At a glance
WSA School Visit Review - 17 May 2017
The Story so Far
This branch of the Kids Kingdom Group (there is another in JLT) is situated in the ground floor retail area of the very large Centrium apartment building, within walking distance of the newly opened Me’aisem City Centre mall in IMPZ. Parking is plentiful on the nearby sand areas and in bays on the road. The nursery has a bus service serving local areas which several children currently use.
This branch is newly opened and as yet, licensed solely by the KHDA (hence being referred to as a learning centre, not nursery). In practice, his means that they are able to cater for children age 3-6 years (up to FS2). This is ideal for parents who feel that their FS1 /FS2 children are better served in a smaller environment, rather than school.
Younger children can be enrolled into the JLT branch, and Kids Kingdom offer a free bus shuttle service (10 minute drive) between the two locations. Children can transfer to the IMPZ branch as soon as they turn three. The IMPZ branch has applied for Ministry of Education approval to operate as a nursery for younger children, and hope to receive this very soon.
Meeting the Head
Kids Kingdom learning centre is managed by Joanne Butcher, an impressively qualified Early Years Practitioner. Joanne has more than 11 years of experience in the UAE Early Years industry and has worked in management in a number of other well-known nurseries in Dubai. Joanne is clearly excited about this new venture and looking forward to developing the centre to its’ full capacity of around 100 children.
Whilst showing us around, Joanne talked us through the centre’s behavioural policy (including a calm down area, cleverly named “Chillville”!) and their inclusive approach to SEN. Kids Kingdom operates an open enrolment policy, as long as they feel they have appropriately qualified staff and resources to support a child’s needs. Policies and procedures are documented in a parent handbook.
Joanne feels that Kids Kingdom has several strengths, the most important of these being affordability and a warm welcoming family atmosphere.
What about the Curriculum?
Operating the English Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, the centre employs only fluent English speaking staff holding a Cache Level 3 diploma as minimum. Teachers are supported by two assistants, with staff:child ratios being in line with KHDA rules of a maximum of 3:25 (this is slightly in excess of EYFS requirements which state that 3 and 4 year olds must have 1:8) . Staff are recruited locally, usually via an Early Years Professional network run by Joanne. The group offers staff a programme of continuous professional development, with several staff having recently attended an Early Years Mathematics course.
Timings and Fees
The centre can care for children from 7.30am to 6pm and is open all year round (Winter and Summer camps available at an additional cost, no half terms). Discounts are available to parents who pay annually – as an example 5 mornings per week paid annually is AED 22, a full 8am-6pm day 5 days per week being AED 26,460.
Touring the Centre
As we toured the centre, we were impressed by the quality and quantity of beautiful artwork on display, and enjoyed hearing from the teaching staff how each piece of work related to a specific area of the EYFS. The children were focussed on a “Community Helpers” topic.
Access to the bright and welcoming reception area is via a CCTV monitored door. This small setting comprises just four bright and airy classrooms, all stocked with a good variety of age appropriate toys and resources. There is one central open area, which caters for group story time, ICT via an interactive white board, music and role play. Next to the reception area is a clinic, staffed by a qualified and DHA registered nurse. Each class has a very well equipped bathroom, offering separate boy and girl toilet stalls. The centre is very clean and well organised.
Outside there is a small play area, which we did feel was perhaps somewhat undersized for the setting and for the proposed number of children. Staff understand that the outdoor area is limited and do their best to make time outdoors as fun as possible by creating exciting activities, such as a mud kitchen, sandpit and mark making wall. They will also make use of the bus service to offer trips the other branch in JLT, as well as other interesting venues.
The outdoor area does have the benefit of shade for most of the day, and is currently used for “Sportzcise” classes. We were able to watch a small segment of one of these classes (additional charge) and were very impressed with how well the children participated and the enthusiasm of the (obviously well loved!) instructor, Miss IIze. Eventually they hope to run additional ballet and Zumba classes. In addition, Kids Kingdom have recently incorporated a sports program "Ready Steady Go Kids' into the regular curriculum hours - at no extra cost to parents.
Arabic is offered 2-3 times per week. A uniform will be introduced in September 2017.
Talking with Parents
Joanne introduced us to one parent, Rana, who has a son age 3 attending the nursery. Rana cited the staff and cleanliness of the centre as its main strengths. She felt there was good communication between parents and teachers. She was also happy to report that “she had never seen a child crying” at Kids Kingdom – high praise indeed!
Overall, we felt that this new and well run establishment will deliver in many ways and is a good relatively low cost option for local parents.
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