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Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, Nad Al Sheba 3
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Review

Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, Nad Al Sheba 3

by March 31, 2016
Strengths

• Breadth and quality of facilities when the school completes its launch
• School leadership deeply committed to the school
• Scholarship and bursary programme
• Committed owners
• Focused preparatory-only schooling for academically gifted children
• Dedicated, specialised dyslexia support
• On-going generous discount scheme for Emirates staff
• Subsidised transport
• Technology focus
• Good ROI

Weaknesses

• Inherent teething problems of a new school in launch phases

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
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Academic
A+
B+
Value
A-
A+
ExtraCurricula
A-
A+
Languages
B+
A+
Sports
A-
A+
Arts & Drama
A-
A+
Teaching
A
A
Communications
A-
A+
Warmth
A-
A+
Differentiation
B+
A+
SEND Provision
B+
A+
Scl Community
A-
A+
Scl Facilities
A-
A+
Opportunities

• Impressively ambitious with, at completion, every possible foundation in place to be a benchmark for outstanding Tier 1 premium prep school provsion
• Possibility of eventual all-through IB Diploma focused education in the years to come

A-
Our Rating
A
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Top of shortlist
45%
In my Top 5
18%
Shortlisted
18%
A possibility
9%
Pass
0%
No way
18%

Updated May 2017 – schoolscompared 2017 visit and KHDA Inspection

“Our school is more than an outstanding one – it stands for something – and stands out. We have created a home for learning that achieves for children beyond outstanding academics, as vital as they are. Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is a place in which children learn in the fullest sense – and find their own purpose. It is a very special school that crafts an education through imagination and discovery – and one that makes its own powerful and distinct contribution within the Kings’ group of Tier 1 British schools.”

Darren Gale. Principal. Kings School. Nad Al Sheba.

Prospective parents should read the following with reviews of Kings’ School Dubai, here, and Kings’ School Al Barsha, here.

Kings’ Education in the emirates comprises three schools:

Kings’ Nad Al Sheba [KNAS]: an FS1 to Year 6 English National Curriculum preparatory school with planned eventual phased launch to provide the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Kings’ Dubai [KD]: the KHDA Outstanding founding FS1 to Year 6 English National Curriculum preparatory school located in Umm Suqeim 3 and established in 2004

King’s Al Barsha [KAB]: the Kings’ all-through English National Curriculum school offering RSA Opening Minds structured provision through (I)GCE O’ and GCE A’ Level. The school is the current secondary slipstream for both Kings’ Dubai and Kings’ Nad Al Sheba preparatory schools. Like Kings’ Nad Al Sheba, the school was established in September 2014.

Kings’ Nad Al Sheba remains a school very much in the final stages of its launch phase.

Minor finishing touches are ongoing – and the original aim for the school to offer an all-through education culminating in the International Baccalaureate Diploma [IBDP] has, at least in the medium term, been shelved. As it stands, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is modeling itself as a premium, tier 1 British preparatory school on the template of its KHDA Outstanding founding sibling, Kings’ Dubai – but very much with its own unique character.

Kings’ Nad al Sheba offers a bespoke British, English National Curriculum based education currently in phased launch for children between FS and Year  6. The 1.3 million square feet, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba campus, currently offers only Foundation and Primary with a total capacity of 950 students between 3 and 11 years of age. The curriculum is significantly different to the standard EYFS/primary UK education approach dominant in the sector elsewhere in the emirates. Kings’ NAS adopts a much more holistic, concept-based learning approach modeled on the RSA Opening Minds structure that is further developed and strengthened in its all-through sister school in Al Barsha which currently acts as the slipstream for Kings’ NAS Pupils from Year 7.

The investment at Nad Al Sheba is significant, some $27 million on the last calculation made available to us.

The school is modeled extremely closely on Kings’ Dubai and Kings’ Al Barsha. The aim is to replicate the extraordinary success of the former – one of the Emirates’ highest rated schools, and the only school in Dubai to have achieved an Outstanding ranking from the KHDA for nine years in a row – since Dubai’s regulator began inspections. Expectations for Kings’ Nad Al Sheba are as a result extremely high.

Our review of Kings’ Dubai can be found here.

Our review of the slipstream, Kings’ Al Barsha, can be found here.

Prospective parents should note that as with all Kings’ schools, intake is academically selective at all phases. Depending on the individual child, a selective, academically focused school can help or hinder an education, something that depends on a plethora of individual circumstances including each child’s personality, how they are driven – and so on. However good a school in general terms – as this one certainly is, nothing should distract from the importance of visiting a school and working out with admissions staff, and ideally both subject teachers and the Principal, the particular fit of any school to your child(ren).

All three schools share an architectural and learning identity and facilities across each are Tier 1 premium – and outstanding.

At Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, on completion of its ambitious building programmes, these include a fully digital campus; separate Primary and FS phase buildings; (attractive) under-stair majlis area focused on instilling linkages between the school and the Emirati culture that provides its context; a landmark auditorium and theatre with staging, sound and full production set-up; dedicated ICT suite; Apple TV equipped classrooms; extensive landscaped indoor and outside play areas tailored to the different phase need of Foundation and Primary School children; library with meeting, learning and ICT provision; integrated break-out spaces immediately outside all classrooms offering fee-flow diversity to learning delivery in breaking down the distinctions between interior and exterior space; medical clinic and a fabulous Parent’s cafeteria to build both school and intra-parental community links to the benefit of children.

Following our visit to the school in April 2017 we found a school that may well be something of a hidden jewel in the crown for parents set on a Kings’ Education. The background, for parents seeking a place at Kings’ founding Dubai school, is the almost unsurmountable hurdle of securing a place at one of the most over-subscribed, and much loved, schools in the Emirates. The launch of two further Kings’ schools has created capacity to respond and we found at the Nad Al Sheba campus a real gem – a school firing on all cylinders and in an evolutionary phase of development in which parents and children have an opportunity to pioneer a role in the school’s evolution. For parents, most importantly, the school offers all the cache of a Kings’ education, follows its academic model and, as of April 2017, has capacity and places.

The elephant in the room is… location. The issues, for many parents, are of course simple logistics – getting to Nad Al Sheba, and the additional cost of travel, which does effectively, and unavoidably, inflate the total cost of fees. Its location, adjacent to Repton Dubai, is very much an up and coming education hub for the region – but clearly does not enjoy the easy accessibility of Kings Dubai or Kings’ Al Barsha.

We have timed travel journeys from various parts of the Emirates – and the reality are journey times from from Arabian Ranches, Silicon Oasis, the Jumeriah Village Triangle and Circle, Dubai Marina,  Mirdiff and Dubai Downtown of a maximum 30 minutes’ drive even allowing for traffic. More significantly, the school operates one of the most generous transport schemes in the Emirates. The scheme, which is guaranteed until 2019, offers a fixed price transfer, door-to-door, for a fixed price of 4500 AED per student. This makes the costs of transport, for parents with one child at the school, pretty much on a par with driving costs at most other commutable schools – but without any of the the hurdles and pressures of the school commute. Even for local schools these can be, at the least, significant.

There is a further incentive for families enrolled at Nad Al Sheba, and one surprisingly not well publicised. It is the only school in the group offering subsidised places for siblings. These run to between 5% and 15% depending on the number of siblings. The school also enjoys partnerships with Emirates Airlines and the Aviation Professionals Club (APC) which can see further significant financial benefits for eligible families.

The bottom line here then is that it is possible, at least as of April 2017, to secure a Kings’ Education in Dubai, and at comparative costs. It should be noted that the lower costs in the founding school in some years simply follow from the older facilities. Both the Al Barsha and Nad Al Sheba schools are brand new, Tier 1 schools and the differential is significantly less than that you would find in equivalent new schools from GEMS, for example. New schools inevitably command a premium.

Kings’ School
Al Barsha Annual School Fees (AED)
Kings’ School
Nad Al Sheba Annual School Fees (AED)
Kings’ School
Dubai Annual School Fees (AED)
Foundation Stage 1 50,200 50,200 40,777
Foundation Stage 2 50,200 50,200 40,777
Year 1 52,500 52,500 51,419
Year 2 52,500 52,500 51,419
Year 3 57,200 57,200 51,419
Year 4 59,000 59,000 51,419
Year 5 63,700 63,700 62,058
Year 6 63,700 63,700 62,058

 

We do think that there is a strong argument for extending the Kings’ scholarship programme, which offers up to 50% fee remission for outstanding students, to a broader bursary programme for lower years as it is, in its current variant, only available to students from Year 7. This said, we always advise parents to speak with each school frankly about fees. There can be nothing lost from speaking candidly with schools about each family’s individual circumstances. Sometimes, for British families at least, typical British reservation about discussing finances really can get in the way – and Dubai’s best schools are usually very approachable and kind in looking at individual circumstances – for the right child.

If finance and location are the elephants in the room, what of the education on offer? Does it stack up well against the founding Kings’ school?

First, the school’s Head, Darren Gale. The Principal of a school does make a difference. Are they there for the long haul? Do they really care? Is there a genuine personal investment? Are they ambitious for children? Is there something on the line for them in making a school work? Are they inspirational? Charismatic? Can they make waves, when necessary, with owners when part of a larger group? Are they qualified? Do they have the respect of their teams? Do they engage with parents? And the children they are responsible for?

We found in Mr Gale a rare Principal which pretty much answers all of the above in the affirmative. In terms of simple history his passion is Primary education, and his two decades of teaching experience is grounded in Modern Languages teaching in the UK. A graduate in Languages and Linguistics, he moved to the UAE in around 2006 when he joined GEMS Jumeirah College as Director of Learning and Teaching.  This was followed by his taking up a role at Aldar’s ADEC Outstanding Al Yasmina Abu Dhabi as Head of Secondary, a role leading to his eventual appointment as Principal. He joins the school from a one-year turn—around role as Principal of Springdales Dubai. Mr Gale has been in post at Kings since September 2016. He is a linguist by training (trilingual in French, English and Spanish) and a British School of the Middle East (BSME) schools’ accredited Inspector.

If these are the basic dry facts more telling is both his insistence to continue teaching in the school and his absolute passion for making the school the best in Dubai – and that includes when measured against Kings’ own founding school. He knows every child by name…. His personal imprint on the school is clearly evident too. We really liked his development of a dedicated Imagination, Creativity and Exploration Centre at the school (ICE) – an initiative unique to Nad Al Sheba. This is designed to reflect his belief in the progressive edge afforded by child-centric learning and has drawn in children, and parents, in developing a space where each child’s imagination is allowed to develop unhindered, but supported.

This is one of a number of differentiators that we found in the feel of the school – something you don’t find in prospectuses or generic marketing materials. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly makes the school shine (and it does) – but we think it may be captured by Mr Gale’s use of the concept of “boutique schooling.” What we think he is trying to capture is that this is a small school by any standards – BUT one that has the investment, facilities and investment in teachers you only normally find in the very large capacity Tier 1s. On our visit, we were very struck by just how personal, and family orientated, the school is – we really hope that as the school grows it does not lose this. Small schools in Dubai are getting extremely hard to find as the competition for Tier 1 facilities pushes schools to build ever larger campuses to apportion costs. As it stands, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba offers the best of both possible worlds – small school intimacy – and Tier 1 British schooling. The current role of around 300 children is just short of a third of the eventual capacity of the school which will be capped at 950 children.

In terms of academics, as measured in Advanced International (AA) TIMSS, we understand that the school is outperforming the sector, and that including both its Kings’ brother and sister schools…

The facilities we found at the Nad Al Sheba campus do mirror those at Kings’ Al Barsha to a great extent. The differences are small – mainly in the significantly greater number of free flow spaces and more extensive classroom availability.  Currently the school homes 3 FS 1 classes with a maximum class of 20 children, each with a Teaching Assistant (TA) and shared Nanny; 5 FS2 classes, each capped at 24 children with both a TA and shared Nanny; 3 Year 1 classes’ and Year 2 classes. There are 2 dining areas (meals are provided by Bloom) and we found both friendly and engaging. The FS outdoor play facility is highly stimulating and well planned. The Primary play area, we feel, lacks equipment – something recognised by the school and currently in development.  The multipurpose hall homes assemblies, sport, drama and dining and is of a high standard. The indoor sports hall is of a good size and houses concrete bleachers. There are both FS learner and main, 25M 8-lane shaded pools (with dive blocks) for swimming. Outside sports facilities are excellent including a Football Pitch and Clay courts for Netball or Tennis.

Classrooms are paired, with double width glass doors dividing them and access to outside learning areas, either at ground floor or with first floor balconies. The corridor areas are wide and light and provide good breakout, or free flow spaces, for the children.  The FS library is in a central wide area on the ground floor which runs between FS1 and FS2 sides of the building. Classrooms we visited were bright and full of inspiring displays appropriate to the theme (on our visit this included “under the sea.”)

Other facilities include a Music Room (with 3 keyboards, Ukulele’s and extensive percussion instruments); a black box theatre;  Primary Library (which hosted a number of fabulous initiatives on our visit including ‘Mystery Reading’ (in which children choose  books with their covers obscured and a ‘Book Tasting Cafe’ in which books within genres are presented in menus with suitable descriptions of what is in store from their reading); Parent’s Café; and, dedicated SEN and G&T ‘Achievement Centre.’

30 children are currently identified with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), just shy of 10% of the school role. 17 children are identified as Gifted and Talented (G&T), around 6% of children. The school currently draws children from 39 nationalities with Emirati families accounting for about 10% of the role.

Technology is a core focus of the school – we were really impressed with the provision of Raspberry Pi devices and the introduction of coding from Year 1. The school has a dedicated Digital Coach and BYOD (iPad) operates from Year 4.

Facilities meet almost every conceivable need for the target preparatory age of its children/phases and are not bettered by other focused preparatory schools elsewhere in the sector.

Sports include netball; football; basketball and swimming. We particularly like the further provision of a variant of touch rugby given ongoing concerns that rugby at school level should be modified to its touch variant to minimise the significant risks of the professional sport.

All children are allocated to one of the four school houses on joining the school; Tudor reds, Stuart blues; Hanover greens and Windsor yellows.

As is our view with its sister school in Al Barsha, prospective parents, whatever the temptation, should not automatically extrapolate from its sister Kings’ Dubai’s outstanding provision that the same will hold true for schooling in Nad Al Sheba. Kings’ Dubai is an established school, Kings’ Nad Al Sheba is very much being established. This said, as it stands in April 2017, the school is matching, and in places exceeding, the benchmarks set by its founding school.

Bottom line.

In its combination of school leadership, steadfast, genuine and passionate support from the school’s founders, an extremely rich, unique whole child centred concept instantiated curriculum – and Tier 1 facilities, the school has everything in place to parallel the success of its founding school.

Less by design than circumstance, the limited number of founding children have also created a hugely warm, small school culture at odds with the scale of its buildings. There are less than 300 pupils currently. There are benefits of this – not least in a more personalized learning experience for those who are currently attending.

Stand-out features of the school in its first KHDA inspection include:

  • Very good school resources and facility provision – excellent facilities for learning.
  • Powerful school focus on innovation – “The curriculum is being continually adapted to facilitate opportunities for students to think differently. The innovation agenda is central to the new leadership vision.” (KHDA 2017)
  • “Exciting” learning environment at FS phase
  • Children at the school develop a sense of purpose, self-esteem and inner confidence.
  • Genuinely inclusive school ethos with a positive approach to SEND in its many aspects
  • Committed teaching faculty with high morale and commitment to children

 

Our inspector noted: “ I really loved this school. Everything is in place for the children and the school brims with a sense of purpose and life. The passion and ambition of the Head shines through and is quite something to behold in the intensity of his conviction that the school is achieving the extraordinary for every child. I was really struck at how much the school gives life to the voices of its children – classrooms are alive with questions and teachers respond swiftly and encourage debate and exchange of views. A real hidden gem.” (April 2017)

Highly recommended.

Prospective parents should note that Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba is undergoing a phased launch and scoring is based on whichschooladvisor data and published school information. Scoring for differentiation and added-value is based on Kings’ being an academically selective school and is not comparative with more broadly mixed-ability schools. KHDA awarding of Good School status is a strong recommendation for a new school in Dubai and the school has a clear focus on securing Outstanding School status on subsequent inspections.

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to OFFICIAL Q&A on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to SCHOLARSHIPS on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to PABLO FETTER on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com

 

 

Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Good

2016/17 Rating Primary / Elementary

Good

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA

Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2017-18

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 50,200 (52,007)
FS2: 50,200 (52,007)
YEAR 1: 52,500 (54,390)
YEAR 2: 52,500 (54,390)
YEAR 3: 57,200 (59,259)
YEAR 4: 59,000 (61,124)
YEAR 5: 63,700 (65,993)
YEAR 6: 63,700 (65,993)
YEAR 7: (76,700) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
YEAR 8: (79,700) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
YEAR 9: (82,600) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
YEAR 10: (88,500) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
YEAR 11: (94,400) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
YEAR 12: (100,300) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
YEAR 13: (103,200) Phased opening postponed – slipstream to Kings’ Al Barsha
( )=2017-18 KHDA fee structure

Curriculum

English National Curriculum:
EYFS
Bespoke English Baccalaureate [EBacc] and International Baccalaureate [IB] preparatory

External Exam Boards

Pearson EDEXCEL (SATS)

IB DipM Pass Rate

IB DP phased launch on hold

IB DipM Average Grade

IB DP phased launch on hold

Number of A Levels offered

Slipstream to Kings' School Al Barsha from 2018-19

A Levels offered

Slipstream to Kings' School Al Barsha from 2018-19

A Level A* to A

Slipstream to Kings' School Al Barsha from 2018-19

A Level A* to C

Slipstream to Kings' School Al Barsha from 2018-19

IGCSE A* to C

Slipstream to Kings' Al Barsha from Year 7

IGCSE A* to A

Slipstream to Kings' Al Barsha from Year 7

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

Slipstream to Kings' Al Barsha from Year 7

I/GCSEs offered

Slipstream to Kings' Al Barsha from Year 7

Selective

Yes
Notes:
(1) All applicants will sit a Cognitive Ability Test (CAT) [Years 3-6] and produce a piece of creative writing. Students will require around two hours to complete the assessment. For overseas applicants, this can be arranged at their current school.
(2) CATs include Verbal, Non-verbal, Quantitative and Spatial reasoning multiple choice questions, in a series of small timed tests.
(3) The creative writing will be based on a choice of topics provided on the day [Years 1+]
(4) To qualify for an offer at Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, applicants will be required to demonstrate a good level of academic potential, with a CAT score above the required threshold appropriate to their age.
(5) Kings' welcomes applications from children with Dyslexia. Applications should include their most recent Educational Psychologist's report and IEP.
(6) Kings' accepts children with Special Education Needs [SEN] and provides Shadow teacher support if required though the number of places is limited
(7) Although Kings' does NOT generally offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language, it does accept children with English as a Second Language [EAL] provided other test results (CATIV) show that the child is academically able. Kings' Nad Al Sheba is more open to EAL stating it will offer support "to a certain extent", subject to "requiring children to have a sufficient understanding of English to be able to follow instructions and engage successfully in school life."
(8) FS selection will involve play based observational assessments grading communication, interaction and the ability to follow instructions

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Planned maximum capacity: 950
Current role: 289

Notes:
(1) Original Capacity: 1720

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:10 - 1:12 projected - currently 1:8
Notes:
(1) FS1: 20 children maximum per class with 1 teacher and 1 Learning Support [LS]
(2) FS2 - Year 6: 24 children maximum per class with 1 teacher and 1 Learning Support [LS]

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

9%

Year opened

2014

Location

Nad Al Sheba 3, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)
G&T: 6%
SEND: 30
Emirati: 36
Nationalities: 38

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

No

Owner

Kings' Holdings
(A partnership between ANC Holdings LLC and Flag Holding LLC)
Tayeb Al Baker, Chairman, ANC Holdings LLC; Faris Al Baker, Vice Chairman, ANC Holdings LLC; Ahmed Ali Al Sarkal , Managing Partner, Flag Holding

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 327 1841

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

50%

Attainment Pri SEM

60%

Progress Pri SEM

60%

Progress Sec SEM

60%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

40%

Islamic St. Primary Results

40%

Leadership

60%

Community

80%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

Forthcoming 2016-17

Student personal responsibility

80%

Quality of curriculum

60%

School Governance

60%

SEN Provision

60%

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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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities