Over the years, Kidzink has developed a unique and enduring partnership with Taaleem, one the UAE’s most successful and best respected education providers. We asked Taleem’s Chief Operating Officer, Sam Truman, to share his thoughts on working with Kidzink.
Sam, Taaleem Education has recently added Jebel Ali School (JAS) to the Taaleem ‘family’ of schools. JAS is one of the best known and longest established schools in Dubai, and it holds a special place in the hearts of many. With that in mind, what will change and what will stay the same now that JAS is a part of the Taaleem group?
All of our schools have their communities at their core, and that is exactly what JAS has always been. Both parties felt that there was a natural synergy here…and incorporating JAS into the Taaleem family of schools; we hope that this has been an almost seamless process. We see our role as being the next custodians for JAS. Our aim is to help the school reach its lofty aspirations and we especially want to keep the unique JAS spirit and ethos alive!
JAS is an iconic school with a unique history, excellent staff and a loyal community. We have appointed a very successful new Principal, Simon Jodrell. [Mr Jodrell most recently ran the ‘Outstanding’ Dubai British School, Emirates Hills.]
Simon has the goal of leading the team towards attaining a similar ‘Outstanding’ KHDA rating. A big advantage for the staff at JAS is now they have access to the shared learning and expertise of their new colleagues and leaders from right across the Taaleem group. Ultimately, our goal is to build upon what the staff, students and families at JAS have already achieved, and to facilitate further success through providing material and expert support.
As an organization, Taaleem is committed to investing in world class facilities for our schools. The health, safety, wellbeing and learning experiences of our students are our top priorities. We will be making a significant (and ongoing) investment in JAS. As the school reopens in September, parents will notice a refurbished Early Years and Primary Block, among many other improvements. Over the next 3-5 years, we will be looking to upgrade the entire school.
What other projects are Kidzink and Taaleem partnering on this year?
Taaleem aims to make sure that our learning and recreational spaces are evolving to provide for the future needs of our students and teachers. Our Board is very supportive of this and allocate considerable funds to ensure that our facilities are well maintained and regularly enhanced to reflect updates in pedagogy, teaching and learning. Kidzink are valued planning partners in future proofing our schools with agile and versatile optimum space use.
The Kidzink team are working on an array of standout projects for us. For example, at Dubai British School (EH), Kidzink are adding a new dining space. What is especially impressive is that this will be so much more than your usual school canteen! What Kidzink has designed is a vibrant, inspiring, aesthetically pleasing space with wellbeing at its heart.
Across Taaleem campuses, we are investing in landscaping areas and developments that reflect the evolving needs of our students and their families. For example, we have seen increased demand for nurseries within schools, and we have taken this opportunity to repurpose space and create wonderful environments for infants from 6 months of age and up.
Taaleem has numerous up-and-coming new school developments ahead, but we are also mindful to continue adding value to our existing schools. Whether it’s a new school or an existing campus upgrade, we find that Kidzink have the both the creativity and logistical capability to really add value to the entire process.
What impact do you expect the Kidzink led changes to have in the Taaleem schools? Which spaces are your school leaders and staff particularly excited about?
Our Early Years’ teachers are looking forward to playgrounds moving from traditional rubber floors to softer, more natural surfaces. The very best Early Years experiences are found in environments that enable children’s development right across their emotional, physical and social needs. Research and our own teachers’ experience and expertise tell us that this is best achieved in a very natural, very calm environment.
At our Jumeirah Baccalaureate School campus, there will be a complete new set of state-of-the-art science labs. At Uptown International School, we are adding food technology to the curriculum. Both projects have created a real buzz!
Continuous improvement and refurbishments are fundamental to the way we operate. What’s more, it’s not just the more talked about projects that are important. We are upgrading many of our bathrooms too. It is vital that children can maintain their personal hygiene in a place that is clean, well-designed, and welcoming. I doubt we will get much feedback on the new bathrooms, but I know this work will have a real positive impact for our students.
What is next for Taaleem schools?
We have several projects in the pipeline. Development is happening, things are in motion! We are looking to expand the DBS portfolio in the not too distance future, subject to all regulatory approvals. We are proud to have been chosen as preferred partners for public-private-partnerships across the UAE. We are pleased that our efforts in these initiatives have already been recognised as being able to successfully unlock value through bring private sector expertise to public education.
In summary, we wioll continue to develop and grow in the private school sector, as well as in partnership with UAE government schools.
Sam, Taaleem has been working with Kidzink for several years now. What would you say to other schools or education groups looking to do the same?
Kidzink is a partner that has taken the time to understand and research our school interior design needs. With often challenging timelines to work to in our schools, we have found a company that can work with us to meet tight deadlines and deliver at the highest of standards.
Delivering successful projects has led to great confidence in Kidzink as a company and has fostered a trusted partnership. Kidzink is now involved in a holistic process of planning. Their own local manufacturing and fit out service gives then a great advantage in so much as they can control their supply chains much better than some of their competitors.
As both of our companies continue to grow, the customer care aspect of their business has continued and is a discriminating aspect that has influenced our decision to make the ‘a supplier of choice’. Both our organisations employ talented individuals that understand what it means to be able to differentiate themselves from others.
We are an organisation that seeks to work with reliable, ethical suppliers, whose values reflect our own; Kidzink delivers on all fronts.