Ambassador Kindergarten in Dubai has now been inspected five times by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, and after 2 years of achieving a Good rating, was the only school to be uprated to Very Good in the 2017/18 inspection round. It is one of the few independently located Kindergarten/Early Learning Centre facilities to be inspected separately by the DSIB as a result of its individual registration with the KHDA.
Ambassador Kindergarten has been rated Very Good in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full report has been issued.
The Story so Far
Located in one of the more traditional areas of Bur Dubai, Ambassador Nursery & Kindergarten provides schooling to KG1 and KG2 students (aged between 4 and 6 years). Its nursery section admits children from the age of 1 year and 8 months (based on the KHDA cut off date of 31st July). It is the feeder for the Ambassador School which is located in close proximity.
The Kindergarten is purpose-built and offers a wide range of facilities - a number of which will be hard to find elsewhere.
It is built over a 35000 sq feet area with 24 classrooms and includes a Dance Room, a Music Studio and a Yoga Room. In addition, there is a Rumpus Room (for indoor play with indoor equipment) and an Atelier Room for Art, a Splash Pool and other purpose-built educational facilities which are specially designed for young children. Each class room has a built-in washroom. Every class room is equipped with an interactive white board and a "light table".
Outdoors, shaded play areas are equipped with soft furniture and play equipment that is specially designed for kindergarten students. The shaded play area floor is covered with soft rubber flooring and a splash pool provides the opportunity for play activities for younger children which can improve motor skills; increasing their chances of being more physically active in later life. The school notes that research conducted in Norway suggests that water play is good for developing balance and movement in infants and young children. It also helps in the co-ordination of motor skills.
The Kindergarten also offers a specially designed yoga program for children from 3+ to 5 years. It includes poses to increase strength, flexibility, concentration and coordination. Activities incorporate yoga poses, games, breathing techniques and music for relaxation. Emotional benefits are said to include greater optimism and a less reactive nature. Other benefits include increased focus; concentration and academic performance has been noted to improve along with confidence in physical abilities. Yoga is used for treatment of children with special needs.
The Kindergarten has purpose built premises with child safe interiors, child friendly furniture and amenities, together with a well-equipped library which is used by all children as an integral part of their learning. It houses books and other resource material, and is designed to resemble a comfy, traditional library complete with child friendly chairs and tables.
Home to 323 pupils, Ambassador Kindergarten employs 20 teachers and 15 teaching assistants. Although the report from three years ago noted teacher turnover at a very high 46%, last year's report had it at just 8% and the latest 2017-18 report shows that the figure has reduced further to a very low 5%. Stability among teaching staff is often a key feature of high-performing schools.
Although the KHDA report states a staff:student ratio of 1:16, in reality this is 1:8, comprising of one Class Teacher and Assistant Teacher per classroom. In addition Specialist staff for Music, Dance and Yoga are provided and there is a dedicated Nanny for each classroom.
The majority of the students come from India. A very small percentage have SEN requirements. The school follows the CICSE framework. Its web site makes reference to Montessori, an approach that favours learning through play. The Kindergarten's website notes
"What is now undeniably clear in the 21st century is that play is essential, vital, critical, and fundamental to a child’s social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development. Without adequate, healthy play, children run the risk of entering school unprepared, growing into teens and adults without needed skills, and failing to meet their potential".
A thematic approach to teaching involves integrating all subject areas together under one theme. It crosses over subject lines and helps children relate basic academic skills to real-world ideas. These themed units incorporate reading, Maths and Science as well as the Arts for a well-balanced curriculum.
What do the Inspectors Say?
The inspection team looked only at the Kindergarten provision (not at the Nursery). All key measures at Ambassador Kindergarten were found to be Very Good by the inspection team. The sole (positive) exception was in relation to Islamic Studies, where children are said to appreciate other cultures and demonstrate an Outstanding understanding of Islamic values. They are aware of the heritage and culture of the United Arab Emirates.
Academically, attainment in English, Maths and Science is now rated Very Good, with progress in Science, in particular, having made significant strides (up from Acceptable) since the last inspection.
Areas of improvement identified by the DSIB team were that teachers should take more account of prior learning to support the matching of tasks and activities to the abilities of children and provide timely and purposeful interactions when they are working at learning centre activities; and a requirement to accelerate the progress of children with SEND and those who are gifted and talented, in order to allow them to maximise their potential.
The school community itself is a happy one. 99% of parents who responded to the pre-inspection survey are happy with the quality of education and children enjoy and look forward to going to school. Parents feel included, and rate the school well for the reporting of progress of their children. Teachers are also a largely a happy team - reflected also in the low level of teacher turnover.
What are the Fees?
The school's fees for KG1 and KG2 are high given its demographic target market, currently at AED 26,264 per annum.
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