This paper proposes a school design that is aimed at complying with the guidelines provided in the Design Manual (Abu Dhabi Education Council [ADEC], 2010), as well as with the educational requirements supplied by such educational authority as the ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council [ADEC], n.d.a). Some of these requirements include:
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- Permitting the educators to introduce modifications to the teaching strategies which they utilize in class to better motivate students and increase their satisfaction with the learning process;
- Providing students with additional opportunities to gain individual learning;
- Allowing the teachers to propose their student’s additional chances to learn in the classroom setting;
- Preparing the learners in a highly effective way which would allow them to gain strong educational foundations before going to Cycle Two school;
- Supply the young students with an efficacious educational environment that would inspire them during the period in which they start making their journey in education (ADEC, n.d.a).
About the School
The school the design of which is offered in the current work is a Cycle One school aimed at educating nearly 750 learners of 1-5 grades; consequently, the school is to be comprised of 30 classes, according to the recommendation that a cycle 1 class is to include 25 students (Abu Dhabi Education Council [ADEC], 2014). It should also be pointed out that the designed school is to be a co-ed school, that is, it should provide education for both male and female learners.
The subjects that are to be taught to pupils of 1-3 grades are as follows: Islamic Education, Arabic Language, English Language, Mathematics, Science, Civic / National Education, Art, Music, ICT, and HPE / Jiu-Jitsu (ADEC, 2014). On the other hand, the students of 4 through 5 grades will learn such subjects as Islamic Education, Arabic Language, English Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, ICT, and HPE / Jiu-Jitsu (ADEC, 2014).
There ought to be teachers instructing the English language (14 persons) and in the Arabic language (21 persons). However, it should be stressed that all the teachers need to have an appropriate qualification in English (ADEC, 2014). The administration staff needs to include 4 heads of faculties (2 English and 2 Arabic), the principal, the vice-principal, and an executive assistant. Also, there should be such staff members as laboratory supervisors, a school psychologist, a medic, a social worker, as well as security guards, cleaning personnel, admission officer, ICT technician, 8-10 corridor supervisors, 2 librarians, 5-6 activity teachers, an SEN (special educational needs) teacher, several (1-2) members of swimming pool personnel, and a researcher (ADEC, 2014).
The Purpose of the School Design
The current school design is proposed to help organize an educational space which would allow the learners to gain the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education in a setting that is safe, comfortable, appropriate for educational activities, and environmentally friendly, as per the ADEC Design Manual requirements (ADEC, 2010). The students attending the school should be able to study in a setting that takes into account the customs, traditions, religion, and beliefs, as well as the values which are characteristic of the culture of the United Arab Emirates.
Health and Safety Requirements
The school is to be provided with furniture, equipment, and facilities that are free from biological and chemical hazards; everything should be kept in an appropriate condition; broken equipment is to be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
Some other general health and safety requirements include:
- Floors that are not slippery;
- Handrails and guardrails (of a minimum height of 1.06 meters) at the staircases; handrails at every 1.8 meters width areas;
- Corridors of a minimum width of 1.8 meters;
- All steps on staircases are to be provided with slip-resistant rubber;
- All the necessary facilities (such as wheelchair ramps) for disabled individuals;
- Unlocked, easily accessible emergency exits of sufficient capacity and in proper condition that are not to be used in non-emergency circumstances;
- Operational emergency lights;
- The ceiling in appropriate condition, free of moisture, defects, and so on;
- Clear, effective and easily executable evacuation plans that are posted throughout the school conspicuously;
- Corridors, stairs, classrooms that are clean and free from obstructions;
- Electrical wires and power points in perfect condition, safe for learners, covered and not accessible for children;
- Fire alarms in appropriate condition, not faulty and without false alarms. The panels should not be accessible to students in normal conditions, but easily accessible in case of emergency to the authorized individuals;
- Effective fire extinguishers of appropriate height and weight, chemically safe;
- Safe bathrooms with no leaks;
- No sharp edges;
- Electrical and water channels separated, at the minimum distance of 1 meter;
- There are laboratory supervisors constantly on duty in the science and ICT laboratories; if not, the labs must be locked to prevent the access of students and possible accidents;
- There are supervisors or PE teachers constantly on duty in the swimming pool; if there are none, the pool should be locked to prevent the access of the learners.
The school is to be located in the city of Masdar and is to provide educational services for children from the surrounding areas. It should be located in an area that is free of environmental pollution, easily accessible for the members of the local community, and safe. There should be no industrial areas close to the school.
The design is based on the community context of the United Arab Emirates and takes into account the demands of UAE culture, as well as the needs of the local community. It is also based on the requirements provided by the ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council [ADEC], n.d.b).
It should also be noted that the school needs to contain several facilities that will permit the learners not only to gain high-quality, effective education in a safe environment but also to participate in physical activities that are necessary for the children of the given age. For this purpose, the school ought to include the following facilities, apart from the classes:
- A multipurpose hall (MPH)–a great hall with a stage and a large number of seats;
- An information and communications technology (ICT) laboratory;
- A science laboratory;
- An art room;
- A playground;
- An indoor area for physical education activities;
- An outdoor area for physical education activities;
- A swimming pool;
- At least two changing rooms (for male students and female learners).
The classrooms should be equipped in an ergonomic manner, which would provide the learners and the teacher with places that are safe for health and convenient for studying/teaching.
- Desks and chairs should be ergonomic, as well as the placement of computers and their components (the monitors, the mouse, the keyboard, etc.);
- Screens are to be positioned in a way which minimizes glare;
- The cords, cables, and wires should not be placed in the way, and should be properly insulated; they need to be kept in trenches;
- Furniture is to be kept in an appropriate condition, and to be free of chemical and biological hazards;
- The lighting should be adequate: windows are to provide sufficient (but not excessive) light during the day hours; artificial lighting is to be of appropriate brightness and color temperature;
- The windows should not open by more than 10-20 cm, but should be able to provide an opportunity for sufficient airing;
- The floor is to be kept in an appropriate condition and to be free of tripping hazards;
- The quality of air is to be appropriate;
- The temperature inside the classroom is to be of proper temperature and humidity;
- All the necessary materials and equipment are to be provided concerning the subject that is taught (e.g., computers for IT classes, musical instruments, or audio equipment for music classes).
According to ADEC, nearly 33% of students walk to and from school, another 33% arrive by cars, and the rest 33% use buses (ADEC, n.d.b). Therefore, parking areas should be created; these should allow for safe and effective parking of cars and buses. The following requirements are to be complied with:
- The parking should be easily accessible for vehicles;
- Parking buses should not have to back off;
- Students should not have to cross the traffic or walk long distances when traveling from the parking area to the school and back;
- Drop off areas should permit up to 10 cars to queue;
- Security officers should be available at the exits of the parking area;
- Parking spaces for disabled persons and wheelchair ramps should be included at all entrances.
The systems available in the school need to include:
- Emergency systems (fire alarm, emergency exits, evacuation plans, first aid kits, etc.);
- Electrical systems;
- Bathroom/toilet units, separate for male learners and female students;
- Air ventilation and conditioning systems;
- The clinic;
- Security systems and personnel;
- Electrical rooms;
- Laboratories (in particular, an ICT and a science lab);
- Dining halls, with a kitchen that is unavailable for students;
- Theater / large auditorium;
- Sports facilities (with a first aid kit, appropriate changing rooms, lockers, bathrooms, shower, etc.), including an indoor and outdoor physical education areas;
- Safe playgrounds;
- A safe swimming pool;
- An MPH that includes a large stage, several hundred seats for observes (ideally, it should be able to allow the whole school to be gathered), and possibly a musical instrument such as a piano.
Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2010). Design manual: Minimum requirements for private school facilities: A guide for school owners, administrators, and design professionals. Web.
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Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2014). ADEC public schools (P-12) policy manual. Web.
Abu Dhabi Education Council. (n.d.a). Cycle 1 education. Web.
Abu Dhabi Education Council. (n.d.b). Home. Web.