Smart Vision School is a Primary-only 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.
The story so far...
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 is currently open to Year 6 although the building itself, under its original ownership, is designed for a through 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 Rachel Cashin, 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 first (and only) KHDA report to date, there are some 250 students from over 50 nationalities (including 45 Emirati students). Most classes have no more than 18 students - a very low number compared with many schools. Each FS class also has a teaching assistant, resulting an overall teacher:student ratio of 1:10. This is an exceptionally low ratio designed to ensure that children received personalised support and curriculum adaptation to meet their individual needs.
The new leadership that joined the school in 2018-19 has meant a focus on raising standards and expectations and considerable recruitment of highly qualified staff. Almost all 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.
The school has recently 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 also in retaining close to 95% of its staff, 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.
What about the curriculum?
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.
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 43 students assessed as Students of Determination in 2018-19) 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.
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.
What about the facilities?
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.
What the inspectors say
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.
The first inspection of Smart Vision School took place in March 2019. The new Principal joined the school in October 2018, so was limited in terms of the impact that she could make in advance of the 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 KHDA inspection report identified the strengths of Smart Vision School as:
Clearly, however, there were improvements to be made. Key areas for improvement include all core subjects - both English-language and Arabic-language based. Attainment in the FS section for English, Maths and Science was rated Weak, though progress from each child's individual starting point was rated Acceptable. The same was true of Islamic Studies, Arabic as a first and second language, and Science in the Primary section, although English and Maths were rated Acceptable for both attainment and progress. On a positive note, Learning Skills were found to be Good across the school - a clear sign that students had the potential to improve rapidly.
Students' personal development across the school, and Social responsibility and Innovation skills in Foundation, were also rated Good. All other measures for this key performance standard were Acceptable, as were Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum. Child protection and safeguarding were also found to be Good across the school, whilst Care and Support was Acceptable.
Finally, in terms of Leadership and Management, SVS's self-evaluation and improvement planning, Management, staffing, facilities and resources, and the relationship between the school, parents and the community were all rated Good. The effectiveness of leadership and governance were found to be Acceptable, reflective of the relatively short tenure of the Principal and the opportunities for significant improvement in the relatively short period since her arrival.
Key areas for improvement as identified by the DSIB inspection team are:
It is a great pity that no inspection took place in 2019-20 as we would very much like to have seen how far SVS has come. We know from Mrs. Cashin's background and past experience and the commitment of the school in terms of staff development and investment, that significant improvements should be expected in the year ahead.
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 - you will find it here.
The 100 parents who responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey were almost entirely satisfied with the quality of education provided. Feedback was highly positive with parents identifying the new Principal as a real strength. They consider the school to be welcoming with high aspirations and good communication.
There has been limited feedback to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com survey. What feedback we have received suggests that children are exceptionally happy at Smart Vision School. 70% of respondents would not consider moving their child from the school, although the remaining 30% would and 26% feel that school fees are not value for money. However, 75% would recommend SVS to other parents. Similarly, 75% of respondents are satisfied with the academic performance of the school, whilst the remaining 25% are partially satisfied.
If you are a Parent or Teacher at Smart Vision School, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey.
It is evident that the management team at Smart Vision School have some way along the path to improvement to go, but as a school - that despite some ups and downs - has achieved that all-important first satisfactory KHDA rating, and with the changes that we know are taking place, we believe there is value in waiting to see the progress that has been made since early 2019.
The owners and management of SVS must also have been encouraged by the feedback from the KHDA inspection team who noted that "a strong new Principal leads a dedicated team that is steadily transforming provision in the school."
We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com are encouraged by the core focus of the school for the future, and how it sees itself:
"No school in Dubai has the love and family/community feel that Smart Vision does. It is truly every student’s “Home away from Home” with the highest level of personalised instruction in small classes. We are, first and foremost, a community of belonging, where identity is core, diversity is celebrated. Our small class sizes ensure a personalized educational experience for all students".
For potential parents, Smart Vision School will need to impress if it wishes to attract more children - and, we believe this is something of which the current team is more than capable.
School fees for Smart Vision School start at AED 26,910 for FS1 and rise to AED 45,815 for Year 6, a reduction of 10% on the KHDA approved fees for FS and Year 2, and 15% for children joining Years 3 to 6. 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.
In addition, in an effort to attract students to the Key Stage 2 classes, new students applying for entry into Year 5 and Year 6 may be eligible for a total discount of 30% on the KHDA approved fees, if he/she meets the specific academic criteria through admissions assessment.
SVS also offers an After-school care arrangement for FS students - this is outsourced to a third party and fee information is not provided.
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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