Fairgreen International School opened September 2018, and is an IB continuum school, integrating sustainability into its academic programmes.
Fairgreen International School was set up by ESOL Education, an established provider in the UAE who formally managed two highly rated schools in Dubai Festival City and are the owners of the American International School in Abu Dhabi. ESOL also also launched its US curriculum Dunecrest American School in 2018. Fairgreen follows a modified all-through IB curriculum, integrating sustainability into its educational programme. It claims to be the UAE's first truly sustainable school, although it is not alone in pushing its greener credentials.
Explaining what differentiates it from other UAE schools, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com was told : "The culture of extraordinary care and community atmosphere provided at Fairgreen creates a unique, collaborative learning experience for all students. We take on the challenges of tomorrow, today. Climate change, plastic pollution, food shortage are all challenges our students will face in the future so we build in learning experiences that develop the compassion and care for the environment along with the skills needed to address these challenges".
Based on feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com through our School Survey, it would seem that Fairgreen is proving to be a popular and highly rated choice by parents.
Often referred to as a 'hidden gem', recent comments include the following:
"Fairgreen is not just a school, it is a school with the mission to live sustainably, taking care of the place & people, and stay always positive."
"A happy and well balanced educational community school. Not commercial and not a money making marketing scheme."
"Incredible community feel. Staff that know and want the best for each child. I’ve seen them go above and beyond what I would have expected to make sure my child could be his best self."
Appropriately, Fairgreen is located at The Sustainable City, a ground-breaking development where solar energy options are included at each property and biodomes are available for the use of residents in growing plants and vegetables inside. Much of the development permits the use of electric vehicles only.
Fairgreen’s Founding Director, Graeme Scott, shared, “We are committed to doing everything possible to deliver an exceptional education to our students. Our teachers are of the highest quality and will ensure that care for students, high quality learning, collaboration, and the development of character and positive values will remain unhindered".
In June 2021, the school announced that Mr. Scott would be departing Fairgreen to be replaced by Mr. Edward Pearce as the new Director.
Mr. Pearce comes to Fairgreen with over 20 years of international school leadership and teaching experience. He has a background in school improvement, and a passion for sustainability. Latterly, Mr. Pearce spent four years as Head of the British International School Chicago, Lincoln Park in the US, owned by Nord Anglia Education, where he received the prestigious Cannes Award for his school's Floating Gardens conservation project aimed at rehabilitating river banks and wildlife, together with Chicago-based Urban Rivers.
However, prior to his departure, Mr. Scott had made sure that Fairgreen was ready to move on to its next stage of development with the announcement that its International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (IBCP) had received full authorisation from the International Baccalaureate®, making it one of the few schools in Dubai, and in the world, to offer all four IB tracks: Primary Years (PYP), Middle Years (MYP), IBDP and IBCP. Set to commence in the 2021-2022 academic year, the IBDP and IBCP will offer two distinct post-16 pathways.
In September 2021, Mr. Pearce outlined his priorities for his leadership of the school. He noted that:
"Fairgreen has grown rapidly in the past three years and gained a reputation as one of the most innovative schools in Dubai, which is a testament to the hard work and vision of all involved. To put this into context, no other IB school in the world achieved accreditation for all four programs in such a short span of time. The onus is now upon us as a school to continue to evolve while delivering high-quality education and learning experiences that allow our students to be the outliers and changemakers of tomorrow.
I am excited for this year's start of our IBDP/IBCP for our post-16 students. Our focus on sustainability within these tracks, our partnership with the Sustainability Management School of Switzerland (SUMAS), and our location within The Sustainable City gives our students a unique opportunity to gain a deep understanding and hands-on service experience in this most vital sector of the economy where future jobs and opportunities are growing exponentially."
By the end of the 2020-21 academic year, Fairgreen had attracted close to 500 students. As is the norm is any new school, the vast majority of students are in the KG (101), and Primary (209) sections, with just under 70 students spread across the Secondary school. Most grades have one to two classes, although KG1 has three, and KG2 and Grade 1 each have three.
Children from 60 different nationalities attend Fairgreen - ensuring that the school lives up to its International name. Main student nationalities are British, Canadian, German, Danish, Dutch and American. The split of students between male and female is slightly higher to the boys.
A total of 50 teachers, together with additional teaching assistants allocated to Pre-KG to Grade 2, and further T/A's supporting throughout the school, ensure a teacher:student ratio of 1:15 in KG and 1:17 through the remainder of the school. Average class sizes are 17 students - so very personalised teaching. As the school develops these class sizes with inevitably increase, but are capped at 18 in Pre-KG, 20 in KG and 24 through the remainder of the school.
Fairgreen International School follows the IB continuum, but with a very specific focus on sustainability.
Fairgreen is an IB continuum school, offering the IB Primary Years Programme, and Middle Years Programme, to be followed by the Diploma Programme and, crucially in terms of providing a concrete pathway into the sustainability sector, the IB Careers- Related Programme for Grades 11 and 12. The school is still in the process of formal certification for the PYP, DP and CP programmes, but has completed its certification for the MYP. and expects to be fully certified for the full IB continuum by Spring 2021.
In January 2021, the school announced that it has established a partnership with the Sustainability Management School of Switzerland (SUMAS) in the development and implementation of its International Baccalaureate® Career-related programme (IBCP). The programme will commence in the 2021-2022 academic year, in tandem with the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) after the expected IB authorization in June 2021.
The SUMAS Career-related Studies® (CrS) programme is based on coursework and practical sustainability-focussed projects guided by industry professionals and SUMAS professors, delivered via live streaming and with the use of interactive online platforms. Fairgreen students will be able to embrace an international network of experts in sustainability by choosing tracks in: Nature Conservation, Sustainable Hospitality (Switzerland), or Sustainable Fashion (Milan, Italy) and more.
In addition, the SUMAS Eco-Club provides a wider connection via a network of IBCP students across the world to share experiences and support to create, develop and implement projects that increase sustainability at Fairgreen and beyond in the broader community.
Fairgreen clearly takes advantage of its location within Dubai Sustainable City, tailoring the IB continuum program to integrate "a unique sustainable education curriculum" making use of the facilities around it.
The school says it wants to play a leading role in helping the UAE achieve its sustainable development goals (SDG’s) as outlined in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the Dubai Plan 2021 and the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs.
“As Esol’s first sustainable school, and one of a few around the world, the Fairgreen International School project initiates an important and necessary evolution for K-12 education,” Mr. Walid Abushakra, Esol Education Chairman.
The school intends to incorporate "hands-on project-based learning, research-supported teaching methods, technology initiatives and worldwide partnerships with leading experts and organizations in sustainability-related research and practice."
In terms of partnerships, Stephen Ritz, author of the critically-acclaimed book “The Power of a Plant,” has been brought in to help with the "Health, Wellness and Learning Centre", based in one of The Sustainable City’s bio-domes (pictured above) that has been dedicated to the school.
The centre uses STEAM (using Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking) to enable students to reach a deep understanding of good nutrition in relation to their own wellness, through organic and sustainable food production technologies, including solar-powered vertical farms, aquaponics, and other urban farming techniques.
It also promotes the concept of “farm to table,” selecting local ingredients, cooking at home as a family, avoiding processed foods, and adopting exercise for life. It aims to give "students a blueprint for well-being that will continue to serve them for the rest of their lives."
Interestingly, Fairgreen is also part of the Stanford Pre-Collegiate International Institutes, which will allow a selected number of its older students (14 years upwards) to experience college-life at Stanford, one of the world’s top-ranked universities. Students are exposed to university level content and teaching style, and to interact with students from around the world.
Like other UAE IB schools, Fairgreen will also take part in the Model United Nations, and the school says that there is a strong focus on performing arts and fine arts programmes. In support of its sustainability focus, the school will organise trips such as to Kenya to support rural communities in the establishment of solar energy, and to Nepal to trek and work alongside local students in a school in Kathmandu as part of the MYP.
With the advent of the Covid 19 pandemic, there has been a still greater focus on student well-being in schools across the UAE. It was announced (in June 2021), that Fairgreen will be the first school in Dubai to introduce a revolutionary, data-driven Functional Movement Physical Education Programme, a system of movement screening and remediation to promote optimal physical wellbeing for its students. Fairgreen is launching this in Dubai for September 2021 through a new partnership with Functional Movement Systems UK (FMS UK), leaders in providing neurodevelopmental sequencing to perfect functional movement in elite athletes such as the Premier League Football and the NBA, military personnel, and students.
In addition to the core curriculum, Fairgreen students can participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities including African drumming and dance, Ballet, Board games and puzzles, Cosmic kids yoga, FC Barcelona football, FIS Choir, Funkeynastix Dance, Hip Hop acrobatics, How to draw, Japanese culture, Judo, Junior Entrepreneurs club, Lego club, Let's read, Arabic, Million Solar Stars, Mindful colouring and art, Musical Theatre, MYP homework club, Nikon Kids Photo Club, Origami, Parkour, Peace Jam, Phoenix Black Belt Academy Tae Kwon, Do, Rhythmic gymnastics, Running club, Walking club, and Zumba.
Fairgreen International School will receive its first visit from the KHDA's DSIB inspection team in the 2020-21 academic year.
Fairgreen uses a 'graduated response model' whereby students with additional needs are initially supported in their classroom. The SEN staff triangulate data to determine if students would benefit from more intensive support from the Inclusion Department. Currently the school has a small number of students who have been identified through Educational Psychology assessments and require a more intensive level (level 3) of support. We also have students who we are monitoring and providing Level 1 and Level 2 support.
The student population is very diverse, with children classed as gifted & talented, Students of Determination and English language learners. The Head of Inclusion also works as a learning support teacher, together with one Learning Support Teacher and one Learning Support Assistant. There is a dedicated space with resources, but the majority of support is classroom based.
Should a student require a Learning Support Assistant, parents source the LSAs in collaboration with the school, One to one LSAs are paid for by the parents. Otherwise, there is no additional cost for support provided by the Inclusion Department. This is also true for students who require English as a Second Language support.
The campus has been designed for "minimal environmental impact", using solar power "for all its energy needs", recycling all its water for agricultural use, and implementing waste separation.
However the focus on reducing its carbon footprint does not translate into a smaller footprint altogether. Facilities at the school are impressive and include technology-enabled classrooms, Science Labs, STEM facilities, Maker Space, Arts and Music labs (with additional resource rooms), an Auditorium, and Library. Unique facilities include the Student Social Hub, Biodome, and the Urban Farming (Hydroponics) Lab,
Sports facilities have also not been forgotten. These include a Gymnasium,running track, football pitch, a swimming pool, a large indoor multi-purpose gym and auditorium, an outdoor soccer field, tennis courts and playgrounds. Fairgreen plans to offer Football, Track & Field, Badminton, Basketball, Volleyball, Netball, Gymnastics, Swimming, Horse Riding, Cycling and Yoga & Meditation.
For the 2019-20 academic year, Fairgreen had 23 classes from PrekG to grade 10 with full wifi and interactive smart TV Screens. The school has the capacity for 68 classroom and will be utilizing these spaces during COVID 19 social distancing when students return in September 2020.
A large number of parents (over 170) have responded to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey. Those responses so far have been very positive, with a rating of 4.4/5 - or a positivity rating of 88%. Parents are highly satisfied with academic performance, communication and discipline. Students enjoy school.
A resounding 92% of parents would recommend the school to other parents - well above the UAE average of 81%. If there is a niggle, it is in relation - as is so often the case - to school fees with 53% agreeing that fees represent value for money, a further 42% expressing partial agreement, and 5% disagreeing that fees represent value for money.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Fairgreen International School and would like to share your experiences with other potential members of your community, please complete our survey here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com asked Fairgreen International School to tell us what makes their school so special. This was their reply:
At Fairgreen, our academic approach is underpinned by a scientific and research-based focus on care. All students feel cared for and understand why it is important to care for others. This compassionate ethos makes Fairgreen a warm, supportive learning environment. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability and this is emphasised through unique programmes such as urban farming, Design, Engineer, Construct and solar energy.
Fairgreen is a harmonious, multiethnic community, which is evidenced through the support for native languages and the celebration of the multiple cultures and backgrounds that our students bring to the school. Relationships between teachers and students are extremely strong, with students feeling supported and challenged in equal measure.
Based on our experience of Fairgreen, its owners, ESOL Education, and parent feedback, we can do no more than highly recommend this special school - an observation that we do not make lightly, given its relative youth and lack of KHDA inspection.
Fairgreen International, while a premium school, has not pegged itself as an 'ultra-premium' in terms of fees.
Fees are mid-range in terms of IB continuum schools, with KHDA approved fees ranging from AED 50,000 at KG and rising to AED 88,000 at Grade 12. However generous discounts, ranging from 25 to 35 percent, are available for founding parents who join within the first three years. Fees for 2020-21 range from AED 39,000 for pre-KG to AED 73,500 for Grade 10.
Fairgreen International School is open for Pre-K through Grade 10 classes in 2020-21, with the aim to grow to over 1,000 students by 2025. Sustainable growth indeed...
Fairgreen International School is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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