A new American curriculum school in Al Warqaa is scheduled to open in September 2018. Ignite School, owned by Saudi-based Retaj Investments that has both UAE and Saudi investors, will be an all through school, though it will open with Pre-K to Grade 5 at the start of the 2018-19 academic year.
We started our hard had tour at 7:30 am to beat the heat and construction was already in full swing.
The Director and Acting principal of the school Veronica L Griffin, who comes from the US, led our tour.
We entered through the back gate where on the right was the high school, in the centre was the middle school and to the left the primary school buildings.
There are two phases for the construction of Ignite school.
“There are four buildings in total and in the first phase we will build the two buildings of the primary school with the gym and the café ready. This will be done by June. The other two buildings for the middle and high school will be ready, externally, by August,” explained Ms Griffin.
The primary school buildings will have two levels, while the upper and middle school will have four floors each.
When we entered the school building, we saw wide, open hallways and wooden frames for lockers to be inbuilt into the corridors.
“We have made sure the hallways are big and have enough room to walk around, hence, the inbuilt lockers. There will be monitors or screens with the locker panel for student information,” said Ms Griffin.
The hallways will also have trees and a seating area which we look forward to seeing once finished.
We then moved on to look at some classrooms that are a good size and come with small, but bright windows overlooking the campus.
The ground floor of the primary school buildings will house Pre-K to Grade 3 and Grade 4 and 5 will occupy the first floor. The two primary buildings are connected with walkways and bridges.
We then walked through to the first floor, where we saw the science lab, music room, IT room, black box theatre room, multi-play area, art room and makers lab.
The primary school library is quite spacious with the views of the patio and parking . The Director’s office will be adjacent to the library.
Ms Griffin explains, “Our earlier deadline to finish phase 1 in March was missed but we are on track for the June finish. That’s the reason you see so much activity on the site.”
Once finished the school will offer a host of facilities with art, IT, makers-lab, black box theatre, a 25 meter swimming pool, a football field and a multi-purpose hall.
The plot size of the school is 23,847 square meters and the built up area will be 19,745 square meters. There will be three entry and exit points in the school with two drop-off points.
Each of the four buildings will have two entrances, for students and for staff.
The furniture for the school has arrived and the support staff has been hired to move in as soon as the building is ready.
Ignite aims to start with three classes per grade level from Pre-K to Garde 5 in September with 24 children in each class in Pre-K and 25 for K and 26 from Grade 1 onwards.
Teacher recruitment is in full swing as well.
“We are looking at hiring three teachers per Grade level apart from the specialist teachers. All our teachers will come form the US except Arabic and Islamic Studies specialists.”
The school will recruit three heads in total with the elementary principal being hired in the second year of operation, once the middle and the high school will be operational, the other two heads will be recruited.
Located in the heart of Al Warqaa with International City and Mirdif within vicinity, the school has a ready-made catchment area for enrolments.
The fee starts from 29,000 AED for Pre-K and increases and goes up to 37,000 AED for Grade 5. There are discounts related to payment. Ms Griffin explained:
"If a parent pays in full by September 2018, they get a 7.5% discount, while if the full payment is done by April 2019, they will be eligible for a 5% discount. We also offer a sibling discount from the second child onwards."
The school is already seeing interest with parents just walking on to the construction site to enquire about the school. Some enrolments have already been taken.
The total capacity of the school once it has all the grades will be 2,148, however, Ignite aims to start with 530 students in its first year of operation.