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Ranches Primary School – First Review

Ranches Primary School was something of a surprise opening in September 2015.  Located at the new Ranches 2 (Casa) area, many families will be delighted to have a second school open within this very popular residential area.  Originally planned to open in September 2016, the start was moved forward when it became evident to developer Emaar and operators IMV, that the school would be ready to occupy ahead of plan.

Q&A – For the official WSA Q and A with Ranches Primary, go here.

The involvement of Emaar at Board level would seem to indicate a return to the Education business which they withdrew from when they outsourced the management of Emaar Education to the Innoventures Group some years ago. Between them IMV and Emaar have total responsibility for the school.

The relatively late in the year entry into the market, just prior to the summer holiday period, has meant that the new school – located in a purpose-built, large (but somewhat uninspiring) structure, has opened with much smaller numbers of children than would have been originally foreseen.  There are approx. 60 children at the school which currently offers Foundation 1 and 2, 2 classes each of year 1 and 2 and a single mixed year 3 and 4 class.  With such small class sizes (10-12 children in each), children receive very personal attention.  All staff are UK trained.

All classrooms are located on the ground floor of the building and open out onto external play and activity areas.  The Foundation classrooms open onto a shaded quadrangle area with plentiful play equipment.  Unusually for a Primary School, there is a STEM room where staff aim to address the lack of graduates in Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology through engaging children in these fields at an early age.

All activities are floor-based with no chairs in the room to allow children to move around and use diverse resources easily.  In contrast to this “tech-enabled” environment of the STEM room, there is also a large indoor play space designed to encourage creative and role play with a non-technical focus.  This includes basic Lego and other resources.  I-pads are available for use by the children, but may only be used following direct approval from the Principal to ensure there is a specific learning purpose.

Other facilities include a canteen where staff and children eat together and where a range of prepared food is available.  The school has a strong healthy eating policy and this is visible in the fruit desserts and other unprocessed foods.  FS1 children tend to bring packed lunches.  The spacious and well-stocked Library, Music rooms and a range of laboratories are all located on the first floor of the building.

Sports and outdoor facilities are good for the current small school.  These include 2 multi-sports indoor halls, one of which is wooden floored and also used for assemblies. Outside, there is an Astroturf play area with courts marked and an outdoor swimming pool which is heated and chilled.  This is currently used by children in years 1 to 4, but swimming lessons will be introduced to FS2 children in the third term.  There is a large shaded playground area which is separated into different sections for the differing age groups.  Large outdoor play resources are on order.  It will be interesting to see whether the developer will make more external space available as the school grows, particularly for ball sports for older children.

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The leadership of the school is keen to encourage a holistic approach to education for each child.  Children are allowed to develop at their own pace through a programme of concept-based teaching (similar to the enquiry-based teaching being developed in many schools).  As an example, children are involved in growing their own produce (fruit and vegetables) which will then be used by the cafeteria on-site for children to see what happens to the products they picked.  There is also a strong reward-based approach, with an assembly held by the Principal weekly where the theme is moral-based.  A house system (based around 4 famous race horses) is used and enables children to have their house points registered in full view.

Ranches Primary School is becoming more established each week.  Additional resources are being delivered and children are clearly happy and the centre of attention within their small class groups.  For families relocating during the school year and moving within the immediate geographical area, the school offers a very pleasant and friendly option, where children will inevitably settle in quickly.  The staff are able to support children with English Additional Language needs due to the small class sizes.

There are currently no plans for a Secondary school, but this may change if Emaar feels that its return to Education is a good decision.  Alternatives such as JESS Arabian Ranches, the Jebel Ali School (moving across the road to Akoya in 2016) and several other schools close-by including Nord Anglia, Safa Community School and GEMS Metropole among others, mean that there will be nearby options available.

Fees at FS1 and FS2 are AED 45,000 per annum (in 2 payments); Year 1 – 6 AED 55,000 + AED 5,000 for SEN support which is a requirement if a child is identified with SEN.

Entrance test fees are AED 500 and there is a registration fee of AED 500.

Update on December 17, 2015 | Reviewed by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com on November 17, 2015

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