Bilva Indian School is a relatively new and improving CBSE Curriculum school located in Al Qusais that opened in 2014. It currently caters to boys and girls ages 4 - 14 and will expand its provision annually until reaching Grade 12.
Bilva Indian School has been rated Good, an improvement from Acceptable last year and Weak in its first inspection, in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full reports have been published.
The story so far...
Bilva Indian School is a relatively new school offering the CBSE curriculum. The Chairman of BIS is Dr. Prabhakar Kore, a well-known name in the field of Indian education. As the Chairman of the KLE Educational Society since 1984, he has contributed significantly to the society’s emergence as a premier education provider through more than 200 educational institutions spread across India.
The school currently has 58 teachers and a further 25 teaching assistants, providing a staff:student ratio of 1:11 - a number that ensures plentiful individual attention whilst the school is growing, but likely to change as further students join the school. Student numbers have reduced slightly in the past academic year, to around 600. Approximately 5% of students are Students of Determination with SEND requirements.
The school’s Mission statement notes
“At Bilva Indian School we value every student. We work together as a community to ensure that students develop well in all aspects of learning, so that they are equipped to face the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century wherever they may be. To do this: We provide the best possible learning opportunities in academic subjects, personal development, moral values and life skills. Staff members and students work together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual harmony”.
Whilst Bilva Indian School follows the CBSE curriculum, aimed at providing a high quality education based on Indian culture and values with an international outlook, the Kindergarten and Early Years’ curriculum is based on the guidelines of the (UK) EYFS and Montessori approaches to learning. Bilva stands for newness, regeneration, purity, continuity of life... and this is what the school says it strives to provide to its students.
BIS believes that a student reaches his or her full potential through a rounded set of activities. “While academic inputs are important, it is equally important to develop the childʼs hidden talents through a wide range of extracurricular activities. This alone will lead to the overall holistic development of the child”.
The school is located in a large modern building in the Al Ghusais Education Zone area. The three storey building offers shared facilities including a library and ICT room, an indoor Yoga/PE room, an Art and Craft room and Music room. A spacious auditorium with a seating capacity of thousand has a control room for balancing lights and sound, and a large backstage area with sufficient green rooms. A school canteen offers a range of healthy snacks and beverages at affordable prices and spacious dining areas are provided on each floor for children who bring their own meals and snacks.
Well-resourced classrooms include interactive white boards enabling ICT resources to be integrated within each classroom. Lockers are provided for each student at the senior level to avoid carrying heavy bags to school.
Other facilities include a language lab with appropriate hardware and software to enhance student's linguistic skills in English, Arabic and French. The language lab offers a programme for online assignments and extended learning. A state of the art Science lab with all the apparatus needed to meet the demands of the CBSE syllabus is also provided.
Outside, in addition to shaded area and a sand pit for KG children, the school has an artificial turf football field, completely equipped with fencing, marking and goal posts. A new soccer field and running tracks around the soccer field have recently been developed. Other sports facilities include a tennis court and an indoor air-conditioned swimming pool which has a shallow and a deep end making it accessible to all students. Outdoor sports facilities enable teachers to offer cricket, football, volleyball, table tennis, shuttle badminton and athletics as part of the PE programme.
BIS also offers a reasonably wide range of teacher-led ECA’s that include sports such as Table Tennis, Basket Ball, Badminton, Cricket, Yoga, Football, Lawn Tennis and Volleyball. On the arts side, the school offers Art, Craft, Music, Drama, Dance, Music and Yoga, together with Board Games and Quizzes.
Following the initial KHDA report in 2016-17 in which the school was rated Weak, significant changes have clearly been made at both a leadership level (with the appointment of a new Principal and Vice Principal) and through a staff turnover of 19% - thus one in five teachers were new in 2017-18. This is a reduction on the 30% turnover in 2016-17, but it is to be hoped that the staffing situation will now stabilise.
It appears that the Governors of the school took decisive action to address weaknesses identified in the first inspection. The impact has clearly been positive in light of the most recent KHDA report for 2017-18 which the school announced on its website as follows:
“We are delighted that the KHDA website has now published our school inspection report. It tells a very positive story of the school's current success. Of the 61 judgments that are made almost half are good and none are below acceptable. Compared to the previous report of 2016-17, 39 judgements have improved by one level and 9 by two levels. Bilva is moving from strength to strength”.
Whilst the achievement of students is found to be largely Acceptable – an improvement from Weak in almost all judgements in the first inspection report – the vast majority of other judgements are rated Good. This is a considerable achievement. Clearly there is more to be done – Acceptable is the minimum rating expected by the KHDA, whose aim is to ensure that all schools are rated Good or above, but BIS should be congratulated on the progress made in the past academic year.
What the inspectors said
The Inspection team noted that the school performs best in relation to the clear direction set by the school leadership, which ensures that there is a continuing focus on improvement in a positive learning environment. They praise improved assessment procedures and improved attainment and progress in English, Mathematics and Science. Although attainment and progress are acceptable in Arabic, similar rates of improvement have yet to be seen. Progress in English in the middle school has improved particularly well and attainment is now good.
Students’ personal and social development and their understanding of Islamic values and Emirati culture and the inclusive ethos of the school that ensures all students are provided with good care and support - particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – also received positive feedback. Students’ personal and social development is a strength of the school.
Teaching has improved, particularly in the middle phase where it is now good. Better use is being made of assessment information to check students’ progress and to support the learning of individual students, though this remains an area for improvement. Whilst curriculum adaptation is acceptable and the differing needs of students with SEND are well met, there is not enough modification to consistently meet the needs of the most able.
The inspectors found that the curriculum has improved and is now good in all phases. UAE social studies is well integrated and students are being provided with more opportunities to be innovative.
Leadership and management of the school are much improved. The school is well staffed with suitably qualified teachers. Governance and partnerships with parents are also improving. Interestingly, the KHDA inspection team reserves specific criticism for parents and notes that not all parents ensure that their children are in regular attendance; as a result, attendance is only acceptable.
The inspectors’ main recommendations for improvement focus on the need to accelerate students' progress in Arabic, so it at least matches that seen in other subjects and to ensure that teaching is consistently good and better, particularly in the Kindergarten and primary phases, by ensuring that learning activities are well matched to students’ ages and abilities, especially those at the upper end of the ability range.
The school also needs to develop the skills of middle leaders so that they can identify and eliminate weaknesses in teaching and fully support the drive for improvement and to provide all governors with all the necessary information to hold leaders fully to account for students' outcomes.
What parents say
The KHDA inspection report notes that parents are very supportive and are becoming more involved in the life of the school. Through informal coffee mornings and a parents’ committee, they are able to express their views on school policies and their children’s education. Parents speak positively of the approachability of teachers and senior staff.
In addition, a majority of parents responded to the KHDA pre-inspection survey. Almost all of these were satisfied with the quality of education the school provides. They were satisfied with provision for students with SEND. A few respondents indicated concerns about school leadership; however, Inspection findings indicate improved school leadership is having a positive impact on both provision and outcomes for students.
Whichschooladvisor.com is encouraged by the very decisive and positive steps taken at BIS to address the concerns raised in their original inspection. The challenge now will be for the school to continue to build on the very positive steps taken in the past academic year and to raise the overall performance to the next level.
Fees at BIS range from AED 12,000 in KG1 to AED 21,000 in Grade 8. Fees are payable in 10 monthly instalments.
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