Little Panda's Early Learning Centre is located in Jumeirah 1 and serves is small community of 60 children with the EYFS curriculum.
Nursery review – Little Pandas Early Learning Centre, Jumeirah 1
Little Pandas is appropriately named given their close proximity to Dubai Zoo. Situated just a street behind the Zoo, Little Pandas is in a convenient location in Jumeirah 1, a little off the beach road. The nursery is aimed at working parents, being open 52 weeks of the year, 7am – 7pm. With only a maximum of 60 children attending, this is a smaller nursery by Dubai standards.
Parking is on street, in the surrounding quiet residential roads. The nursery is a converted residential bungalow secured by a high wall. Entry is via a buzzer system.
The nursery has lots of outdoor space, all of which is shaded and carpeted in artificial grass. There is a very large sandpit and lots of outdoor play equipment, such as swings and slides. One area is kept purposefully free of equipment so that it can be used for special events such as Sports Day and National Day celebrations.
We meet with Salma Choudry, Nursery Director. Salma hails from the UK where she owned and ran a nursery prior to moving to the UAE. Salma tells us that her desire to be in the childcare industry was driven by her experience as a mother – she wanted to provide good quality childcare and be able to bring her children to work with her. Salma holds the Early Years Professional qualification from the University of Portsmouth. She feels that the personal touch is very important and considers herself to be a highly hands on manager, who knows all of the children and families at her nursery.
Little Pandas operates the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum from England. Topics area changed monthly and activities are planned to incorporate all areas of the curriculum. Parent teacher meetings are held once a term and parents also receive a detailed report termly.
Extra-curricular activities are very reasonably priced at 30dhs per 45 minute session. All are delivered by the company ‘Kiddie Gym’ with the current selection of classes being Music & Movement, Karate, Ball Skills, and Zumba. ECA’s are delivered after the morning class between 1-2pm.
Class teachers hail from around the world – with recent and current staff being from the UK, Australia, and the Philippines. Salma tells me that they have good staff retention and a stable workforce.
There is a DHA registered nurse on site, and four members of staff hold first aid certificates. Fire drills are held regularly we are told that regular hygiene and safety training is given by the Nursery Director herself. Staff absences are covered by the Nursery Director who is supernumerary (i.e. not counted in the class ratios). Staff to child ratios are as follows:
Given the location, many children progress from the nursery to Jumeirah Baccalaureate School (JBS) and Gems Wellington, Al Badaa. Teachers from JBS visit annually to conduct school readiness assessments.
We met with Roxanna, a Mum of a 2.5 year old daughter who attends Little Pandas. Roxanna first chose the nursery due to the convenient location and ample parking. She has been very happy with her child’s experience and described the warm relationships between the staff and children as the best aspect of her child’s care. Roxanna felt that the nursery offers very good value for money, being at the lower end of the price spectrum of other local nurseries. Summer camp in particular had been excellent value for money.
Lastly, we met with Miss Lily, class teacher for the baby room. Lily is from the Philippines and has been with Little Pandas for around 2 years. She described the nursery as ‘very family orientated’ and clearly loves working with babies! Lily is hoping to embark on her Cache Level 3 teaching certificate in September 2017.
The opening hours of this nursery are clearly a bonus for working parents, as is the year round opening and convenient parking. At present there is no bus service or food provision, although both are under consideration. Outdoor areas are spacious and as a KHDA licensed premises Little Pandas is able to offer both FS1 and FS2.
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