Kingpin's Guide to International Schooling in Abu Dhabi
Due to the number of expats living in the UAE, there are a range of international schools for foreign students, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
International schools are all privately run and the majority adhere to very high standards. Different schools run different curriculums such as British style GCSE’s and A levels, American style or IB programmes. Therefore, it is important to choose a school that suits your child’s needs. The choice of school should align with the child’s past schooling curriculum and should merge into any future moves to other countries that the family may make. Additionally, potential university requirements should be taken into consideration when deciding between schools and curriculums. Though there are many to choose from, spaces in schools can be limited. Thus, it is recommended to liaise with schools as soon as possible to ensure your child is enrolled in your preferred choice.
This article will focus on the UAE's 2nd largest city Abu Dhabi. Have a look at our Dubai schooling guide if you want to find out about schooling in the UAE’s largest city.
International Schools in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi International School
Website – www.aisschools.com
The Abu Dhabi International School has developed a very good reputation in Abu Dhabi, particularly among the vast expat community. The school has around 3500 students and is known for its Special Education department, where children with a plethora of different learning difficulties are catered to and given the best education despite these circumstances. The school offers British, American and IB programs.
The school offers variety, in that students can study the American programme, the British GSCE and A-level programme or the IB programme. However, a fact to consider is that different programmes are taught on different campuses. Students can switch between the courses but this will be subject to conditions and requirements. The school generally produces high levels of attainment. In 2016, 70% of IGCSE students achieved an A* or A in English and 90% achieved an A* or A in mathematics. Students leaving the school can end up at universities all over the world, which highlights how varied the curriculum is at the school.
Outside of the class, there are a plethora of clubs across sports and the arts that children can participate in. These clubs cover many areas including a mix of sports, photography, music and drama. The school has varsity sports teams that compete on behalf of the school, as well as more informal and leisurely clubs that are not as competitive.
Priority is given to siblings of current students, children of faculty members and children of former students. There is a two-stage process to admission, the first of which involves a written application form, a student recommendation form and a face to face interview with the school, where both parent and applicant must be present. The second stage involves the applicant filling an application form and taking a placement test. In terms of fees for 2017/2018, they can rise to an annual figure of AED 48,400 in year 12.
GEMS Cambridge High School
Part of the world renown GEMS global network, GEMS Cambridge International School is regarded as one the best schools in Abu Dhabi. The award-winning name of GEMS is one that attracts many expats and the school meets the high expectations.
The school’s curriculum is based around preparing pupils for International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and A Level Examinations of the University of Cambridge (UK). Younger children follow the Key Stage programme which runs to year 8. It is in year 9 where the IGCSE curriculum is introduced to students. At this stage, students take a range of compulsory and optional subjects. From there, students can go on to sit A-levels in a wide range of subjects. GEMS students across the globe gain acceptance into 980 universities in 48 different counties which go to highlight the scope of reputation GEMS has.
Like most schools, GEMS Cambridge High School encourages and expects participation from students in extra-curricular activities. The school has invested in spectacular sporting facilities, with outdoor fields, a 25m learning swimming pool and indoor facilities, such as a multi-purpose sports hall, all which give students the perfect environment for participating in sport. Aside from sport, photography, chess, music and drama are other forms of extra-curricular activities that children can get involved in. The school is equipped with art studios, specialised music rooms, ensemble rooms, design, technology and media suites, all which facilitate student’s participation in these areas.
There is a 3-step process to apply for GEMS Cambridge. The first involves an online application form which can be found on the school’s webpage. Step two involves sending the appropriate documentation and files over. The 3rd step involves the school getting in touch and guiding you and your child through the final stages of the process, which may involve assessments and final interviews. Similar to most international schools, the fees for GEMS Cambridge increase as the student gets older and progresses through the years. This culminates in annual fees of AED 34,900 in year 13.
More Reputable Schools in Abu Dhabi;
British International School of Abu Dhabi
Curriculum: British and IB
Age Range: 3 to 18
The Pearl Primary School
Age Range: 3 to 11
GEMS World Academy
Age Range: 3 to 11
Gender: Co-educational and girls-only options
Curriculum: British and International Baccalaureate
Age Range: 3 to 18
Al Ain International School
Age Range: 3 to 18
If you are interested in relocating to Abu Dhabi or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about International Tax opportunities, please contact a member of the team.