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25 February 2016
Some of our Year 4 "Mad Scientists"

Message from the Principal

Dear all
I hope you will permit me to give an insight into the internal running and life of the school.
I stress here that I’m writing for the information of all, and hoping only to be useful. I am most certainly NOT referring, even obliquely, to any individual or family.
I want to talk about parental complaints.
An odd topic perhaps.
I should stress that we don’t receive floods of complaints and our last survey showed a 98% satisfaction rating.
Still…we do receive them and the way in which they are dealt with is, hopefully, professional and transparent.
For this piece though I wanted to address the topic more generally.
There are some areas of a school in which, all Principals would agree, you can never “win”. These are Food and Busses. To that extent these are topics that are so polarizing that one must simply take a stand and try to maintain a level of service and provision that is suitable. If I take food as an example then some mothers (it is almost always mothers who address this matter) simply want their child to eat and are happy/relieved for them to be sufficiently fed. If that is rice/pasta/bread and other white food then that is just fine. Others want vegetables. Others want gluten free. We cannot be all things to all people but it is an area of such passion for some that there is no way to reach a possible solution and that is what packed lunches are for. Still, it is frustrating for me that we cannot, at reasonable cost, provide more options.
The above is not an illuminating example though. What is hopefully more useful would be to look at the other four categories of complaints that the school deals with;
The “It really is our fault” single issue complaint
In this case we have not met our own standards. A parent brings it to our attention in some fashion and we move to deal with the matter. This in a sense is the simplest case (although any individual issue might not be trivial I stress). It is a situation where it was a case of human or process error and we can see clearly what has occurred and move to address it. I should stress here that these are in fact the most common complaints. They are taken very seriously. Some are phrased helpfully as advice and we appreciate them. Some are phrased as facts around a certain matter and that is also helpful. Some are phrased angrily which is sometimes understandable in the context of the matter and we understand that. A rare minority are addressed rudely or threateningly and while we will deal with the complaint this is not the way to get the best from us (and indeed we won’t tolerate it).
The “We don’t want this” complaint
In this case, often around homework or other fixture of the landscape of the school (uniform, curriculum, admissions policy etc). This isn’t so much a complaint, though it is sometimes phrased as such, as an observation or discussion point. Here the school generally cannot, and should not, move. We should, however, take the time to explain why it is we do what we do. With uniforms for example it is a statement of who and what we are. In these cases it is for the school and the parents to reach a common understanding of where we stand. And if the parent decides this means we are not the right school for their child that is a reasonable decision. A regrettable one because it does mean that at some point communication or understanding between the school and the parent prior to joining was not ideal.
The “Yes we know these are your rules but” complaint
I once observed in the first school I ever worked in (a generally very good Grammar school in the UK) that a common theme amongst parents of serially unruly children was that what they wanted was very strict discipline for every single child but theirs. At that point they wanted special treatment or understanding (or indeed leeway) for their child. “Oh but he doesn’t like it when other children get a house point and he doesn’t”, “Oh he didn’t mean to hit them he was just playing”, or, my favorite, “He’s a very sensitive boy and we’ve told him that if he doesn’t like the rules he should tell the teacher”. In these cases I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy. It is not that the school is at fault in this case but, if I dare, the parent. However, in these cases one often finds that the parents are products of exactly the same kind of parent and hence feel that somehow they have been granted the right to be eternally special cases. My point here is that every parent loves and cares for their child. It might not be that every child can be “star of the week” of course, that’s not the level I’m describing. It is quite right though that no one child can, with the backing of sometimes aggressive parents be placed above or beyond any other. The rules and the customs of the school are for the very purpose of making every child feel safe and to help all of them to succeed. I’m happy to say these people are rare.
The “Oh not you again” complaint
These fall under two categories. I hate to admit it (and I know other principals feel the same) but there are times (very very rare I hope!) when we the school just seem to make minor errors with one particular family over and over again to the point where even I would get irritated, or indeed annoyed. They won’t be big things, but they will just keep coming. A child will lose their shoes (it’s always the little boys) in a changing room, a letter will be sent to the wrong person, a parents evening meeting will not be calendared in for some odd reason, or a trip invitation will be misplaced. In these rare cases the matters somehow conspire to mount up to the point where the family must conclude that someone in the school is simply rolling dice and applying random choices to all our communications. Twice in the two years since we opened Mrs Lamb and I have held our heads in our hands with one of these “comedy of errors” and simply resolved to soldier on and have had to offer sincere and humble apologies on behalf of the school. Sometimes this is met with good humored forbearance, and sometimes it is met with rather skeptical rolling of eyes. I appreciate the former but can’t really blame them for the latter.

The other subgroup here is of course Mr. and Mrs. Never Happy. These people are hugely time consuming and challenging. Some of the matters they raise will be quite correct and point to areas that need to be addressed, some will not. Some will be so arcane or trivial that we are not quite sure what point is being made. It also becomes apparent in these cases that we cannot win. Not in the same way as the food/busses matter I mentioned earlier. With Mr. and Mrs. Never Happy they will simply never be happy and want to tell us about it, preferably every day. In some cases, we ask these people to leave because the amount of time they take up in hugely disproportionate and eventually we realize that it is not fair on the other children in the school.
I have of course generalized above to some degree.
I would also stress that I actually welcome the type one, properly delivered, complaint. I have had some parents come to me at the front of the school and raise matters, or perhaps raise them at Chatterbox, that we really did need to address. They are really useful for me to know about (or the class teacher or heads of school as appropriate). I would hate to think that we were distant or hard to communicate with, that would be wrong if we fell into that trap. Nor do I view parents who mention these things as “complainers” and somehow black list them. I really don’t, they are part of making our school better for our children and that’s fine.
I do though also like the odd compliment from time to time.
All the best
Mike Embley
The Primary Desert Dancers

Message from the Head of Primary

Dear Parents,
Welcome back! I hope you had a restful break over the half term holiday.
On Monday the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted many of our students in uniform – but not the usual blazers and ties of NAS Dubai! Rainbows, Brownies, Girl Guides, Beavers, Cubs & Scouts were invited to wear their uniforms with pride to celebrate World Thinking Day (Girl Guides) and Founders Day (Scouts). World Thinking Day has been celebrated since 1926 as a day of international friendship and global unity. 22nd February was chosen because it was the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement, and Olave Baden-Powell, who was World Chief Guide. Tomorrow NAS Dubai is privileged to hold the World Thinking Day celebrations for the entire city.  We will play host to over 300 children who will participate in a range of games and fun activities to mark the event. Here at NAS Dubai we now host 1st & 2nd Hessa Brownies, 1st Hessa Guides as well as a Scout unit. Many of our staff and parents give up hours of their time to run these groups and I would like to say a huge thank you to those volunteers. It has been wonderful to see how much the children love participating in Guiding and Scouting and it was truly delightful to see so many of our students in uniform this week.
With only eighteen months of history created at NAS Dubai so far, we can’t yet claim the same long traditions as Guiding and Scouting! However, it’s clear that these movements promote many of the same values that we try to instill in our children here at NAS Dubai.  The concepts of service to the community, teamwork and leadership within a global context are shared, making these organisations very relevant to our international lifestyles here in Dubai. 
After-school activities are such an important part of our lives as we seek the best possible start for our children.  I have written many times before about the rich variety of activities that our children experience outside of the long school day. With that in mind, we carefully balance the homework load that we place on our primary pupils. I’d like to thank Mr Barrett and Mrs McSweeny for the presentations they delivered this week on the subject of homework for Yrs1-6. I would reiterate their message to talk to your child’s teacher if you have specific questions regarding your child’s homework or Prep time – we are here to help and understand each family has differing priorities and needs.
Have a great weekend

Elizabeth Lamb
More Desert Dancers

Message from the Head of Secondary

Welcome back, I hope you all had a good break. Our students certainly seemed to have returned full of enthusiasm and motivation.  I have been in a number of lessons this week during which I have observed students being challenged and pushed across the range of subjects.  I continue to be amazed by the level of questioning our students challenge our expert teachers with, some of these questions are well beyond the knowledge required to succeed in GCSE examinations and are in fact closer to the level of the international baccalaureate.
I am writing this week's email whilst travelling to Singapore as we go through our final steps towards starting our international baccalaureate (IB) in September 2017. I am asked on a regular basis about the IB vs A level.  What is the best route?  What should my child study? Is this recognised by UK universities?  Isnt the IB harder than A levels? Is it true the IB grants a student more university points than an A level?
All of these are valid questions and are questions parents need answers to as we quickly approach 2017.  Therefore, we have arranged a coffee morning presentation on March 13th in the Auditorium with our newly appointed head of IB Lee Banfiled and myself.  

In my own personal opinion both the IB and the A level are outstanding routes that prepare students for the rigour of university. However, having now been exposed to the IB, I believe that the IB is a route I would have excelled in and would have allowed me a broader range of opportunities. This is the beauty of students having the choice about which route to follow after GCSE, an option I never had.
Education, in my opinion, is simple.  Recognise the individual child, highlight their talents and create an environment in which they can succeed.  This has been the philosophy of NAS Dubai since we opened.  We will as always work with our students and their parents to educate, advise and inform of the routes available to them as our ultimate aim is to create the leaders of tomorrow.

Liam Cullinan
Secondary School Drama

This week the Year 7 Drama students presented their cultural stories to all the children in EYFS.  The older students had to focus on drawing the younger audience into their story and they learnt about the importance of building up to a thrilling climax.  

Oral storytelling is one of the most ancient art forms and in our fast-paced, media-driven world, storytelling is a nurturing way to remind our students that their spoken words are very powerful.

Abigail Mack - Secondary Drama Teacher

    NAS News Bites   

Desert Dance

Just before February half term NAS participated in the Desert Dance competition for the first time. We entered students into both age categories, primary and secondary. Both groups have been practising their pieces for the show since before winter break. The theme of the competition was colour, therefore both groups were to create a dance using colour as a stimulus.

The secondary students performed their piece ‘Vandalism or Art?’ which explored the question of graffiti in society. One group wearing street wear and a graffiti T-shirt, performed flowing, circular movements symbolising freedom. The other group ‘policemen’ wore black costumes and caps, performing sharper, angled movements symbolising conformity. The students performed really well on the night and despite a last minute sickness to one of the dancers, the girls were professional showing great resilience. The students were awarded best use of costume and makeup of the night and Shaiza Brar received a voucher for  the hard work and commitment she showed in practises, rehearsals and during the show.

The primary students performed their piece ‘Welcome to the Circus’ wearing very colourful costumes and clown make-up. The students performed with bundles of energy on the night and were always smiling throughout the show. Despite being a small group of dancers the girls lit up the stage with a very dynamic performance. Once again NAS Dubai won best use of costume and makeup award for their performance. Zhi Yu Shu was awarded a voucher for her commitment shown throughout the whole process and Isabelle Pearson was chosen as 1 of only 3 students in the whole competition for a term’s scholarship at a dance school.

All the students were an absolute credit to NAS Dubai, not only as performers but their behaviour and support shown to other performers throughout the competition was exemplary. Well done to all the students involved!

Angela Minervini - PE Teacher

Dubai Cares Philanthropic Award

Members of the Young Enterprises CCA, from term one, were invited to attend the Philanthropic Award in Schools hosted by the KHDA in support of Dubai Cares.  The money raised during last term was donated to Dubai Cares and as a result NAS Dubai had been selected to receive a certificate in recognition of the students’ efforts.  The ceremony took place at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Al Garhoud.
The students did NAS Dubai proud, they were extremely well behaved and we were definitely the smartest dressed school!

They thoroughly enjoyed the event and have been inspired to come up with even more initiative and innovative fundraising ideas for next year.

Shama Rehman - Secondary Teacher

Mad Science in Year 4

What a jam-packed session we have had learning all about sound! The children learnt how sound waves travel, what these look like and how high and low pitches are made- all using a slinky! We saw how sound can travel through liquids using a tuning fork, which left us a little wet!  We created an ‘inside storm’ with 3 different types of rain sounds, heard a singing pipe and created a variety of animal noises! All of the children learnt a huge amount about this interesting topic and had great fun whilst doing so!
Sara Kelly and Sarah Harrison
Year 4 Teachers

    Upcoming Events    

Sunday Feb 28

  • Reading Week
  • Year 10 Tanzania Trip
  • Year 7 House Rowing Competition 12:10pm-1pm
Monday Feb 29
  • Year 10 Tanzania Trip returns
  • Year 8 House Rowing Competition 12:10pm-1pm
Tuesday March 1
  • St David's Day
  • Nursery & Reception Trip to the Madinat Show  "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" 9:30am-12:15pm
  • Choir Fest Middle East - Primary Choir visiting DBS Jumeira Park 8:45am-1:15pm
  • Year 9 House Rowing Competition 12:10pm-1pm
  • Young Innovators 3pm-4pm
Wednesday March 2
  • Author Julia Johnson visits Year 3 followed by a book sale & signing 10:30am-11:30am
  • Year 10 & Staff House Rowing Competition 12:10pm-1pm
  • 6D Class Assembly 2pm-2:30pm
Thursday March 3
  • World Book Day

Important Notice


To ensure the health and safety of all our students, please be aware that any food items brought into the school do not contains nuts. 

   Parent Community  

Chatter Box Cafe


We hope you all have had a good break and now that we are back, we are really in need of your scrumptious baked goods for the very busy weeks ahead.

From Tuesday 8th March to Thursday 10th March, Chatter Box Cafe will host Science Week which promises to be a fun and super interesting couple days. With this in mind we would love some "science themed" baked goods. As always we appreciate your help!

Marie, Liz and Heather

   Sports News  

Sunday Feb 28

  • Year 3 Cluster Netball Matches @ NAS Dubai 3pm-5pm

Monday Feb 29
  • U16 Netball vs. Sheffield @ NAS Dubai 3pm-5pm

Tuesday March 1
  • U10A Contact Rugby vs. Kings @ NAS Dubai 3pm-4pm
  • Year 5 & Year 6 Netball vs. Horizon @ NAS Dubai 3pm-5pm
  • U12 & U14 Netball Tournamnet @ WIS 3pm-5pm

Wednesday March 2
  • U9 Dubai Primary Schools Tennis Championship @ Aviation Club 8am-4pm
  • U12B Netball vs. SRS @ NAS Dubai 3pm-5pm
  • U14A Boys Rugby vs. DIS (A) 3pm-6pm

Thursday March 3
  • Years 4, 5 & 6 Cross Country @ Kings Al Barsha 1pm-3:30pm
  • Primary Competitive Swim Gala Round 2 @ Wellington Al Khail 1pm-4pm

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Nord Anglia International School Dubai |Hessa Street |Al Barsha 3 South
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