Citizens School Dubai is a new British curriculum school opening in September 2022 in the City Walk area of Jumeira with a specific focus on individualised learning.
Initially mooted in November 2021, and then subsequently launched in February 2022, Citizens School is a new English National Curriculum school due to open in September 2022.
Citizens is described by its owners, Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, as "a visionary new school in Dubai. At its core, Citizens focuses on each child’s unique requirements, empowering them with choices to explore themes, expand interests, and determine the routes that they want to go on to reach their full potential, without compromise."
Citizens School is part of a number of institutions that will operate within the Citizens Education Hub, an educational project that intends to bring to the UAE a unique offering consisting of four complementary education establishments: a primary and secondary school, a nursery, an Excellence Centre for Child Support, and a research and teacher training academy. The school has a capacity for 2,600 children between the ages of three and 18 years.
Al Zarooni Emirates Investments has partnered with Blenheim Schools, part of the Chatsworth Schools group – one of the leading school groups in the UK, which has experience in nursery, primary and secondary education, including supporting overseas investors wishing to invest in schools in the UK, and offering consultancy to schools based outside the UK.
The school will be led by experienced Founding Principal Ciarán Cunningham Watson, who was previously the Principal at Belvedere British School Al Ain, and the British Schools in the Middle East Country representative.
Mr. Cunningham Watson's prior experience includes headships at schools in Spain, Mexico, and China. A Modern and Contemporary History graduate, Mr. Cunningham Watson also holds a Masters degree in History and Politics, together with a post-graduate Teaching Certificate in Secondary Education and teaching.
Working with the Blenheim Schools team, Citizens aims to provide an experience-based, inclusive curriculum bespoke to each child’s strengths and approach to learning, and unique to Citizens School students, named the Citizens’ Tapestry.
Using the UK National Curriculum as its basis, the Citizens’ Tapestry is a first-of-its-kind, custom-built curriculum that focuses on six key areas designed to form the pattern for a comprehensive, holistic, inclusive, and fun education:
- Digital Literacy
Citizens School will celebrate and build-on each students’ individual strengths to ensure that their individual needs are met. The curriculum has been co-developed and influenced by some of the world’s leading researchers on education, motivation and mindsets, as well as cognitive scientists including Dr Carol Dweck, Matthew Syed and John Hattie, Guy Claxton, and Graham Powell.
It is clear that considerable thought has gone into the design of Citizens School, which will cover a substantial 24,500 square-meter built up area, and which will be designed to allow SEN students to participate in events and activities taking place at any location in the school. The school will have a simple and clear layout that is well labelled (including braille and colorschemes) for all to access and understand.
All classrooms, resources rooms, hallways, access routes, ramps, toilet cubicles, stairways, lifts, doorways, P.E. areas, swimming pool, science laboratories, ICT rooms and circulation routes will be wide enough for students with physical challenges, or those using support mechanisms such as wheel chairs or crutches, to use. The floor surfaces will be non-slippery for those who are using walking aids. The school also intends to ensure ease of access to the buildings with adequate parking and drop off areas. All escape and access routes in the school will be designed to take account of students’ disabilities.
Buildings and rooms will have ample space for using mobility equipment with sufficient space between and around furniture and sufficient storage space will be provided for students, who may require specific learning equipment, medical aids, personal belongings or learning support equipment that can be stored safely but be easily and independently accessible to students. Storage, facilities and resources will ensure that students with a variety of additional needs, including, for instance, those on the autism spectrum are effectively supported.
The Citizens School school campus, at 43,000-square-meters, is double the size of other schools in the same catchment area and includes a 2,900-square-meter open playing and recreation area, a 1,250-square-meter multi-purpose performing arts and activity hall, a six lane semi-covered swimming pool and learning pool, football and rugby pitches adhering to FIFA and World Rugby standards; as well as a dedicated dining area for primary school students.
It will be interesting to see how the plans Citizens School develop in the coming months. At the moment, a lot of basic information - notably leadership, staffing (and their backgrounds and experience), opening year groups (we assume FS to Year 6 initially), teacher:student ratios, class sizes and fees to name key details - have not been provided.
Whilst we cannot help but admire the aims of Citizens School, we do hope that it will be more successful in creating a truly inclusive school for students of all abilities - from those with Gifts and Talents, to those who need significant additional support - under one roof. This is what Riverston School Dubai attempted on a much smaller scale (and it has to be said, on top end fees) and sadly was not able to sustain.
This review will be updated as more information becomes available.
Fees for the new school have not yet been released but are expected to be within the 'affordable' range.
The school is now open to visits from interested parents daily from Monday to Saturday and can be arranged by contacting Ursula, Head of Admissions at [email protected]
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