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SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards 2019 – The Top Schools in the UAE
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SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards 2019 – The Top Schools in the UAE

by David WestleyMarch 8, 2019

Sasha Crabb took home Principal of the Year, while the joint nomination of DESS and DESC won Best School of the Year, just two of the awards taken home last night at the second, annual SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools of the Year Award.

The event was held at the incredible Rajmahal Theatre, in Bollywood Parks, part of Dubai Parks and Resorts. The theatre played host to over 800 leading educators from across the UAE.

In total there were 22 winners from 21 awards, with only one – Outstanding Contribution to UAE Education – chosen by the editors of Which Media, our parent company, which is also behind sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.

Co-Founder of Which Media, James Mullan, presents Dr. Abdulla Al Karam with the Outstanding Contribution to Education in the UAE award

Outstanding Contribution to UAE Education was won by H.E. Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). He was described on the night as an “enemy of complacency”, and central to the success that the emirates had had in attracting global names to the country.

At the awards he told a packed audience that the successes being made in the UAE was due to its educators, their support and their trust. “Everything we do is always done for the right reasons… This award is only going to make us do more with you, so gear up and be ready!”

The remaining 20 awards were arrived at via a three phase process of an open nomination to schools and parents; to a shortlisting by our editors, and then online voting by seven independent judges.

Over the next fortnight we will be uploading the full analysis of each category, along with the justifications behind each finalist. They cannot be uploaded immediately as some contain material that cannot be made public. When published they will reveal, in glorious detail, the amazing things that are happening across UAE schools.

“The depth of quality of the UAE’s 580 plus schools is simply unparalleled,” the editor of this site, Jonathan Westley, said.

Until then however the list of last night’s winners and finalists is:

  • Outstanding contribution to education in the UAE
    Winner: H.E. Dr Abdulla Al Karam
  • British curriculum school of the year
    Winner: British School Al Khubairat
    Finalists

    • Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
    • Cranleigh Abu Dhabi
    • Dubai British School Emirate Hills
    • Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
    • Jumeirah College
  • International Baccalaureate school of the year
    Winner: Raha International School
    Finalists
    • Dubai International Academy – Emirates Hills
    • GEMS World Academy Dubai
    • Greenfield Community School
    • Jumeira Baccalaureate School
    • Uptown School
  • Best American curriculum school of the year
    Winner: American School of Dubai
    Finalists:
    • Clarion School Dubai
    • West Yas Academy Abu Dhabi
  • Indian curriculum school of the year
    Winner: GEMS Modern Academy
    Finalists:
    • Ambassador School and Kindergarten, Dubai
    • Delhi Private School
    • The Indian High School (Senior Campus)
    • The Millennium School
  • Arabic Blended curriculum school of the year
    Winner: Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Boys
    Finalists:
    • American School of Creative Science, Dubai
    • Next Generation School, Dubai
    • School of Research Science
    • Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Girls
  • IB Blended curriculum School of the Year
    Winner: Jumeirah English Speaking School Arabian Ranches
    Finalists:
    • American Community School of Abu Dhabi
    • Deira International School Dubai Festival City
    • GEMS Dubai American Academy
    • Nord Anglia International School
    • Repton School Dubai
  • Best Primary School
    Winner: Dubai English Speaking School
    Finalists:
    • GEMS Jumeirah Primary School
    • Horizon English School
    • Jumeirah English Speaking School – Jumeirah
    • Kings’ School Dubai
    • Victory Heights Primary School
  • Best Nursery
    Winner: Aga Khan Early Learning Centre
    Finalists:
    • Children’s Oasis
    • IDEA Early Learning Centre
    • Little Land Nursery
    • Yellow Brick Road Nursery
  • Best post-16 education
    Winner: British School Al Khubairat
    Finalists:
    • Dubai College
    • Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
    • Jumeirah College
    • Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) Arabian Ranches
    • Repton Dubai
    • Sunmarke School
  • Best school for technical education
    Winner: Dubai English Speaking College
    Finalists:
    • British School Al Khabairat (BSAK)
    • GEMS Wellington Academy – Dubai Silicon Oasis
    • Greenfield Community School
    • Sunmarke School Dubai
  • Best new school
    Winner: Safa Community School
    Finalists:
    • Cranleigh Abu Dhabi
    • Dubai Heights Academy
    • Kent College
    • Nord Anglia International School Dubai
    • Ranches Primary School
  • Best school for music
    Winner: Nord Anglia International School Dubai
    Finalists:
    • American School of Dubai
    • Brighton College Abu Dhabi
    • Cranleigh Abu Dhabi
    • GEMS Music Hub at GEMS World Academy
  • Best school for theatre and the performing arts
    Winner: Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi
    Finalists:
    • American School of Dubai
    • American Community School, Abu Dhabi
    • Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
    • Nord Anglia International School Dubai
    • Raha International School Abu Dhabi
  • Best school for art
    Winner: Brighton College Abu Dhabi
    Finalists:
    • British School Al Khabairat
    • Nord Anglia International School
    • Jumeira Baccalaureate School
    • Jumeirah College
    • Raha International School
    • Springdales Dubai
  • Best school for sport
    Winner: Dubai English Speaking College
    Finalists:
    • Dubai College
    • British School Al Khubairat
    • Jumeirah College (JC)
    • Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) – Arabian Ranches
  • Best school for child progress and value add
    Winner: Jumeirah College
    Finalists:
    • British School Al Khubairat (BSAK)
    • Dubai English Speaking College (DESC)
    • Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) – Arabian Ranches
    • Repton School Dubai
    • The English College
  • Award for outstanding use of technology
    JOINT Winners: Fairgreen School and Jumeirah English Speaking School – Arabian Ranches
    Finalists:
    • GEMS Dubai American Academy
    • Hartland
    • Repton School – Abu Dhabi
  • Best international initiative
    Winner: Riverston School Dubai
    Finalists:
    • Dubai English Speaking School (DESC) and Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
    • Dubai International Academy – Emirates Hills
    • Fairgreen International School
    • Nibras
  • School principal of the year, 2019
    Winner: Sasha Crabb, Victory Heights
    Finalists:
    • Catherine Dando Dubai English Speaking School (DESS)
    • Simon O’ Connor Jumeirah College
    • Rachel Higgins GEMS Jumeirah Primary School
    • Mark Leppard MBE British School Al Khubairat (BSAK)
  • Best school in the UAE, 2019
    Winner: DESC and DESS
    Finalists:
    • American School of Dubai
    • Brighton College Abu Dhabi
    • British School Al Khubairat (BSAK)
    • Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi
    • GEMS Modern Academy
    • Jumeirah Primary School (JPS) and Jumeirah College (JC) [Joint nomination]
    • Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) Primary & Arabian Ranches [Joint nomination]
    • Raha International School
    • Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Boys


All awards were arrived at only after painstaking analysis by the judges, who described it as one of the hardest things they had ever been asked to do. “Fortunately my grey hair could not get any greyer,” judge Lyn Soppelsa told us.

DESS and DESC united on stage to accept the Best School of the Year award. Dubai Parks and Resorts head of protocol presented the award.

While decisions were difficult in all categories, the to final awards cause the biggest difficulties for the judges. “The Top School of the Year was a really hard decision in a field of outstanding schools,” Sara Rogers, Judge, Top Schools Awards 2019 said, before adding “but… it is very pleasing to see the investment in DESS, an older school that had many great traditions. These traditions have been built upon with out of the box thinking and truly transformed the education that is provided. With the partnership of a fantastic secondary school in DESC, every child is nurtured and their potential is achieved. A great holistic education of the highest quality.

Sasha Crabb with the Victory Heights Primary School Team.

Equally hard has been the choice in an outstanding field of fellow inspiring educators – but also an easy one. What a truly caring and inspirational leader Sasha [Crabb] is; she touches the lives of all those she meets and her whole school community feels cared for and valued by her. She lives and breathes education and the welfare of the whole community [at Victory Heights Primary] is her priority. She embodies the reason that we aspire to teach and make a difference to young people’s lives both now and in the future.”

“Hosting an event for UAE schools, and to play master of ceremonies for a theatre packed full of teachers is such an honour, commented Dubai Eye’s The Agenda presenter, Tom Urqhart. “You cannot over-state the importance of what these professionals do, and an event such as the Top Schools Awards has been simply over-due.”

The Awards also featured a show by the resident artists at Bollywood Parks™ Dubai during the intermission. “We hope that we were able to bring some magic to the awards. We know our dancers left the audience suitably wowed!” said Milton D’souza, Director of Operations Dubai Parks and Resorts at DXB Entertainments.

Over 850 leading educators from across the UAE attended the awards.

“This was the biggest awards event we have hosted to date. Education is very important to us and so when SchoolsCompared.com asked us to be their partner, we embraced the opportunity to get involved. Helping to put on a world-class event at our stunning theatre to celebrate the fantastic achievements of leading schools is of paramount importance to us.”

The second SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards is now very much an annual event, James Mullan, MD of Which Media said. “This has inspired everyone at Which Media, and we hope the wider industry too…

“We hope to have given the whole industry the rocket fuel they need to go back into their schools tomorrow, with the energy that will power them onwards and upwards until our next awards.”

“We aimed, rather ambitiously, to build the Oscars of the education sector with these awards,” said the GM and Co-Founder of Which Media, David Westley. “At the beautiful Rajmahal Theatre at Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, I do believe we have taken one giant leap forward in that direction.”

  • Full analysis for each category will be published shortly.

About The Author
David Westley
David is the co-founder and GM of Which Media, the owner of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com and SchoolsCompared.com

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