WSA Profiles Dubai's Youngest Pupils, 2019!

The team are lucky enough to spend our days in and out of fantastic schools. We often say that the most important stakeholders we meet are the students…but what is life really like for the kids in UAE schools? For this brand new feature we visited a number of schools to find out…
WSA Profiles Dubai's Youngest Pupils, 2019!
By Jenny Mollon
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In this series we talk to students from three well known Dubai schools (Nord Anglia Dubai, the three closely aligned Dubai British schools (Dubai British School, Dubai British Foundation and Dubai British School Jumeirah Park) and Kent College Dubai) at key stages in their school lives…the beginning, the middle and (very nearly) the end!

First up, we are proud to introduce you to our Foundation Stage students: Sariya of Nord Anglia School Dubai, Ava of Dubai British Foundation and Ashleigh of Kent College Dubai! We will be following our youngest students throughout this academic year, so look out for lots of pictures of their adventures on the @whichschooladvisor Instagram page and further updates here in Terms 2 and 3!

Ashleigh at Kent College Dubai

Ashleigh takes our request for her to show off her classroom very seriously indeed. We are given a breakfast of “potatoes, hot tea, VERY hot milk and croissants” (the potato and croissant combination being a WSA favourite, naturally!) from the class kitchen.

We play with, and count, cars, all the way to 19…“They are all the fastest!” Ashleigh says in answer to our (clearly daft) question. We see the plants Ashleigh and her class have been caring for and we are introduced to several of her friends – all in the first ten minutes after we arrive! Ashleigh is certainly one busy FS1 student.

A big fan of books! Ashleigh at Kent College Dubai

Ashleigh’s teacher, Ms Sabina Aditya, tells us that Ashleigh is an excellent tour guide and so, accompanied by two of her super helpful friends, we are treated to a whistle stop, 4-year-old led tour of FS1 at Kent College.

Ashleigh is incredibly confident and dashes happily along the corridors, laughing at our reporter not being able to keep up! Our first stop is to see the climbing equipment in one of the two outdoor areas dedicated to Foundation Stage at the school. While standing at the top of the climbing frame, Ashleigh spots some “tidying up” that needs attention and enlists her friends to help.

Next stop is the indoor soft play room, usually used for expending some energy when the weather is hot. Once there, our story telling skills are needed as Ashleigh insists our WSA reporter reads a book about dinosaurs (clearly one they all know well, as there’s a LOT of joining in and roaring!) to our team of tour guides. Finally, we see the lunch room (“this is a very important place” says Ashleigh, and we quite agree). All in all, it’s clear that Ashleigh is thoroughly enjoying her time in FS1.

Before leaving, we have a couple of minutes to chat to Ms Aditya, Ashleigh’s teacher. Ms Aditya tells us that:

“Ashleigh is just so full of life, as you can see! Every morning she is just so excited to come into school and at the end of each day she gives her mum and dad a tour of where she has been and what she has being doing in the classroom, it’s lovely to watch! Ashleigh is the oldest of two sisters, so she hadn’t had the benefit of getting to know the school via a sibling as some children had. It didn’t seem to matter as she has made an incredibly confident start to the year”.

Ava at Dubai British Foundation

We meet Ava on a busy Monday morning at this bustling, standalone preschool in the Emirates Living Development.

Dubai British Foundation is one of three of the Taaleem group’s “Dubai British” schools (nearby sister schools are Dubai British School and Dubai British School Jumeirah Park). Catering solely to the youngest children, Dubai British Foundation educates children in FS1 (typically age 3-4, although children can join from as young as 2 years 8 months) and FS2 (typically aged 4-5).

Ava having fun in her PE lesson at Dubai British Foundation

As we arrive, Ava is seated at a table with her teacher, Ms Beth Millar and two young friends. The children are about to plant broad beans, having been inspired to do so by the story “Jack and The Beanstalk”. Ava’s teacher asks her what might be at the top of her beanstalk, to which she confidently replies “a giant"” (with a look at our WSA reporter as if to say “of course”!).

Before planting her bean, Ava makes us all laugh by wearing her pot as a hat for a few minutes whilst listening to her teacher talk. Her friends quickly follow suit and we are soon seated at a table surrounded by little people wearing plant pots. Having listened to her teachers for a few minutes, the hats come off and the children are good to go.

Ava and her class have been learning about the number 4 and the pupils carefully count four scoops of soil into their plant pots before planting the “special, magic beans”. Ava seems a little worried about having dirty hands but with reassurance from her teacher, she carries on with the task in hand. Ava tells her teacher that her bean will need water and sun to grow.

After this activity, Ava and the class ready themselves for PE. At Dubai British Foundation, the children have a specialist PE teacher, in this case Ms Sarah Read. During PE, the children pay Stuck in the Sand, a game they had discovered in a previous lesson and one which Ms Read is keen to see how well they have remembered. Ava has no trouble getting back into the game and volunteers herself to be a ‘catcher’.

Later in there is a small tumble off an obstacle course, but Ava pops up smiling and laughing. Ava is clearly a confident and resilient child who is enjoying school. She seems a little confused by our Editor following her around, but is willing to chat and is very friendly! Her favourite part of the school day is “messy play” she says, smiling. Good choice Ava!

Before we leave we stop to ask teacher Ms Beth Millar how Ava’s first weeks in class have been. Ms Millar says that Ava joined the school with confidence and had no problem saying goodbye to her parents from the start. Ava had previously attended a local nursery, which Ms Millar felt had helped in this regard.

“Ava has a real awe and wonder about learning” said Ms Millar “which is wonderful for me... She is curious, enthusiastic and very articulate. A real joy to have in class!”

Sariya at Nord Anglia School Dubai (NASD)

We arrive to meet Sariya on a busy Thursday morning. The weather is just right for enjoying the fantastic outdoor space in the NASD Foundation Stage and our time with Sariya sees us in and out of her ‘free flow’ classroom. At NASD, the Foundation Stage classrooms encircle a large central play area which the children can access as and when they choose for long parts of the day.

There is a huge variety of different activities on offer and what is noticeable from the off is just how calm it feels, despite the many children around! The teaching team here strongly believe in ‘child led learning’ and it is immediately clear that Sariya and her peers are engaged and thriving in an environment where they are empowered to make choices about their learning.

NASD Airways ready for take off with Sariya at the helm!

We begin our chat with our cheerful young host by asking Sariya what favourite thing to do at school is? Her answer “drawing and making pictures with glitter!”. That does sound like great fun!

Guiding us around the classroom, Sariya points out that she and her classmates made a large airplane “so they can go anywhere they want”! Where would Sariya go? “I’d like to land on top of my house!"

Sariya also loves to cook in class and tells us she has “lots of best friends” – lucky her!

Sariya has an older brother and sister in the school, meaning that she was familiar with the school environment before joining. Her teacher, Ms Sheree Hay, tells us that this helped her to settle quickly, with very little separation anxiety.

“She was a little quiet first thing in the morning for the first couple of weeks, but after that she relaxed and now it’s clear she loves school. Sariya is a wonderful child to teach, she really just wants to learn. Whilst some young children can have a fear of the unknown, Sariya…well, she gets stuck in with everything! If mistakes are made, it doesn’t matter, she understands that that is how we learn. That resilience can take a while to develop in other children, but not for our Sariya”.

Last words for this term from Sariya. “My teacher is lovely and REALLY clever – she can make paper airplanes and paper boats that float”. We’re impressed too Sariya!

We look forward to catching up with our team of Dubai’s youngest students again in Term 2! Watch this space to meet some Year 7 and Year 12 students too…

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