Hummingbird Nursery and Pre-School which serve the Dubai International Financial Centre area is an unusual operation for Dubai, and a concept that we are surprised not to see more of in this busy city.
Situated across two premises in in DIFC and Limestone House, DIFC. Hummingbird is a concept designed to cater to babies and children with busy working parents. Both the nursery and preschool are open 7am-7pm all year round.
We begin our tour in the nursery and are guided by Nursery Manager, Jessica Johnson. Jessica is British and had nursery management experience from the UK. She has been with Hummingbird for 2.5 years and is now expecting her own child who will eventually attend the nursery.
This branch being solely focussed on the very youngest children is a real plus in our opinion. Children from 45 days to 2 years can be enrolled at this branch. Jessica tells us how they focus on parent led routines for the babies, letting them gently adjust into a nursery as their time with the Hummingbird progresses.
Jessica feels that the nursery is a real hub of DIFC and tells me of several initiatives designed to support parent and child interaction around busy work lives – these include coffee time, where parents can pop in on a coffee break and spend time with their child and parent story time where parents can pop in during a quiet time in their day and read to their child. Parents are encouraged to stop by whenever their work schedule allows and there is a breastfeeding room available to mothers.
The nursery is fairly small but an appropriate size for numbers it caters to. There is a soft play area and age groups are divided by low level fencing rather than classroom walls, which gives the space a homely, less ‘school like’ feel.
What looks like a sweet little play house is in fact a sleep room, in which there are a mixture of cots and sleep nests for the youngest.
We very impressed by the use of space and quality of equipment, fixtures and fittings here. Staff were relaxed and happy and seemed confident in their work. All teaching staff have a minimum of Cache Level 3 Diploma. There was a genuine warmth throughout the nursery – we really liked what we saw.
[*Cache qualifications are qualifications awarded by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education - the UK's leading provider of vocational qualifications for those working in the care and education sectors. Cache qualifications are divided into five different levels, ranging from Level 1 (entry level) to Level 5 (for experienced professionals)].
There is no outside space at the nursery branch, but children are taken for regular walks in multi-seat strollers.
Staff to child ratios in the nursery rooms are 1:3 with a maximum of 9 in a class.
We were then guided across to the Hummingbird DIFC Pre-School, a short walk away. Children with younger or older siblings can be dropped at the most convenient branch for parents and staff will transfer them to the appropriate location. Children transitioning from nursery to preschool are taken for regular visits in the same way.
At the Preschool we meet Clarissa, who is Manager of this section. Clarissa is from South Africa where she originally qualified as a secondary teacher. She has now retrained and loves working with younger children. She tells us that the Hummingbird Pre school caters for children age 2 to 4 years. Ratios for children under 3 are 1:4 and 3-4 1:8, in line with the requirements of the EYFS.
The Preschool has recently been refurbished and now offers more classrooms and space, plus an expanded clinic. Doors are secure and most classes have a decent amount of natural light. In the largest area there is a soft play room which looked clean and well maintained. We felt it offered just the right amount of physical challenge for the age group. Clarissa told us of how messy play and sensory play is encouraged and how the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is delivered by committed and diligent staff.
The team are hoping to open some outdoor space soon, at the moment they use a playground outside the building when the weather allows.
We met Elise, a teacher from England who came to Dubai to join Hummingbird. She teaches the FS1 class. Elise loves working for Hummingbird and adores the children in her care. She has formed good relationships with the parents too and thinks there is a great community surrounding the organisation. She particularly loves parent events at Hummingbird, which she feels everyone puts a lot of effort into making special.
Overall we felt that the Hummingbird nursery area does a great job and is age appropriate for the children there. For the older children, whilst we could see the quality and commitment of the staff, we did feeling that free flowing access to the outdoors would be a fantastic bonus. That aside, this is a high quality setting offering a good standard of care.
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