NGS is not a conventional school, however Dubai’s parents seem exceptionally keen to know more, in fact principal Dr Sheryl Abukar, says they already have over 500 families who have registered interest, and 13 to 14 families turning up daily to learn more.
This could be because the NGS fees are exceedingly affordable (Dhs 26,500 for KG up to Dhs36,500 for Grade 5), or it could be the unique combination of US curriculum combined with a Ministry of Education Arabic and Islamic component all offered via a brand-new and very much, 'premium style' school, utilising thoroughly modern teaching philosophies.
Either way, NGS is turning out to be so popular that Abukar is currently meeting families in the work-site cabins. She says they had been planning to renting something 'more welcoming', but Dubai’s parents have literally been beating down the doors to find out more.
However, with the staff room set to be completed any day now, both Abukar and the families she is meeting, should have somewhere significantly more comfortable to meet very soon.
NGS has been designed, and will be operated by the Kennedy Academic Group, a Canadian educational services company with experience in Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai.
The company specialises in American and Canadian curriculum design, school formation, Arabic/Islamic cross-curricular integration, strategic planning, and school improvement.
Funding for NGS has come from the Saudi based Alrajhi family. The family is known for its community service, philanthropy, charity, and a pioneering role in Islamic banking.
NGS is really not far off completion; in fact it’s expected to be handed over on the third week in May. And when it is, it will be one of the biggest Islamic schools on the planet with 2,200 rising to 2,900 students when full.
Located in Al Barsha 3, right behind the Saudi German Hospital, the school is to be coeducational until Grade 3 when students will be separated by gender for the following Grades.
The 2016/17 academic year, will see the launch of KG to Grade 5, with the remainder of the school (Grade 6 to 12) being added in 2018.
Recruitment for NGS is currently well underway with native English teachers being sought primarily in Canada, while the Arabic/Islamic staff recruited regionally. The teaching ratio is expected to be 60/40 English to Arabic, with teachers for the US curriculum component not necessarily expected to be of the Muslim faith.
When we visit, the site is quite obviously nearing completion. Compared with many other sites we've visited, there’s significantly less workers around and a less ‘frenetic’ feel in general to the whole site.
Without doubt, the most impressive and imposing structure at NGS will be, and in many ways already is, the suspended multi-sports hall. Raised to the second storey, it standing on long ‘stilts’ above the Kindergarten.
It’s impressive already, but we can’t wait to see the finished product which will not only have a strikingly painted façade, but will house the schools gardens between the pillars.
Like most schools, NGS has sought to conserve its plot space and as such has set the buildings along the perimeter of the 30,000 square metre Al Barsha site.
The design has created a large C shape with 4 sports fields in the centre of the school, and in the process, added to the schools’ ‘American’ sports focused ‘feel’.
The building is designed to make the whole school a ‘learning space.’ This is most evident in the extremely wide corridor space, which Abukar tells us will be used as break-out/learning spaces.
When we inquire about the noise potential of hundreds of students in the corridors, she describes both the insulation and the school’s ‘Whisper-phone.’
As we try the Whisper-phone for ourselves (a low-tech yet highly effective device which amplifies the wearers voice up to 10 times, but only to him/herself), we realise just how much additional space the school will be able to utilise in these areas, but also how much we all want our own Whisper-phones too!
As discussions move to the unique curriculum, Abukar describe how NGS plans to integrate the Arabic and Islamic components into the topic based learning of the US system.
She says, “this is our heritage, there is no conflict with an international curriculum.”
While NGS is certainly catering for a 'niche' market, it is also one which is growing and demanding more. More curriculum integration, more facilities, more technology and more 'thought' into just how an international curriculum can be combined and enriched by an Arabic/Islamic component.
NGS is in effect leading the field in a new wave of 'premium' combined-curriculum schools. How this will change the market- only time will tell.
For more information about NGS and to arrange a meeting visit: here