Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Sheikh Zayed opera helps Cranleigh clinch top private school award

The Abu Dhabi school was named International School of the Year at the Tes awards in London

Young pupils show off their singing skills in preparation for their opera show inspired by Sheikh Zayed. Courtesy: Cranleigh School 
Young pupils show off their singing skills in preparation for their opera show inspired by Sheikh Zayed. Courtesy: Cranleigh School 

An opera based on Sheikh Zayed's efforts to protect the environment helped an Abu Dhabi private school clinch International School of the Year at an award ceremony in London.

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi was handed the accolade at the Tes Independent School Awards in London, previously known as the Times Educational Supplement awards.

Tes judges the best British schools abroad based on the teaching of the curriculum, specialisms like strategy and finance, and special projects like Cranleigh's Water in the Desert: A Zayed Legacy.

The opera saw more than 80 pupils perform a piece of work that touched on the environment and sustainability and the founding president's belief that water is the country's most valuable resource.

Pupils at the school created the opera and rehearsed it for over a month, working together to write a libretto, design sets and costumes, develop the score and choreograph dances.

The opera was staged in October at the Red Theater at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Among the eight shortlisted was the Arcadia Preparatory School in Dubai.

It is wonderful to have creative collaboration and hard work celebrated

Joanne Lee

Pupils also entered their proposal for eco-tourism in Abu Dhabi's mangroves, created radio advertisements for water conservation and designed sustainable architecture.

Joanne Lee, director of performing arts at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, said: “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.”

Robin Fletcher, chief executive of the UK's boarding school association and the lead judge, 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 believes the the opera project shows the power of performing arts to bring people together while transcending traditional cultural boundaries.

Among the other winners was Bolton School in Greater Manchester, which clinched Independent School of the Year and Senior School of the Year.

The awards also recognised schools that had showed progress in innovation and worked hard to cater for special needs pupils.

Updated: February 6, 2019 06:00 PM

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