Private English International School (PIES), in Abu Dhabi's Mussafah area, is far better known as the Bhavans Abu Dhabi branch of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan group of schools. PIES was the first UAE school managed by BVB; an arrangement that is evidently viewed positively by ADEK, which rated the school Very Good in the 2018-19 inspection round, and again in 2021-22. This is the second-highest achievable rating which only three Indian curriculum schools have achieved!
Private International English School (PIES), Abu Dhabi was established in 2010 and is a part of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, founded in 1938 by Dr. K. M. Munshi, a chief member of India’s constituent assembly. The society aims to represent Indian culture and reflect the ethos of Indian traditions.
Nowadays, the Bhavan runs over 400 schools in India and 10 international centres in the UK, USA, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Portugal, and schools in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. Private International English School, Abu Dhabi was the first school in the UAE to open in collaboration with BVB. It is an English medium, day boarding school affiliated to the CBSE, Delhi. There are two further schools in the UAE, the Al Saad Indian School Al Ain and Wise Indian Academy Ajman, which appears to have grown out of the defunct Ajman branch of Al Saad Indian School.
Private International English School's Vision is:
- To prepare global citizens
- To provide leadership for future
Its Mission is:
To make the students mentally developed, physically strong, socially adjusted, emotionally balanced, and technically talented.
The school focuses on "The four pillars of education – learning to know, learning to do, learning to live and learning to be".
The school currently has approximately 1,900 students studying from pre-KG to Grade 12. The student population of the school is almost entirely Indian, with a small (1%) coming from Nepal. A teacher to student ratio of 1:19 is average for an Indian curriculum school. The teacher:student ratio in 2019 was 1:15 according to the previous report, suggesting that student numbers have remained similar, but teaching staff have been reduced.
According to the school website, it has some 130 teachers from India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Sudan who support the students. This number appears to be somewhat out of date as the ADEK inspection report from October 2021 indicates a similar number of students, but a teaching staff of only 99. Expectations of teachers is clearly high, with staff expected to work on Saturdays to meet with each other and to provide additional support to students in need of this.
Evidently, teachers do not mind this arrangement; historically staff turnover has averaged 5% - very much below the 20-22% average across international schools in the UAE. Most Indian-staffed schools do tend to have a lower ratio, but such a low turnover is the exception, and a sign of a faculty who are satisfied with the employment and their employers!
The experience of teachers at PIES ranges from three to almost 30 years. Junior level staff are trained by the more experienced teachers, with senior teachers training the junior teachers and taking classes for junior students. This blend is seen as a strength by the school. Almost all teachers have a Post Graduate Degree in their respective subject with all teachers having Bachelor’s in Education, which is mandatory for a teaching position.
PIES follows the CBSE curriculum with a Montessori based approach in KG. At the Montessori level, children are encouraged to establish their independence, whilst the teacher acts as a facilitator, exposing the children to knowledge based on a thematic curriculum, encouraging the development of skills for lifelong learning and instilling a sensitivity to aesthetics through creative arts.
The Primary school follows an integrated and interlinked curriculum, framed within the guidelines provided by NCERT, aimed at connecting knowledge to life outside the school and real life situations, and providing activities to ensure holistic learning and personality development. There is continuous and comprehensive evaluation of students on an on-going basis.
At the Middle and Secondary level the prescribed NCERT curriculum is followed. The focus remains on the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, a second language (either Hindi or French), ICT, Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies or Moral Science and Life Skills. The focus is on providing the opportunity to learn through everyday experiences.
In Senior Secondary (Grades 11 and 12), the focus is on the preparation of the students for CBSE competitive examinations with classes split into Science and Commerce streams.
In line with its holistic approach. the school also offers a range of Extra-curricular activities, based around Art, Music, Sports, and Aerobics. The school also encourages students to see the wider world through a series of overseas visits which have included locations such as the USA, China, the UK and India. The cost varies depending on air fares and related expenses but the trips are organised on a non-profit basis.
PIES says that it is able to support students with additional learning needs with the assistance of a Special Needs Coordinator and assistant who support subject teachers at the class level through the practice of differentiated teaching, designed to suit the various ability levels of children. However, the most recent ADEK inspection suggests that at 0.25%, the number of students with additional needs that the school accepts is very much on the lower end.
At the time of the last inspection, PIES had under 5 students with additional learning needs, but it is evident that the school has prepared itself to support students of all abilities. The 2018-19 ADEK inspection report notes that "SEN and G&T students are identified quickly and they receive highly effective systematic support and monitoring."
"Students with special educational needs (SEN) are now better supported in lessons. The coordinator works with teachers to plan activities which ensure that needs are met. Students also benefit from small group lessons where planned curriculum activities can be studied with closer support. SEN students make very good progress which matches that of their peers".
Having now graduated two Grade 12 classes, although PIES does not publish comprehensive exam result information, it did confirm to us at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that in the March 2019 CBSE Board examinations, 93% of students achieved above 80% marks, whilst 50% of students achieved over 90%.
However, the 2018-19 ADEK report notes that "Students are well-prepared for the CBSE international examinations. The school enters students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) mock examinations and involves all Grade 4 and Grade 8 students in the ‘question a day’ initiative in preparation for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments!.
With the impact of Covid 19 in 2020 and 2021, which resulted in cancellation of examinations, it appears that 2022 and 2023 gave students the opportunity to show their abilities under full exam conditions again.
The school website notes that its students had a 100% success rate in 2023 in Grades X and XII with the overall Grade X topper achieving 98%. In Grade XII, the Science stream topper was awarded 97.6%. whilst the Commerce stream topper achieved 94% .
With this level of academic success, the school states that 100% of senior students go on to tertiary education, with the most population destinations being the UK, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a wide range of Indian universities.
Private International English School (PIES) is located on one of the largest campuses in the Mussafah area on a 12,000 sq meter plot, which includes a built up area of 5,200 sq.mtrs and a playground area of 1,100 sq.mtrs. The campus is purpose built, supports classroom spaces for music, art, and drama, and includes state-of -the-art facilities for students at all grade levels. Students enjoy classrooms that are both modern and spacious, providing a safe and pleasant learning environment.
In addition to the classrooms, the school offers a range of specialist classrooms and facilities, including art and crafts rooms, music and dance rooms, and an indoor play area for the juniors, facilities for Yoga and Aerobics, a Multi-Purpose fully furnished Auditorium and Performing Art Room, fully equipped labs for Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, a large and spacious cafeteria, and a library with 10,000 books for children.
In its latest inspection in 2018-19, PIES was awarded a Very Good rating by the ADEK inspection team.
This was a significant achievement - one rating below the highest available Outstanding rating - and PIES was the only Indian curriculum school in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to have managed this step up.
With the postponement of inspections in early 2019, as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, the school did not receive a subsequent inspection by the ADEK team until October 2021, when it was again awarded the Very Good rating. Bright Riders School Abu Dhabi and St. Joseph's School were also awarded the Very Good rating in this post-Covid inspection round.
For reasons that have not been explained (we assume to enable inspections to take place at all schools that had not been inspected in 2019 and 2020), the inspection team reviewed only four of the six key performance standards and issued abbreviated reports without commentary.
As a result, it is difficult to make a direct comparison, with 29% of measures not being assessed. What can be seen, is that whereas in 2018-19, 35% of measures were rated Outstanding, 59% Very Good and 6% Good, in the 2021 inspection, the outcomes in the latest report show an increase in Very Good ratings to 65%, with no Good ratings - suggesting an improvement to Very Good from the Good level.
If you would like to read the inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the strengths of the school and those areas that may still be improved - you will find it here.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received limited feedback from parents to our school survey, and given the high regard in which the school appears to be held, we are unsurprised to see that those parents have rated the school 4.2/5 - an approval rating of 84%. However, given the small number of responses, we would very much like to hear from the current school community.
If you are a parent, teacher or senior student at PIES, please share your experience and opinions with other potential members of your community and complete our survey here.
The 2018-19 ADEK inspection report noted that "Parents’ outstanding involvement promotes their children’s academic and personal development in all phases. Partnerships between parents and school are outstanding. Parents’ views are sought and acted upon by school leaders. Communication is highly effective enabling parents to be continuously informed about school events and student progress". The 2021 report found the partnership with parents to be Very Good.
Interestingly, Private International English School described its strengths to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com as:
"Academic Excellence and International Assessments. We make learning fun-filled. Our facilities and the total ambiance are child friendly, and conducive for learning. The amount of homework is scientifically fixed here, and we always wish our children, especially in the KG and the Primary levels to go home and spend quality time with their parents and siblings".
The most recent CBSE Board results and the ADEK inspection findings appear to support these claims.
PIES is now one of three Indian curriculum schools, and the first in Abu Dhabi, to have achieved a Very Good rating. We can only assume that demand for the school will continue to grow as word gets out about its obvious strengths.
Fees are in the low to mid-range according to ADEK. Irritatingly, the school does not publish its fees on its website, but the TAMM website, which receives its data from ADEK shows that fees start at AED 10,200 in KG and rise to AED 19,380 in Grade 12. There are additional charges for books which have historically been at far below prices than those charged at other schools.
(Bhavans) Private International English School is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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