt communication and patience have been the key, and we truly thank the Admissions Team for that.”

Mrs.Argero Brunella.  Mother of Uma Rizzi (Grade 11)

West Yas Academy felt like home from ‘Day One’ when we set foot on its magnificent campus.

Aldar Academies have successfully created an amazing learning institution – and one with a family atmosphere.

Our children learn in a secure and caring environment.

The school meets all their social and educational needs.

Year after year, the West Yas Academy teachers and staff display true professionalism.

Creativity in learning and professional care and attention to students and parents alike.

What more can you ask for?

Dr. Deena Elsori. Mother of Khaled Abdallah (Grade 8) and Faris Abdallah (Grade 2)


West Yas Academy bottom line? The SchoolsCompared verdict 2022

What we have here is a rare school focused on a single, very attractive core curriculum proposition – delivering a genuine, all through – and happy, American curriculum education strengthened with the outstanding, globally recognised, university pre-qualification: Advanced Placement. There is absolutely no Post-16 muddle here with alternative IB, or indeed A’ Level, graduating streams. Nor is there the restrictive focus on the High School Diploma seen at so many less ambitious US curriculum schools.

We must add to this Aldar Academies proven – and quite extraordinarily accomplished, ability deliver ADEK Outstanding schools. This is no mean feat: ADEK demands are very considerable and it awards Outstanding School status very rarely and deliberately. What this means is that we have a school here with real, quantifiable and historically benchmarked potential.

There is everything here for a remarkable, very rare, pure-flow American curriculum school in the years to come – and one with all the benefits of inclusion, commitment to local context and languages (as valuable for international families as local ones in our view) – and outstanding investment in faculty and leadership that Aldar delivers as a matter of course in its DNA.

Aldar’s promise- and delivery, of the Emirate’s first Massachusetts curriculum, set in combination with the academically stretching, high cache university-grade dynamics of the Advanced Placement [AP] programme – and saturated whole-child cultural extra/co-curricular programmes, set a new benchmark for American education in the capital.  This is certainly a unique school in Abu Dhabi, as well as being one that strengthens an area of provision not served well currently in the UAE as a whole.

That this comes with a genuinely inclusive, open intake – something that goes to the heart of Aldar Education’s ethical focus, with all its implied added value; a fee structure that undercuts the top-end ultra-premium sector by more than 25%; happy school dynamics; and, Aldar’s proven history, means that prospective parents of Yas West Academy have something genuinely unique in West Yas Academy with so much promise, and now history, of delivering at a very high level for all children.

We also think, in the context of global events, that it is creditable that the school currently welcomes three students from the Ukraine (2022).

New school Principal, Steve Lewis (January 2022), also promises further transformation and building on the school’s strengths. Deeply committed to breadth of curriculum offer, and recognising the many different needs of children, nevertheless he is set on ratcheting up STEM delivery, focus on the Sciences – and, in our view most inspirationally, a driving focus on entrepreneurship, creativity and development of ideas into commercial practice.

If we compare West Yas with the very differently phenomenal American School of Dubai, its closes curriculum counterpart, if albeit one in a different emirate, differences are legion. The American School of Dubai does not comfortably recognise Arabic subjects, for example, or provide the level of commitment to inclusion that comes with the territory here – and at an outstanding level. These are where Aldar Education’s strengths and ethics shine and fire a school with its own very different and extraordinary strengths for children.

It’s an intoxicating and inspirational mix of ambition, achievement and possibility.

Fabulous – and very highly recommended.

© 2022. All rights reserved.

Further Information

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Visit the official West Yas Academy web site here. 

Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

High performing, Good with Very Good features (2019- 2020)

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good Features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating


Type of school

Private, not-for-profit
[Note: Aldar Education's Academy schools share many of the features of not-for-profit school as all profits are re-invested into the developments of its schools and facilities]

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

KG1: 52,470
KG2: 52,470
YEAR 1: 54,530
YEAR 2: 54,530
YEAR 3: 54,530
YEAR 4: 54,530
YEAR 5: 54,530
YEAR 6: 58,650
YEAR 7: 58,650
YEAR 8: 58,650
YEAR 9: 61,500
YEAR 10: 63,280
YEAR 11: 63,280
YEAR 12: 63,280


American High School Diploma
Advanced Placement [AP]

External Exam Boards

Massachusetts State Curriculum
College Board
NEASC candidate school

IB DipM Pass Rate

NA - West Yas delivers the High School Diploma with Advanced Placement

IB DipM Average Grade

NA - West Yas delivers the High School Diploma with Advanced Placement

Number of A Levels offered


A Levels offered


A Level A* to A


A Level A* to C



No (fully, unambiguously inclusive).
(1) West Yas Academy does not require any extra cost for students of determination. However, parents are responsible for all additional costs for accessing specialist extra help if required, such as an inclusion assistant, speech/ occupational/behavioural therapy.
(2) Children with determination are NEVER siloed. All children are educated together.

Waiting list


Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1500 capacity
973 students (July 2022)
[270 students (April 2017)]

Teacher to Student Ratio

Average: 1:11
1:13 (KG/FS)
1:8 (Year 1+)
Classes at older phases capped to a maximum of 24 students.

Largest nationality teachers


Teacher turnover

12% (2020-21) - very low by UAE standards
[8% (2017-18) - very low by UAE standards]

Year opened



Yas West, Yas Island

Student composition

Emirati (largest nationality)
Around 6% of students are drawn from the US.
Around 3% of students are drawn from Europe including GB
Around 2% of students are drawn from South Africa
Around 1% of students are drawn from Australasia


Mixed, co-educational until Grade 5 when students are separate by gender

School canteen



Aldar Academies

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Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)


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Quality of teaching


Student personal responsibility


Quality of curriculum


School Governance


SEN Provision



• Massachusetts State curriculum – backed by development links with Harvard and MIT
• Innovative US College Board Advanced Placement [AP] university-school hybrid academic dynamics
• Aldar Academies’ ADEK A1 heritage
• Saturated extra/co-curricular whole child focus
Aldar Education Tier 1 premium "Academy" status and support
• Architectural design maximizing light and ‘warmth’ of school
• High ROI fee-structure relative to Tier 1 ultra-premiums
• Inclusive entrance with implied high added value multiplier
• Perfectly sited as an educational, Tier 1 hub for the communities of Yas West


• Maybe too off-pitch for many prospective parents outside Yas Island
• Currently the only American curriculum school for parents set on an Aldar Academies’ education
• No current Scholarship or Bursary provision we think that all Outstanding schools should be transparently providing both.

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• A school that has developed as a benchmark for American curriculum based whole child education in the capital, offering an outstanding mix of whole child cultural dynamics with an academically rigorous, adventurous, innovative and inspiring university/school hybrid AP based curriculum.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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