Cedar School, which is currently under construction in Al Warqaa 1, is a new UK curriculum school due to open in September 2021.
The story so far...
Cedar School is a new UK curriculum all-through school which will open for Primary only classes in September 2021 (postponed from its original 2020 date) adding additional year groups over a phased period.
The Founding Principal is Janet Williams-Ipek, an experienced leader from Wales, who is a strong believer in valuing the involvement of the community as a main contributor to success. Ms. Williams-Ipek has over 20 years experience in education in both the Middle East and the United Kingdom. She is a published author and has been a panelist at seminars on the importance of the individualised-education approach.
According to the school, its six key features will be that:
- Our school will be known for its academic rigour and high achievement;
- Our teaching staff will know every child’s strengths and cater the curriculum to these;
- We will embed a knowledge-based approach to learning to ensure that children can learn in depth;
- Our enrichment programme will develop every child’s character and encourage risk-taking, critical thinking, decision making and collaboration;
- Our fees are relatively affordable in the current economic environment;
- Our community will feel welcomed and empowered to contribute to the life of the school.
In its first year, the school will open from Foundation Stage 1 to Year 6. On opening in September 2020, there will be three each of FS1 and FS2 classes. For Years 1 and 2, there will be two classes for each year group whilst Years 3 to 6 will each have one class. The total capacity of the school is large enough to enable further classes to be added as student numbers increase.
Class sizes are on the high side, though in keeping with other affordable schools, at 25 per class each in the Foundation Stage, and 28 students per class in Years 1 to 11. Years 12 and 13 are expected initially on opening to be limited to one class of 28 in each Year group. In support of teachers in the FS and Primary school sections, a Teaching Assistant will be assigned to each class from FS1 to Year 3, whilst a shared Teaching Assistant will work across two classes from Years 4 to 6.
The teacher to student ratio will therefore be 2:25 in FS, 2:28 in Years 1 to 3 and 1:28 in Years 4 to 6 with a Teaching Assistant shared between two classes. Maximum class sizes will be 25 in the Foundation Stage and 28 in Years 1 to 13. Teachers have been recruited mainly from the UK and Ireland, and all possess Graduate teaching qualifications and a minimum of two years post-qualification experience.
What about the curriculum?
The curriculum at Cedar School will be based on the English National Curriculum (NCfE) with enhancements that reflect UAE and Dubai regulatory requirements and best practice for quality international education with a particular focus on digital technology.
In the Foundation Stage, all children will be provided with experiences and teaching that address the key features of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum including Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication (including language and literacy); Problem solving, Reasoning and Numeracy; Knowledge and Understanding of the World; Physical Development; and Creative Development.
Students in each age cohort will study the same subjects regardless of their background, nationality or level of academic attainment up to the end of Key Stage 3 (Year 9). Teachers will be expected to differentiate the classroom instruction to support any special needs and/or gifted students to ensure that the full ability range is addressed.
Guidance will be available to students in Year 9 that will gradually increase throughout the year in order to help students arrive at the right and best choices of subjects that will offer both focus and breadth in Key Stage 4. In Years 10 and 11, students will be provided with a range of GCSE and IGCSE subject choices that meet their interests and capabilities.
These are expected to include English Literature and Language, Mathematics and Further Mathematics, Science and separate Sciences, History, Geography, Design and Technology, Art, Music, Computing/ICT and PE. All students will study Arabic and French.
What about academic achievement?
Students at Cedar School will participate in the UAE's Vision 2020 targeted bench-marking tests including PIRLS, TIMSS and PISA assessments.
What about inclusion for students with SEN and Gifts and Talents?
Cedar School LLC will be an inclusive school. It will accomplish this goal by adopting non-discriminatory procedures in admissions and by assessing and meeting individual student needs. All students will be assessed at entry to help the school personalise its approach to each student.
Students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) requirements will be identified on admission and a teaching programme, that is agreed with the parents, will be put in place. This programme will have the target of bringing the student to proficiency for their age group within the first term and will be achieved through support in the classroom, the deployment of additional teaching assistants (including from volunteer parents), extra English classes and home extension activities. Each case will be decided on its own merits and, as far as possible, in-class and curriculum modifications will be made to ensure students with weak English skills are fully included in learning activities.
In addition to students of Determination with SEN requirements and EAL students, it is expected that a number of students will be ‘gifted and talented’. The focus of all classroom practice will be to extend the students in their learning, stretching all to achieve their best. Following this ethos, it will be expected that all teaching provides opportunities for differentiation to cater for those at the lower and upper ends of the ability range.
What about the Facilities?
The school's construction is close to completion and is planned to be a Ground + 3 floor building. The school's facilities include 32 standard classrooms (six Foundation Stage rooms, 10 Primary rooms (Grades 1-6) and 6 Secondary classrooms (Grades 7-11) with large classroom spaces (minimum 56 sqm) that provide a good environment for learning with good lighting and ventilation.
All Foundation Stage spaces will be entirely separated from the rest of the school, with their own entrance and exit, and drop off arrangements, and no access for the rest of the school unless invited. All FS classrooms and learning/play spaces are on the ground floor and include Activity Rooms for play and exercise. Grade 1 and 2 classrooms are also located on the ground floor and all Grade 3 and 4 classrooms will be no higher than the first floor.
The school also includes a dedicated parents’ welcome area in reception with convenient drop-off areas and separate entrances for Foundation Stage (FS) children away from junior and secondary school students – to improve safety and to ease traffic flow for parents and buses.
There are also specialist science and technology facilities (with practical labs exceeding 84 sqm), and IT and computing facilities, including Internet and modern displays in every classroom as well as subject resources available online at home.
Additional features include identifiable subject ‘areas’ – each established around a subject department and providing space for teachers to work one-to-one and in groups with students in order to promote the subject as well as a love of learning, a library, with research and computing capabilities and a canteen.
Sports facilities include a large multi-purpose hall in which the whole school can meet together for assemblies and for formal occasions to build identity and a sense of community, a 4-lane swimming pool and FS learner pool, football, basketball, netball and additional sports facilities.
What about the fees?
KHDA approved fees had been discounted for Founding families who would have received a deduction of 15% for the first child in the originally planned opening year (2020-21). For a second child, the discount is 10% and for the third child, there is a discount of 5%. Fees start at AED 21,457 in FS1 and increase to AED 29,778 for Year 6. We expect the fees to remain the same for the now postponed opening of the school to September 2021.
Fees in the second year of operation were due to be discounted by 10% for Founding families in their second year at the school, and by 5% on the KHDA approved fees in its third year of operation.
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