At a glance
There are 64 different nationalities at Kings Al Barsha, of whom approximately 40% are UK passport holders. The school does accept children with English as a Second Language provided other test results (CATIV) show that the child is academically able. Kings also accepts children with Special Education Needs and provides Shadow teacher support if required, though the number of places is inevitably limited.
The school will eventually have sixth form entry with a maximum of 20 students in FS1 classes and 24 for other year groups (although the higher up the school, the less likelihood of full classes with many at less than 2/3 of capacity). Kings Al Barsha offers IGCSE and GCSE for students in years 10 and 11 and A Levels for years 12 and 13. Its sister school in Nad Al Sheba will offer the IB Diploma for year 12 and 13 students wishing to follow this programme.
Much of the teaching at Kings Al Barsha is also building on the IB curriculum with teaching concept-based and often student led. There is no doubt that the environment is busy and students in both Primary and Secondary seem motivated and enthused by their teachers.
Since the school opened, much progress has been made on the completion of the buildings – although there is still some way to go until all facilities are finished and the road access to the school is still something of a challenge. On a plus side, children regularly see camels and gazelles around the school area – something the more built up areas of Dubai no longer offer.
Given that the school is not yet full, there certainly does not appear to be any lack of space or resources.
The Secondary teaching block is open and half of the “doughnut” shaped building behind it is also up and running. This houses the Blackbox Theatre, multiple labs for Science, IT and Art, Music rooms and a temporary Library. At the rear of the Doughnut, Design Technology, Food Technology and an Art Block are to follow, together with a recording studio and Auditorium.
Two of the 3 swimming pools and sports halls are in operation, as are the very extensive outdoor facilities which include a running track, 4 Astroturf multi-use pitches and Basket and Netball facilities. A full size outdoor competition pool and additional rugby and football pitches will follow. A MAC suite is up and running and lap top trolleys are visible in several areas. The school also provides I-pads on a shared basis for children in FS to year 3. Thereafter, a Bring Your Own Device policy exists. However, the school is determined to ensure that there is a balance between IT use and the teaching of basic skills focussed on reading, writing, painting etc.
One of the strengths of the original Kings Umm Suqeim school was its focus on the teaching of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and Kings Al Barsha seems determined to ensure that standards will not drop in this context.
Arabic lessons are very much integral to the curriculum, play based in the Early Years Section with the singing of songs and telling of rhymes and the aim is very much to mirror lessons taught in English. As a result Arabic teachers go the students’ normal classroom in Primary School and a significant effort is made to ensure that Arabic teachers are provided with strong and on-going professional development, so that their work mirrors that of the other teaching staff. Specialist language teachers also teach French (from year 1) and Spanish (from year 2).
This ethos of inclusion also runs to use of the staff room where all staff – from Principal to drivers - are welcome and share use of the facilities. Teachers work together in groups within the staff room environment so that they can exchange information across disciplines and year groups. There is a real effort to ensure that children progress smoothly from Primary to Secondary and this is reflected in the cooperation between staff at both levels.
Even though the school is relatively new, Kings Al Barsha seems to be very much an established school and once the remaining facilities open, it will also be an extremely well-resourced one.
At all Kings’ schools parents can either pay in full for the year, pay termly by 3 cheques or pay with 10 post dated cheques. The 10 post dated cheque system was introduced in order to give parents the option to spread payments over the year in line with salaries (full payment options available http://www.kingsdubai.com/Fees-Al-Barsha). Fees at Kings’ are top tier, ranging from 50,200 AED at FS1 to 100,000 AED at Year 10.
See also: You can read a Q and A with Kings' Al Barsha here.
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