‘Who can tell me?’ is probably one of the most common questions that educators use when attempting to engage a room full of students. The main reason why teachers try engaging students in different activities or techniques is to help students retain what they learned. It is teachers who markedly inspire, influence, and embolden every student and they often do so in a manner that honors and embraces the holistic development of a child. They place an equal emphasis on developing the self-efficiency, and self-confidence of each of their students. Such teachers realize that academic achievement is inseparably intertwined with growth in social, emotional, and even soulful learning.
Thus, a firm belief that the true meaning of education is ensuring the holistic development of a child allows educational institutions to deliver a higher quality of education. Such institutions not only offer the best education, but also nurture its students into superior human beings. One such school that has achieved this goal most prolifically is Paradise Valley Private School (PVPS). This school takes its role as educators seriously and thus, recognizes education as a collaborative effort among educators and students.
About Paradise Valley Private School
Paradise Valley Private School aims to provide an excellent, holistic and inclusive learning environment where children can maximize their full potential to discover the genius within themselves, enabling them to become caring and responsible global citizens.
Before we further dig into the characteristic features of this school, let us go through the inception story of the school. Having realized that the Sultanate needed a world-class inclusive school in Muscat, Mr. Mahesh Verma, the President of the School Management Committee got in touch with Mr. Arun Kapur, a passionate educationist with a track record of establishing schools of excellence, for which he has received the prestigious Druk Thuksey award from His Majesty the King of Bhutan. The meeting of two minds led to the germination of an idea that became Paradise Valley Private School.
It was founded to provide a comprehensive international inclusive education that encourages students to be compassionate, responsible and inquiring life-long learners, with a global perspective. Here, engaging learning experiences and purposeful assessments are facilitated through innovative teaching practice, which serves to empower students to live in and contribute to a changing society.
The Mentor Crafting a Conclusive Educational Experience
The governance of the Paradise Valley Private School is vested in the School Management Committee which reports to a distinguished Board of Directors with Al Sayyid Talal bin Badar bin Saud Al Busaidy as Chairman.
The President of the School Management Committee, Mr. Mahesh Verma had earlier served on the Board of The American International School of Muscat (TAISM) for four years and later on the Board of Governors of the Indian Schools in Oman for three years. Mr. Verma found like-minded partners and started a company called Paradise Sprig Investment Management Company LLC, which teamed up with Pallavan Learning Systems, an education research organization headed by Mr. Kapur, and though their formal contract was signed in April 2018, the actual idea of the school was mooted in 2016.
Checklisting the School’s Goal
- To meet the demand for quality international education for Omanis and expatriates.
- To create the first inclusive bi-lingual private school offering the IB curriculum.
- To provide a holistic learning environment for all students, including those with special needs.
How is PVPS Achieving This?
Paradise Valley Private School believes that children learn better when engaged and are having fun. Therefore, the teachers here support inquiry-based learning and create educational lessons, which engage children. The school also encourages children to take control of their own learning, while inspiring them to discover how perseverance, self-confidence, and a positive attitude can lead to success. The school achieves this by adhering to its philosophy; emphasizing the importance of the cerebral, emotional, ethical, physical and social areas of a child’s development.
Aligned with this principle and the school’s academic rigor is a kind and friendly campus atmosphere, celebrating all cultural, national, and linguistic diversity. The school fosters a dynamic school culture centered on holistic, inclusive learning communities creating high-quality education that helps in the creation of a better world. Its Inclusion Policy underpins the school’s admission process. Together with the expertise of its Inclusion Team (physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, OT and SENCO) and the breadth of experience of teachers enables PVPS to cater to students who have not been provided with authentic, engaging and appropriate educational experiences in the past. The Inclusion Team also works closely with the academic staff to enable a holistic appraisal of each student which fosters informed collaborative planning in consultation with as many stakeholders as possible.
Proclaiming Holistic Development
With a focus on the five areas of development (the social, physical, ethical, cerebral and emotional attributes), the school’s academic programs are highly interactive, student-focused, and dynamic.
Starting in September 2019 as an applicant for the candidacy of the Primary Years Programme, the school is striving to grow into a full-fledged school offering the Middle Years, Diploma and Career Programme. As of January 2020, Paradise Valley Private School is now a candidate school for the Primary Years Programme (PYP). This school is pursuing authorization as an IB World School.
As an IB PYP candidate school, the students here learn through inquiry, where the learner is at the center of all curriculum foci. A common language supports each academic program and sees life-long learning as being imperative for students, parents, and staff.
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program targets children between 3 to 12 years old and the PYP program provides the students with opportunities to consolidate their learning through a variety of assessment methods where the children develop a positive learning environment.
Education at Every Step
Paradise Valley believes in recognizing, appreciating and fostering the uniqueness of every child and to do so, it understands that students need to go beyond academic excellence. They should develop skills, foster their passion and grow as a responsible global citizen. Hence, it also organizes various cultural activities wherein they can develop skills like leadership, compassion, humanity, and teamwork.
It has an annual calendar of events that acknowledges international, national and school-specific needs. With its focus on holistic development, the school incorporates celebrations of the arts, Omani cultural days, sporting events and globally significant celebrations with emphasis on sustainability and inclusion. The school’s co-curricular activities includes music, drawing, and painting, clay modeling, needle work, chess, scrabble, sudoku, storytelling competition, poetry recitation, puppeteering, etc.
The school believes that extra-curricular activities help to develop various areas of the student’s minds and personalities. The teachers also come up with a list of their favorite hobbies or activities and the students are allowed to select their favorite activities which can range from Swimming, Football, Basketball, Horse riding, Science club, Robotics, Music therapy, and Golf
The school also has different teams working on each event in advance, with at least one celebration held every month. These celebrations usually include special assemblies and often incorporate the involvement of the parents. Also, as an IB world school, Paradise Valley celebrates all national and international events. As for co-curricular, since the PYP program is inquiry-based learning, the students learn by asking, investigating, thinking and doing. Hence, co-curricular compliments the students’ learning experiences in the school.
Advocating Rightful Education
Paradise Valley School, despite being a new school, does not turn away an applicant because of their inability to meet the fees. The Management discusses with the parents their budget and plans out a payment plan that suits them. “We aim to provide quality education at affordable prices,” pinpoints Mr. Verma.
The school also supports mild to moderate cases of common childhood disabilities like Autism, ADHD, Learning Disability, Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and physical disabilities, depending on the match between the student’s needs and the school’s capability. “However, it is not a special needs school but an inclusive school and to maintain that distinction the ratio between mainstream students and children with special needs was fixed at 75:25,” shares Mr. Verma.
An Overview of PVPS
It is safe to say that in future, we will see PVPS grow as a premier school offering students a rigorous path to graduate with higher-quality education. It will also continue preparing students to be responsible citizens and effective leaders in a rapidly globalizing and interdependent world.