Q+A: Uptown School, Dubai
Uptown School (a Taleem School) is an International Baccalaureate Continuum School in Dubai, offering education for students aged three to seventeen. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a guided tour...
What happens when parents visit the school?
When you first come to Uptown School you will be greeted by a member of our Admissions Team. School tours are conducted every Tuesday and also by appointment. We are always happy to answer any queries you may have about school life, the curriculum and any other aspect of the International Baccalaureate.
During the school tour, you can see our extensive facilities, view classes in action and meet and interact with some of our students who are bursting to tell visitors about all the amazing learning experiences that they enjoy, and will leave you marvelling at their self-confidence.
What curriculum do you follow?
We follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and are fully authorised to provide the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP).
What is your teaching philosophy?
We believe that every student, whatever their prior attainment, has a high level of academic potential, which will be realised with the appropriate time, motivation and support; that relationships and effective communication are at the heart of successful education; that the emotional wellbeing of our students is vital, if we are to make our vision a reality; and that the curriculum (in the widest sense) must inspire, motivate and engage the students, whilst holding firm to the highest international standards.
What assessments are required to enrol?
The enrolment process involves basic assessments in literacy and numeracy. For very young children we look to see if they are ‘school-ready’ – i.e., are they toilet-trained, capable of following instructions and able to perform simple tasks? We also look at their fine and gross motor skills. In Grades 1 and 2, assessment is done by means of a one-to-one interview of 30—40 minutes. For the higher grades, we conduct longer, written assessments, and all DP applicants (Grades 11 and12) must sit for an additional CAT test.
How many students do you have?
We have around 1,350 students, with class sizes ranging between 15 and 25, depending on Grade level.
Can you give me a breakdown of where your students come from?
Our students come from all over the world, with 80 different nationalities represented in our student body, the top five being UAE, India, UK, USA and Pakistan.
Do you offer field trips and residential trips throughout the year?
All students from Grade 4 upwards go on residential camps ranging from three to ten days. These are typically to destinations such as Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Dibba. In addition, we have overseas trips to France, ski trips and an annual trip to Tanzania to do volunteer work.
"We believe that every student, whatever their prior attainment, has a high level of academic potential..."
Do you have a canteen?
Yes we do. Our canteen providers serve healthy, balanced meals to students every day at Uptown School. Parents can register their children online and top up their payment cards electronically or on site at the payment kiosks.
How can parents get involved?
Parents can get involved in daily class activities by volunteering for school trips, reading programmes or the Mother Tongue Maintenance programme. They can also volunteer as a ‘class parent’, who acts as a link between the classroom teacher and the parents. They can also sit on the Secondary School Parental Engagement Committee, a team of parents who meet with the Secondary Leadership Team on a bi-monthly basis to offer opinions, suggestions and concerns on behalf of the parent body.
How do you actively support students in maintaining their mother tongue?
Mother Tongue Maintenance (MTM) is built into the International Baccalaureate. We believe that it is essential for students to continue to develop their mother-tongue language, and for this reason we offer support in as many languages as possible. Both Primary and Secondary students can be part of the programme; younger students have a parent or teacher volunteer who comes in at certain times to read, sing and play with them in their mother tongue; older students volunteer to help the younger ones.
How are pupils with English as an additional language supported?
We have an extensive English as an Additional Language (EAL) department, and are able to support English language acquisition at all levels. Students with little or no English learn very quickly by benefiting from one-to-one instruction, group classes and immersion. All EAL support is provided free of charge.
Do you arrange for guest speakers, such as authors and experts to come to the school?
We’ve been lucky to have such famous speakers as Olympic star Butch Reynolds, astronaut Donald Thomas, author Alexander McCall Smith, spiritual leader Julie Lewis and many more. Visitors to Uptown School complement the Programme of Inquiry. For example, as part of their Unit of Enquiry on Tectonic Plates, Grade 4 last year heard from a parent who had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
How do most pupils travel to and from school?
The majority of children travel to and from school in private cars, and we have ample parking for all in our car parks. For parents who cannot do the school run on a daily basis we also offer a school bus service.
What extra-curricular activities (ECAs) do you offer in the Senior school?
We offer a wide range of after-school clubs; from sports, arts, music and drama to other activities which develop life skills – public speaking, sewing, Do-It-Yourself, mindfulness, and many more. Of particular interest for older students are ECAs such as Model United Nations, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, World Scholars and Dubai’s most popular inter-school dance-off, Desert Dance.
What are your medical facilities?
We have a full-time doctor on campus to ensure the health of our students. In addition, each section (Early Years, Primary, Secondary) has its own health clinic and nurse. The nurses help with everyday events such as minor injuries and illnesses, as well as regular health check-ups and immunisations.