The Arbor School is an international, ecological school, based on the British curriculum and offers places in Foundation Stage 1 through to Year 10. Ecoliteracy, sustainability and environmental justice are at the heart of the Arbor School curriculum, and is aimed at cultivating within students and ethos of ecological understanding and environmental mindfulness that drives innovative, creative problem solving for a more sustainable world.
Enough for all, forever
The Arbor School aims to foster a positive, caring and compassionate school environment, in which learners can shine in many different ways. Arbor students shall become innovative and capable leaders, with a strong set of ethical values, anchored by a deep sense of global environmental justice and sustainability.
What Makes this School Unique?
The Arbor School has a unique vision of what education could and should be – experiential, authentic and inspired by the natural beauty, human ingenuity and profound ecological and social challenges of the globe. We are a learning community uniquely committed to understanding and restoring the health of ecological and human communities as interconnected parts of a whole, committed to building a bespoke learning experience for each child; personal and personalised.
At the Arbor School, we emphasize the integration of the concepts of eco-literacy, sustainability and global environmental justice into every aspect of school life, from curriculum and activities to staffing and facilities.
Through project-based, experiential and outdoor learning, our students will engage with their local environment in meaningful ways. In-house specialists work with teaching staff to ensure that our curricula and activities are always enriched with awareness of the environmental and broader ethical knowledge and values essential to the well-being of our students, and of the world they will inherit.
Why Choose this Curriculum?
The school follows the National Curriculum for England, enriched with innovative teaching in the form of project-based, experiential and outdoor learning to enable our students to fully benefit from the school’s ethos.
Ecoliteracy, sustainability and environmental justice are at the heart of the Arbor School curriculum. The aim is to cultivate within our students an ethos of ecological understanding and environmental mindfulness that drives innovative, creative problem solving for a more sustainable world.
Ecoliteracy is more than content or subject matter, it is the way we make sense of the world through our thoughts, values, and actions. It is the way we chart a meaningful and sustainable path that respects the environment as the common ground on which all human social and economic interests and activities play out.
After School and Co-curricular Activities
Co-curricular activities are given great importance at The Arbor School, where every child is given opportunity to take part in five activities per week. These are made up of three free clubs and two paid activities led by our external provider of ECAs, ISM Sports. Sibling Club is also available in FS1 and FS2.
In addition to the provision of music, the Arbor School is proud to continue working with The Centre for Musical Arts to bring instrumental music lessons to students of the school during the school day.
The Arbor School was rated GOOD by KHDA in its first inspection in May 2022.
The Arbor Student
At the Arbor School, students are encouraged to develop a mind-set of experimentation, imagination and curiosity with a special focus on ecological mindfulness and ethical values such as compassion, resilience, and innovation.
They learn not only to read the world around them, but also to integrate this knowledge of place and environment, letting interaction with nature guide their thoughts, actions and words to create a more beautiful, sustainable and just society.
The Arbor Teacher
A teacher at the Arbor school is many things, but at their core is a deep sense of care and responsibility for the welfare and happiness of our children. This is coupled with a commitment to ensure that each child’s journey whilst at the Arbor School is full of wonder, excitement, curiosity, and is a carefully sequenced progression from the known to the unknown as we explore, discover and inquire with our ever-expanding foundation of knowledge.
Our ‘living classrooms’ include six climate-controlled biodomes; three large geodesic domes that sit at the heart of the Arbor School Bio Park, two of which function as a full tropical ecosystem available for Ecoliteracy teaching for all years.
The third dome is our Eco Exploratorium originally conceived as a Maker Space, this dome has been reimagined as a hub of specialist Ecoliteracy teaching and learning. It serves as one of two classrooms available for Ecoliteracy teaching for Middle Years students and is used by students in all phases and year groups. The school’s three mini biodomes are dedicated to everything from reading spaces to plant nurseries.
*The Arbor School has two further specialist teaching spaces; the Reflection Garden, a unique space in the centre of our school that brings in natural light and creates an outdoor space indoors for meetings, classes and events, and the Learning Garden, a community space dedicated to sustainable agriculture and outdoor learning. Here students grow herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables organically and sustainably.
Students regularly visit all our specialist learning spaces for art, science exploration, maths, geography, history and nearly every other subject. They learn how to make compost, use tools safely, grow and harvest different plants in the arid local landscape.
For school events, students can make the most of a 350-seater auditorium. One will also find a black-box theatre, a dining hall, an internal atrium and libraries. Other facilities, including a photography darkroom, a kiln room, a senior art studio, a senior library, a Sixth Form common room and a senior science laboratory.
The Arbor School has maintained some top-tiered physical education and sports facilities, including two swimming pools – a 25-metre main pool with six lanes and a learner’s pool for FS and primary students. One can find two indoor basketball courts, a multi-purpose sports hall, a gymnasium, outdoor and indoor play areas, an interactive dance studio and a full-sized football pitch.
Mr. Brett Girven joined the Arbor School with more than ten years of experience in the Middle East. Having moved to the UAE from his native New Zealand, Mr. Girven brings a critical eye for detail, an in-depth understanding of the Dubai and UAE educational climate, and a relentless drive to ensure a high-q-uality education is provided for every child.
Mr. Girven’s formative years were spent growing up on the beaches and in the waves of beautiful New Zealand, trekking through the pristine forests and sliding down mountains. It is no wonder that through these pastimes, he developed a passion for the environment and went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Science, majoring in Zoology. Mr. Girven continued on to study Environmental Science at post-graduate level, and throughout his teaching career has always enjoyed the Ecology and Environmental Science side of teaching Science and Biology.
Mr. Girven brings his experience of all through FS-Year 13 schools, and expertise in the secondary phase, and will ensure that the future development of the school is carefully balanced to ensure the holistic growth of all learners, leading to academic excellence. Mr. Girven believes that it is important for the principal to be visible, meeting and greeting children and parents as much as possible. He believes that a smile is an important start to each day.
In his most recent position, Mr. Girven played a critical role in moving the school to attain an Outstanding rating from the KHDA, moving from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ during his tenure. “The Outstanding grade was simply a marker of fantastic practice that occurred every day. High quality teaching and learning, targeted student care and support, thoughtful strategic and operational planning and school leadership were all functioning highly”. His strengths in the strategic use of data were instrumental in securing high-quality provision, with each part of his team working together to ensure excellence, as observed by the DSIB inspection team. Mr. Girven brings this quality assurance and continuous school improvement experience to Arbor, to continue with the journey to deliver on the vision and mission of the school. Mr. Girven’s Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and his current post-graduate studies focus on continuous professional development, innovative strategies and methods for assessing student learning, and the development of life-long skills that transcend content and subject-specific knowledge.
Mr. Girven lives in Dubai with his wife, three young children, and continues to enjoy sports and the outdoors, including coaching rugby teams, completing triathlons and enjoying Dubai’s beautiful beaches. Although his downtime largely includes reading educational and leadership articles, books and blogs; he also enjoys going to the movies with his wife and walking their dog.
Head of Primary School
Mr Nichol has 15 years’ of experience in the education sector, and is an experienced and highly dedicated Primary School teacher and Headteacher. His rich and varied experiences from around the globe include teaching in several schools, both in the UK and internationally. He is the current Head of Junior School at Dulwich College in Beijing, a prestigious international school with a reputation for high standards.
Mr. Nichol gained a Master’s in Education and Educational Leadership from the University of Bath. His BA in Geography and Environmental Education will ensure he keeps the Arbor ethos and vision at the heart of his leadership. Mr. Nichol also brings strengths in the areas of safeguarding, curriculum review, school inspection and accreditation and developing student agency. He believes passionately that each and every child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world in which they live.
Head of Secondary
Ms Frances Powell joins The Arbor School as our inaugural Head of Secondary after fourteen years of experience internationally here in Dubai as well as South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK. In her previous roles Ms Powell has ensured a strong focus on values-based education balancing high academic expectations alongside wellbeing remaining at the very core of school life. She believes a school leader must lead with integrity and develop relationships across the school community based on trust and mutual respect.
Originally hailing from England, Ms Powell received a First Class Honours degree in English from the University of Leicester and went on to complete her PGCE and Masters of Education at the University of Cambridge. A true believer in life-long learning she recently completed a diploma in Psychology focusing on establishing positive education models and her recent NPQSL qualification developed support frameworks to ensure all students can aspire to greatness and thrive. Over the years Ms Powell has presented on her specialisms of wellbeing, positive psychology and service learning at conferences across South East Asia as well as leading workshops supporting women in leadership and gender equality.
Ms Powell’s educational philosophy is that a school should nurture compassionate, principled and globally minded citizens. Ms Powell brings her expertise in developing programmes and structures to enable students to flourish socially and emotionally, alongside her drive in ensuring high academic attainment for all, and her strategic insight into preparing students to make their mark on the world confidently and successfully. She is very excited to build on the strong, successful foundations The Arbor School has already established, celebrating its diverse community and unique context as the school progresses into its next phase of Secondary education.
Ms Powell lives in Dubai with her husband who runs his own education-based business. A keen sportsperson, she is a badminton player, a gym enthusiast and enjoys playing competitive sport of any kind. She loves the outdoor life, embracing all Dubai has to offer with its beaches, running paths, cycle trails and wadis. As a true literature specialist Ms Powell also spends a lot of time reading fiction and non-fiction books, educational research and leadership texts.