1st row: Students Maaryah Rashid and Jack O’Neill. 2nd row: Teacher Colette Reed, Clive Reed (chairman), Jacquie Parr (prinicpal). 3rd row: Teachers Fiona Cameron and Rachael Wilding. Top: A teacher with students. Left: Image of the new school Image Credit: Clint Egbert/XPRESS

DUBAI: For 39 years Jebel Ali Primary School (JAPS) has operated from Jebel Ali Village.

But from September the British curriculum school will relocate to a bigger 33,000 square metre premises in Akoya by Damac near Remraam and Arabian Ranches.

It will be renamed Jebel Ali School and offer secondary grade classes as well.

Down memory lane

As the school readies to move campus, teachers are gripped with a sense of nostalgia.

Assistant head teacher Fiona Cameron, who has been with JAPS for the past 22 years, said the school initially only catered to children of people working in Jebel Ali Port.

When the port construction was over, Jebel Ali Village was handed over to the government but the school remained under the control of its board of governors.

Its independent and non-profit status was later cemented by a royal decree in 1986.

“During those days, most students came from the Netherlands so the curriculum was Dutch. Gradually as more expats came to live in the area, it turned into a full-fledged British curriculum school,” Cameron recalled.

“I have happy memories of this place, While I am brimming with excitement at the chance of moving to new facility, I am also feeling a little sad,” said another old timer. “The school has been here long enough to see two generations from the same family studying with us. This shows the good reputation we have built over the years,” said principal Jacquie Parr. “We should be ready to welcome students to the new premises in September. The campus will have outdoor classrooms, bio-diverse gardening spaces and, sports field andcourts besides sand and water play areas for little ones,” she added.

Parents have welcomed the move, saying it will improve the quality of education, but there were some concerns too. “The school was a five minute drive from my place in Jumeirah Park. But now it’s going to take much longer to reach it,” said a parent.