Dovecote Nursery is housed within the campus of the popular Foremarke School in Dubai. The nursery has heavyweight pedigree being owned by Evolvence Knowledge Investments, the education group behind Repton Dubai, Repton Abu Dhabi and both Foremarke School and Dovecote.
Dovecote Nursery is owned by Evolvence Knowledge Investments, who also own and operate Repton Dubai, Repton Abu Dhabi alongside Foremarke School and Dovecote. The nursery opened in it's original Jumeirah location in 2012. In 2020, the team moved to new premises within the Foremarke campus. With such a pedigree, we were intrigued to see how Early Years education is interpreted and delivered at the nursery.
Mena Press, Nursery Manager at Dovecote is a Columbian national who lived in the UK for 16 years prior to moving to Dubai. Mena undertook her initial childcare training and education with the highly regarded Chiltern College in the UK. Chiltern College is a well-known, ‘premium’ Nanny and Childcare educator, who prides themselves in providing a childcare qualification that is ‘over and above’ the statutory Cache* Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification. Mena holds a Cache Level 5 Early Years Leadership qualification. She describes her philosophy at Dovecote as,
"Every child is a unique individual who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self assured. We expect our teachers and staff to understand and observe each child's development and learning. assess progress and plan for next steps; support all children to develop a positive sense of their own identity and culture. Our teachers are well qualified and able to identify where children may have extra ordinary needs".
Before moving to Dubai, Mena ran a well-regarded nursery in Oxfordshire for 14 years. Initially employed by Dovecote simply to set up the nursery in its original Jumeirah location, she quickly found somewhere where the values ‘aligned with her own’ and has now been with the group for six years (Mena also oversees Dovecote Nursery Muscat).
Mena says that she fundamentally believes in ‘letting children be children’ and as such there is a strict ‘no IT’ policy throughout the nursery. ‘Here, we play’ says Mena, saying also that she was very much focused on creating a ‘home away from home’ for children. Mena has also been responsible for a number of curriculum initiatives including a weekly Spanish class for all children (children also receive an Arabic class three times per week). In terms of working with children with additional needs, Mena confirms that the nursery is 100% inclusive... ‘we don’t even ask’ she added, when considering their assessment and admissions process. She sees the nursery’s role as ‘to guide and support’ families wherever possible.
Class sizes are small at Dovecote Nursery. Ratios are as follows:
Lead Teacher Linda Lewis has been with Dovecote for 6 years. She says she is ‘proud to work here’ and she is clearly proud of the cohesive team. Linda describes Dovecote as ‘having the magic ingredient that really makes things work’. Throughout our chat, Linda refers to the ‘amazing children’ for whom ‘we simply have to have it right’. Linda describes the Dovecote approach as working in sync with families, and aligning home and nursery routines as of paramount importance. She also told our team that they truly listen to parents and embrace their ideas and input, adding ‘we want to look after the whole family’.
This positive and thoughtful relationship with parents was echoed by the panel of parents our team interviewed. One Mum, new to Dubai, had viewed more than 20 nurseries in the hope of finding something very special. ‘Dovecote was clearly the best. I instantly felt my child would be safe and cared for’. She described the nursery as ‘small, intimate and personal’ and praised the focus on small (but important) details such as table manners. She also liked the huge variety of activities and celebrations and the ‘nurturing’ style of teaching.
Another Mum had seen two of her children pass through Dovecote Nursery. For the second, the choice was ‘automatic’, but for her first she had also researched the choice very carefully. Mena, the Nursery Manager, played a large part in her initial decision (‘I felt comfortable with Mena automatically’) and had been instrumental in maintaining a continued happy relationship with the family. The very low turnover of staff (none in the past 6 years - practically unheard of in Dubai!) created a special atmosphere ‘they all really know us as a family’ she said.
Our third parent interviewee praised the regular parenting talks given by visiting experts. Recent topics had covered sleep, eating habits and healthy eating. Parents were welcome to give their suggestions for topics to cover. She had also appreciated the gentle approach to settling in, which had really helped her daughter to adapt. A teacher herself, she said that Dovecote often gave her ideas to take back to her own classroom!
Children attending Dovecote Nursery are afforded preferential access to assessments for both Repton and Foremarke Schools.
Dovecote Nursery is a clearly an expertly run nursery with a homely, child centred and traditional feel. The very positive feedback from its parents reflects this.
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