The eighth Early Childhood Centre to be opened by the Innoventures Group, Raffles Early Childhood Centre Al Barsha will open in September 2023.
The Raffles Early Childhood Centres (ECC) were first founded in 2008. Raffles Early Childhood Centre Al Barsha, which will open in September 2023, is co-located with Dubai International Academy Al Barsha, and easily accessed from Al Barsha and Al Barsha South, Tecom, Al Quoz, Umm Suqeim, Knowledge Park, and Al Sufouh.The Al Barsha branch is one of eight ECCs (and two schools) operated under the Raffles name, part of the Innoventures Group.
In addition to the other seven ECCs located in Arabian Ranches, Dubai Marina, The Lakes and the Lakes 2 (Hattan Gardens), The Meadows, The Springs and Umm Suqeim (co-located with Raffles International School), Innoventures also operates three further schools – Collegiate International School, Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills and Raffles World Academy.
Raffles ECC Al Barsha will admit babies and children from 45 days to 3 years of age with children then moving into the Early Years section of the Elementary school. The new ECC has a capacity for 60 children. Across the existing seven ECCs, children come from a broad range of over 100 nationalities, whilst staff are from more than 30.
Raffles ECC Al Barsha will offer three classes in total across the age range that is offered, with children placed appropriately by age in 45 days to one year, one to two years, and two to three years. Staff to child ratios between age groups are 1:3 and 1:8.
The overall leadership of the eight ECCs lies with Lara Hudson, Director of all Raffles ECCs, supported on the ground at the Al Barsha branch by Nursery Manager Candice Combrinck. Ms. Combrink has a Bachelors Degree in Education and has been working in the Early Years sector for fourteen years.
Overall staffing ratios across the ECCs are in line with the local regulatory framework, with the teaching team and staff holding a minimum CACHE level 3 qualification. Many hold Postgraduate Certificates in Education and Masters’ degrees.
Raffles believes it is important to have a good mix of highly qualified and experienced teachers alongside some newer qualified team members who can be mentored, but can also share their good current practice. All staff also undertake regular first aid training and all ECCs have a DHA licensed nurse and clinic.
Supporting staff to grow within their careers with the Raffles organisation is a high priority and the leadership team meets regularly to ensure that roles in the organisation, and individual staff members who can be supported to grow in to them, have been identified. As part of Innoventures Education group, staff have access to a KHDA approved CACHE and TQUK training centre. Staff are also supported in working towards additional qualifications including NPQ qualifications with regular Professional Development opportunities.
Raffles ECC Al Barsha will focus on a play based approach, inspired by international best practices and the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
A variety of programmes will be offered to facilitate the holistic development of the child. The blend of child-initiated and adult-led activities is planned with the needs and interests of the children in mind. Activities include water and sand play, Messy play, Loose parts play, Heuristic play, Music and dance, PE, Art, Role play, Gardening and Arabic.
The main language of teaching is English, but additionally, children will have Arabic lessons each week.
The ECC will also offer external visits which are planned to support the learning being undertaken. The Raffles ECC team strongly believes that taking the children out-and-about can enhance the learning experience and often brings to life the learning. All trips are optional and cost, on average, AED 50. Previous visits arranged by the existing ECCs that the children have enjoyed, include visits to the Fire Station, Dig It, Butterfly Garden, and Camel Farm. For the next academic year, plans are in development to visit an ice cream factory, an equestrian centre and the theatre.
As part of the Innoventures Education group, all Raffles ECCs are supported by the larger network of sister schools’ inclusion departments whose specialists are actively involved in the assessment and ongoing support of students with SEN requirements.
The new Early Childhood Centre is set in three spacious classrooms which have been designed with young children in mind. The classrooms have access to a garden area that supports exploration, curiosity and holistic development. An indoor play area ensures that even in the warmer weather the children can run off their energy.
One of the advantages of joining a Raffles Early Childhood Centre is direct placement to Innoventures Education group of schools. As part of the Innoventures family, children transitioning from the Early Childhood Centres receive priority admission to the schools – IB curriculum Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills, Dubai International Academy Al Barsha and Raffles World Academy, UK curriculum Raffles International School, and US/IB curriculum Collegiate International School.
As one of the longest established and most highly regarded education groups in Dubai - KHDA Outstanding-rated Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills opened in 2005 and was the first full IB continuum school in the UAE - parents know that they are choosing an experienced, high quality and caring organisation when they select an Innoventures ECC or school.
Dubai International Academy Al Barsha achieved the highest possible KHDA first inspection rating of Good, and is expected to follow closely in the footsteps of the original Emirates Hills branch from which the current DIA Al Barsha Principal moved at the start of the 2022-23 academic year.
Children at Raffles Early Childhood Centre Al Barsha will benefit from the familiar environment and friendships developed within the ECC, as they move seamlessly into the school at age 3 plus, although access to another of the five Innoventures schools remains an option.
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WhichSchoolAdvisor.com asked the team at Raffles Early Childhood Centre Al Barsha to tell us what will make their centre different and set it apart from other ECCs.
They told us; “At Raffles Early Childhood Centre Al Barsha we strongly believe that children deserve the very best start to life. Our learning goals are based on the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and our teaching approach is inspired by international best practices. We will empower children to be confident, resilient, independent learners who are positively equipped to thrive within society.
We recognise the power of play in developing the whole child. Through play, children build their confidence naturally as they think, form relationships and experiment with a range of concepts. At Raffles ECC Al Barsha, children will be encouraged, through collaborative play and hands-on discovery, to problem solve, think critically and question the world around them.”
Annual Fees are based on the child attending the ECC for 5 days per week from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. The fee for this programme is AED 44,000. Variations for flexible days and extended hours are also available and further information can be obtained by contacting Raffles ECCs directly.
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