Al Yasmina Academy, Al Raha Gardens, Khalifa City – The Review 2022
Note for parents: this review is in the process of being significantly updated. Our complete review will be published in February 2022. In the interim, a full review by our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor, can be found here.
Abu Dhabi based Al Yasmina Academy offers an all-through English National Curriculum education for students from 3 years of age to 18 years of age between FS1 and Year 13, through IGCSE to A’ Level. The school is rated ****** [6 Stars], A1 Outstanding by the Abu Dhabi education authority, the highest of its gradings and meeting the threshold of “substantially exceeding” the quality of performance expected by schools operating in the emirates. This accolade has been awarded to only nine schools in Abu Dhabi and only 6 British, English National Curriculum all-through schools. More here. Today the school is ranked in the highest tier of British curriculum schools operating anywhere in the UAE and is the hub school of Abu Dhabi Khalifa City – directions and location below.
The school is well-placed for families in Khalifa A, the residential areas of Al Raha, Khalifa City and Al Reem, Saadiyat Island and Khalifa City.
Opened in 2008, Al Yasmina Academy was the second school established by Aldar Academies, after the Pearl primary school, which started with 247 students in 2007. Today Aldar Academies educates around 7000 children across its 7 academies, including around 2000 children at Al Yasmina Academy in Abu Dhabi and one Aldar Education school in Al Ain. The school is consistently oversubscribed and operates wait lists for places. Add to this Aldar Education’s role as a pioneer in Charter schools and its partnership with ADNOC and the picture that emerges is of a schools group absolutely intrinsic to education in the UAE and the future of Abu Dhabi.
In terms of curriculum, the focus is very much on a pure British, Engliah National Curriculum education for children through GCSE to A level. The school enables all students to access the EBac or English Baccalaureate and the Equivalency Certificate at GCSE and most students choose 4 subjects at AS/A Level within Year 12 with this reducing to 3 for Year 13 and their final, Sixth Form, year at Al Yasmina Academy.
Jared Nolan is a psychologist by training, achieving his Bachelors at the UK’s Open University in 2003. This was followed by post graduate qualifications in education with specialism in Psychology and Law at the University of Portsmouth (2005) and in general education at the University of Gloucestershire (2006). Mr Nolan secured his Masters in Educational Leadership and Management from the University of South Wales in 2017. He holds the official National Professional Qualification for Headteachers from the Government of Wales, UK.
Unusually, Mr Nolan brings with him considerable experience in the UK police force prior to his pursuing his career in education, having spent more than 12 years, between 1993 and 2005, working as a Detective for Heddlu Gwent Police specialising in Serious Crime and Child Protection. During this time he was awarded the rare Chief Constable Commendation for ‘commitment, perseverance and professionalism to duty.’
In 2005 he embarked on his career in education, fast-tracking to an appointment as Deputy Head and then, extraordinarily, to Acting Headteacher at the USK Church in Wales Primary School in just 3 months. Five years as the school led to his appointment as Headteacher of the Charles Williams Church in Wales nursery, infant and Junior School, a position he held for four years before appointment as International Head of School at the Tier 1 Nord Anglia Education British International School Shanghai during which he climbed the Himalayas with his wife Emma to reach Everest Base Camp:
“Being a school leader, it was the children we met on the journey that spoke loudest to me. From the 4-year-old girl who had set up her own mud kitchen to make a Nepali curry, to playing football with local village children at 4,000 meters, there was a simple joy to be found.
This joy and gratitude was even evident in the 13-year-old boy who lost his father in the earthquake and in order to survive was carrying incredibly heavy loads for miles between villages, at altitudes that make it difficult for most of us to carry ourselves.
I returned from Nepal changed. The time to walk and think, the majesty of the mountains, the hardiness and friendliness of the people and of course, the joy in the children, have all encouraged me to consider my own life and values with a little more clarity.”
Mr Nolan joined Al Yasmina Academy as Principal and Chief Executive Officer in 2019. He also operates across all Aldar Education’s UK Curriculum Schools, supporting the group Director of Education to improve school performance. He brings with him critical expertise in student formative assessment data and its role in providing essential insight for schools to deliver better educational outcomes for children and accurate school evaluation. He is deeply committed to personalised teaching and better identifying individual learning support needs to ensure that no child is ever left behind and all children meet their ambitions and potential.
Feedback to ourselves and our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor, for Mr Nolan has been uniformly outstanding.
Al Yasmina Academy School Fees 2022
Fees run from AED 42,900 in FS! and reach AED 61,150 when pupils embark on GCSE study through to Sixth Form. We like the continuity of fees during these critical years – many schools increase fees, particularly for Sixth Form. ROI on fees we rate outstanding on balance of facilities, calibre of school leadership, facilities and achievement for students. This is particularly true of Year 10 to Year 13 fees which offer an AED10K plus price advantage over broadly equivalent competitor schools.
|Year(s)||Fees (AED)||Term 1||Term 2||Term 3|
|FS2 – Year 1||44,390||17,756||13,317||13,317|
|Year 2 – Year 6||46,530||18,612||13,959||13,959|
|Year 7 – Year 8||51,730||20,692||15,519||15,519|
|Year 10 – Year 13||61,150||24,460||18,345||18,345|
Al Yasmina Academy Prospectus 2022Al Yasmina Academy school prospectus 2022
Aldar Education Academy Options Prospectus 2022Aldar Academies-Prospectus 2022
British Schools Overseas – Grade 1 Outstanding Accreditation
“Fundamental British values such as the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs are included [within the curriculum and in the ethical structure of school life]. Pupils discuss issues of difference, tolerance and harmony with respect and sensitivity.”
Al Yasmina Academy secured “Grade 1 Outstanding”, the highest rating awarded by British Schools Overseas (BSO), the UK’s OFSTED based inspection group affiliated to the UK government’s Department of Education, in its latest report (2018-19). The school provides “exceptionally well for its pupil’s needs.” [BSO]
Stand-out praise includes:
- Outstanding school leadership at every part of the school.
- High quality teaching faculty
- Persistent focus on the quality of student learning and the quality of teaching.
- No pupils fall behind – and all students achieve their very best.
- Rich, well thought out and planned British curriculum offering pupils and “exceptional” experience of learning
- Subject breadth at GCSE and A Level
- Strong governance
- Outstanding relationships between parents and the school
- Children are highly supportive of each other – happy school dynamics
- Excellent standard of career and graduation guidance
- Outstanding student outcomes – whole child and academic
- Outstanding British Sixth Form provision
The full report follows below.Al Yasmina BSO Report 2018
We rank breadth and quality of facilities outstanding. They include:
- Parents Cafe
- Secondary Sports Hall
- 25M Swimming Pool
- Learner Pool
- Design and Technology Labs
- Textiles and Fashion Labs
- Art Studios
- Music Practice Rooms
- Multi-purpose Sports Hall
- Girls-only Sports Hall
- Dance Studio
- Basketball Court
- Netball Court
- Athletics facilities including running tracks
- Two playing fields
- Soft Play Areas
- Food Materials Labs
- Resistant Materials Labs
- Electronics/Digital Labs
- Drama Studio
- Medical Clinic
Examination results at both GCSE and A Level we rank outstanding for a fully inclusive, non academically selective school.
A Level Results 2021:
GCSE Results 2021:
Grade 9: 19.6%
Grade 8+(A): 39.1%
Grade 7+(AA): 56%
Grade 6+(AB): 75.2%
Grade 4+(AC): 95.2%
5GCSEs at Grade 7+: 50%+
Bottom Line? The SchoolsCompared Verdict 2022
When coming to an overall view on school like Al Yasmina, it is important not to be churlish and find fault where there are really few of note. They key issue for us is “fit” – parents do need to visit the school to understand the dynamics here. We cannot easily bring these to life in a review. However, there are some stand-out and rare features here. The obvious one is the school’s success with Arabic subjects – something almost unheard of in traditional British curriculum schools. Al Yasmina achieves at least a good standard of provision in Arabic language – a very considerable achievement. And we think this is important for all students – it is one of the USPs of an education in the UAE – and sets children apart in later life whether at university or industry. The Arabic language is far from simple and there are many issues around the curriculum that there is not room to explore here – but this is a genuine, huge creditable achievement from Al Yasmina.
We do think that the communication of the school could be improved. There is very little about the curriculum online or in available information for parents – this is a shame. Subject breadth and options at all Key Stages are outstanding – and we would like to see this celebrated. One key metric in assessing schools should always be the choice of subjects provided for students – it is a fast and efficient way for parents to understand the commitment of a school to meeting the needs, ambition and potential of the broadest range of students. Many schools limit choice to save on costs and prop up examination results. Al Yasmina Academy, in distinction, is resolutely focused on the needs of its children. The end result of this is that children are happy at this school – whole child development is excellent – and children care for each other and work for a sum bigger than the school’s individual parts. This is a culturally and ethically rich, very high achieving school for students, one grounded on basic and creditable British values of fair play and protecting the under dog.
Fees, comparatively, offer very strong ROI when benchmarked against its British curriculum competitor schools – and there is no cost-cutting. Governance is driven securely by the needs of children (and families) rather than the profit-motive. Aldar Education’s reputation here means something.
So where does this leave us? Ultimately it is with fit. Yes, competitor schools can pull on some advantages. One is certainly stronger in technical education. The other is particularly strong on the broader Performing Arts. But in the round, this is nit-picking for the vast majority of students.
Another note on leadership. It really does matter. We are very impressed with Aldar Education’s choice of leadership here. At Al Yamsina Academy we have in Mr Nolan one of the very few Principals to have a fully fledged career to draw on outside education, in this case as a detective (with a strong focus on protecting children). We know from feedback he is affectionately known as something of a James Bond figure, but the intellect and commitment to children here is steadfast – and his abilities have been recognised in an extraordinarily fast-tracked career to leading one of the UAE’s top schools. You do not achieve this without being quite exceptional.
So, in summary, we would like to see a strengthened investment in technical education. We think Aldar Education has the strength to become a leader in this area – and potentially a pioneer in delivering T Levels. British education today is increasingly focused on strengthening its delivery for industry and 21st century economies and the gold standard A Level is no longer seen as effective at delivering this in isolation. We would also like to see a commitment to both scholarships and bursaries ( a key way that schools can develop their talent pool and representation of different parts of society that may be under-represented) – although, as a school that is today consistently oversubscribed, we can see the lack of a business case for doing so.
One of the most striking things about the school on any visit is the very clear commitment to celebrating children’s work at all phases. There are almost no blank spaces. Again, this tells you a lot about a school. The temptation is for Tier 1 premiums to project themselves with no small amount of blank wall austerity, bells and whistles to try and appear “expensive” and “serious” – again, Al Yasmina will have no truck with this. The school is driven by the needs of children and their success, not by surface marketing and baubles. What could be more indicative of a school that believes in itself and its children than celebrating the achievements of its role.
The school excels in WhichMedia’s EDSTATICATM Parent Surveys. School Survey results consistently secure above 80% of parents recommending the school to other parents – this placing the school in the Top 20 most recommended schools in the UAE. In 2022, the school ranks top 5 in all-through British, English National Curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi. Al Yasmina was the first school in the UAE to be rated “well above the required standard” in all areas of a British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) inspection – the school was very much the crown jewels of Aldar Education’s British school all-through portfolio – and remains so.
Very highly recommended.
© SchoolsCompared.com. 2022. All rights reserved.
2019-20: ****** A1 Outstanding
YEAR 1: 44,390
YEAR 2: 46,530
YEAR 3: 46,530
YEAR 4: 46,530
YEAR 5: 46,530
YEAR 6: 46,530
YEAR 7: 51,730
YEAR 8: 51,730
YEAR 9: 51,975
YEAR 10: 55,460
YEAR 11: 61,150
YEAR 12: 61,150
YEAR 13: 61,150
National Curriculum of England
Arabic, Art &Design, Maths, Further Maths, English Language, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, Spanish, History, Geography, DT Product Design, Computer Science, ICT, Business Studies, Economics, Music, Drama, Physical Education, Psychology, Sociology, Photography and Media Studies, EPQ
Information and Communication Technology
Art Diploma (BTEC)
Art Subsidiary Diploma (BTEC)
Sport Diploma (BTEC)
Sport Subsidiary (BTEC)
Grade 9: 19.6%
Grade 8+(A*): 39.1%
Grade 7+(A*A): 56%
Grade 6+(A*B): 75.2%
Grade 4+(A*C): 95.2%
5GCSEs at Grade 7+: 50%+
Information and Communication Technoology (ICT)
Design and Technology
Art and Design
Physical Education (PE)
Fully, unambiguously inclusive. Not academically selective.
Average Added Value (from CATs data): 1.27 grades (raw score 4.91 to 6.18)
Value Added KS3-KS4: 1053 placing Yasmina, comparatively, in the top 5% of all UK Schools)
Capacity of school: 2000
Current role: 2000
(1) 1200 Primary
(2) 800 Secondary
(1) The above excludes significant investment in TAs which number in excess of 60 posts
12% (rated low)
Al Raha Gardens, Abu Dhabi
90 nationalities with British and Arab highest represented.
Other significant groups are from Australia, America, Egypt, Canada, Jordan, India and South Africa
Co-educational at all phases.
50% - 100%
UK. British, English National Curriculum all through from EYFS through GCSE to A Level.
• All-round, absolutely outstanding British, English National Curriculum school.
• Outstanding, interesting and inspirational school leadership.
• Outstanding subject breadth
• Commitment to the whole child
• International school dynamics – 80 plus nationalities represented.
• British values celebrated
• Aldar Education backing
• Very strong achievements in Arabic curriculum subjects
• BSO Outstanding
• ADEK 6 Stars Outstanding
• Whole child dynamics
• Child first – with happy schools dynamics a powerful feature of school life and the experience of pupils.
• Would like to see more information on the school for parents online – particularly on the curriculum.
• No advertised scholarship or bursary provision.
• School is extremely popular and over-subscribed