Smart Vision School is a relatively new 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.
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 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
• Provide a diverse community that nurtures the potential of every individual.
• Deliver a rich learning environment, where students feel safe, happy, challenged and empowered.
• Develop academic excellence and future-readiness
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 offers a challenging curriculum within an inclusive ethos; it welcome learners from all backgrounds, learners who desire a British education and are committed to be their best.
With some 250 students from a range of nationalities (including 45 Emirati students), the majority are in FS1 and FS2 (which each have four classes), and Year 1 (with three classes), as well as classes open from Years 2 to 6. 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 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.
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. The school is committed to the ongoing professional development of staff, focused and aligned specifically to the school-wide improvement priorities, as well as those of the individual staff through the Performance Management process.
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 homerooms. 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 the planned introduction of Russian as the Modern Foreign Language, 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.
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. 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 source learning support teacher or outsourced therapies are needed.
SVS also offers a range of additional activities through each Term including wide variety of ECAs in the areas of Arts, Languages, Sports, Quran, Cooking, Academics, Culture, and Well-being. These internally offered activities are free of charge. Additional externally provided (paid) activities are offered through the year, including Swimming, Dance, Football, Karate.
What about facilities?
This new campus is one of the first Dubai Municipality approved green eco-friendly school buildings. The school offers to 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 Art and Innovation Room, Music Room, Foundation Stage Library and Performing Arts Area, 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.
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 recently underwent its first KHDA inspection. 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.
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.
The KHDA inspection report identified the strengths of Smart Vision School as:
Clearly, however, there is much that needs to be done. 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.
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:
The progress made of the coming academic year will be key to the next KHDA inspection process and outcome. 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. Indeed, the KHDA inspection team was also clearly convinced that the right team is in place to lead the school, noting that "a strong new Principal leads a dedicated team that is steadily transforming provision in the school."
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.
Meanwhile, 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".
Despite the obvious concerns expressed by inspectors and the improvements required, 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.
If you are a Parent or Teacher at Smart Vision School, please share your feedback with other prospective parents and staff by completing our Survey.
What feedback we have received suggests that children are exceptionally happy at Smart Vision School. 75% of respondents would not consider moving their child from the school, although the remaining 25% would and feel that school fees are not value for money. Similarly, 75% of respondents are satisfied with the academic performance of the school, whilst the remaining 25% are partially satisfied.
It is evident that the management team at Smart Vision School have some way to go to convince all parents at the school that they have made the right choice, 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 made over the coming year. For potential parents, Smart Vision School will clearly need to impress if it wishes to attract more children - and, we believe this is something of which the new team is more than capable.
School fees for Smart Vision School start at AED 29,900 for FS1 and rise to AED 53,900 for Year 6. On top of that, there is a 1,200 AED registration fee, an assessment fee of AED 500, administration fees of 1,000 AED, and book fees of up to 1,200 AED. The school's website does not detail what the administration fee is for or how it differs from the registration fee.
In 2019-20, SVS is offering a discount of 10% on the approved fees for FS1 to Year 2, and 15% discounts for years 3-6. Sibling discounts of 10% for the second child and 15% for the third and subsequent child are also offered.
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