Smart Vision School is an expanding school in Al Barsha 2 that follows the UK National curriculum framework and the UAE Ministry of Education requirements for teaching Arabic and Islamic Studies.
In April 2023, the KHDA issued the Inspection report for the 2022-23 academic year for Smart Vision School, when the school finally achieved a Good rating on its third DSIB inspection. The report can be found under the Inspection tab of this review. The review itself will be updated in due course.
Smart Vision School opened in 2015 in Al Barsha 2 and follows the UK National Curriculum with a focus on playing and exploring; active learning; and creating and thinking critically. The school had remained open to Year 6 from its opening year until it received approval to open to Year 7 following its DSIB inspection in May 2022, although the building itself is designed for a through school. No doubt current parents will be delighted to know that their children can continue at SVS - a school that is clearly popular with parents and students.
The following comment from late 2021 is reflective of many:
"Smart Vision is by far THE BEST SCHOOL in Dubai. We are all a family there, my children love going to school. The best teachers and leadership team. I just hope that in the post-Covid world we can go back to sports and events which we so loved being a part of at the school. Every child should experience Smart Vision School to feel the difference it makes to education and well being."
If there are any negatives about the school, they have proven hard to identify. The only comment that has been made more than once is that there is a "General weakness in Arabic and Islamic." This is an issue no doubt being addressed by the school.
Smart Vision School has operated under the directorship of Atticus Education LLC (AE), part of the Al Mutaiwei group of companies, since 2017. The school's Governing Board comprises of representation from all groups of stakeholders in the school, including ownership, corporations, community, education, parent, staff and student representation.
Having gone through a somewhat challenging few years after opening, with a change of ownership and more than one Principal, it is clear that Smart Vision School is now moving forward with a new sense of purpose under revived leadership with the appointment of Rachael Wilding, a highly-experienced Principal with a strong background in both the UK and IB curriculum, both in the UK and internationally.
The Chair of the Board of Governors is Ms. Marion Sinclair, formerly Principal of the highly regarded (and KHDA Outstanding rated) Horizon English School, which she left after close to 20 years following a change of ownership at the school.
The school's Vision states that it "aspires to be an exceptional, inclusive, child-centered school at the heart of our community".
Its mission aims to
The watchwords - ‘Excite Engage Empower’ - drives the school's personalised, inquiry-based approach and its commitment to instill a love and ownership of learning in its pupils; guiding all to meet their true potential.
The school says that it offers a challenging curriculum within an inclusive ethos; 'it welcomes learners from all backgrounds, learners who desire a British education and are committed to be their best'.
According to its most recent KHDA report from May 2022, there are some 375 students from over 50 nationalities (including 64 Emirati students). Primary classes have no more than 20 students - a very low number compared with many schools. Each FS class also has a teaching assistant, resulting an overall teacher:student ratio of 1:16. This is a relatively low ratio designed to ensure that children received personalised support and curriculum adaptation to meet their individual needs.
The new leadership team has meant a focus on raising standards and expectations and considerable recruitment of highly qualified staff. Almost all of the 24 teachers are British, though the school does encourage diversity in the appointment of specialist teachers from other nationalities, as well as Homeroom teachers from other English-speaking nationalities, provided they have British Curriculum experience. All teachers must have a minimum Bachelors Degree with the same or additional teaching qualification and a minimum of two years experience. In addition, teachers and students are supported by 21 teaching assistants and a guidance counsellor.
The school has achieved membership of British Schools in the Middle East (BSME), an organisation which assists member schools in delivering a quality British education through training and accreditation support. It also arranges high-level sporting, academic and performing arts events at which schools participate.
SVS intends to maintain a high level of consistency and retention of staff through ensuring high levels of staff satisfaction, resulting from working in an environment of support and care with immense opportunities for professional development and growth. It has been successful, not only in attracting new staff (the overall staffing of the school grew significantly in 2018-19), but in a record for most UAE schools, not a single teacher left SVS in 2021 - a rare feat given average turnover of 22-24%, which ensures stability and is clear evidence of a team all pulling in the same direction.
As a small and developing school, SVS also has a higher than average number of highly qualified and experienced senior leaders, in order to rapidly move the school forward, with the aim of achieving a Good KHDA rating.
SVS offers the English National curriculum, though implemented through a very thematic, conceptual curriculum that is embedded in rich and relevant contexts of learning that promote cross-curricular connections and application to real world issues. Extra language provision is provided for students whose first language is not English. Language development is also integral to the school's vision, enhanced by a commitment to Arabic language acquisition, and the development of an understanding about and appreciation for the history, culture and traditions of the UAE. Specialist staff also teach French, Music and PE.
The school invests heavily in skilled native English teachers for all classes. Its assesses every child’s level of oral language in Term One and identifies those whose language is delayed or developing, and implement a school-wide daily intervention programme for these students.
Foundation children follow the EYFS curriculum, with a focus on depth and relevance of learning. Students learn through child-initiated, inquiry based opportunities for exploration and discovery. SVS is committed to the development of skills and attitudes in the students to provide them with true future-readiness.
The Primary School classes follow the Key Stage 1 curriculum for Year 1 (ages 5-6) and Year 2 (ages 6-7). The underlying aim is to further build on the foundations laid in EYFS and continue to provide a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment that encourages each child to become confident in their own abilities. From Years 3 to 6, the Key Stage 3 curriculum is followed. As a full Apple school with a Bring Your Own Device programme, 1:1 iPad technologies are used from Year 1 to Year 6, enabling students develop the skills that allow them to contribute confidently in any context. A Coding curriculum, French and a progressive curriculum of Library Research skills, are also provided.
Although details of the curriculum for students joining the new Secondary section in August 2022 are not yet available on the school website, we anticipate that it will be a continuation of the Key Stage 4 curriculum with greater emphasis on individual learning and a more subject structured approach to teaching that will enable students to develop their independent learning skills and focus on the subjects that they will wish to pursue for IGCSE is Years 10 and 11.
SVS supports a range of abilities in the school and is committed to personalised provision. The school says that this requires a deep knowledge of each child, their needs, learning styles and levels. Starting points are assessed using internal and external (international) assessment and digital tracking systems (Learning Ladders) ensuring each child’s progress is tracked according to their individual starting points and next steps identified accordingly. Teachers are highly skilled and experienced in differentiating instruction and this continues to be a major focus of professional development of teachers.
SVS also offers an expansive range of free extra-curricular activities include Sports, Languages, Arts, Quran, STEM, Technology, Public Speaking, Yoga, Cooking and more. These internally offered activities are free of charge. Additional externally provided (paid) activities are offered through the year, including Swimming, Dance, Football, Karate.
Urban Swim Academy is a Dubai based swim club with an experienced, fun and focused team that provides world class coaching to suit all swim levels and ages, from Baby and Toddler, Junior and Adult Learn to Swim classes up to Elite Swim Squads for advanced swimmers.
The school is committed to inclusivity (there were 64 students assessed as Students of Determination in 2021-22) and as such says that it has a heavily staffed and funded SEND department with support staff in the department, with a range of specific qualifications and skills including Speech and Language Therapy. The school is fully equipped to cater to students with physical disabilities including a lift. As a fully inclusive school, the Governing Board highly values the representation of students of determination through the appointment of an “Inclusion Champion”
In general, SVS offers a range of options designed to support individual needs, starting with a differentiated approach by the classroom teacher, or additional provision through in-class support by a Learning Support Teacher or Teacher Assistant, withdrawal from class for small group work, an Individual Learning Support Assistant, and support from appropriate outside agencies, such as Speech and Language Therapy. Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Play Therapy.
Whilst there is no doubt that SVS intends to be an inclusive school, current Provision and Outcomes for Students of Determination was rated Acceptable in the 2022 inspection.
Inspectors found that "Support for students of determination is acceptable. The head of inclusion is a committed and energetic leader. She has established a strong vision, a detailed action plan and an inclusive ethos, even though staffing in this area is insufficient. The good levels of care and guidance ensure that students of determination develop well, both socially and emotionally. However, inconsistencies in teaching result in variable academic progress. The identification of, and provision for, students with gifts and talents are underdeveloped.
Additional fees are required if an independently sourced learning support teacher or outsourced therapies are needed.
Ongoing assessment is a core feature of the school which ensures personalised provision to ensure that each and every student makes rapid progress. SVS uses annual GL CAT4 (Cognitive Abilities Test) international benchmarking assessments for all students from FS2 to Year 6.
Internal continuous formative assessments involve students in celebrating progress and identifying next steps. Targets for key areas are reviewed regularly and shared with parents. Formative assessment involves not only on the acquisition of knowledge but skills and demonstration of attitudes and behaviours in line with the school's overarching values.
This campus is one of the first Dubai Municipality approved green eco-friendly school buildings. The school offers students: classrooms equipped with the latest Epson UI 595wi touch-enabled interactive technology, as well as Wi-Fi connectivity throughout, individual outdoor classrooms for all Foundation Stage classes, flexible learning or break-out spaces including an Art and Innovation Room, Music Room, Foundation Stage Library and Performing Arts Area.
A Primary library with extensive range of quality books, well-equipped ICT and science laboratories, a Multi-purpose Hall, and an outside theatre built in the style of a traditional Roman auditorium are also available. In recognition of its location, and the majority nationalities of students, SVS offers a Dedicated Arabic Language Centre.
Outdoor facilities also include an all year round paddling pool and a 20 metre swimming pool with 4 lanes, 100 metre athletics track, three sports fields (including a full size football pitch) with quality surfaces and facilities, and designated fully equipped playgrounds each for Foundation Stage and Key Stage One,
As we noted in our Smart Vision School - First Look article, the school was particularly keen about its “Home to Home” concept where every classroom in the EYFS section has its own separate facilities including a play area, a garden (where each child will be allocated a planter box), shaded area and toilet. All teaching then comes to them in their own “Home room” environment.
The school underwent its first KHDA inspection in the 2018-19 academic year. The initial KHDA Inspection report shows that Smart Vision School was rated Acceptable - the minimum rating expected of all Dubai schools, and one below the Good level that the KHDA targets for all schools. No school has achieved higher than a Good rating on its first inspection.
Unfortunately, the Covid 19 pandemic prevented a second inspection of Smart Vision School in March 2020. However, the school was awarded the highest, 'Developed' rating in the Distance Learning Evaluation process that took place in May/June 2020.
The postponed inspection of March 2020 finally took place over two years later in May 2022 when the school was again awarded an Acceptable rating. However, as is so often the case, the overall rating really does not reflect the performance of the school in many areas.
Where Student Achievement had largely been rated Acceptable or Weak in the previous inspection, the 2022 inspection shows that attainment and progress in the Primary school for English, maths and Science is now all rated Good. In the FS, five of the six ratings had also improved with English progress and Science attainment and progress also rated Good. Three of the six measures for Arabic and Islamic Studies have also improved from Weak to Acceptable, with all six now rated Acceptable.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills are also all rated at least Good, with personal development in the Primary section rated Very Good. The curriculum design and its implementation is now rated Good across both sections of the school.
Where improvements have not been as evident are in terms of Teaching and Assessment, and Curriculum Adaptation - all rated Acceptable as in the previous inspection report. It is successful provisions against these two key performance standards that are at the heart of student achievement, and without their improvement, it is hard to see how the overall rating for the school will make the step up to Good.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students also warranted improved ratings - for Health and safety, including arrangements for child protection/ safeguarding to Very Good - and for Care and Support to Good.
Finally, whilst the effectiveness of Leadership improved to Good - a rating that the relationship between the school, parents and the community retained - the three other measures all achieved Acceptable ratings.
Overall the inspection team found the strengths of Smart Vision School to be:
In terms of areas of improvement, it seems that the inspection team wanted to send a clear message to the owners and governors of the school in terms of where investment is required stating that:
The report notes that "the governing board represents all stakeholders but has not ensured that staffing is adequate."
In addition, the SVS team should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report for Smart Vision School - and we strongly advise that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings and the actions needed for improvement - you will find it here.
There has been growing feedback to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey, with 64 responses from parents to-date, and the feedback suggests that children are exceptionally happy at Smart Vision School. Parents give the school an overall rating of 4.5/5 - a positivity rating of 90%!
Over 80% of respondents have never considered moving their child to another school (the UAE average is 74%). Close to 70% of parents believe that their children enjoy going to school 'a tremendous amount' and have a tremendous sense of belonging. The school's communication with parents and its disciplinary policy and implementation are also highly regarded. Parents are overwhelmingly positive about the academic performance of the school with 83% completely satisfied and a further 13% partially satisfied. And a huge 89% would recommend SVS to other parents.
If opinion is split in any regard, it is typically in relation to the value for money of schools fees. In the case of SVS, whilst 48% of parents totally agree that fees do represent value for money, and a further 41% are in partial agreement, the remaining dissenting few are represented by 11%.
If you are a Parent or Teacher at Smart Vision School, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey.
There was no pre-inspection survey prior to the DSIB inspection this year, but the inspection team noted in the report that "Partnerships with parents and the community are good, and parents are very supportive." In addition, they found that "the views of parents are regularly sought and considered. Communications with parents are frequent and appreciated. Parents receive regular updates on their children’s progress. They are welcomed into the school and appreciate opportunities to talk to staff at arrival and departure times." It is little wonder that feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been so positive.
It is evident that the management team at Smart Vision School have had some way to go along the path to improvement, but as a school - that despite some ups and downs - has achieved a second satisfactory KHDA rating, which - in our view - does not adequately reflect the improvements that have clearly taken place.
The owners and management of SVS were clearly encouraged by the feedback from the KHDA inspection team in the first report, who noted that "a strong new Principal leads a dedicated team that is steadily transforming provision in the school." It is clearly time now for the governors to ensure that the resources are made available to enable SVS to further this transformation.
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com are encouraged by the core focus of the school for the future, and how it sees itself. For potential parents, Smart Vision School, based on our survey feedback, now has the ability to impress parents considering it for their children, and, we believe this is a trend which will only grow.
School fees for Smart Vision School start at AED 28,405 for FS1 and rise to AED 51,205 for Year 6, a reduction of 5% on the KHDA approved fees dependent on year group. Fees for Year 7 - opening in August 2022, are AED 51,210 - a 10% reduction on the approved KHDA fees.
On top of that, there is an AED 1,200 registration fee, an assessment fee of AED 500, and administration fees of AED 1,000. There are additional fees for books and resources which range from AED 500 in FS to AED 1,000 in Years 1 and 2, and AED 1,200 in Years 3 to 6.
Finally, the school also adds exam fees which range from AED 110 in FS to AED 495 in Years 4 to 7. There is a 10% sibling discount for the second child and 15% for each subsequent child.
SVS also offers an After-school care arrangement for students with fees payable directly to the provider.
Smart Vision School is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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