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Despite being the smallest country in the Arabian Gulf, almost 26 per cent of the total population, (including expats) are under the age of 19, resulting in in a high demand for quality education. International schools are a popular choice for both locals and expats.

Best schools in Bahrain

Education in Bahrain 

The range and quality of pre-schools, primary schools and senior schools in Bahrain is excellent. From small, family run establishments, to for-profit schools overseen by international educational companies. Facilities are often impressive and well maintained, due to low land and labour costs. A small minority of families choose to send their children to boarding schools in their native countries, with this option being exercised mostly by those with teenage children.

Schools in Bahrain comply with Ministry of Education regulations, both with regard to health issues (vaccination records from birth are required for school registration) and curriculum requirements. All schools that accept Arab children are required to provide Arabic from a certain age, split into Arabic for Arabs and Arabic for non-Arabs. Additionally, schools must provide Islamic studies for Muslim students. Other religious studies are permitted subject to approval from the Ministry.

Bahrain carries out Ofsted type inspections by BQA (Bahrain Education & Training Quality Authority), rating schools from ‘Insufficient Progress’ to ‘Outstanding’. Some British and American senior schools are also externally accredited.
The school year starts in late August/early September and ends in late June/early July, with two to three week breaks in December and March. Schools also close for the national holidays, including three days for each of the Eid holidays. The school week runs from Sunday to Thursday and schools generally start early (between 7.30-8am) and finish early (between 12-3pm), depending on age, with after-school clubs a common feature.

Private bus companies offer transport to the larger schools, collecting your child from your door, (although this often means being collected at crack of dawn).

Choosing a school in Bahrain 

Bahraini private schools tend to offer a bilingual Arabic/English education. Although mainly aimed at Bahrainis, a small number of other families, drawn to the extended Islamic studies and Arabic language curriculum, choose this option. This is usually layered on top of an American or British curriculum.

At international private schools, the curriculum on offer is usually the main factor for re-locating parents. The majority provide either an American or English curriculum option. However, an increasing number of schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma as an alternative final qualification. When it comes to British schools, demand for places often outstrips supply, especially in the younger year groups, so it is advisable to get applications in as early as possible. American schools are also thin on the ground, although there are schools offering a combination of English and American curricula. There are also French and Canadian options, as well as schools catering to the large Indian, Pakistani and Filipino communities, in addition to a small Japanese school.

Facilities vary from school to school. Some are housed in converted villas, others have sparkly purpose-built premises. Those that cannot offer adequate onsite sports facilities often use offsite pools and playing fields. The larger private schools have teams in swimming, football and a range of other sports and there are opportunities for the sportiest children to play other local school teams, as well as to travel to  compete with schools in the wider Gulf region. Further sporting opportunities can be discovered through enrolling in clubs outside school. 


Special education needs in Bahrain 

Unusually for the Gulf, Bahrain is fortunate to have an excellent and extremely well-funded private special needs school. The Children’s Academy which teaches in English, now goes up to 18, with the BTEC syllabus enabling pupils to leave with a UK recognised qualification. The school caters for a range of needs including Down’s Syndrome, Autism, ADHD and Developmental Coordination Disorder. They also run an outreach programme in the afternoons for children aged 9-18, who have a variety of learning and developmental needs.

Pre-schools, kindergarten and nurseries in Bahrain 

There are numerous pre-schools and nurseries in Bahrain. Your choice will depend on where you decide to live, waiting lists (which can be long) and whether you wish your child to go to a small pre-school or the nursery section of one of the large international schools. The majority of pre-schools are situated in the popular expat residential areas of Budaiya, Saar and Hamala in the west of Bahrain, or in Adliya, close to central Manama. 

Best schools in Bahrain 

American School of Bahrain  

American curriculum/ IB diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; privately owned; 710 students

Opened in 2020, offers a full American education with the option of the IB diploma as an alternative to the American high school diploma. Owned by Esol Education and opened on a no expense spared site in North Riffa.

Click here to read our full review of American School of Bahrain

British School of Bahrain (The) 

National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ A level / BTEC; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 2,750 students

Much expanded school, moved to a single purpose-built campus in Hamala in north-western Bahrain in 2009. The campus divided into three sections, infant, junior and senior but some sports and other facilities shared. UK qualified (or with equivalent qualifications) teachers but pupils from over 60 nationalities all taught in English.

Click here to read our full review of the British School of Bahrain.

Children's Academy (The)  

SEN/ International Primary Curriculum/ National Curriculum for England/ GCSE/ BTEC; ages 4-19; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 55 students

Established in 2008, originally housed in Janabiya, but now on a larger campus in Riffa, this school fills the gap caused by limited SEN departments in local schools. Catering for a wide range of needs, including Down’s Syndrome, Autism and ADHD. All lessons in English, taught by mainly expat staff, with western qualifications in special needs teaching.

Click here to read our full review of the Children's Academy of Bahrain.

St Christopher’s School

National Curriculum for England/ I/GCSE / A level/ IB diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 2,330 students

A large, well run and resourced British-style school with students drawn from over 70 nationalities. The majority of teachers are British. The school is spread over two campuses (senior in Isa Town and junior in Saar) about 20 minutes apart. The impressive junior campus was purpose built in 2005. A popular school, leading to a high demand for places, particularly in the younger years.

Click here to read our full review of St. Christopher's School.

These schools have been brought to our attention, but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them.

Bahrain School

American curriculum/ American high school diploma/ AP/ IB diploma; ages 5-18; co-ed; day and boarding; 430 students

Founded in 1968 as the only DoDEA (US Department of Defense) school in the Persian Gulf, located on a large and well secured campus in Juffair, a naval station in the east of Bahrain. Historically, half the student body consists of American children of the military with the remainder Bahraini or from a range of nationalities. It offers boarding facilities for students aged 11-18 who normally reside outside Bahrain (the majority from the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia).

British Preparatory School

National Curriculum for England; ages 18 months-6; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 160 students

Opened in 2008 in Saar, a residential area in the west of Bahrain, this small pre-prep housed in a converted villa, nevertheless contains a library, an all-purpose hall and outdoor play areas. Popular with families attracted by its small, intimate, nursery and infant setting, with British qualified teachers.

Canadian School Bahrain (CSB)

British Columbia; ages 3-11; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit

Opened in 2019 in the new area of Diyar al Muharraq, located not far from the Bahrain International Airport. It is currently, the only school in Bahrain to teach the highly respected British Columbia, Canada curriculum as well as Arabic and Islamic studies. The school sits on a brand-new campus, designed to house a pre-school, junior and senior school with a capacity for 2,500 students (currently from nursery to grade 9)

International School of Choueifat (ISC Manama)

Adapted curriculum/ SABIS; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,700 students

Part of the SABIS network, now educating over 70,000 students in 20 countries on five continents. Purpose-built on Amwaj Island and opened in 2006 (originally only up to Grade 8) but now including a high school. Parents tend to worry about the transferability to other schools outside the SABIS network but the school asserts that their students gain entry to top-class universities around the world.

Lycee Francais MLF de Bahrein

French National Curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 730 students

Established in 1976, a purpose-built school with recent additions and tech upgrades, on Muharraq island in the east of Bahrain, close to the airport. Teachers are either recruited locally or from France. Obviously popular with French speaking expats, although a range of other nationalities attend, as well as local Bahrainis who want their children schooled in French.

Nadeen School

National Curriculum for England/ Australia and New Zealand curricula additions; ages 2-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 400 students

Originally, a primary school, Nadeen School now also offers a secondary school education on its large, new campus in Dilmunia, to the west of Bahrain. Pupils from over 50 countries with staff mainly recruited from English speaking countries. Its strong EAL department, makes it a popular choice with native Bahrainis and other non-English speaking families.

Naseem International School (NIS)

PYP/ MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers Programme; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; 860 students

Bilingual school grown from the original nursery, opened in 1982, now the only school in Bahrain offering all four elements of the IB programme, including the careers option. New campus in Riffa, opposite the Bahrain National Stadium. Selective school. Religious affiliation is Muslim, Classes taught in English and Arabic.

Riffa Views International School

American curriculum/ IB Diploma; ages 4-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 400 students

Opened in 2008 on a fairly spectacular, high-end, architect designed campus on the Riffa Views Signatory Estate, a luxury housing complex and golf course. Now offering an American education from early years to graduation. Students divided between expats (mainly American) and locals, they offer an extensive Arabic programme for native speakers, as well as daily Arabic classes for non-native speakers.

For more information on the schools above, please go to each school’s individual entry on the Good Schools Guide international search.

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