Kings' School Nad Al Sheba has come some way since its opening in September 2014. The original building now houses only the Foundation section and has been joined by a second building, in identical style, which houses the Primary section. The secondary section will open in the 2021-22 academic year.
The Story so Far...
Kings' School Nad Al Sheba (KSNAS) opened in 2014, becoming one of three successful Kings' Education schools in Dubai. The original sister school, Kings' School Dubai, is located in Umm Suqeim and is the only school in Dubai to have been rated outstanding every year since opening. Kings' School Al Barsha also opened to students in 2014.
Located in Nad Al Sheba, and within a couple of minutes drive of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, the school shares many attractive design elements with its sister schools and is unmistakably part of the Kings' Education group.
In a socially-distanced online Covid Catch-up call with Principal, Kerry Dalton, and Deputy Principal, Jamie Efford, in March 2021, we found out more about the make up of the school' students and staff and the latest developments and plans for the school they describe as a "thriving, close knit community school".
Mrs Dalton joined Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba from Kings’ School Al Barsha where she was Deputy Headteacher. She has many years of leadership experience, including six years as Headteacher in an outstanding school in the UK and an executive role in the development of a 60-school-wide Teaching School Alliance, also in the UK. Mrs Dalton holds a First-Class BSc (Hons) degree in Primary Education with Mathematics and is a published author of a book named ‘Hands-On Maths’. Prior to her career with Kings’ Education, Mrs Dalton has worked internationally as a mathematics consultant, working with schools across the UK, Channel Islands and in Dubai.
Mr. Efford is in his fourth year at Kings' and is a Primary specialist. Both he and Mrs Dalton are parents of children who attend the Kings' schools. Overarching responsibility across all three schools lies with Ms. Rebecca Gray, who took over as Director of Education for the Kings' Education in September 2018.
One aspect of the school's location, in the heart of Nad Al Sheba, a strongly Emirati community, is the proportion of Emirati students attending KSNAS. 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. Two years on, student numbers have grown to 445 overall, with students from 46 different nationalities. Although the largest proportion remains UK passport holders, Emirati students now account for approximately one-third of the total.
With an average of 20 students per class and a teacher:student ratio of a very low 1:10, this branch of Kings' has developed a unique community feel for students and parents alike. A mainly British staff - 95% of whom are UK nationals and UK trained - together with a support team of teaching assistants and specialists of other nationalities, make up a particularly strong team.
Jump to the Kings' NAS experience - here!
One significant development that has taken place at the school in the past year is the opening of a Nursery section for children aged 2+. The Nursery opened in January 2020 in two empty classrooms in the Foundation Stage building which had been purpose-adapted for their current use, including a separate entry from the rest of the school. With only 16 children per class, there is already a waiting list for parents wishing to enter their children for a Kings' education at the earliest opportunity.
Whilst the school has acted to permit parents of younger children to prolong their attendance at KSNAS through the nursery opening, it is, however, the development that will take place in September 2021 which is without doubt the most long-awaited for parents at the school.
After delays which necessitated the departure of students from KSNAS to other schools for their Secondary education (the vast majority to Kings' Al Barsha), the news that the Secondary school will open for the next academic year, is one that will clearly be welcomed.
Initially the Secondary section will open with two classes each in Years 7 and 8, expanding potentially to three form entry in subsequent years, and by one year group year on year. In fact, we are told during our call with Mrs. Dalton and Mr. Efford, that some of the former KSNAS students who are currently at Kings' Al Barsha in year 7, will be among the first Year 8 cohort at KSNAS. This seems very much in keeping with the goal of the school to maintain its family feel and family connections throughout its students' Early Years to post-16 education.
What about the curriculum?
In common with the other Kings' schools at Umm Suqeim and Al Barsha, KSNAS 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.
A further initiative which has been introduced to strengthen the focus on Arabic, for both non-speakers and native speakers alike, is the Arabic Academy which was launched in January 2021. Although an after-school activity, the Academy is designed to strengthen further the understanding of and links to the Arabic language, culture, values and faith. Plans include visits to the school by Arabic artists and to explore further the influences of Arabic culture and values through media such as Calligraphy, Fine and Visual Arts, Poetry, Music and Language.
In addition to English and Arabic, French is also taught from Foundation Stage and Spanish from Year 2. 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. There is also specific support for English Language Learners.
Another area of particular focus at KSNAS is its STEM (Science, Technology, English and Maths) Academy which was founded in 2019 and is a core element of the curriculum. With the introduction of Robotics and Engineering, the school had been keen to raise awareness among staff, students and parents, and has received an enthusiastic response from all sections of the school community, and notably in the Primary section. Parents felt that this should be a priority.
As a result, every student has daily access to a STEM lab where they are encouraged to develop their skills using coding and engineering skills, and building from scratch.
With the opening of the Secondary school due to take place in September 2021, one consideration that KSNAS has taken into account is the way in which it will manage what is, and will remain, a co-educational environment, despite its relatively large Emirati student base. In fact, in Mrs. Dalton's experience, most local families who are considering the school for their children are keen that they attend a mixed-gender school, in line with the development of the UAE in terms of work place and further education.
However, it was felt that there were specific subjects where a single gender approach would be better suited to the students. As a result, PE has been segregated by gender from Year 5. Staff and students in Years 5 and 6 genuinely feel that for PE, lessons work better since girls are able to pursue sports such as netball, whilst boys are able to develop their skills in the sports that they enjoy. Arabic and Islamic Studies will also be separated in the Secondary school.
There has also been a re-think in regard to the Secondary school curriculum to be offered. Originally expected to offer GCSEs in years 10 and 11, and the IB Diploma in years 12 and 13, it has now been decided to follow the same route as Kings' Al Barsha and to offer A Levels, and potentially BTEC qualifications in Business, Sports and Tourism, rather than IB options.
In addition, KSNAS aims to place a particular focus on languages and to further develop students skills and experiences in STEM activities. The intention is to develop a portfolio of opportunities for students to engage with enterprise partners and to grow their experience in the real world.
The school will introduce its STEM Scholars programme which is open to students in Years 7-10, and is a progression from the STEM Academy programme in Years 1-6. The STEM Scholars programme, offered in partnership with the Yale University programme ‘Yale Young Global Scholars’, aims to prepare and support students to progress into a successful post-16 educational pathway.
In tandem with the academic and holistic growth of students, KSNAS also plans to offer a programme that aims to encourage resilience in students and to assist their development as UAE leaders of the future. Dubbed Expedition UAE, the programme will be offered to Year 7 and 8 students initially, with the goal of encouraging exploration, leadership and respect for the environment in line with the UAE's Sustainable Development Goals. The programme for Year 7 will be land-based, whilst for Year 8, it will focus on water-based activities. Though similar to the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, Expedition UAE has a very specific focus on the local environment.
KSNAS follows a similar layout two the other Kings' school, with a handful of key differences that reflect the ethos and culture of the school. At the centre of the KSNAS campus lies an extensive and established garden with student-led vegetable patches. It is enjoyed throughout the milder months during lesson and break times, for selective sporting events, and as a garden theatre for special occasions and celebrations. The nursery and school buildings are linked to the garden on either side and a number of shared facilities are to the rear, including the Arabic Academy, STEM Academy, centre for Creative and Performing Arts, and a host of sports amenities.
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 sports facilities is the Learner pool which FS1 children use once per week.
Similar to the Foundation section, the Primary 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 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, and Spanish are offered), and classrooms which are bespoke and designed by teachers and support staff. Performing arts facilities include the Black Box drama studio, Music recording facilities, and Media technologies.
KSNAS was future-proofed to be able to support a full all-through school 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. Although no immediate additions will be made for the arrival of Secondary students in 2021, a STEM Academy will be incorporated into the second floor of the building for their express use, and four additional classrooms, and an auditorium will be added to the facilities in 2022.
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 and two swimming pools. A running track will be added to these facilities in 2022.
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 so in order to understand the reasons behind the rating - 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 KSNAS 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), KSNAS 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).
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com was also very interested to learn about the Head Start Programme that KSNAS is offering to all students who may be moving school in the coming academic year - and not solely those whose families may be considering KSNAS.
The programme offers two sessions per week giving students an opportunity to participate in social sessions where they can find out more about the challenges and benefits associated with changing school, and also providing students with the opportunity to learn more about technology in education through the use of applications such as Google classroom, Seesaw and Read/Write/Perform.
Further information can be provided by the Admissions team at the school - contact details can be found here.
What about the Fees?
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. KSNAS also offers sibling discounts as follows: 2nd child - 5% discount, 3rd child - 10% discount, 4th child or more - 15% discount.
With the opening of the Secondary school in September 2021, Kings has extended its Primary fees to Years 7 and 8 as part of its Founders' Fee structure for the Secondary school and these reduced fees will remain valid throughout the student's time at the school. Year 7 and 8 fees are therefore AED 63,700; rising to AED 66,080 for Year 9, AED 70,800 for Year 10, AED 75,520 for Year 11, AED 80,240 for Year 12 and AED 82,560 for Year 13.
By comparison, KHDA approved fees are AED 71,530 for Year 7, AED 71,730 for Year 8, AED 74,340 for Year 9, AED 79,650 for Year 10, AED 84,960 for Year 11, AED 90,270 for Year 12 and AED 92,880 for Year 13.
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).
Kings' School Nad Al Sheba is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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