At a glance
NOTE: OUTSTANDING ranked schools do not have a KHDA report for the 2016-2017 school year.
The Story so Far
The school was established in 1961 with nine students and has since grown to approximately 15,000 students with 800 teachers - if you include its recently opened third campus in Dubai's Silicon Oasis free zone. The Oud Metha branch alone contains over 5,900 students with 427 teachers, the Garhoud branch around 4,200. Economies of scale partly explain how the Indian High School Dubai is so affordable with fees ranging from 4000 AED at KG, rising very little to 8,500 AED plus for Grade 12. We say partly, because despite the strength in numbers, this is a school that will need to be run incredibly efficiently with these price points.
Indian High School Dubai follows the CBSE curriculum with core subjects from grades 1-4 including English, Hindi, Arabic, Mathematics, General Science, Social Studies, Art Education, Moral Science / Islamic Studies, Work Experience, Physical and Health Education as well as Computer Education.
The Junior school for students between Grades 1-4 is located in Al Garhoud, the Secondary school for students between Grades 5-12 is located in Oud Mehta. The newest campus located in Silicon Oasis caters to students right through from Grades 1-12. The schools are officially recognized by the UAE's Ministry of Education and affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi.The schools provide education to children of Indian expatriates and those interested in the Indian curriculum. Although the schools are co-educational, the classes are split separately for girls and boys.
Check out our 2017 Visit Review HERE!
What do the Inspectors Say?
It is extremely impressive that the school, with its student numbers, is able to deliver an Outstanding level of education at secondary level, and a 'Good' level at primary (with Outstanding attainment in English and Maths). Perhaps it should be no surprise, governance at the schools is said to be Outstanding. Note: The CEO at the Oud Metha branch has been in the post for some 18-years...
In its latest report on the Oud Metha school the KHDA notes students outstanding attainment and progress in English, mathematics and science; outstanding behaviour, work ethic and self-confidence; the high quality of the curriculum, including a range of initiatives designed to improve the quality of learning; the high level of commitment by governors, leaders and teachers to the school and its students and to ongoing school improvement; and the ambition, drive and strong direction offered by a range of senior and other leaders.
The Garhoud junior school received a largely consistent review from the KHDA with a nod to its attainment in English and maths. However, it also suggested improvements could be made helping younger students develop independent critical reasoning skills that would enable them to "investigate independently".
What are the Facilities?
Facilities at the main campus include a number of state-of-the-art ICT laboratories, three science laboratories, a home science laboratory, an auditorium (with 1800 person seating capacity), canteen, as well as a library and research centre. The school also comes equipped with three counselling centres, and a number of medical centres equipped with full time medical officers and a number of trained nurses. Transport is also offered to all students with a fleet of 81 buses.
The Oud Metha school also offers a number of extra-curricular activities as well as scholarship programs to encourage students. Extra-curricular activities include a number of sporting programs, a radio station which is run and managed by students and a selection of publications which are also written by students.
The Indian High School is very highly rated by its student body and by parents, who primarily point to its high academic success as proof the school is run and managed well. Parents and students also appreciate the large range of extra curricular activities the school offers. There are the standard grumblings over school fees and "extras".
For every parent that grumbles over those fees however, there are 100 wishing they were paying them. According to a recent XPress report, “There were queues extending up to a kilometre when I had gone to collect a token for the lottery for KG1 admissions at Indian High School. And all this for just 100 seats from several thousand applicants,” said the father of a three-year-old...
The school is rated highly for the quality information it provides to parents about their children’s progress.
The Indian High School, Sunday 19th February
One of Dubai’s most in-demand schools, The Indian High School, sets and meets ambitious academic standards for all of its pupils. Led by an active, highly experienced and respected Head, the school has the feeling of an extremely well-run, well-loved establishment which has nurtured very strong links with Dubai’s Indian community.
The Indian High School (IHS) in Oud Metha is housed in a 1960s-style beige, block building with long windows and dark red painted detail (see WSA Oud Metha guide). There are lots of colourful educational themed mosaics decorating the front walls along with several sculptures. We were greeted by security and in reception by Smristi Shaekhawat, the school’s liaison representative who was our guide.
We began our interviews with a discussion with Dr Ashok Kumar who has been the school’s CEO for an incredible 22 years. He came from a career at the Tata car company and had been involved in setting up the factory’s schools. He described the link between the school for staff’s children and the factory as ‘honest and integrated’. When he arrived in Dubai his aim was to run this CBSE school and re-create that link between the community here. ‘To work with purpose and serve the residents of Dubai’ was his mission.
Dr Kumar is a gentle, wise, experienced and modest gentleman who puts the success of the school down to his young and vital team. He views the school’s community as a family of children and staff. The school is in such demand that it has had to expand to satisfy the need. Dr Kumar is adamant that ‘no students are left behind’. When asked what are some of the school’s greatest accomplishments he proudly explained that HIS produces the best students.
Producing the Best Students
This is their 30th year of graduation and around 400 students collect their diplomas each year. An incredible 100% go to university with around 32% going to the USA, UK and Canada. 35% attend the UAE universities and the remainder choose Indian universities. Dr Kumar is understandably very proud of these successes and follows former pupil’s careers with keen interest.
It was excellent to hear how supportive the school is of some school leavers who are employed part-time at the establishment as classroom support, for example in the social media section while studying at UAE universities in the afternoons.
The school’s approach to the child was described as ‘most definitely holistic’. Dr Kumar repeated that no child should be left out. He underlined the support for those children who may need additional academic support and gave the example of one child who was falling behind but was given one to one tutoring after school and is now achieving excellent results.
When we asked Dr Kumar what challenges the school faces he replied ‘none’! He is a leader who clearly appoints well, encourages teamwork and feels that any challenge that does crop up is swiftly dealt with by his staff. Homework is an important part of life at HIS but students are extremely well motivated and ambitious.
Entrance by Lottery
There is no entrance exam to acquire a place at this very popular school but instead they conduct a lottery. This is run exclusively by an experienced group of parents who ensure the system is open and fair. There are 900 available places at KG level and around 4,000 applicants. There is an open door policy for those lucky enough to secure a place and no other vetting takes place. Scholarships are on offer for a select few in sport, music etc. or where there are clear financial issues. 1.5 million dirhams is available for these children every year. This is an initiative that other schools should take note of.
Pupils of teaching staff also receive a free place at the school. Recruiting appears to be pretty easy for Dr Kumar as teachers just walk to give their CVs. Otherwise they post jobs on their website; recruitment is generally from people already in Dubai.
The staff are fully qualified according to strict KHDA requirements. CPD or INSET training is ongoing and staff receive 18 hours per year within the school. Dr Kumar described learning in IHS as both vertical and horizontal growth. This comes across as a really organic, smoothly run and supportive community.
The CBSE curriculum is well-rounded and strong in all areas of arts, language, science etc. In what is no surprise, the KHDA have awarded an Outstanding ranking to the school and Dr Kumar feels that this is true of all areas of the school except for Arabic. Dr Kumar described every day as ‘special’ at HIS and feels that each child is important and the school is here to serve the community.
Our Guided Tour
Ms Shaekhawat then gave us a guided tour of the school so we could observe a normal weekday at IHS. Most of the students have their heads in books as exams were in progress throughout the school. The overall visual impression as we explored the school was of colour – abstract Mondrian style windows and paintings created exciting decorations around a ‘happiness area’ where individually hand-painted benches were set up, all designed and signed by the pupils.
There was also a suggestion box wall decorated with a tree with spiraled ropes and colourful bunting flags. We were shown an immaculately tidy and well organized library. There were colour coded subject areas for the books and a special classroom dedicated to online Brittanica learning. Another room was used for the Desire programme, a system that encourages concentrated reading skills. The canteen we saw was well-designed and practical. We learned that pupils were encouraged to run a market programme where they routinely get involved in the sale of food and learn the business of marketing.
Collaborating with Students
They have a ‘Big Buzz’ enterprise where economics students work on creating advertisements and another where pupils’ music requests are played at break times. The school’s 1,600 plus auditorium is extremely impressive with its cool lighting, red, black and white colouring and very professional stage. An aviary is built beside the front entrance where many birds live and are cared for by interested students.
Building work is going on in part of the campus as a new classroom block is being constructed. We found out that from Grade 1 onwards children are taught in single sex classrooms. We were then only able to see the art room as other classrooms were out of bounds due to the exams. The art room, however, although empty of children was colourfully painted, neat and well organized. Painting, drawing and mixed media are included in this CBSE art programme but several HIS students go on to study design in the areas of graphics, fashion and interior design.
Smriti began her career at IHS as a Grade 1 teacher but now works in the parent liaison field so has a through understanding of how the school runs. She’s also a parent so we were able to ask about a few practical details. Smriti chose the school for her child because it was rated Outstanding; she had also heard good reports from others, wanted the CBSE curriculum and appreciated the good value fee system. She was most impressed by the teachers who she felt really care about their work; she feels that there is no issue too small to take to them. She also felt very confident that her child was in safe hands. The school’s biggest challenge she felt was space for the large community but this will soon be resolved when the new block is complete.
Practical for Parents
The level of homework she considered to be about right and not overwhelming. The uniform is practical and provided by the Globe company close by. The school is quite strict about wearing the correct uniform and that children look smart. There is a good bus service for the community but around the school it does get busy at pick up and drop off times. Smriti feels the security team do a good job in taking care of this.
As a parent she’s happy with the options for school trips, for example local field trips to Hatta or Muscat plus overseas trips such as the NASA excursion and visits to Greece and Georgia.
There is a wide choice of clubs available to pupils using the excellent sports facilities with some great affordable coaching. A club has been set up to monitor and care for pupil fitness where they look at diet and devise appropriate exercise routines. There is a Parent’s Association group who contribute to the day to day running of the school and there are regular talks on parenting run by the school.
Individual class teachers are always readily available if there is anything to be discussed. Parents between them use WhatsApp to communicate information quickly. Smriti is happy with the quality of food available in the canteen but here child generally brings in her own snackbox. As a parent she feels her child is challenged and is happy.
Learning support is available for those children who need that bit extra both before and after school. Smriti feels education here is as good as in her home country but kids here are lacking ‘a bit of streetwise experience’ as she feels Dubai is a more sheltered environment for children.
She would describe the school to prospective parents as good value for money and as parents you feel part of the entire community.
Generally we usually have an opportunity to speak to some students on a school visit but this wasn’t possible because exams were ongoing at the time of our visit.
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