Blossom Nursery in Dubai Marina is situated in a stunning location on the edge of the water.
Many parents and guardians walk with their children, whilst those who drive can take advantage of free parking in the lower ground car park under the building. There is also the option for quick drop off, where a member of staff will come out and collect your child from your car. We imagine this would be very useful for busy working parents. Buses and the tram also serve the local area.
We are greeted in beautifully decorated and airy reception area by the administration team, who were warm and welcoming. After that we are taken to meet with Centre Director, Tamara Stubbs. Tamara holds the Centre Director title for three nurseries in the newly merged Blossom/Babilou group: Blossom Downtown, Babilou Downtown and Blossom Marina. In each setting, she is supported by a Deputy Manager. Tamara is Canadian and holds the Early Childhood Educator qualification from Canada, as well as the British Early Years Professional (EYP) status gained during a 5 year stint living and working in the UK. Tamara worked for the highly regarded Busy Bees group in London.
When Tamara first arrived in Dubai she spent five years working in another industry, as she felt unable to find a nursery which aligned closely with her personal values and high standards for quality. However, when she came across the Blossom group and CEO Zahra Hamirani (see our interview with Zahra HERE) she felt a real understanding and connection and soon returned to early years work.
Blossom Marina operates a combination of the English EYFS curriculum and the group’s own sensory curriculum, ‘Skygarden’. Tamara began by talking us through how they approach the most important areas of the EYFS.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
On each of the occasions we have met Tamara, she has begun by praising her team. Clearly, Tamara recognises that the experiences of the children in her care correlate closely to the strength of staff relationships and their happiness in their roles. Tamara believe that the role modelling of interpersonal skills is vital to the development of children in this area. Tamara wants Blossom Marina to be a ‘community hub’ and recognises the importance of relationships with parents and children alike in achieving this aim. Parent communication is key, and achieved using an app but also by allowing time for regular informal discussions.
Communication and Language
As well as using the ‘Letterland’ programme for teaching English phonics and letter sounds, Blossom Marina offer learning in both Arabic and French. These lessons are rotated – 1 week Arabic, the next French and children receive 20-30 minute lessons per day, depending on age. Tamara felt that this area is the true strength of Blossom Marina, reflecting also the diversity of her staff, their many languages and their passion for early literacy.
The staff have created a communal library area, filled with book boxes themed around many of the most popular children’s book titles – such as ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘The Gruffalo’.
This being a nursery set in the commercial units of a large tower, there is fairly limited outside space. What is there has been put to the best possible use and is well shaded with adjustable shades, making the space useable as much as possible. There is a climbing frame and lots of smaller equipment. Children go for walks in the local area (mostly pedestrianised) and visit a nearby park. All children have a weekly ‘Kiddie Gym’ session plus gymnastics and yoga.
There is an indoor soft play area for burning off energy in the hotter months.
A wide range of extra-curricular activities are also on offer, both to enrolled children and those who wish to join for individual activities. The current (extra cost) roster of activities includes Soccer, Karate, ballet and yoga.
We felt that the classrooms were perhaps a little small in some cases, but this is really a compromise for the convenience of the location. Some of the rooms also had minimal natural daylight, something that the team managed by regularly moving the children to other rooms and communal areas for activities. All were, however, thoughtfully laid out and decorated and well equipped with high quality toys and equipment. There were beautiful displays of art work throughout.
Staff to child ratios are good here, being:
Staff are well qualified and were unfailingly friendly, smiling and polite as we toured the nursery.
We were able to sit with Elke, a South African teacher running one of the toddler classrooms and get her thoughts on Blossom Marina.
Elke felt that this a ‘great nursery and very, very welcoming’. She likes the ‘eco-friendly’ ethos and the ‘special bonds’ between staff and children especially. Elke felt that the parents here really appreciated the in house catering, which was of a very good standard and delivered from the group caterers throughout the day. Some parents had asked for an organic menu which at present was not available but which Elke felt could possibly be a point for future improvement.
In terms of her own career there are lots of opportunities for growth and professional development. Elke also cited parent relationships and support as key to this thriving setting. She communicated with parents in person as much as possible but also via the app and in the twice yearly parent teacher meetings.
Our overall impression of Blossom Marina was that it is another quality offering from the Blossom group, run by a superb management team and staffed with passionate Early Years Educators. A fantastic location and a great option for working parents with food provision, easy access and varied timings from 8am – 6 pm.
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