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South View School, Remraam Community, Dubailand – The Review 2021. UPDATED.
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South View School – Updated April 2021 – Exclusive SchoolsCompared.com visits update, confirmation of GCSE, A level, BTEC and South View Bac & SchoolsCompared.com Verdict 2021-22.

“We are not profit driven. Our main drivers [instead] are our teachers and our students….

At the end of the day, a good school is shaped by the quality of its teachers. Not the buildings, swimming pools or playgrounds….

Eventually a school will be known by [what really matters] – the quality of the faculty, the teaching staff, that it has provided for its children.”

Dinesh C. Kothari. Chairman. Interstar Education. [Source: Khaleej Times, May 2017].

 

“Our vision at Interstar is to develop a small portfolio of outstanding, high quality schools at affordable fee points.

Recruitment of highly qualified staff, provision of excellent facilities and engaging with our stakeholders – including our parents, are the core of that philosophy. South View School aims to deliver on that vision.”

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Amit Kothari, Director, Interstar Education.

 

“Our vision at South View is to enable our students to become responsible citizens, confident individuals and successful learners, who will have their eyes on the stars …..with their feet on the ground.

Education needs to be interesting and children need to be eager, engaged and purposeful at school.

They should come in skipping and be sad to leave – not sad to come and skipping to leave.

At some point, every child, each and every year needs the light to shine on them. Every child should have the chance to have the spotlight fall on them, have their moment. At South View we are building a school of opportunities for every child to shine.

Yes, there can only be one Head Boy or Girl – but we endeavour to create as many opportunities as there are children. Everybody should get their day.

When we all look back on our school days, it is this that is the stuff of which memories are made. This philosophy of shining a light and creating sparkle for every single child is at the absolute core of what makes South View School stand out in a UAE filled to bursting with giant corporate schools in which it is far too easy for children to be lost in a very large crowd. We are absolutely child-first here – and that matters.

David Flint. Principal. South View School Dubai

 

Background and location

Flowers and Happiness a Focus of South View School Dubai

South View School is a British curriculum FS1 – Year 13 all-through on a circa 4.2 acre site in the Remraam community in Dubailand.

South View School was the first British all-through to open in the Remraam Community, and since opening has established itself swiftly as the British all-through educational hub for the landmark project, as well as providing a draw for parents at the Southern edges of Dubai Sports City, Arabian Ranches and Motor City. To date, the school attracts families from as far away as Mirdif – and a number of families have specifically re-located to the Remraam community to attend the school.

South View School is situated between Jebel Ali Free Zone and Al Maktoum International Airport, map below:

Map showing the location of the new South View School in Dubailand which will offer an all-through British curriculum to students when it pens across all phases following its launch in September 2018

The school, which launched in September 2018 and opened initially to Year 7, has been phasing its opening to full all-through provision incrementally (this pretty much standard practice with outstanding schools looking to bed-in provision carefully), with complete school opening expected by 2023. As of April 2021, the school is open to Year 9, with Year 10 opening in September 2021.

School capacity is set at a maximum of 1800 children on full opening, a relatively small school by Dubai new school standards. Class size is capped at 24 children. Full BSO accreditation will be sought following the introduction and establishment of IGCSE.

 

The South View Mission. An outstanding Education at an Affordable Price Point for Families.  

“This is the time of Big Questions in education.

Is this the time to re-invent ourselves?

Is what we are doing the right way to do things?

I do not mean the basics of digitising learning. I mean bigger issues, including re-looking at the way that we assess children and students.

The majority of examinations today are taken by children with pens in halls – just like they were in the 1920s.

Is that still appropriate?

Is this the right way of still doing things?

It might be.

But I also know that this may well be a very good time to re-evaluate the way things are done in education so that our students are better prepared for the very different world that will face them tomorrow.”

David Flint, Principal. South View School Dubai. 

South View School sets itself apart in its clear ambition to deliver outstanding, premium British community schooling – but with affordable fees. For many years this challenge was seen as an absolute contradiction in terms.

Why? Delivering an outstanding education, affordably, is the holy grail on both school and parent wish lists.

  • Many schools choose to avoid the problem by using high fees as part of their brand strategy (if it is expensive it must be good).
  • Others avoid the problem by simply not promising to deliver outstanding schooling at all (what can you expect at this price?).

The difficulty, of course, is that the majority of families are priced out of schools building their brands with high fees (and not all justify those fees it should be noted), whilst no parent wants to accept second (or third, fourth….) best for their children.

  • With high fees, and a large school role, it is of course easy to build, at least on paper, the perfect school. Money no object, you just source the best. In this, it is no different to everything in life.
  • Equally, it is theoretically easy to throw all requirements of outstanding schooling out of the window and just open a school with swish branding but source everything, buildings, teachers, expectations (you name it…)  on the cheap. Fortunately, in the UAE, the school regulators come down very hard on schools that are set up to do this – they do not last long.

In balancing this equation, the biggest challenge for schools are two-fold. The largest single cost of running a school are teacher salaries (it can take up to 90% of school income). The biggest single restriction on schools being able to push the ROI on the fees they do charge is profit.

Something, somewhere, has to give. 

South View School was set up from Day One to resolve this tension – one which became pressing in the financial climate facing parents in 2018. The Covid-19 has not lessened the pressures on parents and, at the least, the opening of South View School has proved timely. The need for outstanding affordable schools has never been stronger.

So has South View achieved on its mission – and how has it sought to do this?

In summary our view is overwhelmingly, yes, and inspirationally (more on that below) – but with some caveats that we are still dealing with a relatively new school not yet open to all-through provision.

The key point to understand up front is the compromise. To deliver this, there has to be give somewhere – and parents need to understand where.

This comes in two places.

First. location – the school has not been built in down-town Dubai or Jumeirah. Opening new schools here would mean parents facing up to double the costs simply to cover the costs of land. The owners of South View School calculated that parents would rather investment was placed in schools and teachers (ie their children) rather than in property costs and location (which deliver nothing for children at all). This is not to say that the location is off pitch. In fact, the location chosen for the school was highly strategic – the Remraam community enjoys excellent commuting links from across Dubai and is one of the identified top four community development areas in the emirate for families.

Second, whilst the school was not established formally as one of the UAE’s ‘Ivy League’ not-for-profits, the owners ambitions are long-term, with a creditable and clear aim to ‘give back’ to the UAE and be net contributors. Rare in the UAE, the focus is on delivering for children first (no ifs, no buts) – and establishing outstanding schooling quickly. These are not just words, the owners have done exactly this with Victory Heights Primary School, a much loved, hugely respected school that we rate as outstanding and whose Principal achieved the Top Schools Award for “Best Principal in the UAE.”

In practice, this means that the fundamental question parents considering South View School will need to consider is location. If you can make the location work, this is a school that will deliver for children.

 

Detail:  What we look for in Rating a School for Parents

Photograph of children playing in the outdoor jungle gym at the British curriculum South View School in Dubai

There are five key areas that we look at reviewing a school for parents. There are many others, but this is our core focus:

  • Quality of school leadership and teaching faculty. Bottom line – how well is the school led – and how good are the teachers?
  • The quality of curriculum.  Will subject and qualification pathways meet the needs, potential and ambitions of every child at the school – and will it inspire them? Does the school deliver a whole child curriculum focused on the bigger picture beyond qualifications (a key test of outstanding schools)
  • Facilities. Does the school have everything in place to deliver what it promises – and, ideally, more.
  • Care of children and families. Is the school an inspiring and happy one for students (these are not soft nice-to-haves – without both in place, children will not met their potential) – and does the school engage with parents, and ensure that it is responsive to their needs.
  • Do students graduate with the results they need to follow their ambitions (whatever they may be).

In the following we look to each of these in turn.

 

School Leadership and Teaching Faculty.

Photograoh of David Flint, Principal and Chief Executive Officer, South View School in Dubai taken in April 2021

David Flint. Principal and Chief Executive Officer. South View School Dubai.

Educated at Rougemont, Mr Flint went on to develop his first career with the Royal Airforce. Specialising in Airforce Administration, Mr Flint took up posts across the UK, Europe and Hong Kong over a seven year period between 1984 and 1991.

On leaving the Royal Air Force, Mr Flint went on to study Geography at Staffordshire, setting the scenes for a second professional career in transport development, policy and planning. An extended 4 year position with Ho Wang SPB and MVA Asia on Special Projects, saw Mr Flint complete his Masters in Transport Planning and Policy from the University of Hong Kong.

However, it was education and its unique capacity to make a difference in the world, that finally struck home as a vocation whilst studying at Hong Kong University, and in 2000 Mr Flint secured his formal teaching qualifications with specialisms in Secondary Geography, EAL and SEN. Mr Flint also found time to acquire an MSc in Education.

For eight years, Mr Flint ‘cut his cloth’ in teaching at one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most prestigious schools: The King George V School in Ho Man Tin. At the school, Mr Flint developed his appreciation of the strengths of both British education and the International Baccalaureate, his respect for both still palpable in our interview with him today (April 2021). Since then Mr Flint has garnered experience as Director and Principal of schools worldwide, including working for Nord Anglia Education in Prague, leading Taylor’s International School in Malaysia, GEMS Education, and as Headmaster of Secondary School of Repton School Dubai.

Taking the position of Principal of South View School Dubai, Mr Flint told us, “was unmissable.”  Mr Flint continued: “The extraordinary ambition for children at South View School since its establishment in 2018 was more than catnip to an educator. This is a school in which the commitment to children is serious, genuine, deep-seated and powerful. South View School is more than an outstanding school in the making. I say that as a Principal and educator drawing on experience of working in schools worldwide that are considered to be some of the best in their class and jurisdictions.”

Mr Flints ambition for Southview School he told us was simple:

“To develop a happy, inclusive school where children are curious, academically able and have the highest integrity and strength of character.”

Feedback from parents, students and colleagues is positive and records a deeply committed educationalist with a foundational interest in transforming the lives of children through learning. He is described variously as “serious,” “compassionate,”, strategic,” “intellectual” and “hands-on,” with warmth and drive both the singular qualities we have also identified during our interviews with him.

Photograph of Jonathan Pennock, Head of Secondary, South View School Dubai

Jonathan Pennock. BSc PGCE NPQSL. Head of Secondary School. South View School Dubai. 

Mr Flint will be supported by Jonathan Pennock, who takes on the role of Head of Secondary School at South View School from September 2021. Mr Pennock secured the role against a backdrop of “fifteen of the region’s most exceptionally gifted educators who made the final shortlist,” Mr Flint told us.

Originally from the UK, Mr Pennock is a graduate of Loughborough University where he read Mathematics, before completing his teacher training at the University of Nottingham. He joins South View School directly from his current position as Deputy Head for Secondary of the KHDA rated outstanding Dubai British School – Emirates Hills, a school in which Mr Pennock has invested more than 13 years of service. Mr Pennock’s brings to South View School Sixth Form outstanding experience of British A Level, vocational BTEC Programmes, or as appropriate, delivering a blended mix of both. His students have gained places at some of the world’s leading universities including Oxbridge and John Hopkins, studying a host of courses from Medicine to Law. Mr Pennock holds the UK’s National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL) and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership with the University of Bath.

Mr Flint told SchoolsCompared:

“September 2021 is an exciting time for South View School, one that sees the launch of Year 10 and the IGCSE curriculum.

Mr Pennock’s experience in the leadership and development of the IGCSE and beyond will be a key contributor to the overall success of the Secondary School. A keen sportsman too, Jonathan will help us build on the strengths of South View School in Sport, leveraging his experience of competing at club level in football, tennis, cricket, and volleyball.”

 

Curriculum and Pathways to Meet the Needs, Potential and Ambition of Every Child.

“This is an important and exciting time for South View School. We are preparing for September 2021 when the fledgling Secondary School opens its Year 10 IGCSE offering. We are onboarding highly experienced teachers of IGCSE – and additional high calibre, hugely experienced school leadership.

Jonathan Pennock is joining us from Dubai British School to lead the South View secondary school. We are planning for a school that is academically and vocationally powerful.

Our core focus is

  • The Performing Arts, Music, and Drama. We are steadfast in our commitment to the Arts across the South View Primary and Secondary schools. We are focused on engagement – so that as many children from across the school are given the broadest whole child education in the Arts.
  • Business and entrepreneurship. With the launch of IGCSE we have opportunities, not only to introduce formal academic Business and Economics courses, but also to develop pathways  and learning in areas such as Entrepreneurship, Young Enterprise and Business. This focus is building as we approach August 2022.
  • Design and Technology. We are strengthening still further the Design and Technology focus of our school – and adopting a much more developed, upgraded hybrid model to inspire and educated our students. One of our first projects will be to, very robustly, compete with the very best UAE schools within the “F1 in Schools” competition. This will be just one of our many STEAM projects at South View. Watch this space.
  • Sport. Sport too is very much part of our vision for student achievement at South View. Sport is already very established here with our high standard of facilities including established playing fields, our swimming pools, and two Sports Halls. Our Dance Studio comes on stream in Summer 2021. We have some very experienced and qualified Sport faculty who have not only taught but led the subject in the UK – in one case at Senior Leadership level.

These are our four core pillars, these represented by the four feet of the Oryx – the core iconography of our school and its values.

But we have a fifth pillar too. This is our whole child focus on awareness and skills around, not only self – but also of others. Of being aware of where we are in the Middle East, and the UAE, and drawing on the traditions, culture and achievements of the people, country and region to create an identity for South View. How do we do this? Predominantly through the Social Studies curriculum, PSGSE, and the Arabic Subjects curriculum. We are not looking at paying lip service to this bigger picture. This is not about tick box add-ons as it is, sadly, at some schools. At South view this bigger picture, whole child focus is a  living, breathing organic part of the school and one which powerfully contributes to the overall experience of all children at our school.”

David Flint. Principal. South View School Dubai. 

 

IGCSE Subjects offered from September 2021 

  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • Business Studies,
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • English as a Second Language
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Science (Double Award)
  • Spanish

 

Planning phases – IGCSE Additional Subjects from September 2022 

  • Arabic (1st and 2nd language)
  • Design and Technology
  • Islamic Studies
  • Music
  • Politics
  • Psychology

Evaluation is also being completed on offering IGCSE study in Mandarin. 

 

South View Sixth Form

The provisional shape of post-16 British Sixth Form provision at South View will build on the strengths and subject breadth offered at IGCSE. A parent, student and teacher Working Group will define the final shape of provision, but as a baseline the school is exploring A Level, BTEC and combined BTEC/A Level pathways, both supported by a whole child BAC pathway modelled on the best of the IB and British EBac:

Option 1: The Al Matrooshi A Level Pathway

  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • Business Studies,
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Design and Technology
  • Economics
  • English as a Second Language
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Science (Double Award)
  • Spanish

 

Option 2: The Al Marashi BTEC Pathway

  • BTEC Business
  • BTEC Art and Design
  • BTEC Sport

 

Shared Pathway: The South View Bac Programme

“What I have always liked about the International Baccalaureate is the way that it broadens each child’s outlook and cultural understanding. The IB, at its best, provides students with an answer to the following question increasingly being asked by University Admissions: “So… you have the qualifications…  but what else can you offer us?” This is why we are developing the South View Bac. Our programme will engage children in services, self improvement, pastoral care,  academic research, IT – and a plethora of related topics. These will strengthen the impact of our students as they approach top universities and employers in the years to come.”

David Flint. Principal. South View School Dubai. 

The planned aim is for all students at South View School Dubai to complete a broader whole child education comprising non-examined modules in:

  • Academic research and writing;
  • Community engagement and “giving back”; 
  • Health and Mindset; and,
  • Competition and Challenge

 

Key features

Children animated playing Sports at South View School in Dubai

South View School has very strong British school roots – the sense is very much of a British community school. A key aim is to differentiate itself from giant corporate schools in which children become just a number. The sense that children are attending an aspirational, but grounded, family orientated, British community school is the aim rather than one in which children are moving into school metropolis more closely resembling a small city.

Parents come from as far as Mirdif, with up to an hour long commute. Around a third of children come from the Remraam community.

A Number of families have moved to South View from GEMS Metropole, GEMS Founders, Jebel Ali and Choueifat. South View is the secondary feeder school too for its outstanding sister school, Victory Heights Primary School.

Young student on a slide at South View School in Dubai. The school has invested heavily in outdoor play equipment for children to develop motoring skills and balance formal classroom based teaching of the EYFS curriculum.

Major events held at the school, including, for example, the BSME Games, have firmly established its reputation in the UAE as both an outward community school and one investing in an extra-curricular, wide-ranging education for students.  South View School has also hosted the “Big Sing”, this involving 12 schools from across the UAE. Its school visits programme this has included opera performances for children. Both Sport and the broader Arts provide a very strong focus for the school moving forward under Mr Flint – more on this below.

As above, South View School has been opened by Interstar Education, best known within the British sector for their highly rated Victory Heights Primary School.

Interstar is also known for its KHDA rated Very Good (with Outstanding Features) Delhi Private School and the Wonder Years Nursery in Dubai Sports City.

For parents, this should provide a degree of confidence that the school has been set up by experienced founders with a proven track record of delivering very well thought of and successful schools. We rate Victory Heights Primary School, the slipstream feeder to South View School, as one of the highest performing dedicated primary schools in the region.

Total investment in the school on first launch amounted to a not insignificant AED55M (US$ 15M) – facilities and infrastructure at South View School are significant – and investment is ongoing.

 

What makes South View School different?

South View School differentiates itself by providing

  • Firstly, a premium school offer (in terms of facilities and the calibre of teaching staff) at low fee levels for the quality of provision;
  • Secondly, specialist language provision to ensure that all native second language speakers also receive teaching in their mother tongue (the aim being to ensure children are bi/tri lingual with English as far as possible),
  • Thirdly, a specialist sports focus on tennis; and,
  • Fourthly, a focus on individual children and small school British community driven dynamics
  • Finally, a powerful commitment to extensive subject breadth and choice at both GCSE and A level as the school works to all-through British National Curriculum provision for students.

More on each of these below…..

 

Design and architecture

Image showing South View School's key role as the British all-through educational hub for the Remraam Community in Dubai

South View School was designed by r+d studio headed by Shikha Doogar and Shridhar Rao, and built by ENBT Reit. On our first visit to South View School in October 2018 we noted considerable attention to detail with inset Arabic-styled coloured glass light panels and multi-height buildings. Whilst later years and Sixth Form provision is still in development, the thought we have seen invested in Early Years and Primary learning evidence a clear commitment to avoid the blocky, low-cost architectural design of schools more common in this fee segment.

The intention is clearly to provide an inspirational space for children – and one that re-enforces and works with the cultural feel of the broader Remraam community.

Photograph of the side vista of South View School in Dubai showcasing the attention to detail in landscaping

On our first inspection we also found much to substantiate the claims of Interstar that, despite its fees,  the group will be delivering to Dubai parents, on all-through launch, a school situated squarely within the ambitions of the premium schools sector.

Interestingly, the school’s design team and architects are said to have worked historically with Frank Gehry, the extraordinary architect behind the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and its planned namesake Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Rendered image showing attention to architectural detail in the plans for the new South View School in Dubai with Arabic styled coloured glass panels

Our general view, following multiple visits to the school since 2019, is of a hugely inspiring school that is still developing, innovating and working through development of its overall identity. As with many new schools opening carefully in phased launch, the overall feel of a British curriculum school is inevitably delayed until the launch of Sixth Form and broader later provision of both technical BTEC and academic A Level pathways. It should be remembered that South View School, as of May 2021, has been open only for just under three years. Progress has been remarkable. Opening with 147 children, today the South View School role numbers some 700 children to Year 10.

To date, since opening, South View School Dubai has:

  • Opened its Secondary school provision to Year 10, expanding the school role to some 700 plus children.
  • Doubled teaching faculty numbers from 25 (plus teaching assistants) to 50 teachers
  • Strengthened further its MFL Department (with stand-out provision in French and Spanish running parallel with core English and Arabic programmes)
  • Extended Community outreach in the Remraam community. Today  swimming and tennis courts have become a hub of community life. South View School also offers night school courses, for example in jewellery-making and pottery, strengthening the ways the school currently brings families together.
  • As an inclusive school, EAL and SEN support has been strengthened still further with the creation of a dedicated SEN Department.
  • The sporting underpinnings of the school have seen significant investment with inter-sport competition and the recruitment of a Director of Sport.
  • Arts provision has been developed with a series of events and activities focused around use of the school’s amphitheatre.
  • Dedicated Art, Design and Technology departments opened in September 2019, with a focus on IGCSE Art and Design and planning for Sixth Form options, this reflective of the commitment to the broader Creative Arts.
  • Opened a new STEM facility in Primary phase

Our visits have confirmed our initial view that the scale and quality of the classrooms and overall space is such as to ensure a blank canvas for any number of possible design, curriculum and visual outcomes for the school as it evolves to full, all through Sixth Form provision.

 

Facilities

The competition 6-lane Swimming Pool at South View School in Dubai

Facilities at South View School include separate, dedicated Science, Art, music, IT, language and athletic facilities for Foundation Stage, Primary and Secondary, supported by separate playgrounds, play areas and social spaces for each age group. The ambition is very much to provide all the benefits of an all-through education for children, whilst still providing for the very individual needs of each child at each phase of their education.

To this end, the separate FS phases have their own self-contained ground floor block, with dedicated indoor and outdoor facilities including two FS indoor activity areas, FS Multi-Purpose Hall, separate splash pool; and, an FS Playground. Shared (outstanding) playing fields complete the picture.

 

The inclusion of a swimming pool at this price point is rare – and a deliberate choice in the planning phase of the school to give the school a credible strength in Sport against its competitive peers.

Dedicated FS Play Area at South View school in Dubai designed to develop motoring skills

Facilities are said to have been designed ground-up to meet the needs of younger children. Sunlit spaces and multiple “whimsical touches” are evident “creating a feel of an active and stimulating children’s learning zone.”

FS classrooms have their own dedicated outdoor areas providing a range of curriculum-linked, outdoor learning activities including  water and sand play, mark-making, sensory and construction activities, role play and small world play. FS phases have their own permanent outdoor playground area and (as above) a separate Multi-Purpose Hall.

Image of a child designed to highlight the messy play activities that will be central to developing motoring skills and inspiring younger children at FS phases at South View School Dubai

This should appeal to the significant number of parents who choose to send children to dedicated Primary schools to ensure that they are protected from the pressures that come from being educated with older children. Benefits of all-through schools include the certainty it provides to parents and children, the protection of peer group friendships, removal of post-Primary disruption and sustained knowledge of a child from a young age.

At South View School the aim is to clearly demarcate provision to ensure a cultural and educational separation that recognises the needs of children at Primary, Middle and Sixth Form phases. Again, for us, this provides substance to the claims of the school to be positioning itself within the premium school sector.

The South View School Primary block is again a distinct and self-contained zone, housed on the ground and first floor, separate from both Foundation and Secondary School phases. The Primary school has its own dedicated primary specialist facilities, including a Music Room, a STEM suite (consisting of a Science Lab and Computer Lab); Art Studio and a Primary Library. Investment in technology is significant including 3D printing, this building capacity in DT and technical stream education.

Example of Design and Technology technical stream education at South View School in Dubai with children being taught 3D printing

“These specialist facilities have been designed exclusively for the use of our primary school children and are accessible only to them.”

Interestingly the school directly references its sister Victory Heights Primary School as providing a model for the design and planning for the Primary school phase – and, as above, our very positive view of Victory Heights Primary School suggests that provision will be eventually outstanding as the school builds its role and meets this ambition and blueprint.

Photograph of the full sized sports fields looking on to the main school building at South View School in Dubai

Sports facilities including a floodlit competition football field; 25M temperature-controlled swimming pool; a smaller training pool for younger children; multiple outdoor roof courts; 3 dedicated tennis courts supporting the specialist tennis focus of the school; and, 3 Multi-Purpose Halls for a range of athletics.

Photograph of landmark sports facilities at the British curriculum South View School in Dubai highlighting the multi-purpose Sports Hall

On its own terms, it is worth noting that South View School is the first specialist tennis school in the UAE and it is rare for a school to choose one key sport on which to focus attention. It does not mean that other sports are not catered for (as the facilities attest) – but it does mean that the school has nailed its colours firmly to one area it wants to excel in.

We think that is both brave and laudable.

The only omission, on launch, was the rare choice by South School not to provide a dedicated auditorium for full scale theatre productions and broader use for school presentations. This is, however, being addressed, initially with the launch of a Black Box Theatre which will come on stream in September 2021. More on the school’s capital investment programme below.

The focus at South View School on exceptional sporting infrastructure has reaped rewards, including the school’s hosting of the BSME U11 Games in 2019:

 

Investment – and The Future

We rate investment at the school stand-out. School development is strategic, and the school begins from a privileged position of high quality facilities that mirror the needs of children and the curriculum.

The current five-year development of the plan will see:

  • Development of a Black Box/Theatre performing space.  This will form the core focus for Performing Arts, one of the four pillars of school life at South View. A new broadcasting professional has been brought on board to manage its development (April 2021). The Black Box Theatre will be used in conjunction with the existing outdoor events amphitheatre, this used for non-technical promenade theatre. Together with the new Black Box Theatre, these will be used to technically and theatrically hub IGCSE and A Level Drama. Sound proofing and lighting bars are currently being specified for the facility and the theatre will fully come on stream in September 2021.
  • Expansion and strengthening of Design Technology with investment in latest generation technical infrastructure, including specialist machinery IT hardware. This will come on stream in August 2022 to hub the school’s core focus on, and strengths in Design Technology, as well as provide the foundations for IGCSE, A Level and BTEC qualifications moving forward.
  • Further development of the ‘South View School Rooftop Urban Farm and Garden.’ This will be expanded to include greenhouse facilities to strengthen programmes in environmental literacy. In turn, further investment in greening around the school campus is on-going. Works are due to be completed by Summer 2021.
  • Sixth Form Learning Hub. This will be an integral part of the school and themed around Business, Commerce, Entrepreneurship and Economics. It will provide Sixth Form students with their own dedicated learning, studying and community space. This project will be completed by August 2023.
  • Development of the existing Quad Space into a Learning Garden for Early Years children. This will be designed to have reading nooks, ‘magical pathways,’ hiding spaces, sensory walkways and play spaces. This work is due for completion in August 2022.
  • CPD investment. The school is investing heavily in specialist training in pedagogy, welfare, mental health and pastoral care. New investment will build on this year’s investment in teaching, leadership and specialist faculty. 2021 has seen recruitment across key positions including an Assistant Head of Primary, Head of Pastoral Care, Head of Mathematics, Science faculty; Head of Arabic, and Head of Secondary (above). The school is currently recruiting for both a Head of Art and Head of Modern Languages. Investment in teachers is significant and ongoing as the school grows to all-through provision and prepares for the opening of IGCSE, A Level and BTEC pathways.
  • Over time the school will provide outreach programmes for its families including evening classes.
  • Extension of inclusion facilities to include a landmark Sensory Room. This work is due to be completed by Summer 2021.

 

On the Impact of Covid 19.

In our recent meeting with the school (April 2021), Mr Flint told us:

“The core business of the school is children, and relationships, and families – ensuring that we give our children the very best education and learning experience we can give them.

Of course Covid 19 has been a challenge – as it has been for all schools in Dubai. But at South View School today we have 95% of students in school attending lessons and thriving. This is because our support mechanisms at the school are outstanding. They have to be.

But It is also about mental health and looking after our South View children. For adults in the school it is easier. As adults, we all have a background of life and history we can draw on to more easily contextualise what has happened during the Pandemic.

Children do not have this. They are in this for the first time.  And one of the attributes of our school is understanding the individual child – and caring for and nurturing that individual.

So mental health IS a big deal. Helping children navigate through this pandemic is a HUGE deal.

And families too – many families at our school, and schools across the UAE, are under pressure because of reduced income and the related stresses and impacts of the pandemic. So there has, quite rightly, been a lot of focus on the people side of things over the last few months – listening, and responding to, the needs of children, parents, families – and the whole school community.

The Pillars of the school, our values and focus, are, ultimately, about families, our children, having a big heart, a focus on being kind – and an outstanding focus on academic, vocational and whole child pathways for children.

That is what we are crafting here at South View School. Covid 19 does not change that. We are a fully inclusive school – and we will meet the needs of all our children, and all our families – every one.”

David Flint. Principal. South View School Dubai. In conversation with SchoolsCompared. April 2021.

 

Languages

Render photograph of the frontage of the new British curriculum all-through South View School opening in Dubailand in September 2018

South View School identifies language provision and choice as one of the key ways it differentiate itself from schools in its fee class.  Investment in language teaching is already significant at launch and there is a clear emphasis on both protecting and nurturing the native language skills of children for whom English is a second language.

From Day One language support has been available in Spanish, Italian, Greek, Russian, French, German, Urdu and Hindi.  Southview School aims, further, to provide support for all the native languages, if at all possible, of those attending. Core, formally examined, language provision at GSE and A’ Level includes English, Spanish, French and Arabic. As above, initial evaluation has begun on providing examined provision in Mandarin.

The aim of this focus on languages is to create a genuinely multi-lingual school environment that helps all children, including native English speaking children, from across the cultural spectrum, both celebrate, recognise and learn from difference. Children, in this model, will learn from each other. The ambitions is of truly international schooling that builds cultural understanding and language proficiency, something so often promised by other schools, but at South View made real and tangible. Too often, mother tongue proficiency (and often the substantive cultural roots that go with this), can be at least partially lost in schools whose focus is exclusively on English.

Children at South View School in Dubai reading together

Certainly, progress so far in delivering this provides substance to the claims that South View is a genuinely culturally inclusive international school.

Languages are supported by specialist labs at all phases. It should be noted that extended, non examined, language provision does require an additional investment by parents. Whilst some parents may be frustrated by this, we think the decision to keep baseline fees low and provide this as an option, has good rationale and credibility. It is worth bearing in mind that this scale of investment in languages is provided by very few schools in Dubai – and, where it is, often with limited breadth, at fee levels considerably above the baseline fees of South View School.

 

Fees

Our view is that school fees provide exceptional ROI for parents, particularly given the seriious investment in teachers, faculty and extended British pathways planned at IGCSE, A Level and BTEC.

Baseline fees, running between 43,000 AED at FS phases to 61,500 AED at Sixth Form are, measured over a complete education, around half those of Dubai’s ultra-premiums.  Remaining two-year founding discounts of between DHS3000 and DHS7000, dependent on phase of entry, further enhance the value proposition for parents.

Table showing the school fees charged by South View School in Dubai for 2021 22

 

Current Launch Phase IGCSE Options

IGCSE-GCSE-Booklet


Bottom Line? The SchoolsCompared.com 2021 Verdict on South View School Dubai.

Artist's render of the new South View School in Dubai

Had South View School been one without a heritage of (highly successful) sister schools behind it, we would have been cautious given the sheer scale of ambition. Delivering a premium British education at mid-tier pricing is no small feat.

However, we have already seen, in the British schools sector, what the founders have achieved at Victory Heights Primary School – and this gave us, even at launch, significant confidence that the promise of an outstanding school education at South View School would be delivered. Three years on, that confidence and trust has ben repaid in dividends.

For many parents, location will be an issue – and a frustration. This is exactly the type of school/fee combination that we know so many parents are calling out for, but…. they want it delivered in more central and developed areas of the emirate. But the simple equations were never going to add up – or to put it more bluntly, we cannot, any of us, have all our cake, and eat it. To secure this quality of education elsewhere, expect either to add at least a third to the fees – or accept big trade-offs in the quality of teaching faculty and facility provision.

Given the number of families choosing to commute to South View School, with waiting lists in key years, it is clear that many parents choose quality of schooling over commute times.

Children at South View School in Dubai learning through play in EYFS

This confirms our view that South View School, on its current promise and ambition, has the potential to rewrite the rule book of what can be delivered in this price bracket. And the growing, not restricting, opportunities here do continue to provide considerable temptation for parents from across Dubai – investment year on year continues apace.

Over visits to South View School we have found a school filled with life, happy children and school faculty clearly committed to the education of children. This is not a school where teachers (or school leadership) simply go through the motions.

As with all new schools in phased launch, however, there will always be risks. It does take time to build identity, reputation and guarantees. But this is a finely balanced equation in which, positively, on offer is the chance to be a founding family of a school that steadfastly has its heart in the right place – and one backed by owners who have proven they can deliver. What South View School has achieved in just under three years is by any standards extraordinary – and the future looks very bright.

 

In May 2019 we were given the powerful commitment from the school to extensive subject choice at GCSE, A Level and BTEC. This included commitment to outlier prestige subjects critical to child breadth of choice, including Business, Politics, Economics and Psychology – as well as a range of BTEC option. This commitment was again confirmed to us by Mr Flint, Principal, South View School Dubai, in April 2021. On full launch of Sixth Form, and on the basis of the ambitious breadth of IGCSE, A’ Level and BTEC provision, South View School’s curriculum offer and pathways will compete with the very best of the Tier 1 ultra-premium British schools operating in the UAE.

Picture of children playing at South View school in Dubai on specialist outdoor climbing frame facilities for younger children

On this basis, we believe that South View School Dubai is definitely a school worthy of provisional shortlisting by families in Dubai.

For children interested in Sport, Design Technology and the Performing Arts too, there is, here, a very deep seated commitment. This is a school set to deliver above and beyond in every aspect of the academic and whole child curriculum for children.

New school leadership, in the shape of Mr David Flint, too, we rate as outstanding.

Across the board, there is a huge amount that really impresses here.

VERY highly Recommended.

© SchoolsCompared.com. 2021. All rights reserved.

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

NA - first KHDA inspection due by 2021-22

Type of school

Private, for-profit
Note:
(1) Whilst the school does not advertise itself as not-for-profit, the group is known for delivering high quality schooling at an affordable fee level on the direction of the school's owners to extend quality education to the broadest number of parents. Profit is identified specifically as not a major driver of schools in the group.

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 43,000 - discounted to 39,900
FS2: 43,000 - discounted to 39,900
YEAR 1: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 2: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 3: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 4: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 5: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 6: 44,000 - discounted to 40,875
YEAR 7: 56,500 - discounted to 51,500
YEAR 8: 56,500 - discounted to 52,500
YEAR 9: 56,500 - discounted to 53,000
YEAR 10: 61,500 - discounted to 59,000
YEAR 11: 61,500
YEAR 12: 61,500
YEAR 13: 61,500

Curriculum

British
Notes:
(1) EYFS
(2) IGCSE
(3) A' Level
(4) BTEC

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology and Technical Stream options through BTEC

A Levels offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology and Technical Stream options through BTEC

A Level A* to A

Phased launch

A Level A* to C

Phased launch

IGCSE A* to C

Phased launch

IGCSE A* to A

Phased launch

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology with BTEC slipstreams to/at Sixth Form

I/GCSEs offered

Confirmed to offer extensive subject breadth and Depth including Business, Economics, Politics and Psychology with BTEC slipstreams to/at Sixth Form

Selective

Fully inclusive

Waiting list

No

Number of Students

Current role: circa 700
Capacity: 1800
Notes:
(1) Approximate split 900 Primary and 900 Secondary on all-through opening)

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:25
Notes:
(1) Class size is capped at a maximum of 25 children with 6 x FS1, 6 x FS2, 4 X Year 1 classes.

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

School in phased launch
Notes
(1) Teacher turnover is low across other Interstar schools

Year opened

September 2018

Location

Remraam Community, Dubailand, Dubai

Student composition

International/inclusive
Notes:
(1) Significant provision for native languages although, given the low fee levels, these come with a supplementary cost for parents

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Interstar Advisory Services
Notes
(1) Dinesh C. Kothari, Chairman

Admissions Telephone

04 589 7904
Notes:
(1) Email: [email protected]

Web Address
Strengths

• High value fee structure balancing affordability with premium facilities hitherto not seen in this segment
• Heritage of proven delivery, including the excellent Victory Heights Primary School on which the Primary phase has been modelled
• Commitment to outstanding breadth and depth of subject choice at GCSE, A level and BTEC
• Language specialism
• Extended pathways in the Performing Arts, Sport and Design Technology
• Outstanding facility provision
• High quality of school design and architecture
• Outstanding school leadership
• Individualised learning and focus on/celebration of individual children
• Potential for outstanding sport provision as school role grows
• High quality of schooling drawing parents from very broad catchment
• Rare school design providing self-contained schooling and facilities for Primary, Middle and Sixth Form designed to meet the needs of children at different phases and protect childhood at primary phase.

Weaknesses

• Location will be a frustrating issue for some parents given high quality of offer
• Additional language fees, although this is understandable given the fee levels and the majority of schools do not even provide the options.

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
B+
Value
A+
A-
ExtraCurricula
B+
Languages
B
Arts & Drama
B
Teaching
A-
Communications
A
B+
Warmth
A+
A-
Differentiation
B+
SEND Provision
B
Scl Community
A+
A-
Scl Facilities
A-
A-
Opportunities

South View School is already delivering on its promise and ambition, and re-defining what parents can expect from British curriculum schooling in this fee segment. Only in its third year, South View School shows what can be achieved with an owner committed to a more finely tuned balance of profit to favour parents and families over returns. This is a very interesting, potentially game-changing school in the making that is hugely popular with parents - particularly in the way it sets itself apart in concentrating on - and celebrating - individual children. Leadership and faculty outstanding. Creditable success in hosting the BSME Games strongly suggestive of sporting potential as school role grows. Although an eventual 1800 capacity school (even this small by Dubai new school standards), this is a school defined by its British community school ethic and culture. Highly recommended.

A-
Our Rating
A-
User Rating
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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com
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