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Manor Primary School, Al Safa 1
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Review

Manor Primary School, Al Safa 1

by June 26, 2016
Strengths

• Outstanding new Head
• A “new” school bursting with atmosphere on launch
• Small school intimacy a rarity in the Emirates
• A much loved, if under-invested in, slipstream
• The potential to be very special indeed

Weaknesses

• Uncertainty

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

• Prospective parents should visit the school and assess for themselves. If it can emulate the outstanding English College Primary, that faith will pay off in spades.

A-
Our Rating
B
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
36%
In my Top 5
21%
Shortlisted
7%
A possibility
7%
Pass
7%
No way
21%

Updated April 2017

Manor Park Primary is a new, FS to Year 6 British English National Curriculum Primary school for girls and boys between the ages of 4 and 11. This has, however, absolutely not been your standard new school launch – and there is a bigger picture.

Up front – what will make this school the first choice for many parents is scale and size. This is a genuinely small school – and it will, even after growing again to full capcity, never exceed its maximum role of 440 children. FS streams are capped at 40 children in each year, and in Years 1 – 6 the total year streams are capped at 60 children. Many schools claim to offer small school intimacy – Manor Primary delivers this in substance. It’s second USP is its guarantee of a slipstream place to the English College. Its third substantial asset is the investment that is being poured into tthe school where it counts – teaching faculty. More on this below following our visit in April 2017.

The back story to Manor Primary makes interesting reading. Whilst theoretically this is a new school, in some ways it is also the re-opening of the English College Primary School (ECPS), a deeply loved and cherished school that closed in 2014 for business reasons. ECPS was the primary slipstream for The English College, our latest review of which can be found here, and Manor Primary School will replace this. The closure of the original school was met with genuine upset and its reopening has been something of a cause célèbre  such was the esteem in which the school was held by its then parents and its central role within the community it served.

The opening of Manor Primary, in conjunction with the extremely well thought of new governance (UK based LVS Ascot) for the English College and Manor Primary schools, we believe, we hope, will be a positive boost and provide some balance to what has been a turbulent few years.

Under KHDA guidelines the “new” primary school must have a different name. However the look and feel is very much the old English College Primary School. The building has never stopped being maintained, ACs have been left running, the swimming pool regime has continued – waiting for the return of the children to bring the walls and classrooms back to life. There has been some refurbishment – most notably the walls have been filled with the most beautiful murals. The Head of Art and the children who have invested in this have achieved the extraordinary.

Rebuilding confidence

A key concern for the school will have been how to rebuild confidence. Until the new governance had time to prove its credentials – and investment clearly fed into both schools, there has inevitably beeen a sense, for parents considering the school for their prospective child(ren), that they would be taking a risk in investing in a place for their children at a school that had effectively re-opened – whatever its historic calibre.

This was a school that was significantly over-subscribed, with waiting lists for every year. The school was also a KHDA rated ‘Outstanding’ school for Science, and we think most tellingly, rated ‘Outstanding’ too for its Special Educational Needs provision. Any school that invests in its most vulnerable children sufficiently to gain an almost unheard of ‘Outstanding’ rating is both a very special, exceptional school – and one that is likely to be, as was actually the case here, exceptionally caring.

Following our visit in April 2017 we found a school that has sought to nurture all that was special in the original school. Firing on all cylinders, it is the sense of intimacy – backed by very high student-teacher ratios and investment, that shines through.

The school has undergone a genuine revival with the dynamic colours and energy of the exterior of the building now following through to the inside.  The corridors, reception and classrooms, previously mottled cream and unassuming, are now charged with splashes of bold colour and energy. Space is abundant and there are the 2 “pods” on the ground floor act as (fabulous) breakout and free flow areas feeling to and from the wide corridors and light airy ground floor classrooms.

The Library is located on the 1st floor, which also houses the ICT suite, this currently shared with the older English College students. The Gym is spacious and doubles as a multipurpose hall for assemblies and drama/theatre. The school is not short of space given its role and performance spaces abound.

Externally there is a ‘real grass’ play area outside exclusively for Primary (rare these days where astro-turf seems to have become the norm), and there is access to the larger grass pitches of the English College too. There are additional indoor and outdoor paved areas for play which we found to be thoughtfully programmed, well equipped and indicative of the overall sense that the school is dedicated to integrating all available spaces as part of the sense of journey it delivers for each child.

FS have their own building and access with classes running from 8:00am – 12:30pm. Years 1 – 6 timings run between 7:40am to 2:50pm). There is a 12:30pm finish on Thursday for the whole school. The school operates an after-school “Star Club” originally designed so that parents could bridge the gap of pick up times. Tellingly, this has somehow transformed to a hub of school life. On our visit we watched a fabulous mix of programmes to engage children; little wonder that children are actually asking parents to “stay behind” at school! There is a “Mums and Tots’ group on Thursdays which is well attended and the school is again forging its role within the community it serves.

The FS areas are free flow, informal but dynamic spaces. We experienced a really engaging “show and tell’ session on our visit – teaching was outstanding and the whole class was engaged, inspired and respectful of the child telling their story. The relationships we witnessed between children and teachers could not have been better. Our inspector described this in terms of there being a “wonderfully caring approach that seems to be a feature that comes to the forefront in only the smallest most intimate schools of which the Emirates now has so few.”

As of April 2017, the role is just 73 children. Projections for September 2017 see this growing to only 120 children – the aim is to build the school slowly to ensure an outstanding quality of education for every child. The maximum capacity of the school, some 440 children is likely in practice to peak with a role of around 350 in future years.

Currently the role is distributed as follows. FS 1 has 7 students; FS2 has 7 students; Year 1 and Year 2, and Years 3 – 4 are currently composite classes. In September 2017, there will be dedicated classes, 1 per year group.  Demand is unsurprisingly highest in Year 6 given that it acts as the guaranteed feeder to the English College). Even here, however, currently the role peaks at just 13 students. The attention each child is currently receiving at the school, in terms of simple staff ratios, is the highest in the Emirates. There are Teaching Assistants assigned to every class making the student teacher ratios 1:5 or less at FS stages. Currently the upper floor is being used by the English College, a deliberate initiative to share the drive and feel of both schools and give a sense to both schools of the “bigger picture.”

Prospective parents should note that fees are premium. In fact, we have a rare situation in which parents will actually see a small reduction in fees as they transition from primary to secondary school…

Full details for fees can be found in the data below.

Bottom line?

We think this is a very special school. The investment is high – and the student-teacher ratio of provsion outstanding. The ethos – of delivering family-grounded, community-rich, happy and inspirational  schooling shines through.  A very high standard of education is already on offer – and this is an exceptionally happy school. The school Principal, Karen Davies, is achieving extraordinarily for her school, its community, parents and children.

Prospective parents, we think, should visit the school and give it at least the chance to work its magic.

Highly recommended.

Go to HARD HAT TOUR on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 47,150
FS2: 47,150
YEAR 1: 49,450
YEAR 2: 49,450
YEAR 3: 51,750
YEAR 4: 51,750
YEAR 5: 51,750
YEAR 6: 51,750
YEAR 7: 49,764 Slipstream to The English College Dubai
YEAR 8: 49,764 Slipstream to The English College Dubai
YEAR 9: 49,764 Slipstream to The English College Dubai
YEAR 10: 53,987 Slipstream to The English College Dubai
YEAR 11: 53,987 Slipstream to The English College Dubai
YEAR 12: 59,619 Slipstream to The English College Dubai
YEAR 13: 59,619 Slipstream to The English College Dubai

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England
EYFS

External Exam Boards

See The English College Dubai

Number of A Levels offered

See The English College Dubai

A Levels offered

See The English College Dubai

A Level A* to A

See The English College Dubai

A Level A* to C

See The English College Dubai

IGCSE A* to C

See The English College Dubai

IGCSE A* to A

See The English College Dubai

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

See The English College Dubai

I/GCSEs offered

See The English College Dubai

Selective

Partially Inclusive
Notes:
(1) Limited space for children with additional learning needs
(2) No provision for children with severe or complex Special Educational Needs (SEN)
(3) School may conduct an age related assessment

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Capacity: 440
Notes:
(1) FS1 capacity: 40
(2) FS2 capacity: 40
(3) Year 1 capacity: 60
(4) Year 2 capacity: 60
(5)Year 3 capacity: 60
(6) Year 4 capacity: 60
(7) Year 5 capacity: 60
(8) Year 6 capacity: 60

Teacher to Student Ratio

Not published

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

Phased launch

Year opened

2016
Notes
(1) English College Primary School 2004 - 2014

Location

Al Safa 1, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Private
Note: LVS Ascot appointed to manage the school

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 394 3465

Web Address
About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. 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