The Arcadia Preparatory School is a primary school that opened in August 2016. Located in the Jumeirah Village Triangle area of Dubai, the school offers an enriched National Curriculum for England and is currently enrolling children aged 3-10 years.
The story so far
Arcadia Preparatory School has 56 nationalities of children (up from 20 in its opening year). Approximately 30% of the children are British, leaving 70% coming from 55 other nations. This creates what the school calls a "Global School in a British environment". To support its nationality mix the school has an experienced 'English as an additional language' department, giving Arcadia Prep the ability to welcome children with varying levels of ability in the English language.
Staying fairly static since launch has been the numbers attending from its immediate local community, a ratio of one in two.
Certainly, current staffing levels and staff to student ratios should ensure that each child receives sufficient individual attention. Maximum student numbers per class are 25. The school has subject specialists for Art, IT, PE, Music, Arabic and Islamic Studies.
French is offered as an extra-curricular activity (ECA) and is offered as part of the Enrichment Learning programme. All ECAs are included within school fees, which also covers four sets of uniforms, and all textbooks. This follows the Prep School model of Extra-curricular activities and homework being supervised in school through an extended day. School finishes at 2pm for FS and 4pm for Year 1 upwards.
No homework is taken home.
Arcadia also provides "options" for FS1 or FS2 children to remain in school until 4pm, to support working parents.
Find out more about the school and its facilities by reading our Experience visit.
Arcadia includes within its key strengths the quality of its teachers. The school had over 800 applicants for the positions in the school. The interest was in part driven by generous packages with accommodation and a strong emphasis on Continuous Professional Development. Arcadia has clearly recognised the need to attract - and then retain - good teachers, an area that will be an increasing challenge for all schools in the coming years.
Another strong focus of the school is on IT. Arcadia is follows the UK curriculum for technology and is an Apple School. Every child has an iPad and coding/programming is taught from FS1. Technology is used within the classrooms and in the open-plan IT suite which is part of the large communal IT resource and Library area on the first floor of the school.
The iPads are used like library books with teachers sharing photos, videos, activities and work undertaken by the children with parents via a video feed to which parents log in. The aim is to ensure that there are no surprises for parents about what is happening in school – they can view this in real-time.
However, there is not solely an emphasis on technology. Arcadia Prep School intends to be a centre of Excellence for the 'Collins reading scheme' programme which is used widely for literacy.
Research as shown that through a process of imitation, through dance, song, acting and then a process of drawing and finally writing, children learn to visualise what they want to say and are able to produce much more complex and detailed written material as a result. Essentially, their imaginations prepare the story before they come to write it down, and it is more complete and detailed as a result.
The literacy work is reinforced by the expansive modern library with comfortable seating and lounge areas, the Oxbridge Study area – aimed at readers wanting a more traditional library study area – and an array of books with a ratio of 63 books for each child.
Classrooms are located around the exterior three sides of the plot. All are light and bright, facing into the central courtyard areas which are set out with appropriate play equipment.
At first glance, the school does seem to lack outdoor space, but this has been addressed by clever use of the top floor of the building, where a heated and chilled outdoor swimming pool, a full 5-aside football pitch and an outdoor running track have been integrated.
The play areas on the ground floor are carefully arranged to be shaded and to create corridors where a fresh breeze can travel. The construction of the Secondary School on the much larger neighbouring plot will hopefully also provide access to more open natural space. Construction on the Secondary School is due to start in 2019.
Arcadia Prep School is actually much larger than it initially appears and certainly does not lack in staff, resources or facilities for primary age children. It also has a very dedicated team of staff who seem to really cherish the boutique style and ethos of the school.
The school prides itself of being "warm, friendly, and a community-oriented".
In Dubai, where big is increasingly best among school developers, Arcadia is certainly worth seeking out for an exception to the rule, a school that proves small really can be quite beautiful.
Arcadia models itself on being Premium Plus school in terms of staff and facilities, but with mid-tier plus pricing. Fees range from 48,000 for FS1 and rise to 58,000 AED for Year 6, however scholarships are offered to all students. These provide a subsidy of 15% towards the annual fees for all parents enrolling their children, regardless of the academic year.
The subsidy is valid every year, up until and including Year 6, the end of primary school. At Foundation Stage 1 Arcadia offers a subsidised school fee of 25% for the first year and then 15% from Foundation Stage 2 onwards.
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