Seashells Nursery is a long established centre based in Al Barsha 2. The Nursery was founded in 2006 and offers a curriculum based on the Early Years Foundation Stage for children from Walking (under 2) to 4 years of age, incorporating FS1/pre-KG.
Seashells Nursery is housed in a traditional villa with a large outdoor space. As a result, the nursery describes its USP as the eight different outside play areas. Children are encouraged to take part in gardening, climbing trees and exploring the natural world around them. In providing access to these natural resources and activities, Seashells Nursery aims to deliver a traditional sense of what a nursery school should be - FUN and educational! The academic focus of the nursery is "Learning through play. Letting children be children and focusing on the basic life skills for toddlers and young children".
The curriculum at Seashells Nursery is play-based and is taught via monthly themes. The day is scheduled in 30 minute sessions, which allows for a variety of activities. Children participate in class activities such as Singing, Junior Chef, Simple Science/Fun Experiments, Show and tell, Library and story time, Gym Time, Music education and Outdoor play. The outdoor play areas are shaded, with soft tile flooring, each incorporating a theme, allowing for more learning through play. Three indoor play areas - a library, an activity room and an indoor gym - provide the children with more areas to explore and a variety of locations to visit rather than being placed in one classroom only.
In line with its more traditional approach, the nursery offers a traditional library, where children can take books home; there is a "no screen time" policy in the nursery with teaching of the technological skills needed for school preparation carried out in other ways. Unusually, there is an open door policy, where parents have the flexibility to drop off and pick up at their leisure and a strong focus on family involvement with termly concerts and other special events, where parents and family are invited to attend. The nursery encourages a sense of community by enabling parents to socialize after pick up time and to take part in picnics in the outside areas.
Seashells Nursery is inclusive in its acceptance of children with differing abilities and accepts children who are walking confidently up until 4 years old. All children are given individual attention where needed and through planning, observation and assessment, their learning goals are achieved. The nursery staff liaise with other professionals when parents request support for children with additional needs (including speech therapy and behaviour therapy). Teachers in the class attend the meetings with these SEN professionals and complete any individual plans for children. The Nursery currently has one child with Downs Syndrome, who has attended Seashells for the past year and is thriving. The nursery also has ramps for children with physical impairments. A shadow teacher can be provided (at parents cost) if needed.
Children are placed in classes with children their own age and abilities, with a low child to teacher ratio, so optimal development can be reached. There are currently four age groups:
Walking to 2 years old, 2.1- 2.5 years, 2.6 – 3 years and 3-4 years olds. There are between two and three classes in each age group depending on demand, with a total of approximately 120 children. In addition to eight teachers, the nursery's nurse is also a qualified teacher and staff can call on two further teachers who work as administrative staff when needed. The staff to student ratio is based on the ages of the children - with a ratio of 1:3 for under 2’s, 1:5 for 2-3 year olds and 1:8 for over 3's. The under 2 class has 9 children, 2-3 years olds have 15 children and the FS1 class has 16 children. Children are based in classrooms that are approximately 26m² in size, each with its own privately attached washroom.
Seashells Nursery educates children from a wide range of nationalities - 28 currently - with the largest nationality groups being UK, USA, Indian, UAE and Canadian nationals who together make up around 70% of students. The remaining 30% of children come from 23 other nationalities. Children are split almost equally between boys and girls.
Most teachers are recruited from within the UAE, with a range of nationalities that include British, Egyptian, Canadian, Australian, Spanish, Zimbabwean, Indian and South African. Many of the staff members have been with Seashells since it opened. All teachers have at least a CACHE course level 3 certificate or a degree in education and an average of 10 years’ experience. Many teaching assistants also have a degree or are working towards CACHE course level 1, together with many years of experience.
The nursery's manager has been working in nursery schools in Dubai for over 10 years, specialising in the EYFS curriculum. The combination of experience and low staff turnover means that Seashells Nursery is a well-established and organised environment. All staff members are also required to complete various training courses annually, which include, but are not limited to: Child protection, First Aid and Fire Safety. There are many internal and external courses attended throughout the year to develop EYFS or age appropriate expertise. Teachers are responsible for paying for these courses, and salaries at the nursery are said to be higher in comparison to other nurseries in order to support staff in their skills development.
In addition to the regular classroom programme, Seashells Nursery also offers extra language provision for students whose first language is not English. Lessons are taught in English during the core part of the day, but the nursery offers extra lessons in Arabic, Spanish and French in the afternoon. Some teachers speak Arabic and other languages to help settle new children in, but many activities are learnt through play, action and imitation. In addition to the language classes, the nursery also offers soccer, gymnastics, yoga, ballet and basketball as Extra-curricular activities. These are charged at an additional cost and are optional, as external companies come in to conduct them. Fees on average are AED 450 for 9 weeks (30 mins per lesson, one lesson per week).
Importantly for parents whose children will be moving on to school from the nursery, Seashells Nursery is recognised by a number of schools in the area, including the American School of Dubai, GEMS Dubai American Academy, Dubai International Academy, Jebel Ali School, Safa Community School, Horizon English School and Nord Anglia International School, although the nursery is not directly affiliated with them. This means that staff at the schools are aware of the curriculum and programmes being taught at the nursery and can be confident in the environment from which the children have come.
Fees at Seashells Nursery range from AED 31,000 to AED 37,000 depending on the age of the child, class attended and basis on which the child attends. The nursery offers flexible packages based on 3, 4 or 5 day attendance. Operating hours are from 8am to 12,30pm, with an Early Bird class starting at 7.30am. There is also a late class (Coral Club) from 12.30pm - 2pm.
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