It is worth noting too that one school did not make our list of finalists this year that certainly will in 2020 – Brighton College Abu Dhabi. It will be in the running for the top award next year and to some degree just misses out on making our final list because of the timing of our last visit. It is also worth noting that Dubai College is notable by its absence – and was the school that just missed out reaching our shortlist of finalists.
As it is not listed here, it would be wrong to spend too much time on the reasons for this, but it is fair to say that as probably the most academically selective school in the UAE its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness.
All of the schools shortlisted are profoundly inclusive. Genuine inclusion – academic, SEND and cultural – is a benchmark against which we have measured and prioritised schools across all the Awards this year. Dubai English Speaking College (DESC), it should be noted, comes a very close second in this category – the decision has been torturous.
So to our winner. The British School of Al Khubairat, for us, defines inclusive schooling – and it is ultimately why we think it is very important that this school is recognised.
The British School of Al Khubairat is a school that simply excels in delivering a world class, inclusive, happy education for its children. Stand out for us is the happiness of children at this school – the atmosphere here lights up the place. Sixth form provision is stand-out – it is the best school for BTEC in the UAE (and also the only school to offer Engineering).
School results compete for the best in the UAE.
Leadership is outstanding plus.
Some of the work completed by children in Art arguably deserves a place in a gallery such is the quality. This type of thing is so telling in a school which is known for its league table results. But league table examination results are so far from what makes the school tick – they come from the magic of the school and its investment in children, rather than driving it.
Sporting success and engagement is the best of any school in Abu Dhabi. The clear concentration on results is matched with an absolute care to be as inclusive as possible with children so that all children are engaged with, and find their own place of joy, in a subject that in many schools leaves an “in” crowd and “failing” outsiders. The profound commitment to inclusion in Sport is stand-out here. It matters, of course, because as students leave school, a love of some form of physical activity is important for health and the many networking and social benefits that brings.
It is also worth noting that Science is an exceptional strength of the school with a huge uptake by young women, another very creditable success.
Finally, The British School of Al Khubairat is one of those schools in which children look up and engage with you. It has clearly managed to instil in children the confidence of their own voices – the type of thing public schools in Britain do so well – but at BSAK this comes with no airs and graces. Kindness, compassion, engagement and inspiration run deep.
Like Dubai English Speaking College there is also here a fundamental commitment to its parents that it will never abandon a child.
Sixth Form provision and subject choice, particularly in BTEC, is a testament to how seriously The British School of Al Khubairat is committed to meeting the needs of all children.
Subject breadth, and this should in our view include technical and vocational study in BTEC, is a fundamental test of high performing British Schooling. How can a school meet the needs of all children without extensive subject choice? And that choice is, in many cases, exactly what mitigates against students leaving any school without the qualifications, and passion for learning, so critical to their futures.
On the basis of what we have seen this year, The British School of Al Khubairat is our richly deserved winner of The SchoolsCompared.com 2019 Award for Best British School in the United Arab Emirates. British School of Al Khubairat students achieve on their own terms because the school leave no stone unturned in providing them with everything that they need to do so. The British School of Al Khubairat is a school that celebrates the differences between young men and women, develops individual gifts – and absolutely rejects the exam factory, one size fits all school drivers that limit children in other schools to a lesser or greater degree. Education at The British School of Al Khubairat is inspirational, successful, pioneering and impactful in equal measure.
ADEK Rating: Very Good with Outstanding features
ADEK weakness: Arabic subjects (likely to be upgraded with new Head of Arabic now in post)
Subject breadth/meeting the needs of children: Outstanding
Fees: AED 38K – 66K ((Note: Abu Dhabi fees are 20% lower than equivalent Dubai fees)
Number of students: 1878
Age of role: 3 – 18 years
Curriculum: British – including the best technical stream in the UAE
School type: Not-for-profit (profits re-invested back into the school and its children)
Number of students with SEND: 147/8% (Above 5% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive for SEND
Number of Emirati children: 12% (Above 10% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive to the local population)