Curriculum Policies

    Curriculum Policy-Full School 

    Last reviewed: 1/12/19

    This policy is undergoing major review and a new policy will be implemented in due course

    SLT responsible: Head of Pre-Prep School

    1. The Ethos of Teaching and Learning at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi 

    Our aim is for all of our pupils to:

    • Maximise their academic potential.
    • Foster a love of learning through the provision of a broad, stimulating curriculum that is taught with enthusiasm.
    • Develop the skills required to work successfully, both independently and collaboratively that can be applied throughout school, university and beyond in a world where the workplace is set to change at an astonishing rate.
    • Benefit from innovation within our curriculum and our delivery of it.
    • Appreciate that reward and achievement comes from hard work and determination; worthwhile things rarely come easily.
    • Benefit from and appreciate a holistic education.

    This is delivered in the style of a UK independent school. Specifically, Cranleigh UK, who work closely with us and whose name we use under licence. Cranleigh UK has always enjoyed the freedom to cherry-pick from what is best in the prescribed UK National Curriculum and in other international teaching methodologies, whilst retaining an individuality which complements the needs of our pupils. At Cranleigh we are not passionate about any particular curriculum model but we are passionate about learning and we believe whole heartedly that a balanced curriculum equals a balanced child. Parents support this model in entrusting us with their child’s education, and expect us to deliver the same excellence within the context of an overseas setting. Whilst we have pupils from a range of backgrounds and ability, in preparing pupils for Common Entrance, (I)GCSE and A level, we are delivering a curriculum similar to that of Cranleigh UK (which starts at Year 3). In Pre- Prep we provide a balanced curriculum, based on the EYFS/National Curriculum of England and Wales. Our curriculum is modified to reflect our location and the needs of local pupil. The Pre-Prep (FS1 to Year 2) and Prep School Curriculum (Year 3 to Year 6) is very much a prescribed ‘Cranleigh’ curriculum, as is the curriculum in the early part of the Senior School (Years 7-9). This gives way to a traditional IGCSE (Years10 and 11) and then ‘A-level Curriculum (for Years 12 and 13). It is our intention to progress on the A-level route and this is an area of education under review.

    We aim to work with local schools to raise the standards of education in Abu Dhabi (with ADEC) and to liaise with other independent schools in the region to share opportunities and good practice. We aim to become a flagship school, and the school of choice for Abu Dhabi and beyond.

    1.1 Planning and implementing the curriculum

    The Whole School Curriculum embraces opportunities for embedding key speaking, listening, literacy and numeracy skills. We want our pupils to be active, compassionate and lifelong learners and in order to do this the curriculum and how it is taught must be significant, relevant, challenging and engaging. Teachers are entrusted to develop and deliver the curriculum in their own disciplines, but they are encouraged to try to plan each unit with an awareness of links with other subjects: There should be a concurrency of learning where possible so that subjects are not studied in isolation; instead, meaningful connections should be established to reinforce lessons learnt in other subjects at different stages.

    1.2 Steps to help all pupils achieve. Teachers are encouraged to:

    • Create a classroom environment that encourages success.

    Example evidence: Displays of excellent work completed by pupils are found inside classrooms but also in corridors where pupils from other year groups can observe the quality and efforts of older/younger children. This is not confined to academic disciplines, for example a display focusing on the work of the editorial team of the school magazine.

    • Articulate clear expectations of pupil performance.

    Example evidence: Several mechanisms exist to encourage this critical practice. They include including specific guidance of using target setting when marking (and monitoring to ensure this practice is employed); focusing on making the learning objective of each lesson clear to children by including reference to this in the whole school generic lesson plan and lesson observation forms.

    • Put the child at the centre of the learning and allow assignments to be tailored to meet specific interests.

    Example evidence: At the end of the year pupils choose the focus of their final assessment based on particular areas of interest they have explored through the curriculum over the year.

    • Model excellent work.

    Example evidence: Folders are used to gather individuals’ examples of their best work. Excellent work is also displayed on display boards around the school.

    • Encourage cooperation.

    Example evidence: The ‘theme days’ which take place on a number of days throughout the year use various themes to focus team building skills around branches of the curriculum.

    • Foster motivation.

    Example evidence: Weekly assemblies seek to celebrate success within the curriculum

    • Celebrate the diverse talents of the pupils.

    Example evidence: Pupils write persuasive speeches based on an area.

    • Constantly re-evaluate their lesson planning and improve upon existing plans.

    Example evidence: Planning is reflected upon and adapted at Departmental/Year meetings. In depth analysis of curriculum models occurs when each school’s SLT directs the agenda for curriculum reviews.

    1.3 A supportive classroom climate is critical to pupil’s achievement because:

    • It fosters achievement because pupils are more willing to stretch themselves in new directions.
    • Fear of failure or embarrassment is not an issue.
    • It gives pupils permission to be bold, daring and creative.
    • There is respect for the learning process.
    • There is a high level of trust between and among pupils and teachers.

    2. The Organisation of the Curriculum

    2.1 Administrative structure:

    In order to meet the teaching aims outlined in section 1 the curriculum needs to be delivered and managed within a cohesive structure. This structure should ensure pupils benefit from a progressive and planned curriculum tailored to the ethos of teaching and learning at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.

    To this end the school is divided into three schools listed below. Each school’s SLT, comprised of representatives of each of these schools, provides the forum for debate on whole school curriculum directives.

    Pre- Prep FS1 to Year 2

    Prep School Years 3-8

    Senior School Years 9-13

    2.2 Academic structure within the School

    A standard form structure throughout the school is allied with an academic structure which best suits academic progression within the staffing and curriculum parameters. This ranges from class teaching, to streaming/ setting in the Prep and Senior School.

    2.3 Timetabling and subject teaching allocation:

    The Second Master is responsible for the timetabling of the curriculum from Year 3 as well as the specialist subjects in Pre-Prep. An extensive consultation process involving the Second Master, Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and Heads of Department precedes subject teaching allocation and staffing throughout the school. The Head of Prep is responsible for timetabling FS1 to Year 2.

    2.4 The National curriculum and external examinations:

    The National Curriculum

    The National Curriculum (and EYFS for FS1 and FS2) is the starting point upon which the curriculum at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is built. However, at different levels within the school the National Curriculum is developed and extended to meet our particular pedagogical aims. Close attention is given to the National Numeracy and Literacy Strategies, particularly in the Pre Prep and Prep School where a significant percentage of time is apportioned to engendering these skills. In Years 5 and 6 a transition begins between the core skill development focus in FS1 – Year 4 and the introduction to full specialist teaching in Year 7.

    The National curriculum (and EYFS for FS1 and FS2) remains central to our planning. However, teachers are expected to extend pupils beyond the levels expected by the curriculum, having first ensured that all relevant aspects of it have been covered.

    Under the guidance of Heads of Year/Department staff may choose to depart from the scheme of work laid down by the National Curriculum, if there is a well-argued reason for so doing. This might be to prepare pupils for a particular exam, or to cover a topic at a different time to make best use of resources or teaching capabilities.

    ISEB Curriculum for Academic Subjects

    In the UK the vast majority of pupils in Year 8 move on to UK based Private Schools by means of taking the ISEB Common Entrance or Common Academic Scholarship exams. Clearly, it is with this in mind that schemes of work are planned and teaching is designed to facilitate a smooth progression through this stage of each pupil’s education. This is not, however, to say that the wider curriculum aims of the school are ignored. In fact the ISEB curriculum allows for significant flexibility and autonomy, and has recently been modified to bring it further into line with the National Curriculum at KS3.

    Curriculum Policy-Pre-Prep School

    Last reviewed: 20/11/19

    SLT Responsible: Tania Moonesinghe, Head of Pre-Prep School

    We work towards our aim through providing a challenging and stimulating programme of study, based on the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and National Curriculum of England and Wales, with some modifications to take into account our international setting and international body of children. Our creative approach to curriculum development is designed to enable all children reach the highest possible standard of personal achievement.

    We acknowledge that people learn in many different ways and styles; we recognise the need to develop strategies that allow all children to learn in ways that best suit them, be they visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners. Multiple intelligence/VAK learning and different learning styles are taken into account when planning children’s learning.

    All classes are mixed ability and lessons differentiated in each class. There are specialist lessons for Music, P.E. and Arabic. Muslim children have lessons in Islamic Studies from Year 2 while the rest of the class have focussed activities.  Arabic and Islamic Studies are split into native and non-native sets.

    Teaching in Pre-Prep is via a cross-curricular, creative curriculum approach through half-termly topics. This map is updated yearly and is available on the VLE for parents.

    CCAs are provided by our Year 1 and Year 2 staff for Year 1 and Year 2 pupils every day from 14:45 until 15:25. In addition external providers run CCAs during the week, predominantly for Year 1 and Year 2 pupils but with some for  FS2 pupils. It is not compulsory for Pre-Prep pupils to do CCAs but the hope is that most Year 1 and Year 2 pupils will do at least one to broaden their experiences.

    Curriculum Policy-Prep School

    • This policy is undergoing major review and a new policy will be implemented in due course.”

    Last reviewed: 10/10/18

    SMT responsible: Head of Teaching and Learning Prep School


    In the Prep School, the curriculum builds towards the Common Entrance at the end of Year 8. The Common Entrance has been brought inline recently with the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum but as the CE is taken in Year 8 our curriculum is slightly accelerated. In addition, the ADEC Curriculum requirements are followed.

    Years 3 and 4

    Years 3 and 4 continue to embrace the idea of a ‘creative curriculum’ approach as the way forward in educating our pupils. There is a commitment to enquiry, how best to learn and the application of effective assessment. Secondly, this pupil-centred academic approach is augmented and underpinned by personal and social education that is central to the inquiry-led approach.

    • Inquiry-led learning: the curriculum offers a dynamic balance between the acquisition of essential skills and knowledge and the search for meaning. By starting with the pupils’ prior knowledge and connecting with their search for meaning they are able to promote real and deep understanding.
    • Focused assessment tasks: the success criteria are made explicit at the start so assessments are easy to manage.
    • Emphasis on presentation skills: pride in outcomes is an essential ingredient of the curriculum and display is very important.
    • Citizenship and global dimension is key: there is an emphasis on reflection and moral choice as well as learning. We are concerned with the whole child and their place in the wider world. Multiple intelligences and learning styles are used as tools to promote a sense of community, creativity and personal growth.

    In Years 3 and 4 there are mixed ability classes. English and Maths lessons are timetabled together to allow for setting. The form teachers in Year 3 and 4 have a strong pastoral and academic handle on their class as they teach the majority of lessons to their form in their form room. However ICT, French, Art, Drama and Music may all be taught by other members of staff in other locations on the school site.

    Years 5 and 6

    In keeping with Cranleigh UK our Year 5 pupils are no longer taught by a class teacher and move around the school in various sets. The subject specialist teaching approach at this age is a strongly held value of the school as it gives the pupils the opportunity to flourish and more responsibility at a younger age. Here we move slightly away from the creative curriculum (there are still many cross-curricular links but the Topic approach is not evident) to more discrete teaching. Geography and History are taught as Humanities, which also includes the ADEC Curriculum for Social Studies. Setting in Year 5 and 6 is done for Maths, English, Arabic, Science, and French. In Maths, English and Science the curriculum is developed with the 11+ syllabus in mind.

    Years 7 and 8

    In Years 7 and 8 teachers follow the ISEB Common Entrance syllabus for all core subjects (English, Maths, French, Physics, Biology and Chemistry). The Common Entrance is a two year syllabus of work culminating for us at the end of Year 8 in our Summer Exams week. At Cranleigh we sit the Common Entrance internally and mark the papers here. Some pupils may sit CE and have their papers externally if required by their new Senior School. We aim to have the vast majority of the cohort taking Level 2 papers in the Summer Exams in Year 8, but we will always ensure that pupils sit the level most appropriate for them on an individual basis.

    Year 7 and 8’s are being prepared for the Senior School and we see the Common Entrance as the best way to prepare the pupils for this. Non-core subjects may also follow Common Entrance syllabi and can develop a tailored approach for our school here in Abu Dhabi.

    Curriculum Policy-Senior School Supplement

    Last reviewed: 16/10/2018

    SLT responsible: Head of Senior School & Vice Principal


    In the Senior School, the curriculum is driven by university entrance needs and the fact that Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is a British Curriculum School. In addition, ADEK Curriculum requirements are followed.

    Whilst Cranleigh’s pupils come from a variety of educational systems and will wish to study in a variety of universities around the world, a school cannot cater for every curriculum. Parents choosing Cranleigh Abu Dhabi do so in the knowledge that it is a British Curriculum school. UK school qualifications are recognised by universities globally so, for example, A levels are valued highly by US universities.

    Year 9

    The aim of the Year 9 curriculum is to prepare pupils for (I)GCSEs. Heads of Department are responsible for devising a curriculum suitable to bridge the gap from prep school to GCSE's.

    In all subjects, it will be advantageous to make a “soft start” on (I)GCSE courses, but Heads of Department need to be mindful of the fact that there is usually an influx of pupils from other schools in Year 10.

    The curriculum in Year 9 is being review for the 2019-2020 Academic year to potentially include opportunities for cross-curricular links, investigative styles of learning and skills development.

    Choices at this level are between Spanish and Latin, which are offered to those pupils not required to study Islamic Studies.

    Years 10 and 11

    Most subjects follow IGCSE specifications, often being the most appropriate GCSE option for international schools for a variety of reasons. It is up to Heads of Department to decide which exam board they wish to follow. Subsequent changes of board are discouraged unless essential, and must be authorised by the Head of Senior School.

    In some cases a Head of Department may choose a GCSE course over an IGCSE course. This is permissible, with the authorisation of the Head of Senior School.

    No type of GCSE/IGCSE or Board is worth more or less than any other.

    The current (I)GCSE Options Guide details which subjects are available along with details of all compulsory subjects, options, levels and any selection criteria. This guide is updated each year during Term 2, preceding an Options Evening for Year 9 pupils and parents.

    Years 12 and 13

    Cranleigh offers a range of A levels in the Sixth Form, (along with the EPQ). 

    The current A level Options Guide details which subjects are available along with details of exam boards, course options, and any selection criteria. This guide is updated each year at the end of Term 1, preceding Year 11 options consultation meetings.

    For the 2019-2020 academic year, alternative pathways have been explored to allow more options to pupils.  Details of these pathways will be included in the A level options guide.

    Other National Curricula

    Where pupils wish to study for additional qualifications, such as the SAT exam, for example, the school will be as accommodating as possible in creating the space for this. However, any additional costs incurred will be charged to parents. Other national curricula may not be followed in place of the school’s published curriculum, which takes priority. The school makes no claim to employ or provide staff versed in other curricula. Cranleigh is a British Curriculum School.