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Fairgreen International School Review

Fairgreen International School opened September 2018, and is an IB continuum school, integrating sustainability into its academic programmes.
Parents' Rating
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3.6 out of 5 based on 186 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 62,500
Annual fees
AED 39,000–73,500
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2018
School year
Sep to Jun
Principal
Mr Edward Pearce
Owner
Esol Education
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom

Nearby nurseries

0.2km • Bespoke Curriculum curriculum
1km • EYFS curriculum
2.6km • EYFS curriculum
2.9km • Bespoke Curriculum curriculum
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Fairgreen International School
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 62,500
Annual fees
AED 39,000–73,500
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
2018
School year
Sep to Jun
Principal
Mr Edward Pearce
Owner
Esol Education
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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Fairgreen International School opened September 2018, and is an IB continuum school, integrating sustainability into its academic programmes.

The story so far...

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.

Fairgreen claims to be the UAE's first truly sustainable school, although it is not alone in promoting its greener credentials. 

The school describes itself as "a pioneering IB education community with a mission to embrace and promote sustainability in all its forms. Developed to empower students with a forward-looking education, Fairgreen aims to inspire future generations to make a positive impact on the world as ambassadors of sustainable development".

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."

Find out more about the views of parents by reading the Buzz.

And it seems that not only parents are impressed with the school!  In February 2022, the KHDA's Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) conducted its first inspection of Fairgreen and awarded it a Good rating - the highest achieved by new schools on first inspection.  Full details can be found here.

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 students hard at working building a greenhouse!

In June 2021, the school announced the appointment of 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. 

Towards the end of the 2020-21 academic year, the school disclosed that it 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 programmes: Primary Years (PYP), Middle Years (MYP), IBDP and IBCP. The IBDP and IBCP 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 2021-22 academic year, Fairgreen had attracted close to 720 students. As is the norm is any new school, the vast majority of students are in the KG and Primary sections, with a smaller contingent spread across the Secondary school. The school is now open fully from KG to Grade 12. 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 (the largest), Canadian, German, Danish, Dutch and American.  The split of students between male and female is slightly higher to the boys. There are also five Emirati students and 73 students who have been identified with additional learning needs.

A total of 69 teachers (with British being the largest nationality group), together with two Guidance Counsellors and additional teaching assistants allocated to Pre-KG to Grade 2, and further T/A's (a total of 36 throughout the school) ensure a teacher:student ratio of 1:10 - a very low figure ensuring individual attention and support. Teacher turnover at 12% is also on the low side - half of the UAE average of 22-24%. 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.

What about the curriculum?

Fairgreen International School follows the IB continuum, but with a very specific focus on sustainability.


Sports Facilities at Fairgreen

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 commenced 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.


Young Fairgreen Students create their very own rooftop garden

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.

ReadSteve Ritz & His BIG Plans For Dubai's Schools

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.


Environmental awareness and sustainability lie at the heart of the Fairgreen ethos

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.

What about academic achievement?

Fairgreen International School's first cohort of IB Diploma students are due to take their examinations in May 2023.  

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has always encouraged schools to be open with parents about the achievements of their students - because whilst examination results are not the be-all and end-all of education, they are inevitably an important indicator of  students'  - and the school's - success.

What about students with Additional Learning Needs?

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. The school has more students with Level 1 and Level 2 support requirements.

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 KHDA inspection report awarded the school a Good rating for the Provision and Outcomes for Students of Determination, noting that "School leaders and the governing board are clearly committed to inclusion. The head of inclusion and the governor for inclusive education lead an experienced team. A well-written policy and a strategic plan effectively ensure the promotion of an inclusive ethos throughout the school.
Effective systems ensure the accurate identification of students’ learning needs. The process, which relies mainly on external assessments, begins on entry to the school. Students requiring support are also identified following routine academic assessments, and through teacher and parent referrals. Staff make effective use of assessment information to track students’ progress carefully against the learning targets set in their IEPs. Information from tracking shows that students’ progress is better than expected and that they often develop good resilience and self-reliance.

What about the facilities?

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.

What the inspectors say

The first DSIB inspection of Fairgreen International School took place at the end of February 2022, having been delayed from the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.  The school was awarded a Good rating - the highest that inspection teams award on first inspection.

In terms of Student Achievement, whilst progress was Good across all English-language core subjects in all grades, attainment was rated Acceptable (with the exception of Senior High IB Diploma students where it was rated Good in English and Science).  As is often the case, the level of progress and attainment for Arabic and Islamic Studies was almost entirely rated Acceptable.

The other two key performance standards that directly impact Student Achievement - Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum - were rated Good across the board.  However, in order to raise Student Achievement, these two key areas will also need to raise their standards.

The inspection team noted that "Much good, and some very good, teaching successfully engages students’ attention and interest. Teachers make effective use of assessment information to plan lessons in which work is generally well matched to students' learning needs.
The curriculum is well planned to ensure progression in students’ learning. The curriculum in KG provides the basic skills that underpin students’ achievement in the later years. The curriculum is adapted well to meet the needs of students of determination. DP students are well prepared for the next stage of their education."

Students Personal Development and their Social responsibility and innovation skills are clearly a strength - all were rated Very Good across the school. Their understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures achieved a Good rating in all grades.

The inspectors commented that "Students’ respectful and considerate behaviour makes a significant contribution to the school’s welcoming and purposeful atmosphere. Students show positive and very responsible attitudes to learning. Students are keen to take on leadership roles. They demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and to improving the environment."

 Protection, Care, Guidance and Support was also rated Very Good.  The inspection team found that "Students’ welfare and emotional well-being are given the highest priority. Healthy living and active lifestyles are promoted throughout school life. Students of determination are supported well."

The final key performance standard - that of Leadership and Management - was awarded a range of Good and Very Good ratings across the five key performance indicators. The report notes that "Effective senior leadership ensures a clear focus on students’ all-round development. Parents are very supportive and fully engaged in their children’s learning. Governors provide the school with appropriate educational and financial expertise".

In terms of the strengths of Fairgreen International School, the DSIB Inspection team found these to be:

  • The strong commitment of senior leaders and staff to ensure that students’ well-being and academic achievement are at the heart of this inclusive school.
  • Students’ very good personal development and the very good partnerships with parents.
  • The thorough analyses of assessments which provide accurate information on students’ progress and guide self-evaluation and improvement planning.
  • The very good arrangements for keeping students safe and for promoting healthy lifestyles.
  • The stimulating environment provided for children in KG, which promotes good progress in all areas of their learning.

There were also a number of recommendations to improve the overall performance of the school. Inevitably, these focused around improvements in attainment across all subjects and particularly in the Arabic-based subjects and also for students with Gifts and Talents.  Additionally, as a new school that is growing rapidly, there is a need to focus on the development of Middle Leaders to drive improvement.

Fairgreen International School should:

  • Raise attainment in all subjects so that it is at least good in all phases.
  • Implement a whole school approach to the development of students’ reading and writing skills.
  • Ensure that, in all lessons, students of higher ability have an appropriate level of challenge, that teachers make effective use of questioning, and that there is a continuing emphasis on the development of critical thinking.
  • Develop the leadership and management skills of middle leaders, so that they can fully support the drive for continued improvement.

If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so to understand the details behind the ratings and recommendations - you will find it here

The Buzz

A large number of parents (over 190) have responded to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey.  Those responses so far have been largely positive, (though the 20 more recent ones less so) causing a reduction in rating of 4.4/5  to 3.6/5- or a positivity rating of 72%. 87% parents are fully satisfied with academic performance, 82% with communication and 79% with discipline. 70% of students enjoy going to school 'tremendously'whilst a further 26% enjoy school 'quite a bit'. Over half of the students at the school had joined from other schools located in the UAE - so the majority of parents have prior experience of other schools. 88% of parents have not considered moving their child to an alternative school - well above the UAE average of 72%.

A resounding 90% of parents would whole-heartedly 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 52% agreeing that fees represent value for money, a further 41% expressing partial agreement, and 7% 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.

Last Words

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.

Our View

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. 

What about the fees?

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 for pre_KG, AED 65,000 at KG and rising to AED 88,000 at Grade 12. Discounted fees for 2022-23 range from AED 44,000 for pre-KG to AED 78,500 for Grade 12.  

 

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

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:

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

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