A brief glance over the new ratings and you think very little has changed across Indian schools this year, however closer analysis of the top 15 schools show there's real evidence of a maturing market, with steady tangible improvements happening across each school.
Jump: Full listing of 2017/18 KHDA ratings for Indian schools. Who moved up, and who moved down..?
To WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, 2016/17 looks like a period of consolidation, introspection and internal growth for each and every top Indian school.
There was never going to be changes among the very top rankings with Outstanding rated: GEMS Modern, and The Indian High School, together with Delhi Private School (rated Very Good) all working on the Abundance Project.
The pioneering Abundance Project, saw Dubai's top schools working with poorly-performing schools in sharing best practice and foregoing the full DISB 2016/17 inspection process.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com understands that GEMS Modern, The Indian High School and Delhi Private School were all involved in the 2016/17 Abundance Project, and therefore do not have a new inspection report for 2016/17.
Nargish Khambatta, Principal, GEMS Modern Academy said of the project, “this year, the KHDA floated the idea of Outstanding and Very Good schools opting for the Abundance culture, which was more than welcome. We at GEMS Modern Academy have always nurtured a community of learners and continuously transformed ourselves over the years.
"The inspection results are the efforts of distributed leadership, where our staff takes the ownership of various projects that they head. The involvement of our students in the planning stages has boosted their leadership capability followed by the introduction of the Class Council system across the school which has further led to a more meaningful parent engagement including ‘learning walks’.
He went on to say, “we will continue to strategically plan the achievement of the National Agenda targets for our school followed by enhancing the 21st century learning by integrating digital tools in learning and teaching.”
Schools Rated Very Good in 2016/17
Delhi Private School, the Millennium School and Our Own English High School, were once again the only schools rated Very Good. Delhi Private School is without a report this year as it participated in the Abundance Project, however the other two schools, both went through the 2016/17 inspection process.
The Millennium School
If this school was just a KG it would clearly be rated Outstanding, with almost every indicator in the KG ranked at top level. Further up the school there have been some changes since 2015/16 with Primary science and maths provision falling from Outstanding to Very Good, as has science at Middle School level.
SEND provision also looks to require some ‘tweaking’ with inspectors noting the school needed to, “introduce high quality-curriculum options for the small group of students, including those with SEND, who are currently exempt from a range of key subjects.”
Our Own English High School
This vast 10,000 student school has Middle and Secondary provision rated almost entirely Outstanding, however at KG and Primary this falls to predominantly Good ratings. It would seem that it’s only Arabic as an additional language which is letting OOEHS down with its Acceptable rating.
Schools Rated Good in 2016/17
All ten schools rated Good in the 2016/17 inspection did really rather well. Much of their provision was actually considered well above this grade, with many Very Goods and some schools boasting a majority of Outstanding ratings through their provision.
In addition, all of these schools met the standards for improvement in relation to National Agenda targets.
However, many were let down by their Arabic/Islamic provision, high teacher turn-over and failure to provide clear assessment and planning.
The new report brings almost all the core subjects now up to Very Good, with much of the Secondary now also rated Very Good. Arabic as an additional language at Primary level is now considered Good, as is all of the Islamic education.
Good to Very Good across all criteria with an impressive eight percent teacher turn-over.
GEMS New Millennium School
A 30 percent teacher turn-over with 21 new teachers this academic year. The New Millennium KG is racing ahead of the rest of the school with Very Good rating throughout all core subjects, learning skills, curriculum and teaching for effective learning and assessment.
Our Own Indian School
Inspectors require an improvement in Arabic provision plus investment in teaching strategies, however this aside and the school’s report is actually really very positive.
Inspectors rated the core subjects predominantly Very Good, with a few even Outstanding. As are the teaching for effective learning, assessment and curriculum at Our Own Indian School.
JSS International School
JSS seems to have stemmed the flow of teachers out of the school this year, bringing the teacher turn-over down from 18 percent to an impressive eight percent this year.
Across the core subjects and main indicators JSS scores a solid Good, with a smattering of Very Good and Outstanding ratings too.
JSS Private School
Another hefty year for staff turnover with 22 percent again. Improvement in the core subjects with a few Very Good ratings also in learning skills, throughout personal and social development and curriculum at KG. As well as leadership, protection, care and guidance.
Our Own High School
A really positive report, showing the school improved on many of its previous Good ratings. Indicators are up this year, with Good to Outstanding for everything, including Islamic Education, and only Arabic language rated Acceptable.
Rajagiri International School Dubai
Another hefty teacher-turnover at 22 percent, however the core subjects saw improvement in science at primary and middle level while maths and assessment at Middle school level fell to Acceptable.
The Indian High School (branch)
Apart from Arabic as an additional language, almost everything else at the Indian High School is clearly Very Good to Outstanding.
With some work on SEND provision and a strategic plan, the school looks like it will be heading for a Very Good rating in the not too distant future.
Another really positive report with Good through to Outstanding for almost all indicators and even a very commendable Good for Islamic Education.
What the Top 15 Have in Common...
The 15 top schools highlight that early years provision in the Indian sector is improving.
While there is still significant teacher turn-over and movement of principals in certain schools, teacher retention and good leadership are essential for the success of any Good school.
It is clear that Dubai's Indian curriculum schools have embraced the spirit of the UAE National Agenda, Innovation and the National Agenda Parameter.
Many schools considered Good and above also show an improvement in Arabic language and Islamic Education, together with strong community support and students who are truly connected to their community.