Nord Anglia School Dubai

The Best School for Music in the UAE, 2019/20

Where to begin on why Music had to be included in our Awards this year?  Beyond the most important recognition that Music is a critical subject in its own right, research findings show, time and again, that music can increase a child’s ability to learn, especially in reading and Mathematics.  Researchers have found that learning music facilitates learning too across the board in other subjects by enhancing common skills. These include Improved Language Development, increased IQ, improved spatial and temporal skills, mastery of memorization, improved quality of work, emotional development, and improved academic achievement.

The study of music, including the rhythmic, tonal and practical skills it provides, has been shown to provide superior cognitive performance in reading. Neuroscientists have underlined the benefits of an education in music following discovery that music uses more parts of the brain than in subjects focused on discrete areas of activity. These include not only the more obvious emotional areas of the brain but also the same areas of the brain which are involved in analytical and mathematical thinking. 


Another study has shown that music education can positively impact physical and mental well-being, including relieving anxiety, promoting relaxation, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and also helping with social development. 


While music can increase the ability to learn, the benefits of education in music reach, powerfully, beyond the classroom and restrictive academic settings. Music teaches children to connect with themselves and others. It teaches them how to make decisions and to problem solve. It raises self-esteem and opens doors to dreams and aspirations.


Whilst traditionally the inclusion of music in Primary School is accepted as a standard, the best secondary schools too, provide for Music as an option, if not core subject. It is an option we consistently look for in evaluating a school’s ability to meet the needs of the broadest range of students. 


The finalists for the Best School for Music have been shortlisted for their endeavour in delivering a benchmark for the best schooling in music available in the UAE, whether for the most gifted young musicians and accomplished players, or for inspiring a love of music in all children, regardless of their level of ability or potential. 


In all cases, these finalist schools aim to provide children with both the confidence to showcase their gifts in public performance and to celebrate the value of, and be an ambassador for, music as part of the broader cultural life of the school and community.


Given our celebration of subject breadth in schools, and given the extraordinary capacity of music to impact on the human spirit outside them, music stands in these awards as a sign-post, and a mirror, to just how outstanding the best schools in the UAE really are at developing in all our children the parts of them that make us all the most human. 


Nord Anglia International School shone through as our choice for the Award for Best School for Music in the UAE 2019.  

“This is recognition that Nord Anglia Dubai delivers an education that recognises the jobs of tomorrow won't be simply tied to academics...”

First, a quote from our previous comments about NAIS.


“Juilliard’s Performing Arts provision is, for many, unequalled and certainly indicative of subject breadth. Nord Anglia’s language provision at least equals the best schools in Dubai.  And, tellingly, we have never left the school after a visit being left less than impressed. Investment is significant and ongoing – and school leadership and governance outstanding. It’s a genuinely fabulous school – but the demands we make – and standard of competition in this category, are exceptionally high…”


Nord Anglia Education, as a group, places a fundamental focus on the provision of a broad Performing Arts curriculum in association with the world-renowned Juilliard School. This was the first of its kind collaboration between an educational group and a highly regarded Performing Arts school.  The Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme has been specifically designed for Nord Anglia to give students a deep engagement with performing arts – promoting cultural literacy, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.


All students experience music, dance and drama and they form an important part of the curriculum from the age of four through to middle school. Nord Anglia Dubai students are exposed to a music repertoire hand selected by Juilliard, one designed to span the gamut of musical history to offer breadth across a full range of cultural and music genres.  


Each category is exemplified by a corresponding core work such as Ambush from Ten Sides, a traditional Chinese pipe solo, or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and extension works for further exploration. The works have been chosen based on their iconic quality, teachable moments and to give breadth to each child’s musical learning.  Students study these works throughout school to give them a deep engagement and appreciation with each piece. Interactive activities encourage students to engage with the works and key concepts while developing connections between the pieces, as well as other subjects.  


The music curriculum is enhanced through the teaching of keyboard skills, introduced at age 5, which acts as an entry point for music theory learning and is used as a tool to teach basic skills such as reading, music notation and understanding harmony.  A highlight of the programme is the arrangement of visits by Juilliard teaching artists who provide Master Classes to Nord Anglia students and staff.


Nord Anglia International School is recognised, and promotes itself, as offering a highly academic environment for its students and is openly selective in its approach.  That such a school, with such clearly-stated high academic ambition, should so unequivocally incorporate music into its curriculum, and as a requirement for all students, speaks to us of the school’s overall commitment to provide the broadest possible support for students to fulfil their academic potential.  


Bottom line? Nord Anglia International School Dubai is leading the way in the provision and development of musical excellence – and the additional benefits that have been proven to support students across the academic board.  


It is on visiting NAIS that all this come alive. 


Nord Anglia is a school that founds itself on music and the broader Performing Arts. It lends the school a sense of joy and life utterly dependent on this integration of music within the curriculum, and at such a foundational level. It is not possible, perhaps,  to scientifically address and determine the academic impacts of a school rooting its education of children in music and the broader Performing Arts, but the success of children here is self-evidently deeply rooted in this meshing of music, feeling and thought within children and their school environment. 


For us, this commitment/passionate belief in Music as a hub subject within the curriculum, the school’s investment in the relationship with Juilliard, and the closest possible meshing of music within both the cultural and academic life of the school and its children, demonstrates just how far Nord Anglia Dubai is leading the way in the provision of Music in the UAE. 


For academic children gifted, or otherwise in Music, this is a school that shines. Students graduate with an ability to go beyond expressing considered views on Music, to being passionate about those views. Hugely indicative of a cultured, well-rounded education, little wonder that students consistently stand out in university applications for their cross curricular knowledge and breadth of study. For accomplished musicians, the offer is, of course, even more profound with gifts both discovered and nurtured to their fullest potential.



The Backstage Interview


Established: 2014

KHDA Rating: Very Good with Outstanding features. (Note, Nord Anglia International School Dubai only opened in 2014 – astonishingly rapid achievement.)

KHDA weakness: Arabic subjects marginal on attainment 

Subject breadth/meeting the needs of children: Outstanding

Fees: AED 62K – 94K

Number of students: 1524

Age of role: 3-17

Curriculum: Blended International Baccalaureate

School type: Private, for-profit

Number of students with SEND: 114/7.5% (Above 5% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive for SEND)

Number of Emirati children: 17/1% (Above 10% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive to the local population)

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