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Memory Lane: The SchoolsCompared.Com’s UAE Top School Awards 2017-18
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On the anniversary of the first Top School Awards in 2017-18, we look back at the Awards that first gave our extraordinary schools, teachers and principals the recognition that they deserve. #schoolsmakethedifference

As schools prepare for the new academic year, we have been busy researching what we believe are the top schools of 2017-18. The findings will form part of an annual awards for showcasing The Top Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Click for the best school in the UAE, or continue reading for how this was compiled, and the criteria for our selection.

These are the schools that have made the biggest impact with parents, students and our readers over the year, schools which have scored exceptionally on our visit – and those schools that have achieved highly, where applicable, with government school inspectorates.


To rate schools we have the used the following formula:

  • First, there is an element of a popular vote with this award. We have shortlisted the most visited schools on our site. This means to be on this list, it has to be on the top 25% of schools most visited on This tends to be tied to school innovation and performance. If a school is doing well and innovating, people will talk about it, and want to find out more.
  • Second, we have weighted heavily the independent feedback from parents, teachers and students. This requirement has not been included for new schools and we have weighted the feedback from our own visits to schools in pre-launch or early opening phase. Our questions: What are these new schools bringing that will be different, how ready are they, and how impressed are we by the community and culture we see being created before our eyes.
  • Third, we have fine-tuned our list to include commendations based on the reviews of our editors at and The team has then prioritised our view of schools in six main areas: facilities, the care of children, the calibre and strategic vision of leadership, engagement with parents, whole and individual child investment (including the breadth of subject provision and ECA provision), the happiness we have found when we have visited schools and their performance and attainment. Prospective parents should note that we have adjusted our scoring of facilities to reflect fee levels so that we expect more from higher fees schools when it comes to, for example, facilities.
  • Finally, we have included only those schools which have secured a Good school or above rating from ADEC or KHDA Inspectors. Again, this requirement has not been included for new schools where we have alternatively weighted the views of our own visiting teams.

Prospective parents should note that we have weighted all schools by the length of time they have appeared on our site to ensure that, in particular, new schools are not unfairly excluded. Schools and school groups should also note we can only work with the information we have.

Some schools and school groups are far more transparent than others. We cannot reward success or innovation if we are not told about it.

As a final note while we have tried to be fair and balanced and to base our decisions on the criteria above, this is ultimately our list, and as such based on our views. You must take it as our opinion – no more. 

Given this subjectivity, what can parents take from the following recommended schools?

We believe the following:

All of the following schools featured below we believe have something very special to offer the right child. In one or more ways each of the following schools offers something exceptional and innovative.

What we will not say is that all these schools will offer the perfect education for every child.

This is because what is clear from our findings this year is that every school has its own very individual strengths and weaknesses – and, as a result, will fit the needs, potential and ability of different children to a greater or lesser extent.

There is, as always, no short cut, after shortlisting, to visiting schools to understand the fit for your individual child(ren).

What is also fascinating is that the schools here are all so different. Different curricula. Fees ranging from value to ultra premium. Different KHDA and ADEK gradings from Good to Outstanding. Not-for-profit and for-profit. All through and dedicated Primaries. IB, US, French, British and Hybrid. Established schools and schools working through phased opening of higher years.

But we would like to think that what every school featured here lights the imagination – and reaches for the stars.

And the common theme – a care for children, a rejection of a blind focus on exam statistics and a recognition of the whole child. A child as individual with his or her own gifts, potential, ambition and dreams, and needs.

You can expect some surprises here too – in many ways some of the schools featured here re-write the rule book on many of the assumptions that have underpinned education in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for many years. This is, not least, because of the genuinely extraordinary transformation of education here in recent years, and it must be said that both ADEC and the KHDA have played an instrumental role in  this story. There are many schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi today that compete on a world stage.

If we cannot guarantee the fit of all schools for every child, what these Awards for Best Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2017 should do, however, is give you, as parents, an easy way into the task of drawing up that shortlist of schools for the education of your child(ren), on the basis of our visits and extensive knowledge of each school, the interest shown in the school by other parents and, in the case of established schools, the independent feedback we have received from both other parents and students, and the rating of KHDA and/or ADEC Inspectors.

How to read our recommendations

In the following, parents should note that:

  • All of our recommended school reviews can be translated into multiple languages – please see the flag symbol at the top of the page to read the site in your chosen language
  • All of the schools can be compared across multiple categories to create a manageable short list. This includes the ability to compare schools on the basis of fees, and scoring across provision at different school phases.
  • More detailed information can be found within our individual reviews of each school.

One final note, aimed particularly to schools who will be frustrated, even upset, at not receiving a top schools listing, the following should be borne in mind.

Where a school does not appear in our list of Top Schools for the 2017 academic year it does not intrinsically mean that the school is a poor one or equally, not an outstanding one. This list has been drawn up using a balance of fixed criteria drawn from three independent sources, including visitors to our sites and the feedback we have received from individual school teachers, parents and students. In some cases, schools may well not appear because of a multitude of factors that mean they simply do not meet our strict criteria. For example, a school may have very high teacher turnover which is reflected in poor feedback for 2017 despite this being resolved moving into 2018.

It does not follow that because a school does not feature in our Best Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for 2017 means that it will not feature in next year’s top schools – or indeed that it is not a good or outstanding school in its own right. Again, it may be that school simply has not drawn sufficient interest across our site to enter the top 20% of traffic qualification to be considered.


Highly Commended: the runners up Awards for Best Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2017

Schools that deserve special mention, which came very close, but which did not ultimately achieve a top 25 place in our Best Schools of the year are:

All of these schools deserve special commendation. Each of them, in our view, is very good in one, or in many cases, multiple ways. More information on each can be found by following the links.

Two ground-breaking schools, Kent College, reviewed here, and the Swiss International Scientific School, reviewed here,  are worthy of separate mention. Both of these schools do not meet the criteria of inclusion this year, but offer stand-out provision for children – both in very different ways. We believe that both schools, each outstanding, are likely to feature strongly in next year’s top schools and are worthy candidates for shortlisting this year. They are both schools that threaten to challenge the traditional order of things.

There can, however, in a list of the Best 25 Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, be only be 25 schools. We know that there will be disappointment. But nothing should take away from the achievements of those schools listed above. Or those that follow.

Reading our Best Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2017-18 awards: note to prospective parents

Inevitably any grading is a snapshot in time. It is also the case, inevitably, on this basis, that even the schools we do feature here, may not meet the same high standards of offer, or value proposition, in future years. This is why, wherever practicable, we endeavour to review every school each year – and why, ultimately, it is imperative for parents to visit schools and speak with other parents, children, teachers and, ideally, the school Principal, to make what is probably the most important decision any parents will make for their children.


NEXT Page: 1st Place.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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