As parents, we're continually hearing about the big name brands and the city’s highly rated venerable institutions, but what if you can't afford Dubai's top-end options and could not secure a coveted seat anyway?
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has scoured the new reports to bring you Dubai's hidden Early Years gems. We've checked across all schools, at all prices and rating levels to find KGs and Foundations, that are really rather special, and all at a really great price.
But, don't just take our word for it, read on to see what the 2017 KHDA inspectors have to say about these 'hidden gems'...
Name: Pristine Private School
Overall rating: Good
Early years rating: Very Good to Outstanding
Fees for EY: AED 9,850 to AED 10,458
Location: Al Nahda 2
What the KHDA says: Children are developing very good levels of receptive and expressive language. By FS2, the large majority of children’s attainment is above age-related expectations as seen in their speaking, listening, reading and writing. They write about their activities and can use correct sentence structure and simple punctuation, spelling common words accurately. Across FS, children increase their literacy skills very well through play-based activities. These opportunities also help them to engage in meaningful interaction with their peers and develop their communication skills. Children are making very good progress in all areas of literacy.
Children demonstrate a very good understanding of mathematical skills. They can count, read and write numbers up to 20 in FS2. They order numbers correctly. They carry out simple operations such as adding and subtracting two single-digit numbers, with the support of mathematical resources. Some solve simple problems, including sharing objects into two equal groups. Children explore the characteristics of everyday shapes and use mathematical language to describe them. Overall, a large majority of children make above expected progress and attain above curriculum expectations for their age.
Children’s understanding of scientific concepts, knowledge and skills is developing very well. They show a natural curiosity about different objects and phenomena in their environment. Critical thinking and problem solving are evident in the way that they explore concepts during structured play periods. Children’s work samples, learning journals and progress trackers show that children are making very good progress in their scientific skills in relation to their starting points and the learning objectives in lessons.
What we say: While the whole school might not be for everyone, Pristine’s Foundation Stage students receive an exciting, informative and thorough education all for only AED 10,000 per year!
Name: Al Khaleej National School
Overall rating: Acceptable
Early years rating: Good
Fees for EY: AED 15,320
What the KHDA says: From their starting points, the majority of children make good progress in the development of their speaking and listening skills in English, as well as their ability to read short words and sentences and write for meaning and purpose. They have strong phonological awareness and are developing their skills of decoding words for reading at above the age-related standards. Overall, the majority of children are attaining above curriculum expectations in most aspects of literacy.
The majority of children exhibit proficient standards of mathematical knowledge and skills. Assessments show that from their starting point children make good progress in their counting skills, number sense, measurement and comparison of objects, while using appropriate mathematical language. In their lessons children make good progress due to the interesting, hands-on materials and activities that allow them to develop and apply their mathematical knowledge to real life problems. Overall the majority of children are attaining above curriculum expectations in most aspects of numeracy.
In science, the majority of children demonstrate good understanding of their world and basic scientific concepts in line with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In lessons they demonstrate their knowledge of concepts such as push and pull through hands-on activities, which is building their investigative skills. Assessment data and work in lessons show good progress as children develop deeper understandings of topics by designing and engineering their own innovative projects.
What we say: Although it doesn’t carry the GEMS prefix, Al Khaleej is actually part of the GEMS network, meaning the HR, management and staff training are all managed by the group.
Don't believe us? Even the KHDA report highlights the school’s strong leadership, realistic goal setting, positive professional development and robust evaluation systems.
Name: GEMS FirstPoint School
Overall Rating: Good
Early Years Rating: Good+
Fees for EY: AED 39,368
Location: The Villa Project
What the KHDA says: Children enter school with limited skills in speaking English and a large majority make better than expected progress in relation to the curriculum standards. In FS1 they listen carefully, learn a range of vocabulary and follow instructions about school routines. Children quickly learn initial letters in words and enjoy listening to stories. By FS2 they recognise and read words and confidently talk about book characters. They listen to stories with increasing understanding and make up rhyming sentences. Children’s independent writing skills are developing at an age appropriate level.
In mathematics, the majority of children make better than expected progress from their starting points and reach a good level of knowledge and skills. They make shape pictures and describe their properties. They use appropriate vocabulary to describe their measurements of the beans they are growing. FS1 children link their knowledge about numbers to stories, for example, to talk about the amount of food eaten by a hungry caterpillar. By FS2 they have an increasing knowledge of numbers and counting, and can order numbers to at least twenty.
FS children make good progress in science and the majority reach levels that are above curriculum expectations. In FS1, they know that creatures can have different kinds of body coverings and different kinds of feet. Children know frogs live near water and worms and beetles near or in soil. In FS2, their improving language skills enable them to make good progress in understanding more complex words such as habitat and life cycle. They are beginning to use observation skills, particularly in free flow lessons. Children are beginning to use technology toys and enjoy finding out how they work.
Why choose the school: FirstPoint appears to have happy students and teachers, (reporting only 5 % teacher-turnover in the recent report). And while the fees appear pretty steep when compared to many in other areas of Dubai, for Dubai-South, FirstPoint’s prices and quality are really rather good!
Name: North American International School
Overall rating: Acceptable
Early years rating: Good
Fees for EY: AED 28,497
What the KHDA says: A majority of children make better than expected progress from their starting points in English and attain levels above curriculum standards. In lessons, they demonstrate good levels of speaking and understanding. A few can talk confidently and enthusiastically about their work. Most children are developing the ability to read simple words. A few read fluently and understand what they have read. Progress in writing is better than expected, with a majority of children able to write one or two short sentences with invented spelling.
In mathematics, a majority of children make better than expected progress from their starting points and reach levels that are above curriculum standards. Most children have a secure grasp of the concept of number and can count to 20 using one-to-one correspondence. They can add and subtract single digit numbers, sometimes using objects and pictorial representation. A majority of the children can identify two-dimensional shapes and some can describe their properties in terms of the number of sides.
A majority of children make better than expected progress in science from their starting points and reach levels that are above the curriculum standards in terms of knowledge, skills and understanding. Most students can identify living things such as plants and animals. They can describe different types of weather. They are developing an understanding of solids, liquids and gasses and a few are beginning to use the skills of observation and prediction. For most children, the scientific skills of inquiry and investigation are only emerging.
Why choose this school: While the rest of the North American International School might be rated only Acceptable, the school's KG really is a little gem. If you’re only planning on being in Dubai a few years, or are not sure about the curriculum you want for your child, two years spent at this KG will surely be time well spent!
Name: Horizon English School
Overall rating: Very Good
Early years rating: Very Good+
Fees for EY: AED 28,249
Location: Al Wasl
What the KHDA says: In English, children make very good progress from their starting points in speaking. In FS1 they quickly learn vocabulary, listen attentively to stories and can follow instructions. They join in enthusiastically with rhyming stories, for example, about a witch stirring ‘words’ in her cauldron. By the time they reach FS2 they can answer questions with confidence, recall events and use language to explain their learning. Children quickly learn letter sounds through songs and games, and begin to write simple words. Handwriting skills are less well developed in this phase.
In mathematics, FS children achieve beyond the standards expected for their age. Number skills including counting and matching objects to numbers, are well developed in FS1 and when children enter FS2 they begin to use numbers in everyday situations. Children show an interest in numbers in their environment and in role play they add numbers to shopping bills or theatre tickets. Younger children name and sort colours and shapes, and in FS2 they use this knowledge and develop logical thinking by making increasingly complicated repeating patterns.
Foundation Stage children make very good progress in learning about the world they live in. Teachers plan interesting activities so children gain an understanding of scientific words. Children have a wide vocabulary and demonstrate increasing knowledge of plants, animals and materials. For example, they know what happens when different colours of paint are mixed together, and they can talk about how the texture of ingredients change when making hummus. They develop effective observation skills and begin to make predictions about materials and their properties. They increasingly use technology to extend their learning.
Why choose this school: Horizon English School offers a top-notch Early Years education at a VERY affordable price (well, for this end of town anyway!).
While we think these options are five of the best, if you have other options you think worth sharing add your comments below...