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Cranleigh wins International School of the Year

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi wins International School of the Year at the prestigious Tes Independent School Awards 2019 in London

We are very happy to announce that Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is this year’s winner for the International School of the Year at the prestigious Tes Independent School Awards. Cranleigh was presented the award in recognition of the ambitious arts and cross-curricular project, Water in the Desert: A Zayed Legacy, named for the centenary of the birth of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

At its heart was an original opera created by more than 80 students in collaboration with European opera experts. Fusing the UAE’s rich heritage with the Western music genre, students worked together to write a libretto, design sets and costumes, develop the score and choreograph dances. Their ideas were incorporated into the final production, which was staged in October 2018 to great acclaim.

Working with two other schools, the Ministry of Tolerance, NYU Abu Dhabi and the British Council, Cranleigh also created a broad cross-curricular programme for 800 pupils in Year 2 and above exploring the opera’s themes of heritage, identity and sustainability. The projects included, among other things, making a proposal for eco-tourism in the mangroves; creating radio adverts for water conservation; designing sustainable architecture; and learning how to document cultural memory.

Jo Lee, Director of Performing Arts at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, expressed her excitement stating, “The Performing Arts Department and UK creative team were thrilled to hear of the Tes Award. The Water in the Desert: A Zayed Legacy project was a key part of the award nomination and it is wonderful to have creative collaboration and hard work celebrated.” She also highlighted how “the Oasis Project, which carried the sustainability and innovation themes to lessons and workshops throughout the school, proved the benefit that cross-curricular initiatives provide.”

Chief Executive of The Boarding School’s Association and Lead Judge, Robin Fletcher, said the programme offers “a strong example of using one area of the curriculum to encourage learning in others, improve performance, foster teamwork, enhance partnership and drive development”. He added, “The project shows the power of performing arts to bring together staff, students and wider stakeholders in a way that transcends traditional cultural and academic boundaries.”

Michael Wilson, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi Principal, who attended the award ceremony in London stated, “It was a huge honour to be in London to receive the Tes 2019 International School of the Year award amongst friends and colleagues. We are obviously delighted with the accolade that recognises what Cranleigh has achieved so far but also reminds us that there is work to be done and hills still to be climbed.”

About Cranleigh Abu Dhabi

Opened in September 2014, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is the sister school to the prestigious Cranleigh School in Surrey, UK.  The two schools work together closely, sharing the same family-based community ethos and an educational philosophy that focuses on the development of the whole child. Based in Abu Dhabi’s Cultural District on Saadiyat Island just next to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the school offers a British international curriculum and has over 1,200 pupils from more than 60 nationalities, spanning FS1 to Sixth Form. Cranleigh Abu Dhabi was awarded the International School of the Year award at the Tes Independent School Awards and was shortlisted for five different categories by SchoolsCompared, including British School of the Year; Best New School; Best for Sport; Best for Music; and Best for Theatre & the Performing Arts. The GESS Awards have also shortlisted Cranleigh Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Best Initiative for Inclusion and Wellbeing, which recognises institutions that have been able to demonstrate a positive impact within their school through different inclusion and wellbeing initiatives. More at

For more information, please contact Samar Bushnaq at

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