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Virginia International Private School, Abu Dhabi

Virginia International Private School, currently teaching from KG to grade 6, is a US curriculum school in Khalifa City B, in Abu Dhabi. The school, which opened in September 2015, has yet to have an inspection rating.

In total 15 nationalities are represented currently within the student body, but almost 3 in 4 are Emirati. Males form the biggest group with 61% of the 120 strong population, with females 39%. There are 16 teachers at the school, giving it a teacher to student ratio of 1:22. Average class size in terms of student numbers is also 22, with the maximum classroom size currently 24. This is mid to low by UAE standards.

The school currently does not have a waiting list.

VIPS teachers are recruited from America, UK, Ireland, Canada with a mix of junior to senior level staff in terms of experience. The minimum requirement to teach at the school is a Bachelor degree and a Bachelor of Education. Most teachers according to the school also possess a Masters degree in Education and/or additional qualifications such as TESOL certificates.

The school as noted follows an American based curriculum and emphasises Science, Maths, Engineering, Arts and Technology (STEAM) across its curriculum. “Our unique proposition is to provide for ongoing program enrichment through the use of targeted professional development for teachers on a weekly basis, supported by our Center for STEAM Innovation and Research under the careful leadership of our Director of Education, Innovation and Research.”

The school says its IT environment is “positioned to support a very high level of academic program delivery”. Promethean boards are available in every classroom, used to make lessons “more meaningful and to increase learning”.

The school does not have a dedicated SEN team, instead relying on its teachers to diagnose ability ranges for students. “Based on this, they effectively differentiate lesson delivery to maximize the learning experience and accelerate progress for all students”. The school also says it has a “pull-out” system whereby certain students are periodically removed from the regular class and given specialized, targeted attention in separate learning spaces.

Teachers, and technology do seem to be the core of the value offering of the new school. “We are offering a premium learning environment supported by the latest in assistive technologies and world class teachers, it told WSA. The school is certainly ambitious, with an aim is to create “one of the best academic programs in UAE delivered by accomplished teachers that are the envy of any school anywhere on the planet.

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“We fully expect that our students will graduate from Virginia with strong academic skills, a higher than average proficiency in technical subjects, fluency in English and Arabic.

“One clear KPI will be the fact that our graduates will not need any bridging programs for university in UAE or abroad.”

Fees at the school are mid-range, starting at 26,750 including books and uniforms, and rising to 36,650 by year 6.

 

The WSA site visit

Founded by a prominent Abu Dhabi resident, Dr. Ali Al Mazrouie, Virginia International School is designed to fulfil his vision of  providing children with the qualities and skills that will be essential for a citizen of the 21st century.  The opening of the school in September 2015 was very last-minute, with final approvals from ADEC being received only two weeks before the start of the new academic year.  Accordingly, enrolments were also somewhat late and children tend to come from the immediate area around Khalifa B/Shakbout City, which is a relatively new residential area located at the rear of the Abu Dhabi airport.  Given that this is only the second US curriculum school to open within the immediate area, the school hopes to attract international families seeking a quality US education for their children.  All staff are US or Canadian teachers and the Principal has a long history of involvement in education at both school and university level within Abu Dhabi.

The buildings themselves are substantial and largely complete.  There is still some exterior work to the playing fields taking place and there will also be a second teaching building added for grades 10-12 in due course.  At present, the building inevitably feels very spacious and a little bare.  Classrooms are however fully furnished and a canteen area is in operation that provides hot meals.  Specialist music, art rooms, a library and gymnasium are available to students.

The school follows the US Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the Mathematics framework and the English Language and Arts (ELA) framework. In addition, Virginia International School is set up as a STEAM school with an integrated approach to the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics; subjects which play a crucial role in Grades 1-6.  Teaching essentially draws on all elements of the curriculum in a cross-curricular approach to learning.

It is early days for Virginia International School, but its goals are ambitious.  The Principal aims for his school to be one of the top 15% in Abu Dhabi with ambitious targets for teachers and students to achieve this goal.  The addition of a US curriculum school to the Abu Dhabi education scene is to be welcomed and will offer relief to families still struggling to find places in the small number of existing schools. 

Fast Facts

Current student no. 128

KG to grade 6 (US curriculum)  approval to grade 9

22 per class

75% Emirati children

 

Update on November 21, 2015 | Reviewed by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com on October 12, 2015

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