SABIS operates a highly successful network of schools around the world, some run by the group itself and others franchised.
If it is as successful as its owner claims it is because of its efficiencies in approach - which are not to everyone's tastes and are certainly not received wisdom in terms of the direction education should be taking. The framework that guides both teaching and what is taught is never tailored for an individual child. To tailor in this way is wasteful in resources according to SABIS.
"Unlike one-to-one or individualized teaching, where each child is taught for a limited amount of time, the SABIS Point System® of teaching is an interactive approach that involves the whole class in the learning process."
In other words by not giving a child individual attention, all children as a whole get more time. It is sort of logical. SABIS schools are inclusive, but learning is not differentiated. All pupils have to find a way to keep up. If you want to progress to the next year "100% mastery" is required...
Note, one of the corollaries of this is that the schools do not interact with parents - teachers simply are not available to discuss performance. A second corollary is that SABIS schools tend to be highly affordable, while offering curricula, and claiming results, more closely associated with "premium" level private schools.
SABIS schools do not release results in third party examinations so it is not possible to determine if the system delivers academically as it claims. Its schools talk a good game, and the group as a whole talks about the university destinations of its students. However while not hyperbole, none of this counts as proof of effectiveness. The group as a whole has had 100s of thousands of pupils pass through its doors. We're pretty sure the analogy with monkeys and the works of Shakespeare applies here. Of course with this many students you are going to have some students going to Wharton, Stanford, MIT - or even becoming a president of a country. What matters is what happens to your weakest students? SABIS gives us no information on this.
Empirically however we are led to believe that for some children at the very least it does work, and can be especially effective for more unruly pupils. The system simply does not give them any leeway to misbehave.
The group itself describes the approach is "efficient".
"This efficiency is brought forth by teaching a body of knowledge and skills with minimal input in the shortest time possible.
"It includes mixed ability classes and whole class teaching with active student participation throughout the education process."
SABIS schools focus on the mastery of the basics in English, mathematics, and a second world language. Teaching techniques include memorization and phonics in reading and drilling in basic mathematics, among others.
"These techniques build a strong foundation for accelerated learning, creative judgment, critical thinking, individual exploration, and ownership of one's education in upper grades.
"When in class, students learn actively. They do not simply listen to lengthy explanations or take dictated notes."
The framework lists the concepts to be taught and each is introduced one "point" at a time applying the cycle of Teach, Class Practice, Individual Practice, and Check (a test).
The teacher explains the point to the class, gives an example in which the point is used, and then assigns a written activity to check for individual student understanding.
Group work is then used to complement the SABIS Point System whereby students work in small groups to check their work and provide additional support to their classmates. This time also gives the teacher the opportunity to visually survey the learning in the room and assess the need for immediate re-teaching.
The teacher moves to the following point only when practically all students show in writing — and not just orally — that they have a firm grasp of the "point" taught.
While SABIS schools have their own "core academic subjects, namely English, mathematics, world language (language varies depending on the school's host country), science, and social studies", students take recognised examinations, in the UAE most notably GCSEs and A Levels.
These of course have their own curricula that must be followed. SABIS would claim however to have provided the foundation for "accelerated learning" for each of the GCSE subjects, and of course how each is taught would remain exclusively SABIS in approach.