Hartland International School, Sobha Hartland, Nad Al Sheba
• Tier 1 facilities
• Individualised learning
• Whole-child provision
• Hartland passport supported by free and comprehensive ECA provision
• Phased opening to parallel stream GCE A’ Level and International Baccalaureate Diploma – arguably the best curriculum combination available across the educational sector
• 5-year Scholarship programme
• Outstanding language provision and internationalism
• All new schools phasing their openings have “space to fill …”
• Issues reported with turnover in teaching staff
Updated March 2017
Hartland International is a school that has launched with many of the teething pains that we expect of new schools opening in the UAE, and is still in the process of working through what has amounted to quite a turbulent start – more on this below. Despite this the school made it to the top 5 of whichschoooladvisor’s rated “Top New Schools for 2015-16,” largely on the back of the schools facilities and its stated aspirations: Hartland International has been established ground-up as a premium, Tier 1, full-phase KG to Year 13 school.
The school has been built at the heart of the newly developing Sobha Hartland Community in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City; the community is gradually being constructed around it, the developers aiming for the a school to be a social, cultural and family hub for a new community.
The actual design of the school is impressive, and as importantly the bells and whistles have warmth, with the white buildings and glass/steel façade designed around intimate groups of grassed quadrangles at the heart of Foundation, Primary and Secondary sections of the school.
The school owners are hoping the prestige and specialist programmes of the school will attract families from across Dubai.
Hartland is the first of Sobha’s flagship schools to launch in the Emirates; it will be followed in September 2017 by the prestigious all-through IB North London Collegiate School Dubai in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City. Whilst the school is for-profit, the owner, PNC Menon, through his company Sobha, is a philanthropist, educating more than 11,000 of India’s poorest children free-of-cost in schools he established in Kerala. Hartland launched with a dedicated 5-year academic scholarship programme offering 50% fee remission, in part to ensure that gifted children were not excluded from the school on financial grounds.
In March 2017 Hartland announced details of its scholarship programme for 2017-18. 10 places will offer 100% fee remission in the first year reducing to 50% fee remission over the subsequent three years of the award. We understand that the Award may be extended dependent on the financial circumstances of the parents.
More information can be found here. Applications must be received by the 27th March. We recommend that all parents of children who are specially gifted academically, or in the broader Arts, including Performing Arts, or Sport, facing hardship, do contact the school regardless of the time of year. Hartland is genuinely – and impressively, committed to the principles of its programme. Our only critique is that we would like to see a guarantee that any scholarship awarded, subject to parental hardship, should be available for the duration of the relevant child’s education at the school.
Hartland is, impressively, fully inclusive with a commitment to welcome all children. This we are told is backed by “significant” investment in staff to ensure that the curriculum is individualised according to the needs of each child.
The school is deliberately phasing its opening to offer comprehensive parallel stream English National Curriculum / International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBD] provision at Sixth Form from 2020-21.
Hartland is currently accepting applications across Foundation, Primary and Secondary faculties to Year 7, offering a British education founded on the English National Curriculum at EYFS onwards to prepare children for(I)GCSE with a wide-range of subject choices across the arts, social sciences and performing arts.
The school is committed to language provision and says it will offer Arabic, French, Mandarin, German and Spanish to compliment core English provision with the ambition that all children will be proficient in 3 languages on leaving Hartland.
One interesting twist on this is that a core partnership with Emirates has seen an influx of children from South America, this feeding the language ambitions of the school, particularly in Spanish which is taught as an option from Year 2. From Year 2 children also have alternative language options, apart from Spanish, in pursuing French, German, or Mandarin. From Year 7 French, Spanish and Arabic are compulsory.
The feel of the school is very international, in a really positive way – there is a sense that children are experiencing a very grounded academic curriculum, but one supported by the experiences, and bigger picture, that comes from a dynamic mixed role. We have updated our scoring to reflect both the enhanced internationalism of the school and the clear language focus of the school: securing genuine proficiency in three languages for all children is, we believe, quite some ambition – and impressive.
Hartland operates a “Day-Boarding” model of school. By this the school simply means it is not all about the academic day – Hartland runs through until 4:00pm, Sunday to Wednesday, from Primary phases onwards (rather than the typical 2:30pm) in order that every child automatically benefits from co-curricular provision as an integral part of their education.
Current enrichment programmes include those for football; gymnastics; swimming; taekwondo; horse riding; environment/eco; a culture club; journalism; drawing and sketching; singing and choir; public speaking and debating; musical performance; drama and acting; e-book creation; Lego Mindstorms based robotics; and 3D Computer Aided Design. The programmes are themed across 6 areas of whole-child provision: Physical, Community, Intellectual, Creative Performance and Technical. Interestingly, and very impressively, all ECA’s are provided for free – something we have not seen before in a school offering such a comprehensive programme. The ratio is about 50/50 between teacher led activities and those provided by external professionals (including football and music).
The programme is supported by a Hartland Passport which is completed as each student grows in talent, experience and learning.
The building and facilities are excellent, and you can sense that as you enter the school. The lobby area is impressive and is adjacent to the 700-seat Auditorium and so has the benefit of a double height wall of wood panelling, There is a small coffee counter and 8-10 tables with comfortable chairs. The School Canteen is spacious and airy; children can bring lunch or buy lunch at the school. Children in FS 1 and FS 2 have lunch in the classrooms.
The IT lab is for Year 4 upwards and is linked to the well equipped Design and Technology facility (for wood, plastics and metals). There is a lovely flow between these 2 work spaces. The Science Lab is again specified for children from Year 4 upwards.
The main Library is in a glass wing of the school and is well equipped with 7,000 books, with an additional 5,000 recently delivered and awaiting placement on the shelves.
The Art room has been well thought out and the design is really impressive. There are 3 sections within the large area all divided sympathetically. One for artwork, one for clay work ( with sinks) and the final area at the end of the section is a glass area with bean bags and comfy spaces for the children to think creatively. A wall runs almost the full length of the art room which creates a wide corridor where a gallery of work has been displayed. Its a lovely feature.
There is a separate Sixth Form Centre with full provision across research, ICT, common room based meeting and discussion and specialised IB learning.
There are 9 technical laboratories covering robotics, graphics design, 3D CAD and manufacturing, digital technology, food technology, materials, virtual learning and core physics, chemistry and biology sciences. iPads are provided for children in Year 2 upwards, Laptops are provided for the older children as needed.
Hartland also offers quite specialist facilities: a photography studio; dance studio for provision across ballet and jazz to modern and tap (mirror, railed and with fully spring floors); dedicated black-box rooms on the gallery level each with a piano; recording studio (currently being updated); recital rooms; multiple music/instrument practice rooms (one for Years 1 – 6, and one, currently, for Year 7)) as well as prayer rooms and a Special Educational Needs [SEN] / counselling centre.
Naturally the school also offers a cafeteria for its students.
Sporting facility provision takes shape with an 8-lane 25M (shaded) competition swimming pool with separate, supporting splash/learner pool; indoor sports centre with competition grade football field and athletics provision for running; and fabulous (shaded) extended rooftop areas with 2 tennis and netball courts and play areas.
On its first visit WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke with parents who at the time “had nothing but enthusiastic comments to make about the school and its staff, many of whom were singled out for their inspirational information sessions.” They noted “committed owners, leaders, staff and parents”. However in the weeks and months afterwards both WhichSchoolAdvisor.com and SchoolsCompared.com were contacted by parents concerned about changes in teaching staff, and the turnover of its teachers.
These concerns came to a head with the loss of Executive Principal, Jenny Stephen and head of primary, Melissa McBride. The school’s new Head, Fiona Cottam, the former Principal and CEO at Outstanding rated Jumeirah College, strengthened by almost five years at GEMS Education, has really begun to turn things around.
“For me this is about getting the school back on track… I think the heart and soul of the place has got the right feel.” Fiona Cottam. Principal. Hartland International School.
Teething problems at launch are likely to have contributed to the loss of a number of founding families, mostly to migration to other schools, under Ms Cottam numbers have recovered and are now around 300 children with 56 nationalities represented and gender equal.
There is no doubt that in the early days of the school, the sheer scale of ambition ran into issues of delivery. This is not unusual – it is rare for launching schools to have no teething issues. The fundamental question is how schools respond, and, following our inspection, we are comfortable that Hartland is moving back on track. There is certainly no doubting the commitment and passion of Ms Cottam, which is increasingly translating to positive change across almost every part of school life.
The school currently supports FS1 to Year 7 but intends to open Year 8 in Sept 2017 – and further grades consecutively to full all-through provision by 2022.
There are presently 3 FS1 and 3 FS2 classes with a maximum of 5 classes. Each has a maximum of 20 students. Year 1 to Year 7 classes have a maximum of 24 students and benefit from a Teaching Assistant [TA].
Fees at Hartland are currently premium and run between 49,750 AED at FS phases to 81,000 AED in Year 8. Likely to edge towards 100,000 AED when Year 13 comes on stream, the school will, in terms of fees, be a Premium Plus school. Founding discounts, available until 2017-18, together with school scholarships (see above), provide some help for those less able to pay.
Bottom line? In terms of its whole child provision, extremely impressive language offer, inclusive philosophy, freely resourced ECA provsion, individual tutor/mentor, and its extended day designed to make enrichment integral to each child’s journey, this is a school that promises much. Hartland is a very ambitious school.
In terms of actual delivery, Hartland remains a new school bedding down. To put it simply, new schools need time to develop their own character and identity and work at their best. Hartland is still on this journey.
It has come a long way since our first visit however, and it is worth finishing on the internal comments of our team as part of our inspection of the school for our December 2016 review:
Go to the FIRST REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the COMMUNITY SCHOOL on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the NEWS STORY on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the LATEST NEWS on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
“There is a definite intention to evolve and create a school which is at the heart of the community and the existing parent that we spoke with informally, and independently, was genuinely very pleased with developments, and the approach, at the school.
“Under the new Principal there is without doubt a really cohesive push, one shared by all the staff we spoke with, to provide a world class, highly creative and whole child curriculum. We had a strong sense that the school has a new direction and a clear intention.
“The children we saw at break, seemed very settled and were very polite. Children throughout the school, in fact, seemed very happy. The atmosphere is very friendly, welcoming and warm.
“And there are some things Hartland is doing, particularly with languages and ECAs, that have the capacity to set benchmarks for the sector over time.”
Under review 2017-18
YEAR 1: 65,000
YEAR 2: 67,000 (Discounted to 65,000 2017/18)
YEAR 3: 68,000 (Discounted to 65,000 2017/18)
YEAR 4: 70,000 (Discounted to 65,000 2017/18)
YEAR 5: 75,000 (Discounted to 65,000 2017/18)
YEAR 6: 78,000 (Discounted to 65,000 2017/18)
YEAR 7: 80,000 (Discounted to 75,000 2017/18)
YEAR 8: TBC on-stream 2017-18
YEAR 9: TBC on-stream 2018-19
YEAR 10: TBC on-stream 2019-20
YEAR 11: TBC on-stream 2020-21
YEAR 12: TBC on-stream 2020-21
YEAR 13: TBC on-stream 2021-22
National Curriculum for England:
(I)GCSE O' Level
GCE A' Level
International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBD]
International Baccalaureate Organisation
Arabic - First language
Arabic - Foreign language
Design and Technology - Product Design (3D)
Design and Technology - Food Technology
Design and Technology - Resistant Materials
Physical Education (PE)
Art & Design
Other subject to be confirmed
No - fully inclusive school
(1) Including full Special Educational Needs provsion
(2) Gifted and Talented [G&T] programme
(3) Every child assigned individual tutor/mentor
Not published [WSA projected HIGH+]
Years 1-11: 1:24
Years 12-13: TBC
Sobha Hartland, Nad Al Sheba, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
60+ nationalities to be represented
+971 (0) 4 407 9444
Inspection due 2017-18