Kings' School Nad Al Sheba has come some way since its opening in September 2014. The original building now houses only the Foundation section on the ground floor with Foundation Stage classes. There is also a large central garden where students start each day together, bringing home the family feel of the school.
Kings Nad Al Sheba has been rated Very Good, up from Good in the previous year, in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full report has been issued.
The Story so Far
Kings' School Nad Al Sheba is the third Kings' school open in Dubai. It currently has 350 students (and increase of almost 25% compared with 2016-17) from 39 different countries (the largest group being Arab nationals with approximately 15% Emirati children from the local Nad Al Sheba community). With an average of 15 students per class and a teacher:student ration of a very low 1:9, this branch of Kings' has developed a unique community feel for students and parents alike. A mainly British staff of 39 teachers and 21 teaching assistants provide are able to provide a high level of individual attention.
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What do the Inspectors Say?
2016/2017 was the first year that Kings' School Nad Al Sheba has a KHDA report and rating. This first report ranked the school as Good, which we've seen is common for schools to receive for their first inspection, provided they go into it prepared. The second inspection in 2017-18 also saw the overall rating as Good.
The Good rating is due to, as the KHDA report notes, the fact that:
"The principal, other senior leaders and middle leaders provide very strong leadership for the school.Together they have made rapid improvements since the previous inspection in all areas except in Islamic education and Arabic. Parents are very pleased with the school and the progress their children are making".
Students' progress has improved across all three non-Arabic subjects, with all rated as Very Good, whilst attainment is Good for English in both Foundation and Primary, and Very Good for Foundation Mathematics and Science, and Good for Primary in these subjects. All Very Good measures are an improvement on the previous report.
Personal development and Social responsibility and Innovation skills, and Health and Safety and Care and Support were also rated Very Good, underlining these being "a very strong feature across the school.Students are well-motivated and keen to learn" and "strong systems for monitoring the well-being and personal development of students. The provision for identifying, supporting and challenging students with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), and those who are gifted and talented".
Teaching was found to be effective in the Primary phase and very effective in the Foundation Stage. The curriculum was found to be well designed, especially in Foundation Stage. It enhances students' research and critical thinking skills and recent additions in creative and performing arts and the use of advanced digital technologies enrich students' learning experience.
A strength of the school is the personal development of the students, which the KHDA has rated as Very Good, the second highest marker. As the report notes, "Students’ personal development is a very strong feature across both school phases. They enjoy school life and feel happy. They demonstrate very good attitudes to learning and have positive relationships with adults and each other. Almost all aspects of their personal development are very strong. Students are generally sensible and deal with their peers and teachers in a respectful manner. They are well-behaved and self-reliant".
One area where an improvement in the rating to Very Good showed improvement throughout the school, was in regard to the adaptation of the curriculum.
Inspectors noted that "the curriculum has been adapted and extended very successfully across the school following consultation with students and staff. The modifications are impacting positively as students are increasingly engaged, and challenged by interconnected learning experiences in most core subjects. The curriculum is being adapted to enhance students' research and critical thinking skills. The STEAM, creative and performing arts and ICE initiatives are promoting creativity and the use of technology. Cross-curricular links are supported through well-planned topic-based activities. Foundation Stage and Arabic curricula planning include a focus on UAE culture. The wider curriculum offers a range of opportunities to link learning to the UAE's heritage and culture".
Care and support for students were also found to be improved to Very Good. The inspection report notes that "The positive ethos of the school helps students to focus on their learning. Policies, assessments and processes support the admission of students with SEND. Rigorous systems for monitoring attendance and punctuality have led to improvements over time in attendance. The school has robust systems for identifying students with SEND and those who are gifted and/or talented. Strong partnerships with specialists and parents ensure that SEND staff provide highly effective specialist programmes that support students very well". The rating for the provision and outcome for students with SEND requirements also improved to Very Good.
The Leadership and Management of the school was also adjudged by the Inspection team to have improved, notably in relation to the effectiveness of leadership and governance where the rating was raised to Very Good. Inspectors noted that "Parents are actively involved with their children’s education and support the school very well. Communication between the school and parents is very good. Parents are fully informed on forthcoming school events and their children’s progress and attainment. The school has very good links with associated schools and is developing productive links with local and international organisations".
What's next for Inspections
With the increased number of Very Good ratings in the 2017-18 report, Kings Nad Al Sheba must be asking itself what it needs to do to achieve the overall Very Good rating at its next inspection. The report recommends that Kings' School Nad Al Sheba focus on three areas which are to:
Given the proportion of Arabic-speaking children within the school, it is inevitable that improvements in these core subjects will be a particular concern for the KHDA. WhichSchoolAdvisor looks forward to seeing Kings' School Nad Al Sheba meet these next challenges.
What about the Facilities?
The Foundation section offers a Primary Hall which is used for PE activities, an activity room used for indoor play away from the heat and a specialist music room. There is a canteen for the children which offers pre-packed cold meals or children bring their own packed lunches.
At the front centre of the building is an indoor green space which has been planted as an Eco-garden. For every box of plastic items that the children are able to recycle, a seedling is planted in the garden. To the rear of the Eco-garden is the main common area where the library and creative/role play area are located. At the rear of building located adjacent to the, as yet unfinished, sports facilities is the Learner pool which FS1 children use once per week.
The main development has been the opening of the adjacent Primary building. Currently the school has 3 x year 1 classes (with approximately 15 children per class) and 2 x year 2 classes whose classrooms are located on the ground floor of the building, together with 2 x year 3, a combined year 4/5 class and a single year 6 class on the second floor.
Similar to the Foundation section, ground floor classrooms open to the outside area where there is large, shaded play equipment in place. Inside, an attractive majlis area is tucked away under the stairs as a reminder of the local culture and the carpeted staircase itself is used as a seating area for assembly, with staff and students automatically using the uncarpeted side areas of the staircase for passage. To the rear of the staircase is a large open area with equipment which is used for fine motor activities. Upstairs are the upper Primary classrooms with an attractive, recently opened library at the front of the building with a “learning tree” seating area at its centre. More specialist classrooms (including Music and IT) are located here.
The school has a strong reputation for its Arabic teaching - particularly in terms of the way it is taught - and the Nad Al Sheba school is working hard to ensure that it maintains this. Arabic is taught in the form rooms (rather than in a separate Arabic room) and very much based around informal learning through play initially, before moving on to a more formal programme in year 1. French is also taught from year 1 and Spanish is added in year 5. The school also has a strong learning support team in place including speech and language therapists, working with children with a range of additional learning needs including Dyslexia and learning delays.
Kings' School Nad Al Sheba school is still working to attract sufficient additional numbers of students over the past year to enable it to open its Secondary school at present. Although the schools states that it intends to offer GCSE in year 11 and the IB Diploma in year 13, current year 6 students will continue their Secondary education at Kings Al Barsha. It may well be that Kings Nad Al Sheba will become a mirror of the original Umm Suqeim school for the foreseeable future catering only to Primary students.
There is no question that Kings' School Nad Al Sheba has all of the positive aspects in terms of resources and staffing that should allow it to be recognised alongside the other Kings' schools. As the developments around the area grow (the Meydan development in particular heading in this direction), Kings' School Nad Al Sheba will hopefully be able to attract more families who are seeking a quality UK education in a well-planned, smaller and more homely environment than some of its immediate neighbours (which include Repton, GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis and GEMS Firstpoint).
Fees are in line with the Kings Al Barsha branch, starting at AED 50,200 in FS1 and rising to AED 63,700 in Year 6.
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