Q+A: Swiss International Scientific School, Dubai
Swiss International Scientific School (SISD) in Dubai follows the IB Programme and offers weekly and termly boarding. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a virtual tour...
What do you do to help children settle in?
At the beginning of the year, students and teachers work together to make ‘essential agreements’ for the classroom community. This is part of being in an IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) school. We do not have class rules but rather a set of agreements decided upon by the students and teachers. Our teachers use the IB Learning Profile and the IB Attitudes to facilitate agreements. Students will learn about the attitudes and attributes, and how these should be applied within the school environment and outside of school.
If the student is relocating from abroad, and requires additional language support, SISD offers English as a second language, French as a second language and German as a second language. This additional support is included in the fees.
For Early Years students, the school allows a nursery—school or home—school transitioning period at the beginning of the year, where parents are allowed to stay in the morning or take children home earlier for the first week.
What facilities do you offer?
SISD’s campus offers superb sports facilities including two swimming pools, one of which is Olympic-size, a 400m outdoor running track, a gymnasium, two indoor sports halls, a full-sized natural-grass football pitch and a rugby pitch. These are complemented by many more facilities such as a climbing wall, dance studios and beach tennis and volleyball courts.
Primary school students benefit from two well-equipped art rooms and two music rooms with various musical instruments, as well as four outdoor, shaded multi-purpose playgrounds.
Our Middle and High School building will open in September 2017, giving students access to state-of-the-art science labs for Physics, Chemistry and Biology, a robotics lab and a library with a complete range of reading materials in all of the school’s languages.
Creative facilities will include a fabric and textile workshop, a CAD/CAM and graphic-design lab, food technology facilities, electronic control systems, resistant materials, a kiln, a professional-standard recording studio and radio station, fully equipped photographic and TV studio and a Living Museum.
A 650-seat auditorium will host professional performances, and will also be used for conferences and examinations. It will also have a black box drama studio for theatrical performances.
Why should I send my child to your school?
- SISD is the number one choice for families who recognise that the next generation of international citizens will need to be dynamic, flexible and linguistically ambitious. This is why we offer both immersive bilingual programmes in either of the Swiss languages of French and German and the English+ stream with additional languages (French or German with Arabic).
- SISD offers the full-continuum IB programme, taught by highly qualified native-language teachers, providing an education focused on both academic excellence and personal growth.
- Our multi-talented staff and extraordinary campus create an unforgettable school experience.
- When our boarders graduate from SISD they will leave with an international network of friends, the highest qualifications to join the best universities around the world and the skills necessary to thrive in an ever-changing world.
How many students do you have?
At SISD we currently have 650 students of 57 different nationalities. The full capacity of the school, including boarding students, is 2000.
What curriculum do you follow?
At SISD we follow the framework of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme as a candidate school, from Pre-KG to Grade 10 (with grades 11 to 12 gradually opening in the years to come, subject to KHDA approval) and the Swiss Baccalaureate programme from Grade 9 onwards (in the next phase).
The programme from Pre-Kindergarten through to Grade 10 creates, develops and sustains a community of lifelong learners and provides a coherent learning experience. The IB Programme aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. It is a programme that encourages students across the world to become active and compassionate learners.
With an emphasis on developing a multi-lingual school community, we offer three streams at our school:
- The English/French stream (with Arabic)
- The English/German stream (with Arabic)
- The English+ stream with additional languages (Arabic and French or German)
What is the background of your teaching staff?
SISD has more than 30 nationalities among the academic staff, all of them being native language speakers (English, French, German, Arabic). All teachers have a university teaching degree, minimum two years’ experience in teaching, IB experience and knowledge of curriculum development.
How can you ensure continuity if my child moves between countries?
The IB Primary Years Programme is an internationally benchmarked framework that is adapted to work seamlessly in any country, language and school. Additionally at SISD we use internationally benchmarked external assessments twice a year to moderate our own curriculum design and student progress and attainment.
What is your homework policy?
At SISD homework is viewed as an opportunity to connect inquiry in the classroom to life at home. As a community we believe homework should be used to enhance inquiry, allow for student independence and develop conceptual understanding.
For Primary students, the expectations for completing homework are:
- All homework is completed by students and at student level.
- Students should complete at least one piece of homework per week with the option to go further and do more. Students should do no more than 30 minutes of homework a day.
- Over six weeks students should complete two Language, two Maths and two Social Studies/Science tasks. Teachers will track this using a tracking list.
For Middle Years students, parents are asked not to help undertake homework, but rather to provide the conditions that will ensure that it is completed in an appropriate environment, conducive to quiet study.
What additional help do you provide for children with learning difficulties?
We have a dedicated inclusion department which works closely with teachers, parents and students to provide long-term and short-term support where needed. This can vary depending on the child’s needs, and if this is a long-term diagnosis or a temporary-support need.
We use a variety of strategies and resources, depending upon the child's needs. This can include pull-out one-on-one sessions or the support teacher coming into the classroom to work with the student. Steps and strategies for support are agreed on with the student, parents and teachers. This is shared using the Pupil Passport which is reviewed and updated regularly.
How often do parents receive written reports?
At SISD, we report to parents six times a year using different formats. Parents receive a written report card twice a year.
What opportunities exist for parents to speak to their child's teachers should they have any worries or concerns?
Parents have the opportunity to meet with teachers at parent—teacher conferences, three-way conferences and student-led conferences. However, parents are welcome to make additional appointments at any time throughout the year. We also have a ‘meet the teacher’ session at the beginning of the year.
What extra-curricular activities do you offer in the Senior School?
At SISD we offer our students a wide range of engaging after-school activities and clubs. Internal (free of charge) activities and external activities, led by external providers, are all offered on campus.
Internal after-school activities include Arabic language classes, Italian Club, Science support, Maths support, English support, Drama, Concert Band and digital photography/new media.
External after-school activities include football, tennis, swimming (development swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, aquathlon), Les Mills Born to Move, dance (ballet, zumba, hip hop), karate, drama (French), rhythmic gymnastics, chess, Enfants Extraordinaires, Spanish (as a foreign language), mobile app development and basketball.
What extra-curricular activities do you offer in the Junior/Prep School?
Primary school and Early Years children are offered the following internal activities: arts and crafts, French, German and Italian cultural clubs, Arabic, dance, drama, sewing, yoga, Excellence Club, Student Council, Concert Band, English Reading Club, French, English, German, Italian language clubs, Sustainability Club, ball hockey and homework help.
External after-school activities include football, tennis, swimming (learn to swim, development swimming), mini-ballet , Zumba Kids, Les Mills Born to Move, karate, rhythmic gymnastics, Mad Science, Spanish (as a foreign language), chess, Enfants Extraordinaires, Intelligent Robotics, Adventures in Coding, Spanish (as a foreign language), Chinese and basketball.
How important is music and the arts in your school?
SISD places great emphasis on music and arts. By excellence we do not just mean academic achievement; we work with teachers to ensure we identify excellence across all areas, including the arts and sports. Students from Grade 1 to 5 receive two art and two music/drama specialist lessons a week. We also run events such as musicals, art exhibitions, talent shows and lunchtime concerts.
Is there a school bus service?
SISD aims to offer the best-quality transport for our students. We have contracted the company Maverick Passenger Transport LLC to provide us with a safe and efficient transport service covering all the prime areas in Dubai.
Do you have a cafeteria?
SISD has carefully selected a catering company that offers our students nutritious lunch meals. Students are served a full set meal with a choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and every meal is created based on healthy and nutritious standards.
Our Early Years students receive their trays with the food in the classrooms, and are guided and helped by their teachers. From Grade 1 onwards, the students go to the cafeteria for snacks during their morning and afternoon breaks, as well as for a hot meal at lunchtime, and choose from the varied selection of food on offer.
What leisure opportunities are available for children who are boarding?
Our experienced boarding staff encourage students to participate in a range of stimulating and challenging activities, to help develop new skills and unleash the hidden potential that every child possesses. Boarders have full access to the facilities on campus in the evenings and after school, which means that there is never a dull moment!
SISD is conveniently located in one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in the world. Dubai offers a range of enthralling activities which include desert safaris, sailing, horse riding, go-karting, golf, paintballing, water parks, theme parks, camping trips and wadi adventures.
There are also times for relaxing pursuits, for example, trips to the beach, cinema or visits to cultural sites within the UAE. In addition to the off-campus trips, all boarders have access to the extensive After School Activity (ASA) progamme.
What are your medical facilities like for children who are boarding?
Boarders are offered outstanding levels of pastoral care, reflecting our commitment to creating a genuine home away from home. Every boarding house has its own carefully selected staff, who care for the boarders’ welfare and practical needs, with the support of the school’s Medical Centre, which has a full-time doctor and a team of qualified nurses.
How often can boarders go home for the weekend each term?
Full boarders stay on campus during term time, and go home for the school holidays. Parents who live in the region are encouraged to come and visit their children whenever they want by prior arrangement with the Head of Boarding. Students can also go home, again by prior arrangement.
SISD offers the option of weekly boarding for those who live on campus during the week and go home for the weekends.
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