Dubai British Foundation, Jumeirah Islands
• Outstanding Arabic language programme
• Outstanding faculty and significant investment in recruiting the very highest calibre of teachers
• Taaleem backing
• Outstanding school Principal with significant background in Early Years education – both as a teacher and in school management
• Outstanding facilities
• Separation of Early Years learning and later all-through provision
• Guarantee of a place at Dubai British School Jumeirah
• Outstanding school transparency
• Clear flightpaths, and on-going assessment for children providing clarity for parents on their child’s performance
• Premium-plus fees will be outside the reach of many parents
• Lack of bursary or sponsorship provision
• Dubai British School Jumeirah is in phased launch and is as yet untested for full all-through provision
Updated November 2016
Taaleem’s Dubai British Foundation [DBF] is a new, specialist, self-contained Early Years Taaleem British school teaching an enriched but targeted Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) British curriculum in Foundation Years 1 and 2 only for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Opened in 2014, the Foundation provides the Early Years feeder to the Dubai British School Jumeirah Park reviewed here. Dubai British School provides continuity through all-through Year 1 – 13 British schooling to IGCSE and A Level) The pre-school is set on a 1.5 acre site in the Jumeirah Island with close proximity both to slipstream school and the Springs community in Emirates Hills.
School fees are premium-plus top end, and DBF lies within the most expensive of the independent FS schools in the Emirate. Parents need to consider the affordability of Dubai British School Jumeirah fees which in 2016-17 run between 75,000DHS in Year 1 to 85,000DHS by Year 8. Fees are likely to meet or exceed 100,000DHS once the school moves beyond its current launching phase to open for full all-through provision to Year 13.
We would hope, however that the more affordable and more established Taaleem Dubai British School, with fees running between 46,096DHS in Year 1 to 69,145DHS will also be provided as a guaranteed slipstream, as it is with Taaleem’s The Children’s Garden, but this is not currently published as an option. Even if is made available, the trade-off is that children could be separated from their friends moving to the intended Jumeirah school. Prospective parents will really need to ponder the fee-implications of premium plus schooling.
The combination of a pure British EYFS curriculum, high prestige, the inevitably higher costs of any new school; the rare separation of FS provision designed to protect childhood and nurture high quality Early Years focus – and exceptionally high quality and expensive (all-British) teacher recruitment explains the top-end fees.
“The quality of a school never exceeds the quality of its teachers.” Sue Carpenter. Principal. Dubai British Foundation.
All teachers must hold an absolute minimum of two years’ qualified teaching experience, hold a UK Bachelor’s Degree in Education or equivalent, have specialised in their subject and have specific expertise and experience in Early Years learning and teaching. Teacher salaries, in the best schools, absorb around 90% of the total costs of running a school, so the concentrating on high calibre teacher recruitment we think should be a key consideration for prospective parents. We particularly like the transparency of Dubai Foundation’s publication of the names, photographs and bios of all faculty. In many schools only the name of the Principal is published, in some cases this indicating a lack of faith in a school being able to retain staff – but also a wider lack of investment in celebrating the teaching staff who are fundamental to any school’s success for its children.
Both schools have been designed ground-up to offer an exceptional level of education for parents seeking a British education for their children.
Facilities at the Foundation are excellent. They include a fully digital campus; (fabulous) multi-purpose (indoor) hall/multi-purpose gymnasium and theatre space; classrooms with free-flow access to shaded outdoor learning spaces; specialist music room; dedicated language lab, (beautiful) outdoor, shaded swimming pool; health centre; inspirational split-level outdoor play area with a bicycle track; Standard individually issued iPad provision for lessons; and, Children’s vegetable and herb gardens.
Internal Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) include “Learning through Play” workshops; Parachute Games; sensory play; ‘stories in motion’; Arabic stories and songs; arts and crafts, outdoor art; Music Express; Yoga, Stories from around the World; a Visiting Speaker Programme; and, dedicated Art Club. Externally charged ECAs include Ballet (highly recommended and hosted by The National Ballet Studio at the school); Tap Dance; and, Football.
Founding Principal, Sue Carpenter is not your usual career Principal – Ms Carpenter rarely combines teaching and leadership experience in equal measure, with more than three decade’s expertise drawn from and focused on Early Years and Primary education in both the UK and since 2008 within Taaleem. Whilst at Dubai British School her practice was rated outstanding by the KHDA, and Mrs Carpenter has been both Founding Principal and Head of Primary at Dubai British School.
She is known for her insistence on personally meeting parents and children seeking to join the school and our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, has received unambiguously positive feedback for her sensitivity to children and kindness to parents throughout the placement assessment process. Our feedback is that it is very rare for a child to be refused a place – the assessments are much more motivated by her wishing to ensure that both each child, and his or her parents, are going to be happy at the school and are inspired by the schools
One stand-out, and unusual feature of the school is the introduction of Arabic within the EYFS framework. Most schools delay this until Year 1, and arguably the knock-on effects of this are one cause of the almost universal failure of British schools to secure even a Good rating for Arabic subject provision in later schooling. Arabic is taught in an exceptionally child-focussed way, through experience of the Arabic world around them and integrated into the music curriculum.
The program is ambitious, concentrating not only on listening and speaking Arabic through song, but also the written form. Like Taaleem’s ‘The Children’s Garden’, there is a beautifully argued case for why Arabic is important, this based not simply on the richness of Arabic culture, but also the very real later career benefits attached to learning a language that is spoken by 300 million people worldwide – and a language which has a very significant shortage of British speakers in industry.
The Singing for Learning (S4L) approach is integrated within the teaching of both Arabic and English.
Bottom line? Dubai Foundation, and its slipstream school, Dubai British School Jumeirah, are positioning themselves at the top of the educational market for a British education in Dubai.
Ambitions are very high – and this is one driver for the Foundation school being separated. Taaleem, as is evident in their equally impressive, but very different, preschools, is deeply committed to a belief both that Early Years education is critical to a child’s development – and that it is most successfully delivered separately to later all through provision.
Separating early Years and all-through later provision is expensive but, for a very demanding British Curriculum in which children face significant later academic demands, a price worth paying for Taaleem.
Of course, not all parents will be able to afford it, and we do wish that Taaleem would roll out a bursary and scholarship programme – not only to benefit disadvantaged children – but also to broaden the socio-economic base of the school, with all the advantages that stem from this for all children.
Parents should also be aware that Dubai Foundation is aligned closely with the traditional model of education. There are some progressive features, including the integration of music and the steadfast refusal to assess children through formal examinations, but make no mistake what is not on offer here is individualised learning in which the child is entrusted with his or her own curriculum and pace of learning. The commitment is to leave no child behind – but also to take children to the required levels of academic achievement, rigorously following and meting each requirement of the EYFS fixed curriculum, to give them the very best foundations for the demands of later whole school education. Whilst formal homework is not provided, as each child’s reading skills develop, there is an expectation that children will take reading home with them.
The result is a very focused British education, set in a beautiful, genuinely inspiring environment, under the care of well-qualified – and as importantly committed and passionate teachers. Its stand-out Arabic language programme deserves praise.
It will no doubt make the shortlist of many parents, but equally for at least as many the fees will, regrettably, place it out of reach.
COMING SOON on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to OFFICIAL Q&A on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to EYFS Guide on SchoolsCompared.com
YEAR 1: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 2: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 3: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 4: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 5: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 6: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 7: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 8: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 9: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 10: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 11: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 12: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
YEAR 13: NA (Slipstream to Dubai British School Jumeirah Park)
National Curriculum for England
UK DofE curriculum
(1) Placement assessment and Interview administered by the Admissions Team and Principal
(1) Limited availability for FS1, 2016-17
(2) Limited availability for FS2, 2016-17
(1) Maximum of 20 children per class with one teacher and one Teacher Assistant (TA)
(1) 32+ nationalities
Jumeirah Islands, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
+971 (0) 4 558 7308