Babilou Middle East now comprises four nurseries, D3, Palm, Downtown and Umm Suqeim.
Unlike the other branches, Babilou Umm Suqeim is a more traditional style of Dubai nursery – housed in a re-purposed villa in a predominantly residential neighbourhood. Babilou has recently merged (see our interview with Blossom CEO Zahra Hamirani here) with the home grown Blossom group of nurseries, and the impacts of the amalgamation are being felt across the new entity. We were keen to explore the likely changes for children, parents and staff in this branch.
We found the local streets to be quiet and the parking (though not in defined areas) to be convenient. We passed through a security gate with CCTV into the nursery and were met by Deborah Batt, Nursery Manager.
Deborah is British and originally worked in the field of health care management in the UK’s National Health Service. Deborah has plentiful experience with children, having also been a Respite Foster Carer for children with special needs.
Deborah moved to Dubai four years ago, and was keen to move into the Early Years sector, her first role in the industry being with the well regarded Aga Khan Early Learning Centre in Oud Metha. Deborah was later head hunted by the Babilou group as opening Manager of their branch on the Palm. This was a challenge that Deborah relished and she is very proud of bringing a new nursery to fruition. She moved to the Umm Suqeim branch 8 months ago.
This is currently a fairly quiet nursery and Deborah is keen to encourage new enrolments. She and the other staff we met feel that the merger with Blossom is already having positive impacts, especially as to the curriculum. Previously Babilou had used a ‘blended’ early years curriculum, bringing together aspects of Reggio, Montessori and Emmi Pikler. Now, the group will be using the EYFS, although Deborah is keen to point out that her staff will retain certain elements of their previous teaching style, especially in the baby room where the philosophy of Emmi Pikler underscores all that they do.
Languages are an important element of learning in all Babilou nurseries. Classes here are bilingual and use an ‘immersion’ style of teaching, where all communication is in either English or French on alternate days. The team hope to add Arabic lessons soon.
Our tour of the nursery reveals lots of space, both indoor and outdoor. The older children have classrooms in a separate building, with a gated play area – allowing older and younger children to be kept apart if necessary. The rooms are all equipped with good quality fixtures and toys, and as we have noted in our visits to other Babilou branches, the bathrooms are of a particularly good design. We like the pull out steps allowing older children to climb up for nappy changes and for the older children, the child height, easy to use sinks and taps to encourage independence at washing time. We felt that the nursery had a high standard of cleanliness throughout.
There is an indoor gym/soft play area for the hotter months and for extra-curricular activities such as dance and gymnastics. Upstairs houses staff rooms, a training suite and a kitchen which will eventually be used for hot food preparation on site.
The baby room is in fact a suite of rooms to cater for all the children’s needs. There is a food and milk preparation room (complete with a breastfeeding chair for Mums who want to stop by and feed their baby), a sleep room and a changing room, which has a deep sink which can be used to bathe babies if needed. The main room has displays and toys at eye level for infants. One of the members of staff in the baby room is a qualified nurse, who is also the designated nurse for the entire nursery.
Babilou Umm Suqeim are able to cater for babies as young as 8 weeks old and up to four years. Staff to child ratios are:
At present, all the rooms exceed these ratios as the nursery is not working to the full capacity of 103 children.
The staff here are all qualified with a Cache level 3* diploma as minimum. Teachers are an international team, with staff from the Philippines, Spain, France, Bulgaria and Serbia.
[*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).]
Snacks (prepared in house) and hot lunches (delivered by a local catering company) are available here and we saw the children tucking into a balanced snack of hummus, crackers and vegetable sticks. Food provision is not compulsory and parents can send in their own food if preferred.
We spoke to Anupa, whose 3 year old daughter attends the nursery. A busy expat family, Anupa’s daughter had attended 3 nurseries (in Singapore, Australia and another in Dubai) before joining Babilou. She felt that the staff had gone out of the way to accommodate her daughter and to make her comfortable and Anupa felt that she had seen many positive changes since joining. Anupa also appreciated Babilou’s flexible tuition fees which helped to accommodate their regular travels.
After Anupa, we chatted to Lesli, the toddler room teacher. Lesli is from the Philippines and holds both a Cache 3 teaching qualification and a Cache 5 management diploma. Despite being qualified to manage, Lesli felt that her passion lay in classroom work. She is supporting Deborah in making several improvements to the nursery and is very excited about the new sensory room which they are in the process of creating. Lesli had worked in other nurseries but was impressed by how particular the Babilou group is about planning and providing a balance of child and teacher led activities. She writes a weekly newsletter for her class parents and sends regular reports.
This is a well-equipped nursery with spacious classrooms and grounds. We liked the small, thoughtful touches such as lockers for each child, keeping mess and clutter out of the classrooms. Cleanliness and hygiene were real strengths.
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