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Fairgreen International School, The Sustainable City, Dubailand
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Fairgreen International School, The Sustainable City, Dubailand

by Jon WestleyNovember 18, 2017
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For the first time, parents are to have a choice between two serious, well-resourced – and potentially top-tier sustainability-focused inclusive and academic schools in the UAE – the first, Furjan-based Arbor School, reviewed here, offering a British all-through curriculum, and the second, Dubailand-based Fairgreen International School, offering the International Baccalaureate.

We have met both owners – and both offer a credible, extremely impressive vision of what a sustainable school can be, and how it will benefit both its city and its students.  The schools are set on pioneering a significant new way of educating children in the UAE that promises significant benefits for those children – academically and holistically.

Both ESOL, the 40-year-old organisation behind the IB Fairgreen International School, and Praxis Education, behind the British curriculum Arbor School, are pioneers in what many parents will perceive as cutting edge, even radical, scientifically focused schools – but both in fact could trace their history back through traditional top-tier British and American schooling.

In the UK schools like the historic Lancing College, reviewed on our sister site, here, make a point of operating with an integrated British farm to provide children with an education rooted in conservation, sustainability and the land. There are more than 116 schools in the UK operating with integrated links to farming and countless others which can trace their conservation and sustainability focused grounding through generations.

Similarly, in the US, so called “Farm Schools” and the broader farm school movement counts around 50,000 schools in its number across all 50 states.

To some degree this is a simple case of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The difference, however, with both Arbor and Fairgreen International School from their historic counterparts in the UK and US is the absolute focus on sustainability – and the hard science behind it. Ahead of its students lies a rapidly growing sustainability economy and the now widespread integration of sustainability metrics in global business.

Where once sustainability was driven by reputation management, today global companies integrate sustainability as a primary means to reduce costs and increase efficiency. There is huge demand for experts in these and related sectors. Students immersed in an understanding of sustainability across all its aspects – the offer here from both Arbor and Fairgreen, it is argued, will open doors to future employment and skills simply not available to students at traditional schools in the UAE which are simply being left behind by the march off progress.

 

“One of very few schools of its type and quality worldwide, the Fairgreen International School project initiates an important and necessary evolution for K-12 education.” Walid Abushakra,Chairman. ESOL Education.

 

If there is one key message from both schools it is that an education rooted in sustainability is about the hard dynamics of skills for the 21st century – as well as the noble and necessary ambitions of guiding our economies to a better world for all.

Both schools highlight the exponential speed of developments in sustainability.

It may be unusual to begin reviewing one school by talking about its competition – but in this case both Arbor and Fairgreen International schools operate within different curricular and they share much more in common than they compete for. Many parents are already set clearly on either a British or IB education.

Now, with both Fairgreen International School and The Arbor School opening in Dubai in 2018 parents have a clear choice for their children between either International Baccalaureate or British curriculum schools within the sustainability space.

So what is on offer at the Fairgreen International School?

 

The Sustainable City

Map showing the location of Fairgreen International School in The Sustainable City Dubai

 

Masterplan showing the loaction within Fairgreen International School within The Sustainable City Dubai

First, context. As above, uniquely the school sits as the educational hub of The Sustainable City. It was designed within the masterplan to “set a standard for world class education that integrates sustainability in all its forms(environmental, social and economic) through the highest academic standards and innovative teaching.” Ground up the school has been designed to integrate with and provide the educational foundations of the Sustainable City.

On a small scale, examples this can be found in its basic build and master-planning. Classrooms will open out naturally onto shaded areas naturally vented by the City’s wind towers. As the school beds-in, the design allows for the natural environment of the City to flow into the school, including is flora, fauna and wildlife. Fairgreen’s campus has been designed to minimize the school’s environmental impact, utilizing solar power for all its energy needs, recycling all its water for agricultural use, and implementing waste separation and wind energy generation.

The Sustainable City itself is, theoretically at least, a self-sufficient community. Built on a 46 hectare, 5 million square feet plot, the City is demarcated by a 30-metre wide, three tier buffer zone of forest comprising some 2500 trees, these including at their inner layer dates for harvesting. The forest’s layers are designed to blend seamlessly to inspire wildlife and reach up to 10 metres. Within the City Car Parking is restricted to defined areas and alternative transport is integrated including dedicated horse-riding, cycle and Electric (solar) Vehicle [EV] routes. The 4KM of cycle track includes storm water capture to re-energise the ground water table. A landmark Equestrian Centre is easily accessible for children attending the Fairgreen School.

A collection of Images showing Fairgreen International School and The Sustainable City in Dubai

Of all features of the Sustainable City the standout, for children at The Fairgreen School, is probably The Farm. This delivers over 3,000 square metres of urban farming and includes 11 biodomes, one of which is managed by the school and its children. A community Box Programme, increasingly common in the UK, allows the school and resident access to “home grown” fruit and vegetables that have been produced within the farming belt of the City. The water used for the farming is all recycled greywater, processed within the City.

The Farm, including its Biodome, within Sustainable City that is easily accessible to children at the Fairgreen School Dubai

The Diamond Innovation Centre at the heart of The Sustainable City provides houses R&D programmes in conjunction with sustainability players including the diversity of California. It is also the region’s first carbon negative footprint building: over its lifetime it will produce more energy than that required to both run and produce it. A Junior Innovation Centre showcase, from a child-focussed perspective, the importance and impacts of sustainability and the science that underpins it. The headquarters of the Emirates Wildlife Fund-WWF is also based within the City and works with the City to tackle climate change, promote solar power and develop best practice within the field of energy conservation.

The Sustainable City also includes the most advanced Paediatric Centre in the UAE specially designed to offer the spectrum of child medical and related specialist services offering easy and highly accessible links for children with specialised SEND requirements including autism.

Residential and leisure aspects of the city are structured around these core elements – and the point, for children at Fairgreen School, is to be able to understand in microcosm how global cities of the future can become self –sustaining. On a more holistic note, the opportunities for children of a school to intimately embedded within the context of a conservation, sustainability led environment has numerous knock on impacts on health, well-being and simply on being grounded.

It is easy to forget in a world of supermarkets and plastic packaging where food and the power we use to build our cities actually comes from …

 

The curriculum

The International Baccalaureate curriculum, it is argued, perfectly lends itself to the cross curricular opportunities presented by the Sustainability City. At its simplest, it is one thing to read about solar production in books – quite another to be at the centre of its production. Surrounded by R&D hubs seeking solutions to global problems, the integral problem-solving approach of the IB – together with its project approach to teaching, can draw from the Sustainable City on-the-doorstep access to technology, academic development and multi-disciplinary innovation to bring education to life.

Because sustainability will be completely integrated within the curriculum from “Day One” the ambition is for the school to contribute head in helping the UAE achieve its sustainable development goals (SDG’s) as outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the Dubai Plan 2021 and the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs.

 

“From the campus and architecture to the curriculum and activities, the entire school will adhere to a ‘sustainability first’ ethos with the aim that Fairgreen shall become one of the world’s foremost models of an integrated sustainable school, enabling students to fully envision and tackle the global challenges posed by climate change, the impact of conventional energy sources and food scarcity.

Our graduates will understand the urgency and importance of sustainable living, which will guide their academic and career choices.

They will be pioneers of renewable energy research and urban agriculture, eco-entrepreneurs and public policy change makers.”

Walid Abushakra,Chairman. ESOL Education.

 

Fairgreen International School offers the complete International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum of education, comprising the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), Diploma Programme (IB DP) and, significantly, the outstanding Career-related Programme (IB CP).

SchoolsCompared.com has been an outspoken proponent of the career-related programme because, uniquely, it offers a technical stream foundation within its programme for children. It is hard to think of a more perfect location for running the programme that at Fairgreen given its location within the Sustainable City.

It is worth noting that the IB, particularly in the Diploma and Career-related programmes has the capacity, at its best, to provide an environment in which young men and women can solve problems, develop patents and provide industry solutions on a global scale.

 

The School and its Facilities

Child with watering can highlighting the sustainability and environmental credentials of Fairgreen International School Dubai

Fairgreen International School will open with Pre-KG to Grade 9 classes in September 2018, growing to a thriving community of over 1,000 students by 2025. With a capacity of just 1200 students when Fairgreen International School opens to full, all-through provision to K12, this is also a small, intimate school by Dubai standards – a genuine plus for many parents.

Facilities are typically Tier 1 and include the “usual” and expected “suspects” at this level of fees and provision. These include:

  • Technology-enabled classrooms
  • “State of the art” labs across every component of curriculum provision
  • Production and “maker” facilities
  • Landmark library
  • The full spectrum of specialised Arts and music labs, studios and spaces
  • A Tier 1 athletic complex include 25M swimming pool, indoor multi-purpose gym, auditorium, outdoor soccer field, ball courts and playgrounds.

However, for many parents it is the added value of its citing within The Sustainable City that will be the major draw. This is not a school operating in a vacuum. These unique features, as above, include:

  • Unbridled access to the Sustainable City’s Innovation Centre, Junior Innovation Centre, Equestrian Centre, biking facilities and jogging tracks.
  • Access to one of The Sustainable City’s bio-domes dedicated to the school. The Biodome will serve as Fairgreen’s Health, Wellness, and Learning Centre. Led by Stephen Ritz, the facility is being modelled on the transformational programs he established in New York and will engage Fairgreen’s students in project-based learning through urban and vertical farming.

 

ESOL

Established in 1976, Esol Education operates nine schools across five countries, most recently establishing the American School Hong Kong in 2016, its first school in East Asia.

ESOL will be well-known to many UAE parents for its American International School in Abu Dhabi (AISA), reviewed here, historic management of the Universal American School in Dubai (UAS), reviewed here, and Deira International School (DIS) in Dubai, reviewed here.

Along with Fairgreen International School, Esol is also set to open the Dunecrest American School in September 2018, review here.

Fairgreen International School will open with Pre-KG to Grade 9 classes in September 2018. Parents should note the rare confidence shown by the Dubai Inspectorate of Schools in granting permission for ESOL top open to Grade 9. This is only awarded for schools with proven expereince in operating high calibre schools.

 

Leadership

Educated in the UK, Founding Headmaster (Director) of Fairgreen International School, Graeme Scott, brings with him 3 decades of international experience drawn from across the UK, the Netherlands and latterly Bangkok. Mr Scott’s six years as Deputy Head of the International School Bangkok (ISB), saw him playing a pivotal role in the development of the highly regarded International Baccalaureate World School. Prior to this Mr. Scott served for seven years as Head of the International School of The Hague in the Netherlands. He holds a B.Ed. from Sheffield Hallam University; the Advanced Diploma of Educational Management from Leicester University; and, iss currently completing a Masters in Applied Educational Leadership with University College London. Mr Scott is a member of the Advisory Board of Sea Change Mentoring, a senior associate for EDUCAA Education and regularly consults for UK based Fieldwork Education teaching their International Leadership and Management Program to existing and aspiring school leaders.

“The educational philosophy at the heart of what we are going to achieve at Fairgreen International School is founded in robust research and our teaching methodology and approach fully supported by recent findings from educational neuroscience.

Throughout their educational journey with us our children will be enveloped within a culture of extraordinary care.

Above all, innovation and creativity are the non-negotiables – all our children at Fairgreen International School will be encouraged to be courageous and will be inspired to think differently.”

 Graeme Scott. Founding Head and Director. Fairgreen International School Dubai.

 

Fees

The fee structure for Fairgreen International School surprisingly bucks the trend for new ultra-premium schools pitching fees beyond 100,000 DHS.

Given the facilities and offer, whilst clearly a fee structure that will not be affordable for many parents, our view is that the value offer here, if delivered as planned, is high.

The provision of the International Baccalaureate Career-related programme is a particular benefit for children joining the school in the early years, offering the broadest possible choice for them in the final years of their education. Too many schools still limit pupils to the International Baccalaureate Diploma, often with supporting alternatives that offer much less value including limiting alternatives to individual IB courses, or, in American schools the High School Diploma.

The Technical stream opportunities afforded by the International Baccalaureate Career-related programme will be valuable to students who might struggle, or simply not benefit from the academic (and second language) demands of the Diploma.

Secondly, Fairgreen is offering a sustainability focus embedded within its programmes that is simply not available currently in any other UAE IB school.

Parents should note that interestingly the standard fees for Fairgreen International School are broadly comparable with those for the Arbor School – a clear benefit ensuring that, as parents, we can make our decisions based on the curriculum on offer rather than the muddling dynamics of fee levels. For parents not decided on a British or IB curriculum, a visit to both schools is highly recommended.

It is worth noting too that the 3-year Founders discount packages on offer for boys and girls joining Fairgreen International School at the time of its opening in September 2018 are generous, and particularly so for those joining at Pre-KG to Year 1 phases. We are pleased to see that the discounts have not been restricted for Pre-KG. A number of schools reduce the discounts for this phase, presumably because it is the year most launching schools faced the highest demand.

A full breakdown of the founding fee structure over the first three years can be found below.

Table showing Founder's fee discounts at Fairgreen International School Dubai

Bottom line?

There can be no disputing that Fairgreen International School is very innovative, and impressively ambitious in being a school designed to educate children for the demands of the 21st century, in a sector that is likely to see exceptional demand and growth.

As a comparative web site it is also pleasing to be able to write about a new school sector that is opening with two potentially outstanding and groundbreaking schools offering alternative curricular. For parents seeking a British education, the Arbor School, in our meetings with its school founders and leadership, has shown itself, like Fairgreen International School in the International Baccalaureate space, to be building a high integrity, high value school.

For parents seeking an International Baccalaureate education in the sustainable economy sector, and notwithstanding that these are early days, many months before the school opens, Fairgreeen International School promises much to be genuinely excited and impressed with.

Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers from our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.

Request School Information

Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Pre-KG: 50,000
KG1: 65,000
KG2: 70,000
YEAR 1: 70,000
YEAR 2: 70,000
YEAR 3: 70,000
YEAR 4: 70,000
YEAR 5: 78,000
YEAR 6: 78,000
YEAR 7: 78,000
YEAR 8: 78,000
YEAR 9: 78,000
YEAR 10: 78,000
YEAR 11: 88,000
YEAR 12: 88,000

Curriculum

International Baccalaureate
Notes
(1) All-through IB PYP, MYP, IB DP
(2) Provision for Career-related Programme
(3) Exclusive integration of sustainability within the curriculum programmes from entering the school

External Exam Boards

International Baccalaureate

Selective

Fully inclusive

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

1200 capacity

Year opened

September 2018

Location

The Sustainable City, Dubailand, Dubai

Student composition

International

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

ESOL Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 349 9989

Web Address
About The Author
Jon Westley

Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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