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Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, Nad Al Sheba 3 – The 2018 Review
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Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, Nad Al Sheba 3 – The 2018 Review

by October 9, 2018
Details to consider
2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good with Very Good features

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating


2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating


Rating FS

Very Good

Rating Primary / Elementary

Very Good

Rating Secondary / Middle


Rating Post 16 / High


Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2019-20

Full WSA Review

(1) All applicants will sit a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) [Years 3-6] and produce a piece of creative writing. Students will require around two hours to complete the assessment. For overseas applicants, this can be arranged at their current school.
(2) CATs include Verbal, Non-verbal, Quantitative and Spatial reasoning multiple choice questions, in a series of small timed tests.
(3) The creative writing will be based on a choice of topics provided on the day [Years 1+]
(4) To qualify for an offer at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, applicants will be required to demonstrate a good level of academic potential, with a CAT score above the required threshold appropriate to their age.
(5) Kings' welcomes applications from children with Dyslexia. Applications should include their most recent Educational Psychologist's report and IEP.
(6) Kings' accepts children with Special Education Needs [SEN] and provides Shadow teacher support if required though the number of places is limited
(7) Although Kings' does NOT generally offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language, it does accept children with English as a Second Language [EAL] provided other test results (CATIV) show that the child is academically able. Kings' Nad Al Sheba is more open to EAL stating it will offer support "to a certain extent", subject to "requiring children to have a sufficient understanding of English to be able to follow instructions and engage successfully in school life."
(8) FS selection will involve play based observational assessments grading communication, interaction and the ability to follow instructions

Attainment Nur SEM


Attainment Pri SEM


Attainment Sec SEM


Attainment Post-16 SEM


Progress Nur SEM


Progress Pri SEM


Progress Sec SEM


Progress Post-16 SEM


Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)


Arabic Secondary Results (Native)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)


Arabic Primary Results (Add.)


Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)


Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)


Islamic St. Primary Results


Islamic St. Secondary Results


Islamic St. Post-16 Results








Quality of teaching


Student personal responsibility


Quality of curriculum


School Governance


SEN Provision



• Breadth and quality of facilities
• New school leadership deeply committed to the school and with expertise in technology, coding and Mathematics
• Scholarship and bursary programme
• Committed owners
• Focused preparatory-only schooling for academically gifted children
• Dedicated, specialised dyslexia support
• On-going generous discount scheme for Emirates staff
• Subsidised transport
• Technology focus
• Good ROI


• Inherent teething problems of a new school in launch phases

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• Impressively ambitious with every possible foundation in place to be a benchmark for outstanding Tier 1 premium prep school provision
• Possibility of eventual all-through IB Diploma focused education in the years to come

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Updated October 2018 – Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba new Principal and 2018 KHDA Inspection results

“At Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba we pride ourselves on our innovative approach to teaching and learning. Our students benefit from being educated by a talented, reflective, dedicated and a caring team of professionals. We provide a warm, friendly and supportive environment where students learn together in an atmosphere that is conducive to high-quality learning.

In keeping with our school values, ‘The Best By Every Child’ and ‘Results the Right Way’, we foster a true sense of belonging.

We place great emphasis on our school’s values. We encourage our children to take pride in themselves and their learning and to aspire to succeed in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.

Our teaching focuses on developing the skills and values that will enable our students to become thinking, informed and confident people, able to meet the international challenges of the 21st century.”

Kate Fuller. Principal. Kings’ Dubai Nad Al Sheba.


“Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is more than an outstanding school – it stands for something – and stands out. We have created a home for learning that achieves for children beyond outstanding academics, as vital as they are. Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is a place in which children learn in the fullest sense – and find their own purpose. It is a very special school that crafts an education through imagination and discovery – and one that makes its own powerful and distinct contribution within the Kings’ group of Tier 1 British schools.”

Darren Gale. Former Principal. Kings School. Nad Al Sheba.


Prospective parents should read the following with reviews of Kings’ School Dubai, here, and Kings’ School Al Barsha, here.

Kings’ Education in the emirates comprises three schools:

Kings’ Nad Al Sheba [KNAS]: an FS1 to Year 6 English National Curriculum preparatory school with planned eventual phased launch to provide the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Kings’ Dubai [KD]: the KHDA Outstanding founding FS1 to Year 6 English National Curriculum preparatory school located in Umm Suqeim 3 and established in 2004

King’s Al Barsha [KAB]: the Kings’ all-through English National Curriculum school offering RSA Opening Minds structured provision through (I)GCE O’ and GCE A’ Level. The school is the current secondary slipstream for both Kings’ Dubai and Kings’ Nad Al Sheba preparatory schools. Like Kings’ Nad Al Sheba, the school was established in September 2014.

Kings’ Nad Al Sheba, in our view, is a school in the final stages of its launch phase.

Minor finishing touches are ongoing – and the original aim for the school to offer an all-through education culminating in the International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBDP] has, at least in the medium term, been shelved. As it stands, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is modeling itself as a premium, tier 1 British preparatory school on the template of its KHDA Outstanding founding sibling, Kings’ Dubai – but very much with its own unique character.

Kings’ Nad al Sheba offers a bespoke British, English National Curriculum based education currently in phased launch for children between FS and Year  6. The 1.3 million square feet, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba campus, currently offers only Foundation and Primary with a total capacity of 950 students between 3 and 11 years of age. The curriculum is significantly different to the standard EYFS/primary UK education approach dominant in the sector elsewhere in the emirates. Kings’ NAS adopts a much more holistic, concept-based learning approach modeled on the RSA Opening Minds structure that is further developed and strengthened in its all-through sister school in Al Barsha which currently acts as the slipstream for Kings’ NAS Pupils from Year 7.

The investment at Nad Al Sheba is significant, some $27 million on the last calculation made available to us.

The school is modeled extremely closely on Kings’ Dubai and Kings’ Al Barsha. The aim is to replicate the extraordinary success of the former – one of the Emirates’ highest rated schools, and the only school in Dubai to have achieved an Outstanding ranking from the KHDA for nine years in a row – since Dubai’s regulator began inspections. Expectations for Kings’ Nad Al Sheba are as a result extremely high.

Our review of Kings’ Dubai can be found here.

Our review of the slipstream, Kings’ Al Barsha, can be found here.

Prospective parents should note that as with all Kings’ schools, intake at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba is academically selective at all phases. Depending on the individual child, a selective, academically focused school can help or hinder an education, something that depends on a plethora of individual circumstances including each child’s personality, how they are driven – and so on. However good a school in general terms – as this one certainly is, nothing should distract from the importance of visiting a school and working out with admissions staff, and ideally both subject teachers and the Principal, the particular fit of any school to your child(ren).

All three schools share an architectural and learning identity and facilities across each are Tier 1 premium – and outstanding.

At Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, on completion of its ambitious building programmes, these include a fully digital campus; separate Primary and FS phase buildings; (attractive) under-stair majlis area focused on instilling linkages between the school and the Emirati culture that provides its context; a landmark auditorium and theatre with staging, sound and full production set-up; dedicated ICT suite; Apple TV equipped classrooms; extensive landscaped indoor and outside play areas tailored to the different phase need of Foundation and Primary School children; library with meeting, learning and ICT provision; integrated break-out spaces immediately outside all classrooms offering fee-flow diversity to learning delivery in breaking down the distinctions between interior and exterior space; medical clinic and a fabulous Parent’s cafeteria to build both school and intra-parental community links to the benefit of children.

Following our visit to Kings’ School Nad Al Shebal in April 2017 we found a school that may well be something of a hidden jewel in the crown for parents set on a Kings’ Education. The background, for parents seeking a place at Kings’ founding Dubai school, is the almost unsurmountable hurdle of securing a place at one of the most over-subscribed, and much loved, schools in the Emirates. The launch of two further Kings’ schools has created capacity to respond and we found at the Nad Al Sheba campus a real gem – a school firing on all cylinders and in an evolutionary phase of development in which parents and children have an opportunity to pioneer a role in the school’s evolution. For parents, most importantly, the school offers all the cache of a Kings’ education, follows its academic model and, as of April 2017, has capacity and places.

The elephant in the room is… location. The issues, for many parents, are of course simple logistics – getting to Nad Al Sheba, and the additional cost of travel, which does effectively, and unavoidably, inflate the total cost of fees. Its location, adjacent to Repton Dubai, is very much an up and coming education hub for the region – but clearly does not enjoy the easy accessibility of Kings Dubai or Kings’ Al Barsha.

We have timed travel journeys from various parts of the Emirates – and the reality are journey times from from Arabian Ranches, Silicon Oasis, the Jumeriah Village Triangle and Circle, Dubai Marina,  Mirdiff and Dubai Downtown of a maximum 30 minutes’ drive even allowing for traffic. More significantly, the school operates one of the most generous transport schemes in the Emirates. The scheme, which is guaranteed until 2019, offers a fixed price transfer, door-to-door, for a fixed price of 4500 AED per student. This makes the costs of transport, for parents with one child at the school, pretty much on a par with driving costs at most other commutable schools – but without any of the the hurdles and pressures of the school commute. Even for local schools these can be, at the least, significant.

There is a further incentive for families enrolled at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, and one surprisingly not well publicised. It is the only school in the group offering subsidised places for siblings. These run to between 5% and 15% depending on the number of siblings. The school also enjoys partnerships with Emirates Airlines and the Aviation Professionals Club (APC) which can see further significant financial benefits for eligible families.

The bottom line here then is that it is possible, at least as of October 2018, to secure a Kings’ Education in Dubai, and at comparative costs. It should be noted that the lower costs in the founding school in some years simply follow from the older facilities. Both the Al Barsha and Nad Al Sheba schools are brand new, Tier 1 schools and the differential is significantly less than that you would find in equivalent new schools from GEMS, for example. New schools inevitably command a premium.

Kings’ School
Al Barsha Annual School Fees (AED)
Kings’ School
Nad Al Sheba Annual School Fees (AED)
Kings’ School
Dubai Annual School Fees (AED)
Foundation Stage 150,20050,20040,777
Foundation Stage 250,20050,20040,777
Year 152,50052,50051,419
Year 252,50052,50051,419
Year 357,20057,20051,419
Year 459,00059,00051,419
Year 563,70063,70062,058
Year 663,70063,70062,058

It should be noted that existing Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba fees are discounted against their KHDA agreed fees offering high ROI even on these limited terms.

We do think that there is a strong argument for extending the Kings’ scholarship programme, which offers up to 50% fee remission for outstanding students, to a broader bursary programme for lower years as it is, in its current variant, only available to students from Year 7. This said, we always advise parents to speak with each school frankly about fees. There can be nothing lost from speaking candidly with schools about each family’s individual circumstances. Sometimes, for British families at least, typical British reservation about discussing finances really can get in the way – and Dubai’s best schools are usually very approachable and kind in looking at individual circumstances – for the right child.

If finance and location are the elephants in the room, what of the education on offer? Does it stack up well against the founding Kings’ school?

First, the school’s former Head, Darren Gale and new Principal, Mrs Kate Fuller. The Principal of a school does make a difference. Are they there for the long haul? Do they really care? Is there a genuine personal investment? Are they ambitious for children? Is there something on the line for them in making a school work? Are they inspirational? Charismatic? Can they make waves, when necessary, with owners when part of a larger group? Are they qualified? Do they have the respect of their teams? Do they engage with parents? And the children they are responsible for?

In the Kings’ Nad Al Sheba former Principal,  Mr Darren Gale, we found a rare Principal which pretty much answered all of the above in the affirmative. In terms of simple history he explained to us that his passion was Primary education, and showed that his two decades of teaching experience was firmly grounded in Modern Languages teaching in the UK. A graduate in Languages and Linguistics, he moved to the UAE in around 2006 when he joined GEMS Jumeirah College as Director of Learning and Teaching.  This was followed by his taking up a role at Aldar’s ADEC Outstanding Al Yasmina Abu Dhabi as Head of Secondary, a role leading to his eventual appointment as Principal. A linguist by training (trilingual in French, English and Spanish) and a British School of the Middle East (BSME) schools’ accredited Inspector, Mr Gale had joined the school from a one-year turn—around role as Principal of Springdales Dubai. Mr Gale was in post at Kings between September 2016 and September 2018.

He is followed (September 2018) by Mrs Kate Fuller. Kings’ has again sought out an accomplished Principal with significant experience and vision. Mrs Fuller brings with her more than 15 years experience in education worldwide, latterly at the Nord Anglia British International School of Houston, where she led the Primary School. Nord Anglia has a very good reputation for the calibre of their heads. Mrs Fuller has a reputation for innovation in technology, particularly in methods for its being used to bring Mathematics alive for children, and a belief in the language of coding as one necessary for children to make their way in the new world as traditional languages have been historically. Tellingly, her children will be educated at Kings’. She identifies her leadership style as being guided by by compassion and empathy.

It will be interesting to see on our next visit to the school, and from feedback as we receive it from parents and teachers, the ways Mrs Fuller balances change and building on the strengths of the school. We really liked Mr Gales’ development of a dedicated Imagination, Creativity and Exploration Centre at the school (ICE) – an initiative unique to Nad Al Sheba. for example. Each Principal brings with them their own impacts and vision and, on the basis of what we have garnered thus far, Kings’ can expect at the least no small doses of innovation and inspiration.

On our last visit we found a number of differentiators in the feel of the school – something you don’t find in prospectuses or generic marketing materials. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly makes the school shine (and it does). Partly it comes from Kings’ being a small school by any standards – BUT one that has the investment, facilities and investment in teachers you only normally find in the very large capacity Tier 1s. On our visit, we were very struck by just how personal, and family orientated, the school is – we really hope that as the school grows it does not lose this. Small schools in Dubai are getting extremely hard to find as the competition for Tier 1 facilities pushes schools to build ever larger campuses to apportion costs. As it stands, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba offers the best of both possible worlds – small school intimacy – and Tier 1 British schooling. The current role of around 350 (2018) children is around a third of the eventual capacity of the school which will be capped at 950 children.

In terms of academics, as measured in Advanced International (AA) TIMSS, we understand that the school is outperforming the sector, and that including both its Kings’ brother and sister schools…

The facilities we found at the Nad Al Sheba campus do mirror those at Kings’ Al Barsha to a great extent. The differences are small – mainly in the significantly greater number of free flow spaces and more extensive classroom availability.  Currently the school homes 3 FS 1 classes with a maximum class of 20 children, each with a Teaching Assistant (TA) and shared Nanny; 5 FS2 classes, each capped at 24 children with both a TA and shared Nanny; 3 Year 1 classes’ and Year 2 classes. There are 2 dining areas (meals are provided by Bloom) and we found both friendly and engaging. The FS outdoor play facility is highly stimulating and well planned. The Primary play area, we feel, lacks equipment – something recognised by the school and currently in development.  The multipurpose hall homes assemblies, sport, drama and dining and is of a high standard. The indoor sports hall is of a good size and houses concrete bleachers. There are both FS learner and main, 25M 8-lane shaded pools (with dive blocks) for swimming. Outside sports facilities are excellent including a Football Pitch and Clay courts for Netball or Tennis.

Classrooms at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba are paired, with double width glass doors dividing them and access to outside learning areas, either at ground floor or with first floor balconies. The corridor areas are wide and light and provide good breakout, or free flow spaces, for the children.  The FS library is in a central wide area on the ground floor which runs between FS1 and FS2 sides of the building. Classrooms we visited were bright and full of inspiring displays appropriate to the theme (on our visit this included “under the sea.”)

Other facilities include a Music Room (with 3 keyboards, Ukulele’s and extensive percussion instruments); a black box theatre;  Primary Library (which hosted a number of fabulous initiatives on our visit including ‘Mystery Reading’ (in which children choose  books with their covers obscured and a ‘Book Tasting Cafe’ in which books within genres are presented in menus with suitable descriptions of what is in store from their reading); Parent’s Café; and, dedicated SEN and G&T ‘Achievement Centre.’

30 children are currently identified with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), just shy of 10% of the school role. 17 children are identified as Gifted and Talented (G&T), around 6% of children. The school currently draws children from 39 nationalities with Emirati families accounting for about 10% of the role.

Technology is already a core focus of the school – we were really impressed on our last visit with the provision of Raspberry Pi devices and the introduction of coding from Year 1. The school has a dedicated Digital Coach and BYOD (iPad) operates from Year 4.

Facilities meet almost every conceivable need for the target preparatory age of its children/phases and are not bettered by other focused preparatory schools elsewhere in the sector.

Sports include netball; football; basketball and swimming. We particularly like the further provision of a variant of touch rugby given ongoing concerns that rugby at school level should be modified to its touch variant to minimise the significant risks of the professional sport.

All children are allocated to one of the four school houses on joining the school; Tudor reds, Stuart blues; Hanover greens and Windsor yellows.

As is our view with its sister school in Al Barsha, prospective parents, whatever the temptation, should not automatically extrapolate from its sister Kings’ Dubai’s outstanding provision that the same will hold true for schooling in Nad Al Sheba. Kings’ Dubai is an established school, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is very much being established. This said, as it stands in October, the school is matching, and in places exceeding, the benchmarks set by its founding school.

2018 KHDA Inspection

It is worth noting up front that the Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba sits within a cluster of Kings’ school that have been awarded Outstanding (Kings’ Dubai), Very Good (Kings’ Al Barsha) and Good (Kings’ Nad Al Sheba) ratings by the KHDA. the expertise and vision is here – and the final trajectory, Outstanding School status for all three schools is very much the expectation. It is probably fair to say that the rating has just come a little more slowly than was hoped for.

In 2018, the strengths of the school are identified as:

  • Highly performing school leadership
  • Strong support from Governors
  • Positive parental feedback
  • Very good levels of progress by children in core subjects (for us, progress should be seen as a key measure of a school)
  • Stand-out FS phase schooling for children

Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba falls down in two areas. First, Arabic Subjects. These are a challenge for all international schools. They are important areas – and school do need to concentrate on these. Many parents ask us why? Simply, in a global economy driven by whole child skills as well as core academics, Arabic Subjects – and a broader understanding of Arabic culture, are integral to making up what will give students educated in the UAE an advantage over peers educated at home. The first question any student is likely to be asked on graduating (and indeed throughout their lives) is what did you learn in the Middle East. Children who have been taught in a vacuum will neither stand out as intellectually curious (a key measure for universities) or as having made the most of the opportunities of immersion and travel. Kings’s is seeking to strengthen in this area – and Mrs Fuller has made it a priority area under her leadership.

Second, and probably, rightly or wrongly, for most parents is the drop to weaker levels of attainment at Primary phase. We would have expected attainment to be weaker at FS stages, not the reverse. It’s hard to account for this, but we suspect it is because of children joining in later years. What we would say to parents is that they should be looking primarily at Progress scores – these are high and impressive at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba in both phases. Strong progress scores show a school that is delivering for children.

For an academically selective school, however, attainment is lower than we would have expected. Again, we calculate that this is due to the international role. FS and Primary phases are critical years for English language teaching – the strong progress scores suggest that the ground work is being delivered at a very high level for children and attainment will rise later on this basis.

Other pluses we would highlight are low teacher turnover. At 10% (9% in 2017), this is exceptionally low for a school in the early days of its history. We would expect this to be in triple figures given the performance of other new schools – this should be seen as reflective of the high levels of investment – and outstanding British teacher recruitment – that comes as integral with a Kings’ education. Secondly, facilities and investment – including in technology and the Sciences, are outstanding – up there with the very very best in the UAE for these phases.

The findings of Inspectors in its first inspection of the school, below, are all improved on – this again demonstrating a school that is on an upwards trajectory for children:

Stand-out features of Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba in its first KHDA inspection include:

  • Very good school resources and facility provision – excellent facilities for learning.
  • Powerful school focus on innovation – “The curriculum is being continually adapted to facilitate opportunities for students to think differently. The innovation agenda is central to the new leadership vision.” (KHDA 2017)
  • “Exciting” learning environment at FS phase
  • Children at the school develop a sense of purpose, self-esteem and inner confidence.
  • Genuinely inclusive school ethos with a positive approach to SEND in its many aspects
  • Committed teaching faculty with high morale and commitment to children


Bottom line – The verdict 2018

In its combination of school leadership, steadfast, genuine and passionate support from the school’s founders, an extremely rich, unique whole child-centred curriculum – and Tier 1 facilities, the school has everything in place to parallel the success of its founding school.

Less by design than circumstance, the limited number of founding children have also created a hugely warm, small school culture at odds with the scale of its buildings. There are only around 350 pupils currently. There are benefits of this – not least in an outstandingly personalized learning experience for those who are currently attending.



Our inspector noted: “ I really loved Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba. Everything is in place for the children and the school brims with a sense of purpose and life. The passion and ambition of the Head shines through and is quite something to behold in the intensity of his conviction that the school is achieving the extraordinary for every child. I was really struck at how much the school gives life to the voices of its children – classrooms are alive with questions and teachers respond swiftly and encourage debate and exchange of views. A real hidden gem.”

Again, we would recommend parents investigate the strong progress scoring of the school on visits. This, above all, gives an indication of the academic engines at work beneath the surface.

Add to this, the sheer delight of the children, supportive parents, Kings’ vision and School leadership driven by vocation and care for children – and it’s impossible not to be impressed.

Highly recommended.

Prospective parents should note that Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba is undergoing a phased launch and scoring is based on whichschooladvisor data and published school information. Scoring for differentiation and added-value is based on Kings’ being an academically selective school and is not comparative with more broadly mixed-ability schools. KHDA awarding of Good School status is a strong recommendation for a new school in Dubai and the school has a clear focus on securing Outstanding School status on subsequent inspections. This review will be updated further after our next visit due in late 2018.

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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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