Here we speak to Jebel Ali School's principal Jacqui Parr as well as its head of secondary, Colette Doughty, about what makes the new Jebel Ali school unique.
In one paragraph, explain why Jebel Ali School should be on every parent's’ shortlist?
You could look at Jebel Ali in two ways:
Firstly has the benefit of actually not being a ‘new school’ per se as it has a rich history in Dubai. It has a proven track record of having happy and fulfilled students who in the past have been well-rounded individuals that have been strong enough academically to enter quality secondary schools in Dubai. This comes from well-planned, stable and successful structures, already in place to provide an excellent holistic education with experienced and high quality staff.
Secondly it has the benefits of being a new school with new facilities that will allow our students to learn in a modern environment, purposefully designed to encourage independence and confidence. The break out spaces in the Foundation and Primary Blocks deliberately placed to encourage this independence. The technology laboratories in both primary and secondary offer students the early experience that will allow them to work towards GCSE and A ‘Level Food technology in the future.
Couple these two vital ingredients with a staff that puts children at the heart of everything they do and we have a winning combination for a happy and successful primary school to evolve into a secondary school with the same ethos embedded throughout our curriculum.
Why do you think prospective parents are less receptive in sending their child to a new school?
The worry that the school will not be completed on time, coupled with the unknown in terms of new staff, no exam results and a lack of a proven track record all combine to make new parents cautious. Lucky for us, we have a track record, our staff are experienced and known in the Dubai community and our new building will be delivered on time.
What do you see as the ‘pros’ of sending children to a new school?
State of the art facilities with modern learning environments that are so different now from most of our own educational experiences. Children are learning in a different way, teachers are teaching in a different way and a much more interactive and independent learning environment is needed.
What do you think are the ‘cons?’
Talking to parents their biggest concerns are two fold:
A) the delivery of the building
If you can reassure on building progress and recruit early so that you an publicise your staff, their experience and their reputation then you help to alleviate some of the concerns.
What are the questions you think parents should ask of a new school and what should they look for on their tour?
Which company is building the school?
What have they built before and what is their reputation locally?
Who owns the school (if for profit) and what are their long term aims for their school.
What kind of age range of staff are being recruited (in other words how experienced and what curriculum have the majority come from).
On the school tour try to get a feel for the ethos and culture of the school and how values driven they are.
How would you suggest parents go about assessing the suitability of a new school in the absence of KHDA inspection results, parent testimonials etc.?
Meet with the Headteacher and see if the aims and beliefs of the staff match the aims and beliefs that are important to you as a parent.
Be prepared to ask any question that is nagging at you as every small detail deserves an answer.
If it’s a group of schools then ask to see a sister school that will be most like the one under construction (not in terms of build but it terms of ethos).