JESS Jumeirah, as it has come to be called since the existence of it sister school in the Arabian Ranches, is unlike the newer schools housed in large multi-storey buildings. This school is quite traditionally laid out, established over 40 years ago, along the lines schools in hot climates were in those days. This adds to its considerable charm.
Located near Safa Park, JESS is within striking distance of the new creek development. As an established school, not just in terms of its achievements and status, but also in terms of its physical environment, JESS Jumeirah has extensive gardens and natural vegetation around it. There is still plenty of real greenery, as well as an attractive sensory garden towards the front of the school. The sound of trickling water and wind chimes can be enjoyed under natural shade provided by an unusual, old tree.
Security at the school is very active and hands on, with security staff acting as lollipop men to assist children and parents in crossing the roads. There is a strict sign-in policy for visitors.
The buildings are single-storey, with large French windows revealing the classrooms and adding natural light. Shaded outdoor corridors connect the different buildings, which are clustered in year groups. Outside the classrooms large tubs sprouting indeterminate seedlings nurtured by would-be gardeners or art projects testify to busy days at school. There is clearly a lot going on here.
Directly opposite the entrance, there is an administration block, with a large hall attached. The school has a well-stocked library, a music block, a foundation block with the nurse’s station and a PE studio attached, and two large, shaded pools with seating for spectators at one end. The pools is well fenced off and changing and shower facilities are available.
Each year group has four parallel classes all clustered around a central area. Reading books for the year group are displayed and chosen from here, adding to the schools considerable resources. Art and craft activities, as well as smaller groups sessions take place here. Several central areas have role-play activities set up which the children enjoy on a rotational basis.
The classrooms are not large, but adequate for the 22 children they have, a number which has remained unchanged for many years. Each classroom has its own toilets, with stable doors for the younger age groups, and an interactive whiteboard. Computers used by the children are visible in several central areas; in some year groups children are working on iPads.
Numerous, colourful displays adorn the walls. Everything is carefully mounted and labelled. There is a visible neatness about the school in every respect.
The children encountered around the school all seem busy, neat and polite.
During break time, a healthy level of noisy exudes from the playing fields directly behind the school. In place of the usual plastic play structures, the KS1 playground seems to have a hill and some wooden climbing equipment – a welcome change from all the plastic climbing frames. The two key stages go to different playgrounds, with the foundation stage children using a third, completely separate, well-stocked and attractive playground of their own.
A buddy system seems to be in operation, leading to some touching interaction between younger and older children. Children seem to greet each other politely.
Visiting JESS Jumeirah, one cannot ignore its reputation of excellence in the community. Its facilities are truly amongst the best – not showy, not glitzy, just functional and for a clear purpose. As a not for profit school, it up-dates and adds to its considerable resources on a regular basis, assisted by a very active parents group. Walking around the school and seeing it during the course of a day, one cannot help but feel that it deserves to have the reputation that it does.
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