'One of a Kind’ Riverston School Dubai Closes

On opening in September 2018, Riverston School Dubai was hailed as a landmark school for the city, having been established as a fully inclusive school, catering to children of all abilities.
'One of a Kind’ Riverston School Dubai Closes
By Lyn Soppelsa
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Riverston School Dubai has officially closed. Almost unique in the UAE, it was initially established as a fully inclusive school. The timing of the initiative coincided with the introduction of the KHDA’s Inclusive Education Policy designed to ensure that all children who could be educated in ‘mainstream’ schools, would be enabled to do so.

Riverston Dubai was inspired by the success and approach of Riverston UK, a UK-based, international education and training group with Ofsted-rated ‘outstanding’ and ‘excellent’ nurseries and schools in the UK, as well as children's centres in India. As a branch campus of Riverston School London, Riverston School Dubai aimed to mirror the 95 year old London school’s highly successful inclusive model of education.

The Dubai branch had already made its mark in the UAE having been named the Winner of the "Best International Initiative in the UAE" at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's sister website - SchoolsCompared.com - Top School Awards in March 2019.

At the time of opening, all teaching staff were from the UK, apart from the Islamic and Arabic teachers, and also included four Learning Support Assistants who were qualified to provide a range of additional support including ABA therapy, play therapy, or SEND support. Speech and Occupational Therapy was included within the school's provision to enable parents to avoid the after-school travel and therapy appointments that were otherwise required. Class sizes were limited to 16 students per class. Every child, from the most academically able with gifts and talents, to students of determination, had an individual education plan to determine and develop each student’s strengths.

"The Dubai school was providing mainstream education for children with moderate to severe learning needs, and succeeded in achieving the KHDA’s highest ‘developed’ rating for distance learning."

However, with an anticipated capacity of only 300 children in total and with fees ranging from AED 67,500 for FS1 to Year 1, and AED 70,500 for Year 2 to 6, the school needed to attract a significant cohort at a time when the economic situation and the advent of Covid 19 have made it difficult for many, particularly newer, schools.

Parents attempted to keep the school open and according to feedback received by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com have been bitterly disappointed at the school’s closure. In a blow to fully inclusive education, unfortunately, no agreement could be reached between the UK and UAE-based investors to keep the school open.

Students have, in some cases, gone to other schools, whilst some have returned to specialist SEN centres.

The Riverston Children’s Centre, which was the associated SEN Centre in Jumeirah, has also closed.

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