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Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi, Al Reem Island – The Review
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Context

Premium international schools group Nord Anglia Education has announced the launch of its third school in the UAE, Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi (NAS Abu Dhabi). The new Nord Anglia flagship school school is set to open in August 2022 on Al Reem Island. The British, English National Curriculum premium Tier 1 all through school will be the eighty third school launched by Nord Anglia globally and the third in the UAE, joining its two UAE-based sister establishments, The British International School Abu Dhabi and Nord Anglia International School Dubai.

 

Location

Location map - Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi, Al Reem Island

The school is situated on Al Reem island, the natural island situated 600 metres off the north-eastern coast of Abu Dhabi connected to Abu Dhabi city by bridges.  The school is located 20 minutes’ drive from Abu Dhabi airport with easy access to communities across the capital.

 

Academics

The English National Curriculum school will offer an all- through curriculum to students between the age of three years and eighteen years of age from EYFS through IGCSE and gold standard British A Level. The school has targeted a minimum breadth of A Level offer of 25 subjects. Whilst details have not been published, Nord Anglia International School offers 14 A Level options in Art, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Design Technology, Drama, Economics, English Literature, Mathematics, Geography, Business Studies, Sports Science/Physical Education and (in our view creditably) Psychology (a key bridging subject between the Social and Core Sciences). It also offers technical stream BTEC pathways in both Business and Leisure and Tourism. Unlike Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi, NAIS Dubai was historically at least a school focused passionately on the IB Diploma. Its decision to diversify to offer A Levels showed a hugely creditable commitment to meeting the needs of its students – and we rate its A Level provision as both thoughtful and outstanding.

Given that NAIS Abu Dhabi will ratchet up this commitment to A Level still further, and presumably with it its breadth of technical stream options, we can expect a seriously impressive post-16 offer here. It does have competition though, particularly from the British School Al Khubairat which offers, in our view, the benchmark today for post-16 education in the capital and unique specialisms, including in Engineering. This said, no one would bet against Nord Anglia upping the ante still further – which can only be good for parents and students. We would expect to see NAIS building to its strengths in the Dramatic Arts, particularly given its announced global partnership with Juillard. So too, the schools announced linkages with both Apple and MIT, suggest a very strong focus on technology and innovation.

Where we do not yet have clarity is in the approach of the school to inclusion in its entry requirements. Nord Anglia has a reputation for being academically selective. There are however some comments from the school suggesting that they may adopt a more inclusive approach and welcome to all children. We believe that this would fit much better with a pure British curriculum all-through, rather than the IB approach of Nord Anglia’s IB-founded sister school in the capital – The British International School Abu Dhabi. It would also fit much better too with the ethics of UAE Education as well as creating clear differentiating lines and choices for families. We will have to wait for confirmation, one way or the other, but we watch with interest.

GEMS_INARTICLE  

Couple more points worth noting. First, the school is fast-tracking its launch of British Sixth Form which will open just one year after the opening of the school in August/September 2024. This is almost unheard of – and suggest exceptional confidence in Nord Anglia Education and the school’s leadership by ADEK, the Abu Dhabi School regulator.

Worth noting, finally, that one in two Nord Anglia students go on to study at one of the world’s top 100 universities, including Cambridge, Stanford, Imperial College London and the broader spectrum of Russel Group Universities in the UK.

 

Leadership

Jonathan Cuff NAS Abu Dhabi principal Nord Anglia

Investment in leadership of the new school is telling of the ambition. Founding Principal Jonathan Cuff, is the former Managing Director of Nord Anglia’s three schools in the UK: Oxford International College, d’Overbroeck’s Oxford, and Oxford Sixth Form College. Mr Cuff has also been an inspector for the Independent School Inspectorate since 2013 and led d’Overbroeck’s Oxford as Principal between 2019 and 2022. d’Overbroeck’s is an independent, co-educational day and boarding school for students  between 11 and 18. A Physical Education and RE specialist, with bachelors study at Brunel, Mr Cuff secured his Masters in Educational Leadership from Leicester. A keen sportsman, Mr Cuff is a specialist in Hockey, with more than a decade’s experience leading the sport across British schools in the UK, including Framlingham and Mill Hill. In total, Mr Cuff brings to Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi close to 25 years experience across premium Tier 1 independent British schools globally.

Perhaps a taste of things to come, d’Overbroeck’s offers a breadth of A Level offer amounting to some 35 subjects, together with a powerful focus on Music and Drama as well as hugely successful Oxbridge programme. Subjects on offer at d’Overbroeck’s include:

 Art
 Biology
 Business
 Chemistry
 Classical Civilisation
 Computer Science
 Drama
 Economics
 English
 Film Studies
 French
 Further Maths
 Geography
 German
 History
 History of Art
 Italian
 Japanese
 Latin
 Mandarin
 Maths
 Media Studies
 Music
 Music Technology
 Philosophy
 Photography
 Physical Education
 Physics
 Politics & Government
 Psychology
 Religion, Ethics, Philosophy
(REP)
 Russian
 Sociology
 Spanish
 Textiles

As we are dealing here with Norda Anglia Education’s first pure British, English National curriculum school in the Emirates, it is enlightening to read the prospectus for Nord Anglia’s UK based sister school as a potential benchmark:

DVB22_23_SixthForm_Prospectus_compressed1

 

Mr Cuff told SchoolsCompared:

“A NAS Abu Dhabi student will have access to the highest level of opportunity in any area they’re passionate about, regardless of their experience or ability.

When students are supported to follow what excites them, they naturally build ambition, and feel empowered to become independent with their studies, which in turn helps them as they move through their school experience.

Ultimately, the school environment should be fun and enjoyable. A safe place for children to be excited about visiting every day, and ultimately developing a lifetime love of learning.

To do this, at Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi we will focus on sparking curiosity as early as possible. It’s an imperative part of a child’s journey as they learn to explore and ask questions about the exciting world around them. It’s the curious mind that will build ambition, and at NAS Abu Dhabi, we’ll nurture that and shape it into success.

That’s a precious gift that our teachers will get to be a big part of. Our school will be the link to turning that spark of curiosity into a world of possibility and opportunity.

At the forefront of this experience will be educational technology, as “the key to building the leaders of tomorrow”, as well as a personalised approach to learning to empower students to “map out their own academic journey from early years”.

Interestingly, Mr Cuff is emphatic that “NAS Abu Dhabi will be a school for everyone” leading many commentators to suggest a much more inclusive welcome to families and students across the capital with matching levels of investment in a depth and quality of education able to secure the very best from every child.

 

Facilities

The school’s purpose-built campus has capacity for 2,600 students across an imposing 11 acre site. Early Years is separated with its own building, a creditable move and one designed to recognise the very different requirements of this phase of education and one that should give confidence to parents set on “protecting childhood.” Specialist classrooms will cover the full breadth of the extended curriculum offer and sports facilities are promised to be outstanding, including a competition level swimming pool, supporting learner pool and stand-alone dedicated Sports Hall. Given the school’s commitment to the Performing Arts, it is good to see this backed by investment in a dedicated state-of-the-art auditorium. Today, many schools still seek to deliver a Performing Arts curriculum, but with much lesser investment in studio space and a black-box theatre. NAID Abu Dhabi is aiming for the stars with its new school, metaphorically and substantively.

Academically, the school is committed to 12 Science laboratories by subject specialism to meet phase requirements in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and the Environmental Sciences. Investment in the Arts is equally impressive with the promise of multiple Art Studios and the spectrum Music Rooms including choir spaces.

Technology investment extends across specialist Apple powered IT labs to advanced Design, Technology and Maker spaces – with innovation powered by its launch partnership with MIT.

We are promised too a landmark library – and from Nord Anglia that suggests a facility that will be extremely impressive.

The school has achieved the 1 Pearl Estidama rating for its sustainable design and construction.

 

Music, the Arts and Performing Arts

We have confirmation that Nord Anglia International school Abu Dhabi has established a global partnership with the world-renowned Juilliard School of Performing Arts. This is a proven partnership for Nord Anglia Education, one securely established at its sister school, the British International School Abu Dhabi, where the programme today delivers an outstanding Performing Arts education for its students across a range of specialisms including Music, Theatre and the broader Dramatic Arts. Given this, we expect great things from the new school and parents of gifted children in the Performing Arts seeking a pure British all-through education can be confident of a very high achieving school from Day One.

Specialisms on offer include Drama, Dance, Voice, Instrument Tuition and Theatre and the school promises to build on its extensive links with top-tier specialist Performing Arts universities, broader higher education and Arts sector industries worldwide for students seeking to pursue their careers here on graduation.

 

Admissions and application

Applications are now open for a September 2023 start at Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi. To learn more, contact [email protected].

 

Bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2022-2023

Student at Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi

At this stage of a school’s planning, we would usually exercise caution. But Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi is not your average school launch – far from it. Nord Anglia Education has become one of the powerhouse Tier 1 school operators in the region with an outstanding reputation for delivering an education for every student that positively sparkles in its commitment to both academic achievement, but also, equally important, the rounded whole child achievement so important to what really matters in the development of young men and women.

These are all schools with their own character, but the passion of the school leadership to deliver for children is definitive and impassioned in all of them. What we have here though is something new and unique. Nord Anglia is best known for its IB schooling. Here, however, Nord Anglia is launching a pure, world-class all-through British education led by a Founding Principal who effectively ran Nord Anglia schools in the UK and whose commitment to British education, culminating in gold-standard A Levels, runs deep.

Mr Cuff’s ambition for the school, already strong commitment to near double the subject breadth of A Level provision provided by its sister school in Dubai, establishment of links with MIT and Juillard (taking all the very best from existing Nord Anglia schools) – combined with exceptional levels of investment by Nord Anglia, proven time again in every one of their school launches globally but particularly in the UAE, gives us confidence that this is going to be an absolute “wow” of a school to come.

We expect great things – no pressure then.

Watch this space.

 

Further information

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

First ADEK inspection due 2025

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

First ADEK inspection due 2025

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

First ADEK inspection due 2025

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

First ADEK inspection due 2025

Rating FS

School opening August/September 2023

Rating Primary / Elementary

School opening August/September 2023

Rating Secondary / Middle

School opening August/September 2023

Rating Post 16 / High

School opening August/September 2023

Type of school

Private, for profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

TBC

Curriculum

British, English National Curriculum

External Exam Boards

TBC

Number of A Levels offered

25+

A Levels offered

TBC

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

TBC

I/GCSEs offered

TBC

Selective

TBC

Number of Students

2600 capacity on full all-through opening

Teacher to Student Ratio

13:1 estimate

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

0%
School opening August/September 2023

Year opened

August/September 2023

Location

Al Reem Island Abu Dhabi

Student composition

TBC

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Nord Anglia Education

Admissions Telephone
Web Address
Strengths

• Nord Anglia Education’s first pure British, English National Curriculum all through in the Emirates
• Outstanding Founding Principal
• Nord Anglia backing and proven history of deliver Tier 1 schooling
• Promised outstanding breadth of subject provision and pathways
• Gold standard A Level
• Al Reem location

Weaknesses

• Final design and build and shape of school offering still to be confirmed
• Fee structure to be published
• Expectations are very high for this hugely ambitious school launch in the capital

Rating
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Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
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Arts & Drama
A+
Teaching
C+
Communications
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A+
Scl Facilities
Opportunities

First mooted late in 2017, many of us have been waiting for this announcement with bated breath. This has the potential to be the most outstanding British school launch of the next five years – and you would not want to bet against Nord Anglia in delivering something quite spectacular given its history. One to watch.

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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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