The vision at Cranleigh in the UK has always been to provide a broad education for local children – and that ethos is carried through in Abu Dhabi, where the school opened in 2014. Rooted in heritage and tradition, here the approach is also infused with Middle Eastern culture. The school – a series of low-rise, white structures – is set on beautiful Saadiyat Island, a 20-minute drive to central Abu Dhabi (for this reason, most families with children at the school tend to live on the island itself).
The pre-prep – nursery, FS2 (the equivalent of Reception), Year 1 and Year 2 – has its own building, so it feels like a small community within a community, which parents tell us is a key reason for choosing Cranleigh. Children follow the EYFS curriculum, starting out in nursery with a balance of free play, teacher-directed sessions and specialist teaching in PE, swimming and music. The ADEK (Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Knowledge) syllabus for Arabic (native and non-native) and Islamic studies for Muslim children is introduced from Year 2. Nursery pupils have half an hour of Arabic introduction a week, which is extended to an hour in FS2 and Year 1. Pastoral care is at the heart of the school and values such as kindness and respect are embedded from the get-go.