Situated on the mezzanine level of the Golden Mile Galleria Mall on the Palm Jumeirah, Babilou Palm is a convenient choice for local parents. We saw lots of children arriving on foot (or by pushchair!) via the beautiful Al Ittihad Park and from local apartment buildings.
Accessible only by lift, our reviewer did find the Babilou Palm nursery a little challenging to locate within the Galleria Mall. It would be useful to have some signage dotted around. This is something we are told that Babilou have requested from Mall management and we hope it works out for them.
Once we found the nursery, we buzzed for access via the security doors. We were welcomed into the bright reception area by the Deputy Manager, who soon introduced us to Julie Dean, Centre Director. Julie is a very well qualified leader, holding a Cache Level 3*, a Degree in Early Childhood studies, Early Years Professional status from the UK and a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Julie’s next aim is to complete her PHD and we were extremely impressed by her ambition for both her own development and for the development of Babilou Palm.
[*Cache qualifications are qualifications awarded by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education - the UK's leading provider of vocational qualifications for those working in the care and education sectors. Cache qualifications are divided into five different levels, ranging from Level 1 (entry level) to Level 5 (for experienced professionals).]
Babilou is a nursery chain that hails from France. The local group has recently merged with the home grown Blossom nursery organisation – a move that we discussed in an interview with Blossom CEO, Zahra Hamirani.
The merger has brought about many changes within the Babilou group, not least that all of the nurseries have now adopted the English EYFS curriculum. Julie begins our chat by telling us how they approach the three primary areas of this curriculum, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Julie tells us that her goal is to equip all the children within her nursery with confidence and self-esteem. To do this, she places great emphasis on relationships and strong bonds – not just between children and staff but between her team too. Strong relationships should, she feels, bring about a natural warmth and home from home atmosphere throughout the setting.
Communication and Language
This is a bilingual nursery, with older children receiving tuition in either English or French on alternate days. An immersion style of learning is used during these sessions, meaning that all other areas of the curriculum, from maths to dance are delivered in the language of the day. Younger children receive three, 20 minute language sessions per day.
In addition, there is a well stocked library room which all children visit daily.
The nursery has use of a fairly large outdoor area which has recently been upgraded with new play equipment. A sand area is also planned and in addition, the team have created a space for the children to grow plants and flowers, a project that had not long begun on the day of our visit. For the hotter months, there is a small soft play room where children can let off some pent up energy!
Classrooms are bright, light and spacious. Many have small climbing equipment or slides. All are equipped with good quality toys, many of which we noticed as being designed to enhance small muscle development and fine motor skills. We saw lots of children involved in threading activities, something which is good for developing the muscle control needed for holding pencils and pens. Bathrooms were clean and thoughtfully designed.
In addition to the regular curriculum work, we saw that the team were busy creating a sensory room, somewhere that the teachers can implement the Blossom group’s ‘Skygarden’ sensory curriculum. This area was not quite complete but looked like ample space for messy and sensory play. We noticed that the teachers were using lots of recycled materials for this project.
Teachers (called Senior Educators throughout the Babilou group, a term we endorse as it emphasises that within Early Years education adults are there to facilitate learning rather than to instruct) must hold a minimum of a Cache 3 or a relevant (childhood) degree. At the next level, Educators and Junior Educators must hold a degree from their homeland, although it does not necessarily need to be in a relevant discipline.
Food is provided in this branch, with morning and afternoon snacks being prepared in house and a hot lunch delivered from the group wide catering company. The menu looked varied and healthy.
We spent a few minutes talking to Sehrish, Senior Educator in the one of the toddler classrooms about her experience of life within Babilou. Sehrish was pleased with the changes brought about by the recent merger, especially the move to using the EYFS. She is enthusiastic about the opportunities for her own personal growth and career advancement.
Sehrish praised the classroom spaces as ‘light and accessible’ and described their layout (and access to the outdoor area) as great for facilitating child led activities and freeplay. Sehrish plans a programme for her class that is based on detailed observations, following their own interests wherever possible. Topics of work are provided by management but there is flexibility in how these are delivered. Her own daughter attends the nursery and has had a happy experience of Babilou. Sehrish described the team at Babilou Palm as ‘warm and accommodating’.
Later we spoke to Natalie, a Canadian Mum whose 2.5 year old daughter has been at Babilou for two months. Natalie praised how gently the staff dealt with her daughter’s initial separation anxiety and felt that she had now settled well and was thoroughly enjoying nursery life. Natalie also liked the food provision and thought all the staff were warm and friendly. She would definitely recommend the nursery to prospective parents. She did feel that the nursery was a little expensive but that on balance it represented good value for money.
The nursery has a clinic and a DHA registered nurse on site at all times. All staff are first aid trained and there are regular fire drills. We felt that cleanliness was good - especially in the baby room where adults must wear shoe covers at all times.
Overall we felt that this is a nursery undergoing a series of updates and improvements, supported by a strong leadership team. We feel Babilou Palm has a bright future ahead.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information