Cranleigh Abu Dhabi wins International School of the Year!

We are very happy to announce that Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is this year’s winner for 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 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.”







The prestigious Tes Awards are run by Tes Global, a digital education company committed to supporting teaching and learning. The organisation is best known for publishing Tes – formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement – the market leading weekly UK publication which was first published in 1910 as a pull-out supplement in The Times newspaper. Home to the world’s largest online community of teachers, with over 8 million registered users, Tes Global also publishes the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.