Little Flowers English School is - contrary to its name - an Indian (CBSE) curriculum Primary School that extends from KG1 to Grade 6. It is located in Hor Al Anz, on the Deira side of Dubai.
The story so far...
Little Flowers English School (LFES) was established as a villa school back in 1984. The name of the school appears to vary depending on where it appears - whilst the sign in the image on the school's website clearly shows Little Flowers (plural) and the KHDA also refers to it by this name, the school website refers to Little Flower and its web address also shows the singular form. Whichever is the case, the school is one and the same.
Although officially regarded as a Primary School, Little Flowers offers Grade 6, which falls under the Middle or Lower Secondary in most schools. As such, the KHDA assesses it against criteria for KG, Primary and Middle school sections.
The school believes in the motto "Education for one and all”. Its unnamed Chairman states that "Education is a tool that empowers generations for a future that is based on sound knowledge and prudent decisions. This being our aim, we at LFES leave no stone unturned in order to give the best in education to our children. The school believes in imparting a holistic development that encourages the students not only to perform well academically but also encourages them to participate in co curricular activities that will foster team spirit and sportsmanship".
The Principal, Abdullakutty Valappil, who has led the school since October 2011, informs visitors to the school website that
All students, whatever their academic ability, background or race, deserve the very best education and this will be achieved through our professional teaching staff, ably supported by our admin team. I am passionate about what we must do at the Littleflower English School and the most important consideration about our school is our young people. We will achieve success by working as a team in conjunction with our valued partners, parents, families, shareholders and members of our local and wider community.
Our aims at the Littleflower English School include:
According to the latest KHDA report from 2018-19, Little Flowers now has some 830 students. The school's website says that children come from a vast range of nationalities, but by far and away, Indian nationals, as would be expected, make up the largest proportion of students. Children are supported by some 45 teachers and 4 teaching assistants, with a teacher:student ratio of 1:18. This is on the high side for a KG/Primary environment. Teachers are also Indian for the most part and at 15%, staff turnover is higher than we would expect.
The school has inclusive ethos, with staff committed to supporting children with additional learning needs.
What about the curriculum?
Little Flowers follows the CBSE curriculum throughout the school, but has adopted the UK-curriculum based Early Years Foundation Stage with CBSE outcomes for KG children. Limited resources and specialist facilities (according to the KHDA), mean that the curriculum is not perhaps as broad as would be expected although staff make best use of what is available. In addition to the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, Arabic as a Second Language, Islamic Studies (and Moral Education which has been incorporated into English Social Studies), Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam are offered as additional languages.
Children have limited access to technology and opportunities for enterprise and innovation are inconsistent. Where they do arise, this tends to be as part of extracurricular activities.
What about the facilities?
From its beginnings in modest villas, Little Flowers relocated to a new facility some time in the 2000's. Unfortunately, along with the inconsistency in the school's name, its evidently new and under-development website also has some gaps - including the relocation date.
We do know that the school moved to a newly purpose-built campus and that this has spacious classrooms equipped with projectors and smart boards, an auditorium that can accommodate around 200-250 persons, a library, an IT lab and play area for the KG students. The KHDA report notes that the school and its facilities provide a clean learning environment. However, "limited specialist facilities and resources, such as learning technology and appropriate reading materials, hinder students' independent learning experiences".
What the inspectors say
Little Flowers English School was rated Acceptable for the seventh year in a row in 2018-19. Prior to this, the school was rated Weak for the first three years of the inspection process. Reading the latest inspection report gives a first impression of a school where the leadership and staff are full of good intentions, children are happy, cooperative and keen to learn for the most part, but the resources, the skills of teachers and the development of the curriculum to meet modern educational demands are still lacking. There appears to be a significant need for training and professional development at all levels.
In their summary of the inspection, the KHDA team note that Students' attainment in most subjects is acceptable. Attainment in English is better in KG, where children also make good progress from their starting points. Progress in scientific knowledge and understanding is good in the Primary and Middle phase (Grade 6), and although students' learning skills are improving, there is not enough emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills. Students' attitudes and behaviour are exemplary.
Teaching for effective learning is generally acceptable, but not as secure in Primary classes. Teachers know their subject matter and plan well, but although the school is beginning to analyse assessment data to support teaching, class teachers are not yet confident in using this information well enough to plan and teach lessons that meet individual needs.
The curriculum is aligned with the CBSE. However, opportunities for students to follow their own interests or participate in entrepreneurial and enterprise activities are limited to special projects or to extracurricular activities. The school is successful in identifying Students of Determination, but the identification and support of children with gifts and talents is less effective.
Leadership and Management is largely acceptable, although the relationship with parents and the community is good. The school's self-evaluation and improvement planning have been downgraded to Weak. Whilst senior leaders have created a caring ethos and provide a sense of direction for staff, not all senior and middle leaders have a clear understanding of best practice in teaching, learning and assessment. The school collects a wide range of assessment data, but leaders are unclear as to how to use this information to guide action plans.
In summarising the strengths of Little Flowers English School, the inspection team notes that:
In terms of key recommendations for improvement, LFES must:
With the ever-increasing focus on teaching and assessment, adaptation of the curriculum by teachers to meet the needs of individual students and groups of students, and through these measures, the improvement in student achievement, Little Flowers really needs to up its game before the next inspection round.
In the current inspection, measures of student achievement recorded two improvements (in KG for English to Good), and five lowering of ratings (four of these for Grade 6); all reductions from Good to Acceptable. Whilst students personal and social development and their innovation skills were rated Very Good and Good, as were the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum ratings were almost all unchanged at acceptable.
Acceptable is the minimum rating that schools are expected to achieve by the KHDA. There will be considerable pressure on Little Flowers to maintain this rating in 2019-20. Only radical change is likely to see any significant improvement - something the school's history and current status suggests is unlikely in our opinion.
What about fees?
Little Flowers has among the lowest fees of any school that we have benchmarked in Dubai. It is therefore a credit to the staff that they are able to maintain the current standards, given the impact this must have on salaries and resources.
Fees start at AED 3,548 from KG to Grade 4, rising to AED 3,823 in Grades 5 and 6. We would question if these fees are sustainable in a school that is clearly in need of investment.
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