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The British School Al Khubairat , Abu Dhabi – The Review
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The British School Al Khubairat , Abu Dhabi – The Review

by January 15, 2019
Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Band A Highest Achieving, Outstanding

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Band A Highest Achieving, Very Good with Outstanding Features

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Band A, High Performing, Good (A3)

Rating FS

Outstanding

Rating Primary / Elementary

Outstanding

Rating Secondary / Middle

Outstanding

Rating Post 16 / High

Outstanding

Type of school

Private not-for-profit

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 37,600
FS2: 48,700.00
YEAR 1: 48,700.00
YEAR 2: 48,700.00
YEAR 3: 48,700.00
YEAR 4: 48,700.00
YEAR 5: 48,700.00
YEAR 6: 48,700.00
YEAR 7: 65,400.00
YEAR 8: 65,400.00
YEAR 9: 65,400.00
YEAR 10: 65,400.00
YEAR 11: 65,400.00
YEAR 12: 65,400.00
YEAR 13: 65,400.00

Curriculum

English National Curriculum
EYFS
IGCSE
A' Level
BTEC

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
Pearson EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

26+

A Levels offered

Biology
Business Studies
Chemistry
Computer Science
Drama
Product Design
Economics
English Language
English Literature
Fashion and Textiles
Fine Art
French
Further Mathematics
Geography
History
Mathematics
Media Studies
Music
Physics
Psychology
Photography
Spanish
Textiles
(BTEC Business Studies, Sports, Engineering)

A Level A* to A

2018
A*A: 33%
A*B: 69%

2017
A*A: 36%
A*B: 65%

2015
31% AS Grades A (2015)
40% A2 A*/A (2015)

2014
8.8% A* (2013-14)
37.3% A* to A (2013-14)
66.5% A* to B (2013-14)

A Level A* to C

2018
A*C: 89%
Pass rate: 100%

2017
A*C: 89%
Pass rate: 99%

2015
92% pass rate at AS (2015)
54% AS A - B (2015)
70% AS Grades A - C (2015)
100% pass rate at A2 (2015)
67% A2 A* - B (2015)
87% A2 A* - C (2015)

2014
88% A* to C (2013-14)

IGCSE A* to C

2018
A*C: 95%

2017
A*C: 92%

2015
76% A* - B (2015)
93% A* - C 2015)
96% 5 x A* - C grades (2015)
92% 5 x A* - C grades, including English and Mathematics (2015)
68% A*- C in all GCSE subjects (2015)

2014
96% A* to C (2013-14)
27.9% B (2013-14)
12.8% C (2013-14)
4% < C (2013-14)

IGCSE A* to A

2018
A*A: 58%

2017
A*A: 56%

2015
48% A*/A (2015)

2014
55.3% A* to A (2013-14)
29.2% A* (2013-14)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

29+

I/GCSEs offered

Arabic A
Arabic B
Art
Biology
Business Studies
Chemistry
Computer Science
Drama
Design and Technology (DT) - Product Design
Design and Technology (DT) - Textiles
Design and Technology (DT) - Food Prep
Design and Technology (DT) - Graphic Design
Economics
English
French
Geography
History
ICT
Islamic Studies A
Islamic Studies B
Mathematics
Media Studies
Music
Photography
PHSE
Physical Education
Physics
Spanish

Selective

Highly inclusive

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1910 (2019)

Teacher to Student Ratio

FS: 1:8
Years 1-13: 1:11

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

19% (2019)

Year opened

1968

Location

Al Khubairat , Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi

Student composition

67% British
13% Emirati,
3% Australian,
3% Irish
3% American
11% other nationalities
6% SEN / Students of Determination
1.3 % English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

UAE Ivy League not-for-profit

Admissions Telephone

+971 2 446 2280

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

100%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

100%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

60%
Note:
KG: 80%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

60%

Islamic St. Primary Results

60%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

50%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

50%

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

100%

Student personal responsibility

1000%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

100%

Strengths

• BSO outstanding
• ADEK outstanding
• SchoolsCompared.com 2019 Award for Best British Curriculum School in the UAE
• SchoolsCompared.com 2019 Award for Best School for Post 16 Education in the UAE
• Carnegie Centre of Excellence (UK) Silver Award for outstanding child provsion for Mental Health (the first school outside of the UK to be awarded Silver status by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in the UK)
• Student achievement at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations are significantly above international standards.
• In the Sixth Form, attainment is consistently above international standards for A‐Level examinations
• Students at both ends of the spectrum, from those in the greatest need of improvement to the talented and gifted, are given exceptional levels of support
• The British School makes a significant and effective investment in the professional development of all its staff with excellent knock-on impacts for the children under their care
• The curriculum is inspirational, broad and exciting providing variety, challenge and interest for children at every level of the school
• Outstanding Child Personal Development with a vast array of extra‐curricular clubs and visits across the Arts, music and sport
• School resources are outstanding in supporting leadership aims; buildings and facilities are outstanding in reach, scope and quality matching the very high level of investment across the whole school
• Progress and attainment across all phases in English, Mathematics and Science is of an Outstanding level
• Stellar levels of subject breadth and investment in ensuring that every child meets their needs, potential, ability and ambitions is arguably the best in the UAE.

Weaknesses

None

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

The British School Al Khubairat offers children a beyond outstanding education with inspirational and caring leadership and faculty driven by ambitions for every child at the school bar none.

This is a benchmark, hugely inspirational and important school for the UAE, the British School Al Khubairat delivers for children - and in spades.

Extraordinary - and very special, school leadership, governors, teachers - and children have every right to feel very, *** VERY ***, proud of what they have, together, achieved.

Very highly recommended with no qualifications.

A+
Our Rating
A
User Rating
You have rated this
Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
72%
In my Top 5
11%
Shortlisted
5%
A possibility
8%
Pass
2%
No way
3%

Updated May 2019 – The British School Al Khubairat SchoolsCompared.com Best School Award Winner in multiple categories 2019, ADEC Outstanding accreditation, BSO Outstanding accreditation, our verdict 2019

“The British School Al Khubairat is an amazing and unique school.

It is at the heart of Abu Dhabi and, being nearly 50 years old, is part of the fabric of the UAE.

We are a community school and we are extremely proud of this aspect of our school.

We are all inclusive and believe that we should not limit anyone’s potential.

In fact we openly encourage students and staff to exceed expectations.

Our values are clear; Empathy and Care, Respect and Inclusion, Honesty and Integrity, Endeavour and Resilience – and it is with these values, along with our ambitious Vision, that we genuinely want BSAK to support the development of every student who comes through our doors.

The BSAK experience is hard to put into words, but it is something we hope all students will take with them throughout their lives from being at our school.”

Mark Leppard, Principal, The British School Al Khubairat

 

The British School Al Khuibairat Abu Dhabi Background

 

Seen by many as one of, if not the, best school in the capital, The British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) in Abu Dhabi serves approximately 1878 students across all phases of the English National Curriculum from the ages of three to eighteen years old. Al Khubairat has considerable prestige and, having opened in 1968, is the oldest British curriculum school in Abu Dhabi. The school was originally established on land generously donated by the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today the school continues to enjoy a “special relationship” with the ruling family, being sponsored, since 1980, by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, The President of the UAE.

The British School Al Khubairat is one of the very few “Ivy League” not-for-profit schools in the UAE – reinvesting all school income back into the school for the benefit of children, rather than, as is the case for the majority for-profit schools, returning some, or all of, profitable income to shareholders.  

Image of an Arabic girl in awe at the quality of an Art exhibition at the British School Al Khubairat

The British School Al Khubairat sits within an area of predominantly religious buildings with links to the British Embassy.  Formerly BSAK contained “Community School” in its title, and we think perhaps it is regrettable that it has dropped this phrase because community captures perfectly much of what is still so special about the school. Built into the mandate of the school is a sense of British-ness and inclusive Community – as well as welcoming multi-faith aspect that historically can be seen as underpinning a meeting place and bridge for East and West that still draws parents today.  Tellingly, the British Ambassador has historically always held a seat on the Board of Governors.

The British School Al Khubairat is rated Band A2, Highest Performing, Very Good with a significant number of Outstanding Features by ADEC, the Abu Dhabi Schools Inspectorate. The single significant area of weakness, Arabic subjects provision, is one shared amongst all international schools – and BSAK are addressing it head-on:

“The new school leadership is now taking decisive steps to improve its provision for Arabic subjects This involves blending Arabic learning and culture across the curriculum for all students, and improving teaching and learning in Arabic subjects. It is an overdue but important improvement initiative that is likely to have a positive impact on learning for all students and, consequently, the overall performance of the school.”

ADEC Inspection, 2017

Stand out features

Photograph of students in the Sixth Form at the British School Al Khubairat - winners of our Award for the most outstanding Post 16 education available in the UAE 2019

Following our 2018 SchoolsCompared.com inspection we rate the school in the top-3 of all schools in the UAE. Stand out features for us are:

(1) an extraordinarily compassionate approach to both academic and SEND inclusion that drives the highest levels of investment in ensuring no child is left behind – and, indeed, that all children can meet or exceed what is expected by flightpath predictive data on entering the school. 

(2) Benchmark breadth of subject choice for students, competing with, and improving on the significant majority of the very best schools in the UAE. BTEC provision is beyond outstanding. 

(3) Exceptional school leadership. School Principal Mark Leppard is compassionate, intellectual, driven, exceptionally ambitious for children and clearly adored and respected by students and faculty alike. Mr Leppard’s transparent belief in the critical importance of education and the responsibility he expresses for ensuring that every BSAK child will excel on their own terms, including meeting their own ambitions, is genuinely touching, inspiring and impressive.

(4) The school itself is exceptionally warm, beautifully designed and investment shines around every corner. Investment in academic subjects is a given – through extremely high calibre teaching faculty….. but it is in the whole child and technical subjects that BSAK shines a light across the UAE for what can be achieved if the will is there. Investment in the broader Arts (we recommend parents ask to look at some of the extraordinarily thought provoking and technically brilliant accomplishments of children in the Art Department, for example) and technical education (particularly BTEC) is best in class – and we think competitive globally.

BSAK2

The British School Al Khubairat’s mix of extraordinary facilities, history, prestige, leadership, outstanding academic performance and warmth means that we continue to rate The British School as one of the Capital’s premier schools. For parents lucky enough to secure a place for their child(ren) the quality of education and enrichment on offer is at best exceptional and at worse, for the most part, at a level many other schools can only aspire too.

As above, of its many achievement and innovations, The British School Al Khubairat’s introduction of BTEC in September 2017 deserves special acclaim and appreciation by prospective parents of the forward thinking inclusive drive and dynamics of the school. This provision of technical education is something that we have been campaigning for in Abu Dhabi, and an area, rarely, that had seen Abu Dhabi schools fall behind their Dubai-based counterparts.  We believe it is a critically important qualification for any British curriculum school and certainly for academically inclusive schools. The British School Al Khubairat was the first British Curriculum school to introduce BTEC and today the Level 3 Diploma covers subject choices in Business, Sport and Engineering.

The BTEC in Engineering, a first for any school in the Emirates, is exceptionally impressive and ground breaking; it is also the most expensive subject for any school to introduce for children. The commitment to ensuring that children are given the opportunity to meet their aspirations is absolutely real at the British School of Al Khubairat. 

Examination Results and whole child achievement

Examination performance is an outstanding strength for an inclusive genuinely community-driven school. A consistent 100% pass rate at GCSE across all 25 subjects and A Level/BTEC across 26 subjects, 3 of which are BTEC, demonstrates for the school “that we really do offer students every opportunity to find their pathway and follow their passion.”

GCSE RESULTS

A*-A

A*-B

A*-C

2018

58%

83%

95%

2017

56%

79%

92%

 

A LEVEL RESULTS

A*-A

A*-B

A*-C

PASS RATE

2018

33%

69%

89%

100%

2017

36%

65%

89%

99%

Historical performance for GCSE and A levels follows: 

GCSE RESULTSA*-AA*-BA*-CPASS RATE
201648%77%96%100%
201547%76%94%100%
201447%74%91%100%

 

A LEVEL RESULTSA*-AA*-BA*-CPASS RATE
201642%72%90%100%
201541%67%88%100%
201440%66%91%100%

The School excels in music and sport too – facilities are outstanding including some of the best exterior sporting facilities we have seen of any UAE school. The British School Al Khubairat was a finalist of our sister sister site, WhichSchoolAdviser.com Musician of the Year competition, finalists in the Young Musician of the Gulf, winners of the 2018 U14 Boys Du Football Tournament, winners of the 2017 Dubai 7’s Boys U19 Rugby Tournament and champions of the COBIS U13 Games and BSME U13 and U15 Games. Sports teams compete in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai to ensure that students access the highest level of competitive sports leagues in the UAE.

Innovation

Photograph of Sixth Form students at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi - award winning school for the outstanding quality of its post-16 education for students across A Level and BTEC

Other areas we are impressed with are the new innovations in cross-curricular integration of Arabic and the general sense of ambitious vision and sparkling development across every aspect of the curriculum. The British School Al Khubairat is alive with change and emboldened strategic vision. Many parents too will be surprised at the hugely inviting, modern entrance to the school. On our visit we were greeted with a hugely impressive Art Exhibition showcasing the work of GCSE students. The standard was very high – and some of the work inspired one of our Inspection team to describe it as “wonderful.” The school enjoys a number of links internationally for its Art programmes, including one that has been particularly powerful, according to the school, with Loughborough University in the UK.

One reason we were so pleased to find such an emphasis on Art is that it has been a subject area overshadowed by the much publicised strengths of the school in Mathematics and the Sciences (and notably for boys and girls). These remain by far the most popular subject area choices at A Level. Lesser schools may well have used this as an argument to reduce subject choice – but The British School Al Khubairat has done the opposite by protecting the broadest range of subjects across the Arts and Humanities, this resulting in some very small classes for some Arts students at A Level who enjoy exceptional levels of teaching attention and care as a result.

Photograph showing young women at The British School Al Khubairat playing their instruments in a Music class

Very impressive too is the compulsory British School Al Khubairat ‘Future Leaders Diploma’ sat by all Sixth Form students. The programme is to all intents and purposes a mini MBA programme which arms all graduates from The British School Al Khubairat with a Personal Profile (through which young adult travels a personal journey to understand their strengths and ambitions for the future); serious career and university profiling to ensure that the school never takes its eyes of the ball in helping young men and women meet their graduation ambitions; the Extended Project Qualification (increasingly prized by top tier universities – but also a means by which students can develop their love of any subject without being constrained by the curriculum demands of an individual subject); engagement with a range of programmes ranging from the school’s Debating society to the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE); contribution to a Gobal Citizenship and Service awards (echoing global industry’s recognition of the important of of corporate social responsibility; and a defined business course run in conjunction with Abu Dhabi University.

We really liked the schools investment in an alumni programme (Old Al Khubairat School (OAKS)) which will become increasingly important in rooting the BTEC programmes in high calibre, genuine industry work placements and networking.

All faculty at the British School of Al Khubairat are UK trained with a minimum of 3 years experience. PHSE is strong and there is an in-house counsellor as well as a safeguarding team.  On the strength of discussions at our visit, we are confident that pastoral care, whole child curriculum and a recognition that values are as important as academics are all beyond seriously – care for children is intrinsic and foundational at BSAK.

Photo of Primary Phase girl in a SEND class learning how to write

It’s actually an unusually difficult school to summarise. The British School Al Khubairat has a very different feel to other schools we have visited. There is a real sense of prestige at play – and academic might. But it is the softer edges of the school which shone through on our last extended visit in 2018-19 – the overwhelming sense was of very driven children deeply immersed and passionate in their subjects – but also extremely happy and cared for children at all phases. We noted any number of meaningful exchanges between teachers and faculty clearly grounded in mutual respect and care. Co-curricular ECA provision is exceptional with a choice from 100 plus activities for children to pursue each week

One deeply impressive young women spoke of being encouraged to never fear for asking questions that fell outside the syllabus – she expressed gratitude for her Science teachers who allowed her to explore wherever her mind took her on its journey. Deeply impressive stuff.

On our previous visit our single critique was wanting to see better investment in bringing to life British values in an Arabic context. We wanted to find a love, understanding and appreciation of Arabic culture to match the passion that is clearly evident across other subjects. Since then, the British School Al Khubairat has appointed a new Head of Arabic who has been empowered to instill a love and appreciation of the Arabic world across all areas of the curriculum as well as the core Arabic subject areas. We saw the visible impacts of the transformation in school life this has brought, bringing to life an area in which BSAK now excels, shining a light as it does so extraordinarily in other areas of the curriculum.

British School Al Khubairat bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019

Photograph of a child at Primary phase in celebratory mood at The British School Al Khubairat

There is absolutely no doubt, for us, that the British School Al Khubairat is one firing on all cylinders. This is an absolutely beautiful school.

What defines this school, amongst a plethora of gifts for children and young men and women,  is arguably the best post-16 provision in the UAE, extraordinarily gifted and compassionate school leadership, an inclusive school ethic that lights up the school lives of children almost beyond compare and a positivity and sense of an abiding force for good at play that washes over you when walking into the school that simply ….inspires. And yes, it’s also a fabulous school for children gifted in sport – and those who just take joy in taking part. 

The British School of Al Khubairat, in short, is an absolute tour de force of the very best an education can achieve for children.

The British School Al Khubairat achieved WhichSchoolAdvisor “Good School” status in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and again this year – the group’s highest accolade.

The British School Al Khubairat has, further, now secured both The SchoolsCompared.com 2019 Award for Best Post-16 Education in the UAE and The SchoolsCompared.com Award for Best British Curriculum School in the UAE. These Awards are so deserved.

VERY highly recommended for all children – and without qualification.

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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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