Home Grown Children’s Eco nursery is a ‘green-thinking’ nursery for children aged 12 months to 4 years. Committed to a holistic way of learning, children are taught a unique curriculum known as The Green Engagement Programme, which overlays the learning-through-play framework and areas of learning of the British Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) with an emphasis on eco-awareness and the natural world. This nursery is one of the few truly independent nurseries left in Dubai and stands out for being authentically ‘purpose over profit’; committed to making a positive difference in the world through both its teaching and its practices. Parents rave about its warm, home-from-home feeling, first-rate teachers, excellent communication, and nurturing community that involves both children and their families.
The Safa 2 Homegrown Eco Nursery is the second of two branches, both in the Jumeirah area of Dubai. Based in spacious villas with lush gardens, the original Sanbrook Street branch was opened in 2011, with the Safa 2 branch following in 2014. Co-founded by philanthropic environmentalists Lucy Bruce and Beverly Jatwani, the nursery’s ethos is passionately purpose-over-profit and parents literally buy into this philosophy: a distinct portion of the nursery’s fees support Harmony House, a British and Indian registered charity founded by Ms Bruce in 2009 that offers over 500 slum children in Delhi with education, nutrition, medical facilities and vocational training. Every Homegrown child is paired with a child at Harmony House, and they exchange drawings and greetings cards at festive periods throughout the year, as part of the Homegrown mission to inculcate a sense of environmental conscience and social responsibility from a young age.
The nursery was co-founded and continues to be overseen by philanthropist and educationalist Lucy Bruce and environmental children’s book author Beverly Jatwani. These two compassionately minded entrepreneurs work hard to maintain the authentic ethos of the popular Homegrown brand.
Ms Bruce holds a BA (Honours) in Education and is hands-on in the day-to-day running of the nursery as Director of Education. The Safa 2 branch headteacher is Ailsa Gordon, who oversees daily operations in a calm, communicative and compassionate way. Teachers are highly experienced and qualified, usually hired from the UK, Europe Australia, North America and South Africa.
The Al Safa branch has 7 spacious, well-appointed classrooms laid out across two floors, providing teaching to children from the age of 12 months to FS1 stage (there is a new FS2 intake is in the Sanbrook St branch only so far, which has 9 classrooms). Each classroom has its own toileting and handwashing facilities, and all learning and play materials are sourced from natural, organic and recycled materials wherever possible. Classrooms are decorated in a cosy, homely style – emphasizing the home-from-home atmosphere – and activity stations are laid out in a manner to encourage curiosity and child-led play. There is also an indoor gymnasium downstairs and separate library area upstairs.
The nursery places an emphasis on outdoor, nature-based learning, and the spacious and shady grounds include real grass lawn, wooden playhouse, mini cycle track, climbing frames and slides, waterplay area, roleplay area and a beautiful organic garden, which the children tend to themselves.
The nursery has a ‘no shoes’ policy, with all children, staff members and parents leaving their shoes outside the nursery before entering.
Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery provides The Green Engagement Programme curriculum, a unique combination of the EYFS areas of learning (Communication & Language; Literacy; Maths; Physical Development; Understanding the World; Expressive Arts & Design; Personal, Social & Emotional Development) with a commitment to environmental practices and topics, including lessons in conservation, preservation, saving rainforests, protecting endangered species, composting, recycling and organic gardening.
Children are taught Phonics and other forms of literacy and numeracy just as they would in a British curriculum nursery, with an additional focus on environmentally aware topics.
Parents will notice that arts and crafts are all done using re-used and recycled paper, with minimal use of plastic.
The specialist subjects of French, Arabic and Yoga taught by experts in their field are all offered as part of the weekly timetable.
The nursery operates a three-term academic year, following the KHDA school calendar. Flexible Days are available, with the option of two days, three days, four days and five days per week.
Core timings are from 8am to 12.30pm, with the option of extending from 7.30am, to 2pm, 3.30pm or 5pm. Children are split into classes based on age, ranging from 12-16 months; 16-20 months; 20-24 months; 24-28 months; 28-32 months; 32 months- 3 years; 3-3.5 years; and 3.5-4 years).
There is a maximum of 16 children in any one class, with one teacher, one assistant and two helpers in the 12-24 months classes (1:4 ratio), and one teacher, one assistant and one helper in the older classes.
The nursery operates across three terms per year, and termly fees for five days (8am to 12.30pm) per week are Dh13,920 (Dh41,760 per year).
However, Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery offers three scheduling options to best suit parents’ needs.
TERMLY FEES 2023-2024
|PER WEEK||07:30 – 08:00||08:00 – 12:30||08:00 – 14:00||08:00 – 15:30||08:00 – 17:00|
Refundable Deposit Dh2000; Registration fee Dh500; Medical Fee Dh750; Uniform Polo shirt or T-shirt Dh47, Denim shorts Dh57.
How is it sustainable?
Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery employs a variety of policies to try and ensure that the nursery is as eco-friendly as possible. These include:
- Use of non-toxic, eco-friendly toys and outdoor equipment made from sustainable materials.
- Eco-friendly indoor flooring and safe, recycled rubber tyres for outdoor flooring.
- Use of green cleaning products to maintain hygiene standards.
- Use of green cleaning products to maintain hygiene standards.
- Efforts to exclude PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic products.
- An organic vegetable patch free from pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals.
- Low-flush toilets and energy-saving light bulbs.
- Reduced waste by recycling paper, cans and glass and utilising
a compost pit for wet garbage that contributes to the organic garden.
What do parents say?
Parents adore Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery Al Safa 2. Families rave about the close-knit community, the sensitive and compassionate leadership and the warm and experienced teachers. SchoolsCompared.com talked to a variety of the nursery’s parents and received the following comments:
“It’s the first nursery I’ve known where they are so proactive and communicative with parents. Separation anxiety is a big deal for this age, and usually parents can feel very worried and shut out when told to ‘drop and go’. At Home Grown everyone from the teaching assistant to the receptionist would show true concern about every child who cried at drop-off, and I was always promised that they would ring with an update after 10 minutes. And they would actually do it! Every time. I felt so cared for as a parent, and so safe in the knowledge that my child was genuinely valued as an individual. It totally took away my own anxiety about drop-off, which meant that my child picked up on my ease and there were no more tears at all.”
“Children are treated as special individuals and valued for their unique strengths. They make a special effort to get to know each child, and specifically ask for you and your child’s preferred form of address. Everything is just very open-minded, progressive and rooted in kindness.”
“Every time my daughter brought home drawings it was in a bag that had itself been made out of woven recycled paper, and every drawing also had printing on the back, showing that arts and crafts materials were all recycled too. Everything from the parent lanyards to the signs in the garden is made out of natural materials, and there is a true sense of a bigger purpose in everything they do.”
“I loved all the community events, which always championed parents’ own small businesses and created a real feeling of belonging.”
“A very nurturing and welcoming environment for my child”.
Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery Bottom line? The SchoolsCompared Verdict 2023 – 2024
Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery Al Safa stands out for being one of the UAE’s first green, purpose-over-profit nurseries. Having pioneered an environmentally passionate approach long before it was fashionable in Dubai, its practices now serve as an example for other schools and nurseries to follow, with sustainability becoming ever more relevant in the wake of the UAE’s hosting of COP28 and growing awareness of the climate crisis. It stands out for remaining steadfastly independent and true to its sustainable values, with even a portion of nursery fees supporting an Indian orphanage.
The unique ‘The Green Programme’ curriculum combines EYFS framework with environmental mission, while the close communication with parents and open-door policy ensures both children and parents feel welcome, nurtured and well looked after. Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery Al Safa offers a stellar and grounded education for younger children, scaffolds every possible linkage needed for graduation to “big school”, protects all the innocence of childhood – and is a quite exceptionally happy place for children. It does not come any better.
Very highly recommended.
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• Innovative and grounded Blended Green Engagement Programme eco curriculum founded on EYFS
• Founders deeply immersed in childhood education and literature on a mission to make a difference
• Stunning outdoor nursery environments, fundamental to the ethos and running of each nursery
• Beautifully Nature-centred indoor classrooms and learning spaces
• Overflowing provision of learning materials
• Highly engaged lessons
• Outstanding teaching
• Outstanding care for children