Originally, romantically known as the Kingdom of the Ammonites and founded, like Rome, on seven hills, Amman is now a sprawling metropolis, attracting multinational companies and thus globe-trotting executives (and their children, who need international schools).
Successive waves of refugees have led to the rapid expansion of the city, which now houses four million people and there is also an annual tourist influx, as the city is the gateway to ‘Rose-red’ Petra, one of the world’s most evocative historical sites. Amman has been described by expats as an ‘oasis of calm and peace’ in the middle east, as it has always maintained strong ties with western countries and has an excellent health service but it’s probably safer to use wheels to get around (or at least a taxi, as local driving is somewhat experimental).
If you do set out walking to your destination, you will quickly understand why so many areas are called either ‘Jebal’ or ‘Wadi’ because the whole place is built on ‘hills’ and ‘valleys’ and a short distance can feel like riding a static roller-coaster. Foreigners tend to live in the comparatively westernised centre of the city, so they often plump for Jebel Amman, with its coffee shops and smart hotels or Jebal Weibdeh, with its more artistic and trendier vibe.
Not as popular a location for expats to bring their families, as Dubai and Doha, despite being the regional headquarters of several global giants, which means that it has failed (as yet) to attract the same number of major educational players to set up shop.
Opened as a school for the British military (housed in the airport), the accredited International Community School was the first on the scene and now operates on the outskirts of Amman, teaching an English curriculum. The Americans followed swiftly, opening the American Community School in 1955, one of only two international schools to offer the US Diploma and Advanced Placement courses, the other being King’s Academy, which, unlike all the other international schools, only takes students from the age of 12. The Modern American School, as its name suggests, provides a US diploma but the remainder of the curriculum is devised by the school.
If you are looking for a British education (in terms of curriculum), your other choice apart from the International Community School is the clearly named New English School (not so new as it was founded in the 1980’s), where around 60 per cent of the students are local. The remainder of the all-through schools are Amman Baccalaureate School, Cambridge High School, International Academy Amman and Mashrek International School. However, the first three of these are basically local schools with over 90 per cent Jordanian pupils, whilst just half of the students at Mashrek International School are local.
There are two other players that take children from kindergarten to graduation, the Lycée Francais d’Amman and the International School of Choueifat, Amman. The former teaches a traditional French curriculum leading to the French Diplôme National du Brevet and culminating in the French Baccalaureate, whilst the latter follows the SABIS educational system, which is a proprietary education programme, taught in English.
Amongst the nurseries and kindergartens, there is one (Eco Kids Pre-School & Kindergarten) that was brought to our attention some time ago and is now nearly twenty years old and there is also the Hill House Kindergarten & Nursery, as a bilingual option, if you want your child to experience Arabic at an early age.
For more information on these schools, please go to each school’s individual entry on the GSGI database or The GSGI article 'Best schools in Amman considered by expats'.
It is yet to be seen whether, either the British or any other global educational brands will decide to open up here, but at the moment the selection is somewhat limited and a large number of expats choose to send their children to boarding schools in the UK, America or their home countries.