Located just across the road from the Ferrari complex, and close to the new Shopping Centre and mosque that are also under construction for the new Aldar Properties Yas development, West Yas School will be in the heart of a new community. Pending the opening of the housing development, students joining Aldar’s US curriculum school will drive to the new school, which is conveniently located for the Raha/airport area on the mainland and for families living on both Saadiyat and Reem Islands.
West Yas School is Aldar Academies’ first venture into US curriculum and it is clear that no expense has been spared on ensuring that this spacious site will have all the facilities expected of a Premium US curriculum school. Of the 38,000 square metres plot, 28,000 square metres has been built up - that is quite some infrastructure. It has also taken time - 30 months and counting: A great deal of careful thought has clearly gone into the bespoke design.
The resulting building is striking – it is a two-storey low-rise, finished in bright green, yellow, red and dark grey with plentiful shaded outdoor space. There will be three entrances to the school via two access roads for KG/ lower Elementary and the Girls and Boys section of the Upper Elementary, Middle and High Schools. Each learning zone of the school is divided by courtyards and quadrangles that will have outside access and will be planted with trees or used for activities. A glassed in bridge takes students between the buildings on the first floor.
The sports facilities include two swimming pools (each 25m x 12m), a double storey multi-purpose hall, basketball courts and an enormous playing field that will host a range of ball sports and athletics. A canteen on site will cater to students and is large enough to supply a total of four schools, should this be required! Specialist facilities include Art rooms, Design Technology and Textile rooms, Graphics, Food Technology, Science labs, a Drama Studio incorporating a stage, a full size Auditorium as well as a less intimidating Multipurpose hall with stage for the younger students. Students will also have access to two clinics (male and female), Elementary and Middle/High school libraries and a Senior’s Lounge for the oldest students. Each classroom will have the ubiquitous interactive white board and smart technology and there is Wi-Fi provision throughout the school.
The KG section is separated from the other two sections of the school on the ground floor and overlooks the very expansive playing fields and a very large outdoor play area which will be finished with outdoor child-friendly flooring and play equipment. This area will also potentially offer space for an outdoor assembly area. Large internal spaces allow younger children to spread out around the ground floor of the building and to get involved in less confined activities. Viewing terraces have been incorporated into the buildings overlooking the playing fields and will allow younger students to get a bird’s eye view.
The building itself is light, airy and open plan. It incorporates wide corridors and large open spaces for displays as well as break out areas for Elementary students. The curved ceiling lines and modern lighting add to the atmosphere, with pops of colour to create contrast. Three lifts have been installed to cater for the separation of girls and boys, together with a shared lift for younger students. The Director of Operations tells us that Aldar Academies has never been delayed in the handover of a new building and that this will be the case for West Yas also. All the furniture and resources are in situ in the UAE and just awaiting assembly and delivery. The building already has Civil Defence approval, all the major services are already in place and the only remaining construction works are the finishing and testing of the swimming pools – it is hard to see how West Yas could not open on time!
Students will be separated by gender from G4 in all likelihood – Aldar Academies is still awaiting final confirmation from ADEC is this regard - but the building has been designed in such a way that a central spine runs between the two sections of the school with the Elementary school located in one wing of the building on the first floor, whilst the Middle and High schools will be located in the other two sections.
This will eventually be a large school with a capacity for approx. 1,800 students offering the American Common Core curriculum from KG1 to grade 12. In its first year, the school is expected to attract approx. 25% of this number - the school will initially offer KG to Grade 8, and progressively add grades each year thereafter.
Approximately 1/3 of students are expected to be Emirati with the balance made up of a diverse range of nationalities. Staff will be led by the Canadian Founding Principal, Jack Brown and his American Vice Principal, Jerry Chabot and will supported by a qualified team of staff who are very much looking forward to seeing the West Yas School open its doors.