Site visit: Rising School DubaiJune 1, 2017, 10:45 am GMT
Rising School Dubai is one of 10 new schools opening in September 2017, but the only one that will offer the US curriculum.
Located in Nad Al Sheba 4, the school is targeting Emirati families in the area who would "usually have to bus their kids 20-25 minutes to a US curriculum school every day", founding executive principal Michael Bartlett tells Education Journal Middle East.
Bartlett was previously the executive principal at Al Wahda Private School (also known as the W School), which catered primarily to Emirati families.
Fees at Rising School will range from AED38,000 per year in KG1 to AED75,000 per year in Grade 12, with sibling discounts for up to five children. In it's first year, the school will enrol students from KG1 to Grade 5, with new year groups being added each year.
With student registrations now underway, the school is focused on marketing its offering before the summer holidays.
Explaining the marketing strategy, Bartlett says: "If you look at our marketing and feasibility study, we're the only what others would term "upscale" American curriculum in this area when we open. What we found was the majority of the population that choose the American curriculum have to bus their kids 20-25 minutes and they don't want to do that. That sets us apart already. I think price-wise we're very competitive.
'We looked at the other schools in the area (such as neighbouring Repton, etc.), but they're all non-American curriculum. So you are competing but not necessarily. The feasibility study also showed that almost 70% of households in Nad Al Sheba have at least one western educated member of the family. Which means they likely studied in the UK or US and marketing wise, that's been our big target, especially when it comes to marketing."
Considering the predominantly Emirati target market, the school is also focused on building a strong Arabic and Islamic Studies curriculum, Bartlett says. The school has already hired an experienced coordinator with 25 years of experience, including working with at least two new schools.
The school will follow the American common core standards and Next Generation Science Standards, and is already a candidate school for NEASC accreditation, based on KHDA requirements.
The school is also hoping to achieve the Apple School label, which requires all at least 75% of staff to be Apple trained.
However, in the first few years, the school will not implement a BYOD policy, opting instead to use three trolleys with 96 devices across the school. Explaining the decision, Bartlett says: "In our old school which was primarily Emirati, students still thought the iPad was a place to play games. We envision it being similar here because of the population. I'm a teacher at heart and I don't want to teach with an iPad 24/7."
Rising School will incorporate a STEM programme from KG onwards, and will be a First Lego League school, and has also partnered with National Geographic on its Science and library programme.
While Rising School is aiming for 200 students at opening, Bartlett is confident numbers may be higher. In its first year, the school is recruiting 22 teachers, 12 of whom have already received KHDA approval.
In addition to an SEN counsellor, Bartlett says the majority of teachers recruited for Grades 1-5 also have SEN inclusion experience.
While some new schools are still construction sites concrete shells at this point, Rising School is nearly ready for students to move in - no small feat for a new build. During Education Journal's visit, landscape contractors were laying down grass and potted plants, while the school has already hosted one open house on-site. All that remains is fitting out the classrooms and going through the snag list.
Built across three storeys, the current building will have dedicated sections for KG, primary and elementary years, with separate entrances and exits for the various school groups.
The building can currently accommodate up to three sections with in each class for the lower grades, while primary school classes will depend on enrolment. Each classroom can accommodate up to 22 students in a co-ed setting.
The KG section had a mock classroom designed for the open house the school hosted on May 23. Rooms are bright, with light streaming in through tall windows, while a common area shared by KG 1 and KG 2 classrooms.
Hallways will also come equipped with interactive wallpaper, the first EJME has seen at a school in Dubai. Students can use a pen fitted with a microphone and speaker to learn about different themes. Touch any picture on the wallpaper, and a song or story to go with the animal or shape or concept will play from the speaker.
The school's innovation hallway will house indoor and outdoor science labs, as well as a STEM lab, an ICT room, a music room with iMacs for students to mix music.
A kid's pool will also be used to build water confidence in the younger students. Other facilities include a school clinic, ICT lab, a multi-purpose room, which can also be used for performances, a dining area, canteen, as well as an ice-cream station to reward good behaviour.
A second block will open in September 2019, with construction expected to begin February 2018. The new block will house the school's middle and high school, with additional facilities such as a full sized swimming pool, and a performing arts centre with a 560-seat theatre.
Rising School is keen to highlight it takes student safety very seriously. The school has contracted School Transport Services (STS) for its bus service. The bus operator has monitoring systems on board all buses to ensure no student is left behind, and parents are notified when students enter or leave the school bus.
Additionally, the school is also installing biometric sensors to track student movement in an out of the school. Operations and facilities manager Marc Nicholson explains: "We've partnered with IG Tech and they are installing sensors all around the school which will allow us to be aware of where the students are when they are moving within the building or even leaving school grounds. When they leave on the buses in the afternoon the sensors will register that, and in the morning we'll be able to see as they come into the school grounds. And if a child leaves the school grounds when they shouldn't have, we will be notified and the parents too.
The whole system is biometric. The younger students will wear a bracelet like a Fitbit, so they're tagged the moment they walk in the door, while the older students will either have lanyards or the chip will be installed in their IDs. And if you think back to the school day, that's five minutes each period that students don't have to take attendance. And for a campus principal that saves an hour a day. I can just search for a name or a particular class and see what time the student came in and left."