Founded in 1971 Abu Dhabi Indian School is a not-for-profit private K-12 school located near Muroor, Abu Dhabi. Its overall ADEK rating in 2016 was Good. The latest round of ADEK inspections for 2017-18 ended in a reduction in rating to Acceptable.
The Abu Dhabi Indian School has achieved an improved rating of Good in the 2019-20 ADEK inspection round. The review will be updated in due course.
The story so far...
The school has a fascinating history, built from great names of the past. Initially the school operated from the India Social Centre in Abu Dhabi - which very soon became insufficient for the depth of demand for education in the emirate. As a result, Mohan Jashanmal, CEO of Jashanmal Group, with other members of the Indian community in the capital, approached the late President of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to discuss extending the school. Sheikh Zayed gifted land measuring 175mx 150m, in Shabia Muroor, New Airport Road, to the Indian Ambassador to build an educational institution. The current Chairman of the School is Dr. B.R. Shetty, a well-known and respected businessman whose NMC Healthcare is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
ADIS's Mission statement says that:
"We are committed to impart the quality education that is holistic in its perspective. Well qualified and experienced staff are appointed to train and develop all kinds skills among the students at various levels i.e. kindergarten, primary, middle, secondary and senior secondary.
Academic achievement is enhanced by energizing the body and the mind through sports and cultural activities. The students attend school in a healthy, harmonious and competitive environment and graduate ready to face the challenges of the world with confidence".
As you would expect, 99.9%, of students come from an Indian background. Less than 1% of students are from a range of other countries, for example, Nepal, the Philippines, France, Kenya and Sudan. Less than 1% of the students are identified as having special educational needs (SEN), the majority of whom have language difficulties.
Today ADIS caters to more than 4,600 students in its primary phase (KG to Grade 5), and secondary phase (Grade 6 to 12), making it one of the largest private K-12 schools in the emirate. This is a reduction from two years ago, when there were well over 5,200 students. Boys and girls are segregated (from Grade 3) at the upper primary and secondary levels. In order to meet demand, the school opened a branch in Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi, in 2014, with a current capacity of 2,500 students.
In order to address the movement of such large numbers of students, the school has separated timings for Kindergarten from 8.15.am to 12.30.pm, Classes 1-2 and Girls' classes 3-12 are from 7.15.am to 2.30.pm, whilst Boys' classes operate from 8.15.am to 3.30.pm.
A team of close to 300 teachers, together with a small number of teaching assistants, is responsible for the day to day education of the students. With teacher turnover at a very low 6%, this is clearly a school where teachers are happy to work. According to the Principal,
"At ADIS, our teachers are innovative, compassionate, approachable and well trained to support and inspire their students for preparing them towards [a] better future. They have always open arms, share a healthy relationship with the students and encourage them to express their ideas and opinions fearlessly. My belief, as an educator, [is that] we need to discover how each child learns, in order to differentiate our instruction to support diverse learning styles; all children are different".
Further, he comments:
"Our School takes pride in nurturing students and besides academic and extracurricular excellence, we emphasize on [sic] the importance of integrity, politeness, kindness and selflessness. Discipline, perseverance, zeal to excel, clarity in thought and decision-making ability are an integral part of our education system as it helps to set and achieve goals and qualities required to meet the challenges of the modern society. I am proud that our staff is valued and the families connected. Our proven track record is testimony to the sincere dedication of our teachers, well supported by the parents who take pride in their ward’s success as student of this truly great Institution".
What about the curriculum?
The school is affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education, India and is licensed by the Ministry of Education's Abu Dhabi Education and Knowledge Dept (ADEK), Abu Dhabi. As such it offers a full CBSE curriculum for Indian students.
In addition to the academic programme, ADIS also offers its students a range of sports and extra-curricula activities. For sports the list is a long one - from Athletics to Cricket, from Badminton to Basketball. Inter-school competitions are also held. Non-sports clubs are also offered - and range from debating to Robotics club.
What about the facilities?
The school moved to the new premises in 1980. Facilities at the school seem adequate, if not on par with some of the latest private schools to open in the UAE. Facilities include four libraries providing students and staff with access to a variety of resources and over 20,000 books. A well-equipped Audio Visual room with a Smart Board and an LCD Projector with a seating capacity of more than 60 is utilised by students for their curricular and co-curricular activities. Art and Craft Rooms offer students the opportunity to explore their creativity through various media.
The ADIS Kindergarten features The Kids’ Activity Room which was established in 2011 as a way to bring exhibitions alive for children and a place where they can play, relax and socialise in a stress-free environment. Students in the Foundation Stage are encouraged to learn by using their sensory abilities.
Fully-fledged laboratories for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science and Mathematics are provided including 5 Computer Laboratories with almost 100 Client machines with LCD monitors, 3 Server machines and Overhead Projectors. The facilities of the lab are also utilised for promoting experimentation in Robotics. The Mathematics laboratory is a place where students can learn and explore mathematical concepts and verify mathematical facts and theorem through a variety of activities using different materials. The laboratory allows and encourages the students to think, discuss with each other and assimilate the concepts in a more effective manner.
All class rooms and Laboratories are equipped with Interactive LED Panels or Projectors which enable the teachers to use the resources available on the internet for better understanding of students.This digital approach to the teaching/learning process is designed to help enhance the interest of the students in their studies. However, the most recent ADEK report notes that "The school premises are adequate for the implementation of the curriculum. The computer and science labs are well-equipped. The range of ICT resources to promote learning within classrooms is limited".
The challenge for ADIS is less the facilities; more the use of them.
What about academic achievement?
Whilst much is made of the school's ambition for its students and commitment of its staff, ADEK's inspectors do not appear to share the school's self evaluation. The inspection for the 2017-18 academic year, downgraded the school from Good (the rating which all schools are targeted to achieve) to Acceptable - the minimum rating which is deemed adequate.
Like most Indian schools, ADIS does not publish results in a meaningful way that makes comparison between peers easy, so it is difficult to assess actual performance in external examinations. It does have a list of 'Toppers', those students who have done particularly well, but what parents need to know are the percentages of students falling into various bands. With the volume of students coming through ADIS and its peers, that some students do well is hardly surprising.
The School published that for its 2017 CBSE Grade 12 results, 162 students out of 182 secured above 75% in the Science Stream and 38 out of 115 students secured above 75% in the Commerce Stream. For Grade 10, of 494 students, 110 students secured a CGPA of 10, 166 students secured a CGPA of 9, and 116 students secured a CGPA of 8. 93.32% of the students who attended the exam scored more than 75%.
What the inspectors say
The most recent ADEK report notes that in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) examinations for Grade 10 and Grade 12, students demonstrated good attainment in English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and Computer Science while the results in Biology at grade 12 were acceptable. In the International Benchmarking Tests (IBT) students from Grade 3 to 10 who undertook the examinations performed better than UAE and international averages in English, Mathematics and Science.
The school’s overall performance was found to be acceptable. Student numbers have declined since the last inspection due to the opening of the Al Wathba branch. This has enabled the principal, who has been in post for one year, to introduce some organisational changes to support the efficient management of the school.
The ADEK inspection team identified the key strengths of ADIS as students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, and the protection, care, guidance and support of students - both key indicators which were rated Good. The other four key measures were rated Acceptable.
Students’ achievements in English, Mathematics and Science across the school were rated acceptable, although it was noted that achievement was variable in the core subjects. While achievement in English, Mathematics and Science across the school was generally good, student’s achievement in Arabic was deemed to be weak. In Islamic Education and social studies achievement was found to be acceptable.
However, inspectors praised the celebration of the culture and values of UAE and India, noting that the leadership team is committed to UAE and Abu Dhabi Emirate priorities. They foster an appreciation of the culture and values of UAE and India. They have a clear vision for the school, knowledge of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum and generally promote inclusion. They know how the school is progressing and have sufficient strategic leadership and direction to continue to improve.
Students were acknowledged as well-behaved and motivated enjoying strong relationships with their teachers, and with positive attitudes and demonstrating responsibility for their own learning. They are disciplined, and display high levels of respect for others. Senior students were found to be motivated, to have a strong work ethic and a desire to perform well. ADEK also praised the caring ethos and smooth day-to-day running of the school, ensuring that students feel safe.
Inspectors found that teaching and assessment procedures generally enable students to make good progress in English, Science and Mathematics. The school has started to benchmark student outcomes against external expectations but needs to further benchmark students’ achievement against international standards. In Arabic and Hindi lessons, students’ learning was found not to have been adequately supported in terms of the provision of appropriate resources and effective teaching strategies. Attainment of Primary phase students in Mathematics and Science was also found to require improvement.
Overall, the inspectors identified a number of key areas for improvement including the need to raise the standard of Arabic and to meet the learning needs of all students, including those with SEN, high achievers and the gifted and talented (G&T). They noted that a counsellor identifies students with SEN, but teachers do not always take account of their needs as they learn with their peers. There is recognition of differing abilities, but the curriculum is not adapted consistently to provide good support for students with special educational needs (SEN) and those who are gifted and talented. ADIS's leadership team also needs to ensure that the school self-evaluation process is rigorous and enables the team to identify realistic and achievable targets for improvement.
The ADEK inspection team noted as a positive the communication with parents, including the provision for reporting on students’ progress. Despite the size, and the current ADEK rating, this is a very difficult school to get into. In part that is because Abu Dhabi Indian School has enjoyed a strong reputation in the community and the school is relatively very affordable. However, it is also because with just 30 schools offering the Indian curriculum in the capital, every Indian school no matter its reputation is heavily oversubscribed.
Each January ADIS opens its admissions portal for a period of three weeks, during which time parents can apply to the school. There is then a lottery for places.
And it is a lottery: For the 2013/14 academic year 4,500 parents attended a draw for one of 75 places in the school's KG section.
For grades IX and XI the process is perhaps the most painful however. For this age group the system is performance based. Applicants for IX sit one, 1-hour exam testing maths and science ability, class XI sit two exams - a 1-hour exam for Maths and a 1-hour exam for science. Entrance test details can be found here.
The academic year runs from April to March and is divided into two semesters. The main school holidays are Summer break (early July to early September) and the Winter break (mid-December to early January).
Fees at the school are mid-range for an Indian curriculum school, ranging from AED 5,950 in KG1 to AED 12,004 for Grade 12 per year (excluding transport and swimming fees). Full details, including those for new admissions, can be found here. The figure quoted above includes a range of 'other' mandatory fees. Fees are paid quarterly.
For more information, we do recommend the school's Web site. As noted it is unusually well put together and informative.
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