Sister to the original Abu Dhabi Indian School on Abu Dhabi Island, founded in 1975, the Abu Dhabi Indian School (ADIS) branch at Wathba was opened in 2014. The school offers the CBSE curriculum. The core curriculum is supplemented by a range of other subjects including Hindi, Physical Education, Creative Arts, ICT, and French from Grade 8. It will open fully with grade 12 in April 2018.
The school has grown rapidly, with over 2,600 students in 2017 and is adding grades each year. For 2017/18, the school is open to Grade 11 and will reach Grade 12 in April 2018. Students in Grade X sat their first CBSE exams in March 2017 and included 6 Toppers. The vast majority of students are in the KG (500) and Primary grades (1,400), with a growing Secondary School (640) and High School (120). Between 2014 and 2016, the school grew by 50% in terms of both students and teachers – extraordinary growth which appears have been exceptionally well-managed.
The Secondary and High School offer separate classes for Boys and Girls, each led by a Secondary Head of School. Students are supported by over 109 teaching staff and a further 21 teaching assistants with class sizes around 25 in KG and 20 in the rest of the school. Staff turnover is a remarkably low 1% - suggesting that teachers are very satisfied with their working environment.
The school has an open admissions policy until Grade 4. It has selection tests for new entrants from Grade 5 onwards and accepts the top performers for the few vacancies it has in these grades. Siblings are given priority. The school has a supportive policy towards children with SEND or Gifted and Talented support.
The School’s vision is: ‘We learn and share, we discover and inspire.’
‘We strive to provide a safe, secure and a well thought out milieu for all students, staff and parents to work together as lifelong learners. We recognise that each student is distinctively talented with a very supportive environment and staff. We are committed to enlighten young minds and kindle in them the power of knowledge and wisdom to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We guide the learners to use the knowledge and tools to make decisions, develop positive relationship to foster an understanding and respect for diverse cultures. In this century of rapid technological advancement, we hope to give our young learners a broad and balanced curriculum that will prepare them to be global citizens of tomorrow.’
As a new-build, the premises are of high quality. They are spacious, provide a wide range of specialist facilities and, according to ADEK’s inspectors, support the curriculum well. Most classroom environments include colourful and relevant displays to support and celebrate learning. The school website lists a range of facilities available to students, though unfortunately, there are no images. These include Computer Science, Dance, Music and a Library, together with Sports recreation (including a swimming pool and a yoga room) and, Arts and Crafts.
Resources are used well to enhance learning, particularly in Mathematics and Science, where teachers include an interesting range of resources including various learning technologies. These are supplemented by other useful resources made or gathered by teachers and students. In all subjects, teachers have created homemade resources to supplement and support the curriculum. This shows considerable dedication on the part of staff, who might otherwise expect such materials to be provided by the school.
In common with objectives expressed in Vision 2020 as set out by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, there is a clear focus on innovation within the school, including the development of cross-curricular links - Grade 8 students make guitars with recycled materials connecting their scientific study on sound with Music. Grade 9 students design and present a fashion show about the story of clothes, linking English and Art. Teachers encourage an innovative approach to teaching and students are challenged to think more critically and provide solutions to problems. In an innovative Grade 10 English lesson, students designed an artificial intelligence machine to help other student groups in their learning.
The school effectively promotes an understanding of healthy foods and lifestyles. The PE programme includes promotion of healthy life styles and students’ food choices are monitored during breaks and at lunch. The healthy eating campaign provides caring support to help obese students; parents are involved and support the campaign’s purpose. There are a range of After-school activities, many of which include revolve around inter-house activities.
Parents are highly appreciative of the communication they have with school staff and the range of information about their children’s academic and personal development. The school has established partnerships with a variety of external organisations, and these enhance student learning opportunities; for example, in their engagement in local community service through the Red Crescent charity, student interactions with a special needs school, and curriculum-related visits.
What the inspectors say:
The school was rated as Acceptable in its 2nd ADEK inspection in February 2017. This rating applied to most areas of the school with the exception of students’ personal and social development, and their innovation skills, and the protection, care, guidance and support of students where it was rated Very Good.
The inspectors praised students’ close attention when listening and their confident spoken English, their very positive attitudes to learning, harmonious relationships, self-discipline and enjoyment of school, and students’ strong personal development nurtured by the high quality of care, welfare, security and guidance provided by all staff.
The organisation and management of the school was described as highly efficient under the principal’s clear strategic guidance and support, and the effective distributive leadership and teamwork at all levels. Although there is a Board of Governors, this does not yet include any parent representation, a change that is deemed necessary also by the inspectors.
The inspectors identified the need to improve student achievement in all core subjects and, in particular, the quality of teaching, student attainment and progress in Arabic, where there are significant weaknesses in teaching and achievement. This will inevitably have a negative impact on the overall rating of the school. Almost all students start school with very limited language skills and their attainment is weak throughout the school; their progress in Arabic is acceptable in primary and weak in Grades 6 to 10.
Consistency in teaching for effective learning at all grade levels is also an area for development, and, notably, in the use of assessment to inform planning for next steps in learning. Consistency in the use of formative comments in marking, in order to better inform students of improvements that can be made in their work, was also identified as an area on which teachers need to give greater focus.
The support of children with SEN requirements and low achievers is also an area where the effectiveness of identification, planning and support by class teachers requires further focus. In addition, inspectors identified that there is a lack of resources to facilitate curriculum implementation to provide choice, challenge and support for children in KG.
There is much of a positive nature to be found in the ADEK report; a focus on the improvements in teaching, assessment and resources – together with the inevitable requirement to address the concerns about Arabic – should enable the school to continue on its route to improvement.
Abu Dhabi Indian School Wathba is a moderately-priced school with fees from April 2018, ranging from AED 8.640 in KG, to AED 19,440 in Grades 11 and 12.
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