Bright Riders School is a KG to Grade 12 CBSE curriculum school located in Mohammed bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi. It grew out of a kindergarten founded in the city in 1978 and relocated to its modern premises in 2013.
The story so far...
Bright Riders School (BRS) grew out of the Indian Community Kindergarten (ICK) which was established in 1975 and, until its closure, catered to 500 students. BRS, run by the same management company, was launched in 2013 and the newer school has a capacity to cater to over 4,000 students. The group operates two further branches of Bright Riders School, the first in Al Wathba South/Al Dhafra, which opened in 2014, and the second in Dubai, which opened in 2018.
The school's website states that "In partnership with parents and the greater community, Bright Riders School intends to provide a quality education so that all students are able to reach their full potential within a caring, secure, and stimulating environment".
The school's Chairman, well-known Indian businessman Dr. B.R. Shetty, introduces the school as follows:
Bright Riders is not just a school. It is a system created for the bright and curious minds to aim for a standard set high in an atmosphere of challenge and support, in order to bring out their best as learners and as individuals. Embracing diversity and the pursuit of excellence, we have created this world-class facility to provide a rich and invigorating learning experience, so that students discover and develop talents as scholars, artists, and athletes. We strive to develop in students a lifelong love of learning, responsible citizenship, and personal integrity, which are grounded in the values of trust, honesty, and respect.
The school's Principal, Dr. Rishikesh Padegaonkar, joined BRS prior to its opening at the new campus in 2012 and introduces his perspective on the education that BRS offers:
For education to be complete, it must include not only the training of the intellect but also the refinement of the heart and the discipline of the spirit. Through explicit and implicit school based activities we provide conscious, relevant opportunities to enable our young learners to acquire knowledge, skills and the habits of mind and heart that will develop them into confident, creative individuals as well as active, informed 21st Century citizens.
The school's vision is "To nurture youth to grow into full-fledged personalities of the future, by drawing out the best in them through support in all forms of learning".
Its Mission is clearly stated:
The staff, parents and members of the School Board of BRS aim to encourage each student in all aspects of learning by:
The school has a total capacity of 4,100 students, and at the time of its last ADEK inspection in 2016-17, some 3,536 students attended BRS. The vast majority are Indian passport holders (99%), with a small proportion of Pakistani and Sri Lankan students (each less than 0.5%) making up the other main nationalities. At the time of the last inspection, only a small number of students (12) has been identified with SEN requirements, whilst approximately 30 had been identified with intellectual gifts and talents (G&T).
Student numbers are spread across the school in a rather more balanced way than is often the situation in relatively new schools, where the KG and Primary school usually heavily outweighs the Secondary school cohort. In the Primary school, 496 KG students represent approximately 15% of the total, whilst a further 1,677 Grade 1 to 4 students make up 47% of the student population. The Middle school (from Grades 5-8) account for 917 students (26%) and the Senior school, a further 446 students.
The school is committed to a maximum class size of 30 - high by many international school standards - and with a teacher: student ratio of 1:23 in KG, it would seem that this level has not yet been reached. The staff:student ratio from Grade 1 upwards averages 1:16 - a much healthier number that should enable staff to assess and support their students on an individual basis, with necessary adaptations to the curriculum to meet their needs. Classes are mixed gender from KG to Grade 4, and then single gender from Grade 5 onwards.
Students are supported by some 160 teachers and 25 teaching assistants. Staff turnover, at 12% is a little on the high side for an Indian curriculum school, although well below the average for international schools in the UAE which tends to be around 20-22%.
What about the curriculum?
Bright Riders School follows the CBSE curriculum with the medium of instruction being English, offering both a Science and a Commerce stream in Grades XI and XII.
BRS believes that competency is a cluster of knowledge, skills and attitudes that reflect in students’ performance of a task. The class room is seen as the training ground and opportunities are provided to practice problem solving and critical thinking skills that help in improving competencies. The school follows a digital approach to teaching providing classrooms enhanced with technological equipment for the purpose of better learning and teaching.
Assessment of learning is formative in nature throughout the Kindergarten and Primary school and a combination of Formative and Summative assessments through Middle and High school. Specific strategies and techniques are used to measure progress of individual student’s knowledge, the ability to apply that knowledge to real world situations, critically reflect on acquired knowledge and communicate results effectively, adding value to the knowledge gained.
As would be expected, core subjects include Maths, English, Science/EVS, ICT, Music, Art and PE as well as the core Arabic subjects of Arabic as an additional language, Islamic and Social Studies. Students also study Hindi from Grade 3. Unusually for an Indian curriculum school, BRS places a particular emphasis on Art and craft which is a specially focused subject, and is part of the regular academic programme at the school.
Students in High School prepare for their Grade XII exams either in the Science or Commerce stream. The Science stream offers options based around a choice of four subjects from among Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, Computer Science, Economics, Informatics Practices, Physical Education, and Psychology.
The Commerce stream offers the option choice from among Accountancy, Business Studies, Economics, Informatics Practices, Mathematics, Physical Education, and Psychology. Core subjects for both students streams include English, Arabic, Work Experience, General Knowledge/Islamic studies, regular P.E./games and library.
There does seem to be a broad and holistic approach to students' education at BRS, where they are able to routinely participate in a wide range of clubs, sports and co-curricular activities, such as aerobics, swimming, art, vocal and instrumental music and dance. Other activities include house competitions and activity days; sports events (inter-school for older students); arts and crafts club; debating and environment clubs (for middle/upper students); games/computer club; and a book club.
A wide range of socially-based activities are also popular with students - the ADEK report notes that "Students throughout the school appreciate opportunities to participate in community service projects and often initiate them, for example in donating a large quantity of stationery to a refugee camp through the Red Crescent society. KG children have donated toys to orphanages. Most students understand their responsibilities within the school community, for example by taking care of the building and providing radio entertainment during break times. Students in all grades show a well-developed work ethic.
Students of all grades are environmentally conscious. Older students have conducted a water and waste audit to check on the wastage of water at home and school,and this had an impact on their personal conduct. The school is involved in a sustainability project through the ‘Roots and Shoots’internet portal to influence positive environmental change. Students in the eco club conducted a competition to promote a ban on plastic usage in school and campaigned for the school to save paper by printing on both sides. Grades 11 and 12 students participated in a model United Nations (MUN) activity during which they enthusiastically debated plastics pollution,representing views from 20 countries".
What about Academic Achievement?
Unfortunately, Bright Riders School - in line with many Indian curriculum schools - focuses all of its attention on its Toppers. It is simply not possible to gauge from the details provided how well the entire cohort performed - by providing an average score across all subjects and students - nor, does the school reveal how many students appeared for the examinations. This is a great pity in our view, since it prevents the school celebrating its students' achievements as a whole, and provides insufficient information to enable prospective parents or students to conclude how successful overall the school is academically.
Having said this, we do know that in the 2018-19 Grade XII examinations, the Toppers achieved overall marks of 97.6%, 96%, 95.4% and 95.2%), The eight Subject Toppers achieved scores from 100% (for Computer Science and Maths) to 86% for Accountancy.
The most recent ADEK report also notes that a large minority of Grades 3 to 10 students participated in external assessments set by the International Benchmark Test (IBT) through the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in English, mathematics and science. The average performance levels were similar to international averages.
In Grades 10 and 12 CBSE Board examinations in English the large majority of students attain levels above curriculum standards, in mathematics and science, the large majority of Grade 10 students attain levels above curriculum standards and in Grade 12 the large minority of students are in line. However, [our emphasis] overall, over two years, results demonstrate a decline, with the exception of Grade 10 English results.
This will clearly need to be an area of focus for the school.
What about the Facilities?
BRS Abu Dhabi is set on a large campus of 36,000 square meters. Smart classrooms enable teachers to use the resources available on the internet as well as the content available on the internal server of the school.
Facilities at the school include libraries, which house a vast collection of 15,000 books, digital sources, resources and information, separate labs for Biology, Chemistry, Physics and ICT, indoor and shaded outdoor play areas; an athletic track, a high jump and long jump pit, cricket and soccer field, a basket/volleyball court and a 25m indoor swimming pool.
Indoor Facilities include an indoor air-conditioned sports facility which includes a Multipurpose Hall for Aerobics/Gymnasium with marked areas for Indoor Basketball, Indoor Badminton, Indoor Table Tennis, Chess/Carom and an Adventure play area for Kindergarten Students.
The 2,200 sq.m. auditorium is a feature of which the school is particularly proud. It can accommodate up to 1700 individuals and is fully provided with a Surround sound system, theatrical lighting, WIFI connection, projector and projection screens,a podium and two green rooms.
What the inspectors say
Bright Riders School Abu Dhabi was rated Good on its most recent inspection in 2016-17 by the ADEK inspection team. In fact, BRS is clearly making improvements across the board (despite the concerns expressed about CBSE results), with Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills, and the Protection, care, guidance and support of students being rated Very Good.
Given that the school was rated Weak in its first inspection in 2014-15, and Acceptable in 2015-16, its progress to a Good overall rating only one year later (usually Abu Dhabi schools are inspected every two years), is an achievement that should not be underestimated!
Inspectors commented on the progress made since the previous inspection, noting that "The school has made good progress in addressing recommendations from the previous inspection. It has further developed assessment data systems; these are used effectively to analyse students’ performance against Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and standards, particularly in the high school and also to inform school improvement strategies. The use of assessment results to set appropriately challenging targets for individual students has also been initiated. The use of external standardised assessment has increased; this provides very useful comparative data for the large minority of Grades 3 to 10 students.
The quality of teaching and learning has improved so that, overall, lessons are more consistently good and better. Teachers now share learning objectives in all lessons, and in the most effective lessons, they revisit so that students understand what they need to do to improve further. This remains an ongoing area for development. In most lessons teachers now plan opportunities for students to develop a wider range of learning skills. More effective teachers are increasingly providing activities which provide challenge for higher achieving students.
The role of middle leaders and subject coordinators has widened to include responsibility for observing and impacting on the quality of teaching and learning. Increasing the focus on effective learning remains an area for development.The principal, senior leaders and school staff have demonstrated good capacity to sustain further improvement".
Overall Students' attainment was found to be Good. In common with many international schools, Arabic remains a challenge, and was found to be increasingly Weak across the higher grades of the school. This is something that BRS will need to address - the focus on Arabic among the regulators in the UAE is such a strong one, that there will doubtless be real concern if sufficient improvements are not made.
Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills are a strength of BRS. Students demonstrate high levels of self-discipline and have keen attitudes to learning.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students is also a strength of BRS. Inspectors noted that "Students’ well-being is a priority for all staff, who contribute positively to the high-quality protection, care, guidance and support students receive. Parents are extremely supportive and satisfied with their children’s academic achievements and personal development at school".
Overall, the ADEK inspection team found the strengths of BRS to be:
Those key areas for improvement identified by the inspection team were:
Almost invariably the link between the quality of teaching and assessment, and the curriculum - and the ability of teachers to differentiate and adapt it to meet the needs of individual students - is at the core of Student Achievement. And almost inevitably, it is on these two key performance standards, together with the leadership of the school to address the areas for improvement identified - on which the inspection report focuses.
Based on its progress on the path towards improvement over the previous three years, Bright Riders School Abu Dhabi clearly has the capacity to continue deliver not only a Good education, but even a Very Good one. We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com look forward to seeing the results of the 2018-19 ADEK inspection which is due to be published in the current year.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent survey has received a limited number of responses from parents at Bright Riders School Abu Dhabi. Overall, the results are less positive than we would have expected for a school that apparently has good relationships with parents and and is offering a good quality of education. Main concerns seem to revolve around fee levels - evidently felt to be too high for the quality being provided - and dissatisfaction with the level of feedback provided by the school. Bullying also appears to be a significant issue for those parents who have responded. Under 1 in 2 parents would recommend the school to others and over half felt that the standard of education offered did not match the level that would be offered in their home country.
If you are a parent at Bright Riders School Abu Dhabi, please do share your feedback on the school by completing our Parent Opinion Survey here.
Fees at Bright Riders School Abu Dhabi fall within the affordable range, starting at AED 9,200 in KG1 and 2, rising to AED 19,100 in Grade 12.
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