Jumeirah Primary School's entry into WSA's Happiest School in the UAE competition
Jumeirah Primary School is located between Sheikh Zayed and al Wasl roads in Jumeirah. Having opened over 20 years ago, it now counts as one of the “older” British curriculum schools in the region. With beautiful, large photographs, its entrance lobby looks more like that of a corporate entity rather than a school, but this impression soon disappears as one walks along the broad, well-used and clearly functional corridors of the school.
Security at the gates is very good and thorough. The school is well guarded and secure with several doors using codes in addition to closeable gates separating the Foundation Stage children from the rest of the school and the outer world.
There is parking in front of the school, which now has approximately 1450 children attending, making it one of the larger British curriculum primary schools in the UAE. The buildings are 2 storey, with wide corridors; stairs are also wide with 2 sets of rails at different heights to ensure safety for children of differing heights. On one staircase primary coloured handprints of the children decorate the glass tiles and there is a spectacular hand print mural decorating the wall.
A great positive in the Middle Eastern heat has to be that the school buildings are enclosed; children do not have to leave the air conditioning at any time apart from break times during the summer. This has to be healthier for the body than constantly going in and out and experiencing huge temperature fluctuations.
There are several shaded outdoor areas for sports and play, with a large sports field and a nice garden at the back. The garden boasts trees, paths and a memory bench. As with most schools, common sense is used in the summer months to determine when it is no longer desirable for children to play outside due to the heat. At such times in-door activities and alternative space is provided for the children to relax and wind down between lessons.
The different age groups have their breaks at staggered times to avoid congestion in the play grounds. The school day runs from 7.30 to 2.15 for KS 1 - 2. Foundation Stage children finish their day at 12.30. After school the children assemble on a field under strict supervision until they are picked up. This means that one parent picking up a number of children in KS 1 – 2 only has one stop to make in the summer months leading to a speedier exit from the school premises.
A separate building houses a large sports hall for indoor sport activities during the summer heat. Behind this building there are a number of shaded courts for various sports activities. Two large shaded pools are located to the front of the main school building. The training pool is shallow and at the time of the visit, a class was in session, with three adults in the water with the children. There is a “House” system, sporting different coloured attire for the purposes of sports competitions. The scores and trophies are displayed in a lobby for all to see.
Different sections of each corridor house different year groups, clear to see from the topic related displays mounted on the walls, ranging from suspended papier mache dinosaurs to Greek History. In some areas there is seating or even photocopiers along the wide, almost lobby sized, corridors - all testimony to the busy life of the school.
Each classroom has French windows towards the outside, making them pleasingly light and airy. In KS 1-2 there are 27 children to a class, while lower down the school there are 22. The classrooms are not overly big, but each is equipped with smart boards. FS classrooms all have outdoor access to enable children to take part in "messy play" and other outdoor learning activities.
The school, like most primary schools, has no cafeteria, therefore children rely on packed lunches.
There is a very pleasant-looking nurse’s station. A library has over 24,000 volumes and a majlis-style seating area. There is a nice ICT room adjacent to the library with Apple computers. At the time of the visit a buzzing lesson on history research was in progress, with animated discussion going on.
There is a large hall for assemblies and shows, a music room and several other facilities.
The atmosphere around school was friendly and courteous. While there was lively chatter all around, children behaved with respect and good sense, especially on the stairs.
This is a very well-run school, in a location in the heart of the traditional residential areas of Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim, and easily accessed from anywhere along Sheikh Zayed Rd.
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