Owned by Interstar Education, the organisation behind well regarded Victory Heights Primary School and Delhi Private Schools, South View School certainly has the backers to make its mark in Dubai.
South View School has been awarded a Good rating in the KHDA's 2022-23 inspection round. The report can be found under the Inspection Reports tab. An update to the review will take place in due course.
South View School (SVS) opened successfully in the Remraan Community on a purpose-designed and built campus in September 2018, offering FS1 to Year 8. It is currently open to Year 11 and will continue to grow to Year 13.
SVS is the fifth school in the UAE to be operated by Interstar Advisory Services DMCC (IAS); other schools in the group include Victory Heights Primary School, nearby Wonder Years Nursery, and Delhi Private School (Sharjah and Dubai). The connection between Victory Heights Primary School (VHPS) and South View remains a strong one. Students from VHPS move on to South View for their Secondary education, and Principal, Sacha Crabb, at VHPS, has had strong input to the development of "her students'" Secondary school. Ms. Crabb is a Board Member of South View School.
In 2021, David Flint, former Vice Principal at GEMS, Head of Senior School at Repton Dubai and, latterly, Founding Principal at PACE British School in Sharjah, took over the leadership of the school.
Over the past two years, since arriving at SVS, Mr. Flint tells us that his focus has been on the following areas:
Feedback from parents to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been largely positive. A sizeable number of parents - over 240 thus far - have participated in our Parent Survey.
The following comments are reflective of many that parents provided.
"It is a smaller school, so more family environment like. Classes are not crowded and this lets the pupils learn better. Teachers are always reachable and open to discussion any time. School is always happy to take an action against a complaint if this comes from majority of the parents. Fees are a good value for what the school has to offer as a quality."
"There are so many strengths... Great family values, kids are respectful and friendly, teachers are amazing with the kids and caring with regards to their future. Feedback always provided should any issues arise. The school has a feel good vibe which was a winner for us as a family choice. My daughter's confidence has come a long long way thanks to so many supportive teachers at this school. Weakness is the school is small in secondary so not a lot of sport opportunities for our son in secondary at the school."
In addition to the comments raised about Secondary student numbers - something that is the norm in all new schools and will change as students move up from Primary and in from other local and international schools - a number of parents did say that communication was something of a challenge.
Read more about parents' opinions for South View School under The Buzz
And it seems that not only parents are happy with South View School. In May 2022, the KHDA published the first DSIB inspection report for South View School. The school achieved a Good rating, the highest rating that new schools have thus far achieved in their first inspection.
Find full details of What the Inspectors Say here.
The school's stated mission is to "provide students with a high-quality, authentic British education that will truly add value and enable them to access the global opportunities around them". It will offer an inquiry-based and "student-led" curriculum designed to encourage students to be aspirational, creative and entrepreneurial.
"Our aim is for every South View student to achieve their full potential by equipping them with the life skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century world into which they will graduate. The happiness, well-being and success of all our South View family members is our ultimate goal."
On the happiness front, the school has clearly made a positive start.
Find out more about the design and facilities of South View School by reading about our pre-opening tour in our Experience here.
By the time of the KHDA inspection in February 2022, the school had grown to over 1,050 students and was open to Year 10 and, with the opening of Year 11, the school has a total student cohort of over 1,200. In common with most international schools in Dubai, children come from a wide range of 77 nationalities.
In the current (2022-23) academic year, students are supported by a teaching team of 106, the majority of whom are British nationals. Other native English speakers include teachers from Ireland, South Africa, Australia and the USA, with further teachers from European and Arab countries. All are degree holders either in Education or in position of a post-graduate teaching qualification. The school also has a School Counsellor and a further 35 classroom assistants and 14 Teaching Assistants to further support students.
SVS says it has a good mix of teaching experience among its staff members; a mix of more senior staff with confidence and experience on the one hand, together with ambitious mid-level staff, and newer teachers with the energy and enthusiasm that comes at the start of their careers. All teaching staff in Dubai must have a minimum two years teaching experience based on local regulatory requirements. On average, teachers have 8 years of teaching experience.
At capacity, South View School will accommodate 2,000 students with six classes in the Foundation Stage and four classes in each year group from Year 1 upwards. With a teacher to student ratio of 1:18, children are guaranteed to receive individual attention, ensuring that the curriculum and teaching is adapted to their specific abilities and needs.
The KHDA inspection report suggests a teacher:student ratio of 1:24 which we find surprising and out of sync with the actual student and teacher numbers, which suggests a figure of 1:12 maximum.
The school follows the UK curriculum and will grow to be an all through school.
In early 2021, following the arrival of Mr. Flint, it was announced that South View would offer the IGCSE/GCSE curriculum (together with BTEC qualifications) from August 2021 for students in Years 10 and 11, to be followed by A Levels in August 2023.
Find out more about this in our South View EXPERIENCE.
The school aims to "provide students with a world-class education that will challenge and extend them, preparing them for life in the 21st century, where the ability to access global opportunities will be paramount."
In order to achieve these goals, SVS has implemented a student-led, enquiry-based curriculum. We asked Mr. Flint explain the benefits of this approach to delivery of the curriculum.
He told us; "The transition from a manufacturing industrial base, particularly in the UK and western Europe over the last 45 years or so, has brought with it the need for very different skill-sets in the workplace. Supporting and encouraging this transition has been the exponential growth in information availability, both in terms of quantity and the ability to share it raw and in analysed form. As a result, education has seen a move away from a focus dominated by memorising data and information.
"Enquiry based learning is a proven and powerful approach to learning that capitalises on natural human inquisitiveness as well as positive trial and error. It not only promotes retention of knowledge, concepts, and skills in long term memory, it also highlights the importance of context, leading to a wider and deeper of understanding of a concept and how it fits into the wider world. This enables students to transfer knowledge and apply it in unfamiliar circumstances giving them greater confidence to tackle new situations and problems, especially when doing so for the first time.
Enquiry-based learning fuels motivation as well as providing context, developing higher order learning skills and critical thinking. At South View, we will start lessons with “the big question” and use this as a basis to explore the lesson focus. Students can then develop their learning through exploration and further hone their thinking through sharing and discussion."
In terms of subjects, in addition to the core curriculum of English, Arabic and Islamic Studies, South View provides Science and Mathematics integrated into a STEAM approach, together with ICT through an integrated cross-curricular approach to learning. The school leadership is keen to see Design Technology flourish in the school and "bring together learning from other STEAM subjects".
Students from Year 3 onwards have a choice of French and Spanish as Modern Foreign Languages taught by specialist teachers. Music and Art as well as Physical Education are offered as part of the core curriculum. Students will participate in external visits both within the UAE and overseas to provide real world experience to support their learning.
For students in Years 10 and 11, SVS offers a wide range of IGCSE/GCSE options.
Compulsory subjects include English Language (also as a second language), English Literature, Mathematics, Science: Double Award, Arabic A and B, Islamic (non-IGCSE examation - compulsory for Muslim students), and Moral, Social, and Cultural Studies (non-examination).
In addition, students choose four Option Subjects from IGCSE Art and Design, Business, Economics, French, Geography, Global Perspectives,
History, Drama, Music, and Physical Education. Psychology, Science: Triple Award and Spanish are offered as GCSE subjects only. Two BTEC options are also included, in Business and Travel and Tourism.
Provision for students who are non-native English speakers is also available, both within lessons and as part of a withdrawal programme where required, to ensure that the students can access their learning and make great progress on their learning journey. English Language Extracurricular Activities are also be available to students to support them in their learning of English.
South View School aspires to support students in their native language, believing that high levels of language competence are the foundation for success in the global world. With this in mind, the school will provide opportunities for students to attend mother-tongue instruction both within and outside of the school day.
SVS also appreciates the need for students to have a focus away from the academic and to develop their interests through Extra-curricular activities. The school offers a full range of teacher-led extra-curricular activities, running throughout the week from Year 1 upwards. A range of sporting, academic, language and creative activities are available to South View students with sports squads additional to these ECAs.
The school's website notes that... "in addition to outstanding facilities and excellent teaching and learning... the education offering at South View includes a highly competitive sports programme, integrated into the school day." At the end of the first year in operation, it was clear that student numbers had hampered the sports programme somewhat; however, the school said that they have fielded teams in every sport they possibly could. South View School also played host to the 2019 British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) games. Today, SVS squads participate in football, swimming, netball, cross-country, and basketball among other team sport options.
The school also offers a range of paid additional extra-curricular activities by external providers including Los Atletas Tennis Academy, Hamilton Aquatics, Just Play, Chess Knowledge, Musical Expressions and Premier Genie.
With the emphasis on inclusion and support for students of determination in line with the KHDA's Inclusive Education policy, the Inclusion Department is positioned in the heart of the school to reflect South View's inclusive philosophy and approach. All lessons will be differentiated to support the needs of all learners; this includes students who are more able, gifted and/or talented, as well as those for whom learning presents some challenges.
The overall purpose of The Inclusion Department is to develop, in students, the learning skills necessary to access the wider curriculum, to help extend the most able and to raise each student’s confidence and self-esteem. Interestingly - and very positively - South View School does not make any additional charges for its support of students with additional needs.
The KHDA inspection report was very positive about the provision and outcomes for Students of Determination at South View School giving this key performance standard a rating of Good
Inspectors commented that "Leaders, including the governor for inclusive education and the inclusion champion, demonstrate a commitment to providing a community in which all students with additional needs are welcomed. Accurate self-evaluation and improvement planning underpin their vision of this inclusive school.
The identification of students of determination is a strength. A highly-qualified team of specialist teachers who are knowledgeable about differing students’ educational needs ensures this. Teachers' professional judgements, and parental concerns, contribute to the careful assessment of students' individual learning needs."
In terms of areas for development, the inspection team recommended that the school:
South View School boasts some exceptional facilities, with specialist areas being provided for every Key Stage; the design of the school will meet all students' academic needs. Premium facilities include separate and dedicated specialist science and athletic facilities for Foundation Stage, Primary and Secondary, in addition to separate playgrounds, break-out areas and social spaces for each of age group.
In addition, South View’s sports facilities, include a full secondary school-sized football field, a competition-sized, temperature-controlled swimming pool as well as a smaller training pool for younger children, three Multi-Purpose Halls for a range of athletics, a dance studio, multiple outdoor roof courts and access to three dedicated tennis courts.
With the planned expansion of the school to incorporate Sixth Form and the overall growth in student numbers, SVS is currently planning further facilities to include a dedicated Sixth Form suite comprising tutorial rooms, break out areas, reading rooms, recreation space, universities, and careers as well as office space. In addition, plans for a dedicated outdoor learning space for Early Years students and an upgrade of the sports field and roof court provision are also in process.1
South View School was one of a number of schools whose first DSIB inspection was delayed as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.
When the inspection did finally take place in early March 2022, the school was awarded an overall Good rating - the highest rating given to new schools on first inspection thus far. In fact the school received a wide range of Good ratings with several key performance measures rated Very Good.
Student achievement was largely rated Good for the subjects taught in English, with both the FS and Primary sections receiving Very Good ratings for progress in English. There was a further Very Good rating for progress in Mathematics in the FS section. However, as is often the case, progress and attainment in the Arabic subjects were largely rated Acceptable across the Primary and Secondary school, but with Weak ratings for Arabic as a Second language in the Secondary school - this is something that SVS will urgently need to address if it wishes to improve its overall Good rating.
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills, together with Teaching and Assessment were largely rated Good, whilst the Curriculum was rated Very Good in the Primary section, Very Good for Curriculum Design and Implementation in the FS section, and Good in the Secondary school. Protection, Care, Guidance and Support was rated Good across the school.
The majority of ratings for Leadership and Management were also awarded Good ratings, with the exception of Management, Staffing, Facilities and Resources which was awarded a Very Good rating.
Overall, the strengths of South View School were identified as:
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspection team's focus was inevitably on improving the delivery of Arabic and Islamic Studies, the balance between content and skills development in terms of teaching and learning, and a more robust form of teacher assessment designed to drive professional develop.
The inspectors recommended that South View School should
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
A significant number of parents - over 240 so far - have responded to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey. Parents seem for the most part to be very positive about the school, rating it 3.8/5 or a positivity rating of 76%. Almost 3/4 of students have a 'tremendous' sense of belonging and enjoyment of their school. 60% of parents had switched their child(ren) to South View from another UAE school, so have experience of alternative options. Having chosen South View, 88% of respondents had not considered moving their child(ren) elsewhere - well above the UAE average of 74%. The same percentage are satisfied with the Academic Performance of the school, with only 2% dissatisfied.
And despite some negative comments made by parents who had responded to our Survey, 84% of respondents are satisfied with communication with the school. The highest overall rating of 91% satisfaction was given to the school's disciplinary policy and its implementation. A huge 93% of parents would unreservedly recommend South View School to other parents.
If there is a niggle, it is the usual one of value for money in relation to fees. Whilst 60% of parents feel that fees do represent value for money, 36% only partially agree with this statement although only 4% totally disagree. The overall rating of the school appears to be brought down by some below-average ratings on specific activities within the school, including competitive sport (mentioned as an issue by Secondary school parents), performing arts and presentation skills. As the school grows through its Senior school, so these issues are more likely to reduce in their impact.
If you are a parent, teacher or older student at South View School, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our Survey here.
Certainly South View School seems to have the right mix in terms of the Owners' and key staff experience, the facilities and the commitment to succeed. Opening with around 150 children in the recent UAE economic environment was an achievement in itself, particularly given the school's somewhat outlying location off the Emirates Road at Remraam and with the long-established (though relatively newly relocated) Jebel Ali School as a neighbour.
To have increased that number 9 fold in the space of four years is a major achievement - and one that the school managed without sacrificing quality of education, as so often happens when there is rapid growth.
We asked why parents should choose South View School over others in Dubai and were told that the school offers a "Perfect blend of affordable fees with rigorous learning and teaching in a family atmosphere, where everyone gets their moment in the sun". Certainly both parent feedback and the KHDA's DSIB team's views suggests that South View is most definitely on the right track.
Fees including discounts in some year groups start at AED 41,500 for FS1 and FS2, rising to AED 44,000 for Years 1 to 6, AED 56,000 from Years 7 to 9, and AED 60,000 for Years 10 and 11. Fees for Years 11 and 12 which will open in 2023 and 2024 respectively, have not yet been announced.
South View 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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