Hot on the heels of its expansion to its Secondary School in its new building in Jumeirah Village Triangle, Arcadia Education announced the planned expansion of the Group with a much larger new school. Arcadia Global School which opened as planned in August 2023.
Arcadia Education announced its intention to open a third school in 2021 - following on from the original Arcadia Prep School and its secondary school, now merged into Arcadia School - leaving itself plenty of time to complete the facility. The new school offers premium facilities (in line with the existing school in Jumeirah Village Triangle), but at a more affordable fee structure. Located on a prime plot at the heart of the Discovery Gardens/Al Furjan Community, the new school is located on a stone's throw from the nearest Metro station.
At the ground-breaking ceremony in October 2021, which was attended by Dr. Abdullah Al Karam, Director General of the KHDA, it was confirmed that the Primary school would open in time for the 2023-24 academic year. The new school is named Arcadia Global School (AGS).
Arcadia Global School confirmed that the buildings would be ready at the end of July 2023 when the administration moved in to start the set for the opening of the school which will take place on time for the 2023-24 academic year.
As planned, AGS opened in the last week of August - welcoming almost 900 children! Not since 2014-16 has a new school opening shown such substantial student numbers on the first day. Students from 64 different nationalities have joined the new school, with the largest proportion from Indian (40%), Pakistan (7%), Egypt and Jordan (each 6%) and the Philippines (4%).
On opening, the school became the third school delivering the vision of well-known Dubai entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mr. Mohan Valrani, and the Al Shirawi Group.
As the Chairman of the school, Mr. Valrani is an avid believer in providing the very best education for future generations. This follows the launch of the original Arcadia School, which expanded into an all-through school with the opening of its Secondary section in September 2020. The new school is located in the Al Furjan area and will eventually cater to a very significant 4,250 students at an affordable fee level. The Primary school has a capacity of 2,600 students in classes of up to 30 students. Arcadia School JVT, by contrast, has a total capacity across Primary and Secondary sections of 1,750.
The scale of the new school is very different to the original Arcadia School in Jumeirah Village Triangle, with plans for 12 form entry in FS1 and FS2, reducing to 10 forms from Years 1 to 6. Maximum class sizes are 25 in the Foundation Stage, rising to 30 in the Primary years.
Current plans are for the Secondary school to open in a separate construction phase, likely to be completed for the 2024-25 academic year; however, an earlier opening has not been ruled out.
Speaking at the launch of the school, Mr. Valrani, in the presence of Dr. Pam Grossman, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and her leadership team, unveiled a model of the school. The team from the US have worked together with the original Arcadia School team to develop the curriculum, .
Mr. Valrani said “Arcadia has always been about meeting the aspirations of our students and this school will provide access to thousands of students in Dubai to experience the Arcadia way. We have a metro stop right outside the plot, so our doors will be open to every student that is able to access the Dubai metro.”
In a further significant step towards the opening of the school, in September 2022, the group announced the appointment of the Founding Principal.
Andrew Wilson joins Arcadia Global School from his position as the Vice Principal of GEMS Westminster School Sharjah for the previous nine years. Mr. Wilson clearly has very relevant experience of delivering a National Curriculum for England-based education at more affordable fee levels. GEMS Westminster Sharjah has average fees of AED 16,500 and a student population of 3,000, a comparable size to Arcadia Global.
The school was recently rated Good in the first published SPEA inspection ratings - a success in which Mr. Wilson will have been heavily involved.
Previously, Mr Wilson spent two years at GEMS' highly regarded and Outstanding rated Jumeirah College as Assistant Principal. He is described by Arcadia Education as an "effervescent educator" who will "add enormous value to the organisation". Mr. Wilson is supported by Ms. Holly Simpson as Vice Principal.
In early July 2023, Mr. Wilson, confirmed to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that the school, which will be the 'Value Version' of Arcadia School JVT offering high quality with excellent facilities, had secured a full complement of teachers for the school - with an enormous 7,500 applications having been received. The 73 new teachers are nationals of a range of different countries and include British, South African, Irish, Indian, Filipino and Arab teachers, all of whom have a minimum of two years’ experience of the National Curriculum for England and are fully qualified from either the UK or around the world.
Mr. Wilson told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that his recruitment process focused on identifying teachers who were fluent English speakers, with understanding of pedagogy and talent for teaching. Teachers are said to be loving, kind, team workers with humour, zest and enthusiasm. All teachers are experienced with between two to three years and seven years (the 'Golden Years' according to the Principal), who are young and dynamic.
The school opened with 32 classes for students from FS1 to Year 6 with up to 25 students per class in FS1 and Fs2 and a maximum of 30 students per class for Years 1 to 6. Teachers are supported by a teaching assistant from FS1 to Year 2.
In line with the existing schools within the group, the Arcadia Global School offers the Early Years Foundation Stage for FS1 and FS2 students and the National Curriculum for England for Years 1 to 6, adapted to its international context. Students in Years 1 to 6 will have a weekly lesson focused on STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Maths) and Digital Innovation. The Religious element of the curriculum will be delivered through Moral Education and Social Studies.
Arcadia Education's ethos centres on nurturing the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and athletes through a holistic approach to education.
Students will experience Arcadia's trademarked Junior MBA programme from Year 3 upwards and will be offered a curriculum that focuses on wellbeing as a priority. The wellbeing focus is delivered through the Posana programme (the Sanskrit word for Nourish), which includes areas of focus on the mind, body and soul. A health coach will provide guidance on areas such as sleep, screen time and life style appropriate to the age groups involved.
An integral part of the curriculum will be a focus on values and character with children being rewarded on a weekly basis for demonstrating the school values. Positive behaviour will be encouraged through the House system.
Students also have access to a range of sports activities including a weekly swimming lesson for all children starting from FS1 using either the 85cm training pool or the semi-Olympic pool onsite. A particular focus of the school is on its Cricket Academy - the inauguration of the nets and ground for this will be a staff match between Arcadia Global School and Arcadia JVT.
School timings are from 8 a.m - 12 noon for FS1 and FS2, 8 a.m - 2 p.m for Years 1 to 6 and registration starts at 7.40 a.m.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com was informed that a specialist inclusion team of five has been set up to support the approximately 5% of students with additional learning needs.
The team consists of Head of SEN (SENCO), a counsellor, English Additional Language teachers and Learning Support staff. The set up of the department is being supported by Arcadia School JVT's specialist team, having been rated Outstanding for provision and support for students of Determination in the 2022-23 KHDA inspection round.
Facilities are centered around the classrooms of the future. All Foundation Stage classrooms have external play spaces which have shade and RCC covering. The shades provide protection from the sun while allowing light and air movement. Foundation Stage children have access to the main football ground as per allocated timings within the school day, as well as ground-floor-only teaching spaces and play areas.
Initial specialist facilities in the FS and Primary school include two Science Labs, one ICT Lab, STREAM Labs, one EYFS Support Room, and a Library.
Additional features include a 106 x 70 metre Astroturf football pitch, a 39 x 19 metre Multi-game court, featuring an acrylic pitch on a concrete base offering basketball, volleyball, badminton, tennis, and handball, a semi-Olympic (25 x 13 metre) swimming pool, with a deck surround and a dedicated change room.
The school also features a Performing Arts Centre for Music and Theatre and a large number of internal social spaces (located on all floors of the building) which can be used for a range of activities.
There is no question that with close to 900 students on opening, Arcadia Global School has opened with a bang! By the end of the first term, this number was expected to grow to approximately 1,200 students. New school openings of this level of success have been hard to find in recent years, with the last such success story probably belonging to Nord Anglia International School when it opened back in 2014.
The challenge now is for the team at AGS to turn their dreams into a reality by continuing to ensure that operations go as smoothly as possible, bearing in mind that this is a new team, new building, new parents, new students - new everything, in fact. There will inevitably be issues along the way, but based on the history of the original Arcadia School in Jumeirah Village Triangle, we are inclined to think that the challenge will be met.
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Arcadia School Dubai has always stood out as a school that is really focused on providing excellence in education on a very personal basis to families who have bought into the vision of its founder, which is reflected in its promise - "Arcadia School brings learning to life with an inclusive culture, latest technology and unique educational programmes". If proof were needed of its commitment to its values of Altruism, Respect, Compassion, Aspiration, Determination, Integrity and Adventure, parents need look no further than the most recent KHDA inspection report - where Arcadia achieved an overall rating of Very Good, and an Outstanding rating for the provision and outcomes for Students of determination.
Over 150 parents have responded to the WhichSchoolAdvisor parent survey, and 88% would unreservedly recommend the school to others.
Whilst clearly Arcadia Global is destined to offer a different package, given its potential size and fee levels, we would still expect that the ethos and objectives of the original school to strongly influence the new one.
KHDA approved fees start at AED 40,000 for FS1 and FS2 rising to AED 45,000 for Years 1 to 6. However, the school is offering very generous discounts for the first academic year with reductions as high as 44% in FS1, 36% in FS2 and 39% in Years 1 to 6. This brings the fees to AED 22,445 for FS1, AED 25,518 for FS2 and AED 27,559 for Years 1 to 6.
Nearby schools that are likely to be competitors at this affordable price point are extremely limited at present, with GEMS Founders in Al Barsha South and GEMS Metropole in Motor City probably being the closest geographically.
The school currently operated over 20 buses covering a wide area from Discovery Gardens outwards towards Arabian Ranches and communities between.
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