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.
The Story so Far
Kings' School Nad Al Sheba is the third Kings' school open in Dubai.
Located in a rather hidden away area of Nad Al Sheba facing towards the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, behind two rather larger schools that have been in place for some time, the school is essentially a carbon copy of its sister schools and is unmistakably part of the Kings Group.
One aspect of the school's location, which has had a significant impact upon it, is the proportion of Emirati students attending Kings NAS. At the time of the last KHDA inspection in March 2019, the school had approximately 330 students (an increase of almost 25% compared with 2016-17) from 39 different countries (the largest nationality group being UK nationals), but with just over 15% of students being Emirati children from the local Nad Al Sheba community. With an average of 15 students per class and a teacher:student ratio of a very low 1:11, this branch of Kings' has developed a unique community feel for students and parents alike. A mainly British staff of 36 teachers and 21 teaching assistants are able to provide a high level of individual attention.
There has clearly been some quite significant change at Kings NAS, notably with two changes of Principal which clearly caused some concern initially. This is also reflected in the considerable number of staff who left the school at the end of the 2017-18 academic year with a turnover of 39%.
Whilst ordinarily we would be concerned about such a high figure, in reality, the change to staffing appears to have been only to the good of the school and its students. The Kings Group has also clearly taken steps to ensure greater stability and continuity through the appointment of Ms. Kerry Dalton as the Principal from her former position as Deputy Headteacher at Kings School Al Barsha. She is supported by Ms. Ashleigh Thompson and Mr. James Gore as deputies. Overarching responsibility across all three schools lies with Ms. Rebecca Gray, who took over responsibility as Director of Education for the Kings Group in September 2018 having previously led the Primary school at Kings Al Barsha.
Jump to the Kings' NAS experience - here!
What about the curriculum?
In common with the other Kings schools at Umm Suqeim and Al Barsha, Kings Nad Al Sheba follows the English National Curriculum. Children in the Foundation Stage follow the Early Years Foundation Stage which is very much based around learning through play.
Throughout the school, the National Curriculum for England provides a framework that is adapted to ensure a conceptual, integrated and enriched learning experience for young learners. Staff aim to 'contextualise' the curriculum so that children understand what they are learning and why, by using the environment around them. The curriculum is also influenced by the individual and evolving needs of the children. The result is a rigorous bespoke curriculum, relevant to children growing up in Dubai, but designed to produce happy and successful global citizens, ready to take their place in the world.
In the introduction to the school we are told that "We equip our pupils with the skills they need to be a knowledgeable and inquisitive, ensuring that all pupils are inspired, and confident to step onto stage, to take part in both competitive and non-competitive sports, to use their imaginations to write stories, to plan and experiment, to ask their own questions and challenge their own ideas."
The curriculum delivery is enriched by specialist teachers of French, Arabic, PE, ICT, Swimming, Music, Islamic Education and The Creative and Performing Arts.
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 children's classrooms (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 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.
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. 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. These areas also include large breakout spaces outside classrooms for group work. 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.
Facilities include a Black Box Theatre, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Centre, a Language Hub with a multi-lingual library, two swimming pools, sports halls, a fully equipped dance studio, specialist teaching for creative and performing arts, music, computing, languages (Arabic, French, Spanish and Mandarin are offered), and classrooms which are bespoke and designed by our teachers and support staff.
Kings Nad Al Sheba has been future-proofed to be able to support a full all-through school in the future and is a fully wireless campus, with a Computing suite, Apple TVs in every classroom, student laptops and iPads and with Interactive whiteboards throughout the school.
Sports facilities include a Multi-sport astro pitch, Hard courts for netball and basketball, a Grass sports field for football, rugby and hockey, a Multi-purpose sports hall and Gymnasium.
Performing arts facilities include the Black Box drama studio, Music recording facilities, Media technologies, an Auditorium with stage.
What the Inspectors Say
2016/2017 was the first year that Kings' School Nad Al Sheba was inspected by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau and was awarded a rating of Good - the minimum rating which the KHDA expects all schools to achieve. The second inspection in 2017-18 also saw the overall rating as Good.
On the third inspection in 2018-19, Kings Nad Al Sheba achieved a Very Good rating - only one step away from the top Outstanding rating which Kings Al Barsha achieved for the first time on its third inspection, and Kings Dubai has achieved since inspections began eleven years ago. For Kings Nad Al Sheba to have achieved the step up to Very Good after two years and considerable changes - notably in leadership and staffing - within the school was therefore a real achievement.
Inspectors were particularly impressed by:
"Significant improvements in students' learning skills and achievement in both phases. Most children in the Foundation Stage make better than expected progress and attain very high standards. Primary students achieve very well in English, Mathematics and Science."
Inspectors also commented that "Students have excellent attitudes to learning and behave exceptionally well". Inspectors also praised the quality of teaching, noting that "the quality of teaching is very effective in both phases and enables students to develop a range of skills that contribute to their success in learning."
The curriculum, including its modification for students of Determination also received praise for being "very well planned, implemented and adapted to meet children's stages of development." The arrangements for caring for students and keeping them safe were described as "exemplary". Leadership and Management were also praised for the improvements in students' learning experiences and outcomes, the efficient day to day management of the school and the premises and facilities that provide a safe environment that is conducive to learning.
As an indication of the improvements found by the inspection team compared with the previous inspection, every rating for attainment and progress in the Foundation Stage had improved and are all now rated Outstanding with the exception of attainment in English which is Very Good. In the Primary section, attainment in English, Maths and Science improved to Very Good, ensuring that all ratings for achievement across these subjects and Learning Skills are rated Very Good.
As is so often the case, Arabic as a first and second language and Islamic education - all taught in the Primary school - were not rated as highly, but progress in Islamic education is now rated Good, together with progress in Arabic as a first language, whilst all other ratings are Acceptable. These are subject areas on which the school will clearly need to focus if they wish to see the overall school rating achieve the top Outstanding rating.
The majority of other ratings across the school, for Students' Personal and Social Development and their innovation skills, Teaching and Assessment, Curriculum, the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and Leadership and Management were rated a mix of Outstanding and Very Good. The provision and support for students of Determination was also rated Very Good. Personal Development, the Curriculum and Health and Safety were all rated Outstanding in the Foundation Stage, with Personal Development and Health and Safety also achieving the highest rating in the Primary section. Management, staffing, facilities and resources were also rated Outstanding.
Overall, the inspection team described the strengths of Kings Nad Al Sheba as:
Clearly there are areas of improvement on which the leadership team at Kings Nad Al Sheba will focus over the current academic year, although many areas for development were identified within the inspection report. The inspection team recommended that Kings:
If you would like to read the full KHDA inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do - you may find it here.
In the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, 130 parents from Kings Nad Al Sheba expressed almost overwhelming satisfaction with the quality of education and almost all aspects of the school. There were some concerns about communications systems and the length of journeys on school transport.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey also attracted an acceptable number of responses. Again, almost all views were overwhelmingly positive, with parents agreeing that their children felt an "tremendous amount of enjoyment" at the school, and that parents felt completely satisfied with the feedback they receive and the increase in confidence that their children display. Parents are highly satisfied with the quality of the academic performance at the school and are overall not only happy to recommend Kings Nad Al Sheba to other parents, and agree both fully (67%) and partially (33%) that they are receiving value for money through the fees they pay.
If you are a parent, teacher or student and Kings Nad Al Sheba and would like to share your experience with others, please do so by completing our survey here.
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. An application fee of AED 500 + VAT is payable online as part of the application process, and a deposit (not specified) is required on offer of a place. Kings NAS also offers sibling discounts as follows: 2nd child - 5% discount, 3rd child - 10% discount, 4th child or more - 15% discount.
All children are assessed prior to a place being offered as follows: FS1 and FS2: a play based observational assessment (with a focus on communication, interaction and the ability to follow instructions); Years 1-2: involves a teacher led assessment, and
Years 3-6: involves a computer based Cognitive Ability Test (CAT).
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