Top questions parents ask – SISD in Dubai
Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai tells Winter’s about the most frequent questions asked by new parents...
What can students and parents expect at SISD?
The number one question. And so we tell parents all about our distinctive approach: students at SISD experience a multi-lingual education through the full International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum programme, running from Pre-Kindergarten through to Grade 12.
At our school students learn in three bilingual sections: English-French, English-German or English with additional languages (one daily lesson of French or German, with six weekly lessons of Arabic). Although all communication with parents is in English, parents are encouraged to learn the additional language(s) that their children are studying.
So we can deliver fluency in more than one language, SISD starts at Pre-KG with play-based learning. At this phase there is an English speaking teacher and a native French or German speaking assistant. Starting from KG1, children receive one additional daily lesson of French or German as well as exposure to the new language in classroom activities. From KG2, a native German or French speaking teacher joins the native English speaking teacher, sharing classroom time on a daily basis. Arabic lessons are introduced at this level on a weekly basis.
And this is just the start of the information we give parents in response to this question!
"We do not have class rules but rather a set of agreements made by the students and teachers..."
What are the specifics of the PYP and MYP programmes?
This is an example of the next question we’ll tend to be asked – which is really ‘tell me more’! In this case we’ll go into the detail of these programmes. The Primary School at SISD delivers the PYP (Primary Years Programme), which is based on six “Units of Enquiry” that explore content from the six subject areas. The strength of the programme lies in the fact that students are actively engaged in their own learning. The PYP progresses each child from where they are in their learning and measures their progress individually.
In the bilingual streams, the children are taught one week in English, one week in French or German, with all core subjects being taught in both languages. Native English, French or German speaking teachers plan collaboratively and ensure continuity and a rolling teaching process.
Unlike the PYP, the Middle Years Programme is subject based. In the bilingual sections, Language & Literature, Sciences and/or Humanities are taught in French or German, and then Maths, Arts & Design, Physical & Health Education are taught in English. In the school’s English+ stream, all subjects are taught in English, with additional French or German language acquisition. Arabic & Islamic Studies are again an integral part of the MYP.
How important are sports and extra-curricular activities at SISD?
A very popular question. With a long answer if we’re not careful! The range of after-school activities is huge – languages, mad science, programming, robotics, 3D printing, all the arts, lots of different sports… the list goes on. At SISD we think all these pursuits are invaluable opportunities for children to reinforce or support classroom lessons.
A healthy mix of these activities helps students apply academic skills in a real context, and to develop the teamwork, creativity and lateral thinking that can translate into better results in the classroom. Children involved in various after-school activities also tend to become skilled at time management and learning how to prioritise commitments.
In addition to a host of sports, cultural, arts and linguistic activities, SISD is also providing computer coding and environmental awareness sessions, recognising the needs of the future.
What do you do to help children settle in?
Always an important question. 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 school. We do not have class rules but rather a set of agreements made by the students and teachers.
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. For Early Years students, the school builds in 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 is the background of your teaching staff?
Parents are always interested to know more about our teachers. 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?
This is a key question – and the answer’s all about the IB. 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?
Parents are often keen to know about homework – such an important part of the learning process. 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, should allow for student independence and should develop conceptual understanding.
"Parents are often keen to know about homework – such an important part of the learning process."
How do you support gifted, able and talented students?
SISD has a highly skilled Inclusion department, aiming to help all students to achieve their full potential academically, socially and emotionally. A team of dedicated Inclusion specialists and a highly qualified faculty work in close conjunction to monitor student progress to ensure that all students are supported with individualized care and focus.
You can view the Winter's profile for SISD by going to this link.