Smart Vision School, Al Barsha. The Review 2020-21.
Smart Vision School Dubai – October 2020 Update – Exclusive English National Curriculum school review, SchoolsCompared.com Visit, guaranteed cap on class sizes, new facilities, photography, Junior Dukes Awards arrive in the UAE – and SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2020-21
“I came to Smart Vision School because of the huge potential here to build an absolutely extraordinary school.
Smart Vision School is, at heart, a deeply community-rooted, hugely inclusive and family orientated school in the best tradition of British community schools.
The size of the school creates intimacy and a genuine focus on individualised learning and the individual child. This is a school so different to the large schools prevalent in Dubai in which children become simply a number.
There is very significant investment here in British teachers, school leadership and children – and the owners have a mission to achieve at Smart Vision School a unique, pioneering and world class British community school rooted in inclusion and the fabulous context of our Emirati setting and culture.”
Rachael Wilding. Acting Principal and Head of Primary. Smart Vision School.
Smart Vision School Background
Smart Vision School is currently a primary-only British community school, in phased launch to eventually offer full all-through English national Curriculum provision to Year 13. The school is committed to some of the smallest class sizes in Dubai with a maximum capped class size of only 20 children.
Located in the heart of Al Barsha 2. Smart Vision School stands out amongst a plethora of new schools in being one that actually exists in complete form, today educating around 250 children to Year 6. Prospective parents can actually visit the school – and not have to depend on off- plan drawings, or promises, in making decisions for the future of their child(ren)’s education. The school is being completed in phases.
The school is small with a Primary capacity of around 500 children.
Whilst the school opened under its original owners in September 2016, to all intents and purposes this is a brand new school, under new expert British school leadership in the shape of Rachael Wilding (appointed in September 2020), new school owners (Atticus Education) and has been subject to very significant new investment and British teaching faculty in 2018-20.
The English National Curriculum school is currently open to applications for places between FS1 to Year 6.
School Design, facilities and Investment
The school building is not a “box”, far from it. There is design and thought at play. Set over two floors, the curved glass main entry has presence and not a little “sparkle” and we really like the curved outdoor amphitheatre, used for teaching and theatre, at the rear of the building. Add a beautiful hybrid shaded 20M x 8M pool, dedicated shaded learner pool and fabulous outdoor sports facilities and courts and the picture begins to develop of a very well resourced, well thought out school. Sports pitches run on a good sized plot running to some 4.5 acres.
In 2019-20, investment is evident in the two (fabulous) new, full-size, floodlit football pitches. Further facilities include an indoor multipurpose hall for sport and drama, dedicated Key Stage 1 and FS playgrounds and FS, sustainable gardens and dedicated enclosed equipped outdoor learning areas for each classroom and a large shared vegetable and flower garden which children maintain.
An additional FS library and Performing Arts area (with green screens) are in development. External catering is provided by “Yum in the Box” who supply healthy hot and cold meals for those parents who prefer it.
In fact, many other touches ratchet up facility provision including a fresh air circulating air conditioning system and a host of ecologically sound technologies – but, as importantly, we were touched that each child is given their own plant, and garden plot to nurture it, on joining the school. This says a lot about the school – bells and whistles are not the making of a child’s development or education.
In 2020, we have also seen the addition of an outstanding FS dedicated library with over 20000 books, and FS Performing Arts Zone with green screens (this also enjoyed by KS1) and a new dedicated Arabic & Islamic Cultural centre.
Investment is ongoing and of a very high standard.
Internal ECAs (on Mondays and Wednesdays) include STEAM, Cooking, STEM, Arts, Language Groups, football, swimming, basketball, well being and Yoga.
External ECA providers include Urban Swim and Elite Sports (football). External providers change each term to cover a broad spectrum of sports.
Smart Vision School Leadership and Inclusion
In something of a coup for Smart Vision School, Acting Principal Rachael Wilding was recruited in January 2019 from the KHDA Very Good with Outstanding Features rated Jebel Ali Primary School/Jebel Ali School where she taught for more than 18 years, latterly as the School’s Head of Curriculum. Mrs Wilding is rated exceptionally highly in independent feedback to ourselves and our sister site, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. Mrs Wilding also takes direct responsibility for teaching and learning, assessment and curriculum development across the school.
During 2020 Mrs Wilding has been instrumental in the launch of the Junior Duke Awards, an awards for younger children between Year 1 (age 5 years) and Year 6 modelled on the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, across the UAE. The Awards, adopted across UK schools (including by Gordonstoun which provided the inspiration for the Duke of Edinburgh) have now been taken up by more than 20 schools across the Emirates. In recognition of her role in personally creating four of the international Awards, Mrs Wilding has now been recognised by the founder of the Duke Awards as an International Ambassador.
The complete Junior Duke International Awards’ programme is now available at Smart Vision School.
Schools and children have until the 6th of October to sign up for the awards for 2020-21
The school is impressively, unambiguously, fully inclusive and considerable investment has been made in Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision.
An Inclusion Manager works with learning mentors, as well as with Learning Support staff to support children with additional Learning needs – including mild Autism and ADHD. The school incorporates a Sensory room and Therapies Room. From September 2019 re-structured SEND provision will see significant investment including SENCO leader and 4 additional specialist staff with individual capabilities and expertise in languages, psychology/counselling and therapeutic.
Smart Vision School – Stand-out Features on our SchoolsCompared.com Visit 2020
As of 2020, key features of the school which stand-out for us are:
(1) As above, extremely small class sizes
(2) British community school feel and dynamics with a sense of warmth and “home” underpinned by a recognition and celebration of Emirati context
(3) High standard of core facilities including a (lovely) swimming pool (and Splash Pool), imaginative, high quality and engaging school library with more than 5000 books and plethora of play spaces for children.
(4) Outstanding new resourcing of highly qualified, predominantly British faculty (see (7) below.)
(5) EAL inclusion
(6) Significant AED2M investment in 2017-18. AED1M invested in upgraded facilities and equipment and teacher training.
(7) Very high investment in mother-tongue language development and retention.
(8) Newly upgraded Arabic department with 6 faculty (increased from 2 faculty in 2017). Bi-lingual teaching is meshed cross-curricular across subjects. Significant investment has been made in guided reading and writing.
(9) Major investment in events that engage with issues and the community. Examples include Jeans for Genes Day; Blue Day for Autism Day; Earth Day; and Pink Day for Breast cancer awareness.
(10) Planned extended purposeful technology investment in 2020 in iPad deployment and Apple cross-curriculum integration. Phase 1 of a 4 phase integration has been completed. iPads will be rolled out in 2020. Spheros, LEGO Robotics, drones and coding will be phased in from FS. The vision moving forward is to “[B]ecome the beacon school in the Gulf for the power of transformational technologies to support accessibility for students of determination and personalised learning.”
We are very impressed with school transparency. The school states on its web site that: “we intend, and ensure, that the content accurately reflects our philosophy, ethos, culture and achievement.” What shines through with information published to date, and through discussions with our team at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, are two words– kindness and inclusivity.
Setting out guarantees beyond marketing speak is extremely important for prospective parents, not only in understanding a school, but as importantly, later holding it to account. Commitments form one key basis for measuring any school’s success.
Modeled on the British private school system, there are four school houses linked to core school values, each based on an Emirati ‘twist’:
- Zahra Lari (Lari House)- the Emirati figure skater. Ms Lari was chosen to represent international links (her Mother is American, her Father Emirati) and courage. She refused to participate in competition without her hijab, becoming the first figure skater to do so in the world, and this was picked up and celebrated by Nike. The value of courage and building international bridges is at the core of school life.
- Hamda Al Hosani (Hosani House) – the 200M gold medal winning Emirati Special Olympian. She overcame huge struggles and was chosen by the school and its children to represent inclusion and perseverance.
- Ahmad Abdullah Majan (Majan House) – the Emirati inventor. Gold medal winning, his inventions include the Smart Sport Helmet’, ‘Smart Saddle’ and Solar Powered Bicycle Tracking and Animal Tracking Systems. he stands for innovation.
- Omran Sharaf (Sharaf House) is the Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission. Trained in the United States and Korea, Mr Sharaf leads the Mars Mission and, as a figure head for the House, represents courage, leadership and exploration.
KHDA and future development
Smart Vision School secured an Acceptable with Good features rating from the KHDA at its first inspection. Given that the school under new owners effectively re-booted in September 2017, and the inspection took place in January 2018 in the context of a single set of baseline data, this is an extremely creditable and unusual rating. We believe that there are very strong grounds to expect a good rating (or higher) at the time of the school’s first KHDA inspection under its new ownership and school leadership in 2021.
The next stage of capital investment (2020-21) will see completion of four form entry, 8 new classrooms, a new large multipurpose hall with theatre sound, light, seating and staging and enclosure of the swimming pool.
Whilst what we can currently advise re future plans is limited we can confirm the following:
- Rachael Wilding brings with her significant expertise in curriculum design from one of the UAE’s Tier 1 schools and is expertly placed to lead the school as it evolves.
- The plan is for a British curriculum driven through the lens of a bespoke trans-disciplinary curriculum map aligned with core strengths drawn from the spectrum of international curricular for cross curricular learning and project work. Projects are all rooted in either ethical values (for example the UN Charter on Children’s Rights) or Eco/technology.
Fee Structure and ROI for Parents
With fees starting at 29,900 AED, and swiftly ratcheting up to 69,900 AED in Grade 13 (when it launches), fees are mid tier. This is an extremely competitive space in which to open a new school, but the value proposition here we rate as good.
School discounts run to some 15% for founding families and, from September 2019, Smart Vision School will award a 30% reduction in fees to academically gifted students who achieve highly in CAT 4 assessments.
Bottom Line? Smart Vision School SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2020-21
In 2020 this is a very different school to that which opened in 2017.
One very simple test of a school is the investment in teaching and leadership faculty – by far the most expensive element of delivering any school. There are no corners being cut here – and investment in British faculty, training and salaries is significant and hugely creditable.
Class sizes are securely capped at a maximum of 20 students. This is an expensive, premium guarantee to deliver, but arguably perfectly balances the needs of children to both learn from their peers and secure personal, individually focused learning.
This has been matched with very significant financial investment in equipment and facilities in 2018-20.
There is also evident ambition here for future development and ongoing investment, stretching from a new multi-purpose Arts and Sport centre to landmark investment in IT, technology and technical education.
If we treat Smart Vision School as a new school, which to all intents and purposes it is, this is, by any standards, a hugely impressive one. Treated as a Primary school there is everything in place for this school to achieve a Very Good rating from the KHDA – and quickly.
Bottom line? The combination of impressive teaching faculty and outstanding school leadership, huge school warmth, significant school investment – and above all potential, gives Smart Vision School the makings of an extraordinarily good school. Time will tell.
©SchoolsCompared.com 2020. All rights reserved.
[Prospective parents should note that we have provided very limited projected scoring only for this school given its phased launching of provision. All scoring is relative to fee structure.]
Acceptable with Good and Very Good Features (new school first inspection)
Private, for profit
YEAR 1: 40,900
YEAR 2: 40,900
YEAR 3: 45,900
YEAR 4: 45,900
YEAR 5: 50,900
YEAR 6: 53,900
YEAR 7: TBC
YEAR 8: TBC
YEAR 9: TBC
YEAR 10: TBC
YEAR 11: TBC
YEAR 12: TBC
YEAR 13: TBC
National Curriculum for England
Fully, unambiguously, inclusive
School in launch
May 2019: 250 students
Academic Year 2019-20: 350 students (projected)
Capacity: 500 primary phase
Maximum class size: 20
Teaching support FS-Year 2: 1
(1) Staff have been recruited from within the UAE
(2) All teachers have UK National Curriculum experience and strong English-language skills
(3) All teachers must have a minimum of 2 years teaching experience and be degree educated
School in launch
September 2018 under new school owners and school leadership
Al Barsha 2
(1) 44 nationalities
(2) 42% British/European/other
(3) 58% Arab speaking
(4) 15% Emirati
(5) 16% SEND
Atticus Education, Al Mutaiwei Group
Ayesha Al Mutaiwei: Managing Director and Owner
Obaid Ghanim Abdulrahman Al Mutaiwei: Chairman
Dr. Raj Gill: Chief Operating Officer
(School originally established by Vision International Investments and sold to Atticus Education in March 2017)
+971 (0)4 288 0965
+971 050 168 4268
• School essentially complete – parents do not have to make decisions off-plan
• Experienced, impressive and specialist school leadership. Mrs Rachael Wilding brings Tier 1 experience to her role. Her introduction of the Junior Duke Awards to Smart Vision School, follows her being recognised as an International Ambassador by the founder. Warm, compassionate and inspiring, we rate Mrs Wilding very highly.
• Outstanding commitment to inclusivity and Special Educational Needs(SEN) provision
• Outstanding founding whole-child, caring ethics
• Very good level of facility provision
• Significant investment in high calibre teaching faculty
• High level of investment from new owners committed to the welfare of children
• British community school feel and dynamics
• Commitment to small class sizes
• Small, intimate school by UAE standards
• Exceptional school warmth and child happiness
• More detail needed on the planned shape of the school in future years