Vernus International School is a US curriculum school that opened in Dubai Silicon Oasis in September 2020.
The story so far...
Vernus International School (VIS) is in its third year of operations, after opening in September, 2020, in the midst of the global Corona Virus pandemic, from pre-KG to Grade 5 at a new purpose-built campus located at Dubai Silicon Oasis 2, towards the north-eastern area of the development and close to Dubai Academic City. It is convenient for the Cedre Villas compound and numerous residential buildings in this growing area. The school offers transportation to a range of other residential locations within Dubai.
VIS had grown from 170 children in its first year to 270 children in its second year of operations with children from over 50 nationalities and has proven to be a popular community school in the DSO community.
Two years after opening, as it is about to enter its third year of operations - and will potentially be subject to its first KHDA inspection - the school announced a change of leadership. The new Principal, Mr. Michael Reule, is a Scientist by background, holding not one, but Master of Science in Science Education and Educational Administration. A US citizen, Mr. Reule had taught exclusively within California and Oregon in the USA, prior to joining the Applied Technology High School in Fujeirah as High School Principal in August 2018.
The sister school to VIS is Fifth Dimension Elementary School in Nad Al Sheba. VIS has an extensive school advisory board, with senior leaders from other schools in Dubai, parents, and a leading Professor from Zayed University.
Introducing himself on the school website, Mr. Reule says,
Our teachers and staff are committed to our school mission to provide an education that focuses on developing attitudes, skills and personal capabilities through engaging, enjoyable, hands-on practices and project-based activities.
Students learn best when they are excited and interested, and our teachers plan units and lessons to connect math with science as students read and write in both English and Arabic. We are passionate to guide each student as they develop a love of reading and learning! We are committed to the fact that the more students read the better they read, and the more students write the better they write.,
Initially, the school opened with two classes in each grade, with an average class size of 22 to 24 students and a maximum of 24. Teachers were recruited from the United States and are all subject qualified.
VIS aims to be a special addition to the Dubai Silicon Oasis community. The school's promise is to keep its students safe and strive for excellence in the teaching and learning environment.
The school's team assures parents that "We will ensure every decision we make is student-centered and aligns with our vision and mission. Excellence is at the forefront of everything we do at VIS. We are looking forward to our inaugural group of students, teachers, and staff who will help to make VIS a premium choice for a 21st Century Education."
What about the curriculum?
VIS has adopted an American Curriculum which is based on the California Common Core States Standards (CCSS), as well as international standards P21 and global awareness, which are designed to meet the needs of diverse learners and increase college and career readiness. The school offers a tri-lingual programme which includes English, French and Arabic. Other core subjects will include Math, Science and Social Studies, with a specific focus on Arts and Sciences.
The curriculum is infused with Project Based Learning, and enriched with dimensions that enable children to develop strong character traits. This model underpins everything the school does from a curriculum, assessment and teaching and learning perspective.
The schools recognises that children need a variety of skills and dispositions to succeed in future employment, higher education, and to be positive, active members of society.
Their core pillars are:
• Learning Skills
• Life Skills
• Literacy Skills
The VIS passport enables teacher to recognise accomplishments. Teachers and children use this passport to track achievements towards the VIS core pillars. Children are given opportunities to demonstrate these required skills, which are central to the learning environment at VIS.
If a teacher or member of staff observes one of the core pillars, and “I can” statements in action, they can sign against this skill, and mention the evidence. VIS children are expected to carry their passport with them at all times. Passport stamps are awarded through demonstration of the VIS pillars in action. The different ways in which children can show their contributions towards the school are thus appreciated and children are encouraged to demonstrate these core pillars across a wide range of activities. Children can get awarded for their achievements in every part of the school including:
• In the classroom
• In the playground at break-times
• Through teacher observation of home learning
• School assemblies
• Sports events
• Cultural events
The school is focused on Project-Based Learning (PBL) aligned to the Common Core Curriculum which is specifically designed to engage and stimulate young minds, enabling students to think like entrepreneurs and develop into future leaders.
VIS explains the advantages that students will have over other PreK to 5th Grade through this approach:
"We offer a variety of activities which are infused and embedded into a student's everyday learning across all content area subjects. Areas such as drama, media, photography, karate, equestrian, sport teams, art, hydroponics, cooking, and debate, are directly aligned to the US Common Core Curriculum (California). Our students will be taught to master essential skills and critically think. We aim to develop future leaders and owners, not only workers. They will excel over other students as they move throughout their education at VIS. We have highly skilled teachers who will not teach lessons solely from a book and have students simply memorize the content for a test or mark. While we will have some materials and books to guide instruction, Project Based Learning is the learning approach that will be used."
The Project Based Learning methodology helps students develop skills for living in a knowledge-based, highly technological society. With this combination of skills, students become directors and managers of their learning process, guided and mentored by a skilled teacher.
There will be no Homework at VIS.
What about the facilities?
The new, purpose built building features a range of classrooms and laboratories which will support studies in IT, Technology, Astronomy, Science, Hydroponics, Art, Music and Dance, and Media and Drama .
The school has recently opened iHub – its centre for innovation.
The Innovation Hub has an open free-flowing space to allow students of all ages to imagine, design, create and innovate by bringing together Virtual Reality, Coding, Robotics, 3D Printing, IT, a Makerspace, and a library zone for physical and digital reading.
All the experiences within iHub have been designed to give the Vernus students the authentic learning experience that develop important life skills for the future.
Within iHub, Robotics enable students to develop their problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creative skills, preparing them for a future driven by artificial intelligence, whereas 3D printing allows students to design and create 3D objects and to see their designs come to life. The process integrates technology, engineering, math, art, and other subjects.
Virtual Reality transforms the way educational content is delivered. It enables the students to experience new perspectives, allowing them to foster empathy and cultural competency because these experiences take them outside of their typical daily interactions.
The Makerspace provides a hands-on, creative space where children can design, experiment, build and invent as they engage in science, engineering, and other cross curricular subjects. By spending time in the Makerspace, students can open their creative minds to many possibilities. They are challenged to think beyond where traditional science and design would take them.
From Minecraft to coding, the computer zone facilitates extra-ordinary opportunities for the students to become more involved and interested in technological pathways. The library is an open space which encourages the students to develop a life-long love of literacy, through access to both physical and digital literacy. It also offers an area for the students to collaborate, present, and perform.
Sports facilities will include provision for Football, Tennis and Handball, and will include a Swimming pool, Gymnasium, Kids City, Indoor and Outdoor play areas.
Having launched at the height of the global pandemic, VIS did well to attract the initial cohort of 170 students, and its growth by two-thirds in its second year to 270 students is a clear indication that its reputation has clearly spread in a positive way.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent and Teacher surveys have not yet received any direct feedback from the school community. If you are a parent or teacher at Vernus International School, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of the VIS community by completing our Survey here.
The school has shared an internal survey which was sent to parents in 2021 and to which it received responses from a significant 40% of parents. 80% of respondents rated the school between 3/5 and 5/5 (a 60-100% approval rating) with regard to their satisfaction as far as their child's academic progress is concerned, whilst 75% of parents provided the same rating for the quality of teaching and learning. Communication from the leadership and teaching staff was also a strength, and overall the school was felt to moving in the right direction. 89% of parents rated the school between 3/5 and 5/5 in terms of it providing value for money.
What about the fees?
Fees are mid-range starting at AED 34,000 for pre-KG, KG1 and KG2, AED 37,000 from Grade 1 to Grade 3, and AED 39,500 for Grades 4 and 5. There is an Application fee of AED 525, a further fee of AED 1,000 for assessment, and a registration fee which is 10% of the tuition fees on offer of a place and which is deducted from the first terms fees. Fees include Books, Uniform, E-learning, Stationery and Medical costs.
School hours will be from 7.30am to 2.50pm daily.
The school has several partnerships, including a Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority discount, an Emirates discount, and a partnership with ESSAD.
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