The day of our review visit coincides with the school’s 70th Indian National Day celebrations. As we report in our detailed DPS REVIEW , we are treated to a spectacular display of dance, speech, sporting achievement and Indian national pride.
DPS is led by Principal and Director, Mrs Rashmi Nandkeolyar, who joined the school fourteen years ago. We are welcomed to Mrs Nandkeolyar’s office by her friendly team, offered refreshments and begin our review visit by asking about her own personal journey in education.
Mrs Nandkeolyar tells us that the ‘energy and new ideas’ of her team and students keeps her motivated and in a cycle of continual improvement.
Prior to moving to the UAE fourteen years ago, she had taught English in many schools in India, in particular Calcutta and Delhi. Mrs Nandkeolyar has a particular passion for performing arts, dance and drama, and is involved in many of these subjects as extra-curricular activities at DPS.
Her career had progressed through leadership positions such as School Administrator and Headmistress before she was posted to DPS Dubai as Principal. Mrs Nadkeolyar hold ones overarching goal for the school, for it to be a top performing school amongst all (not just Indian curriculum) schools in Dubai.
Mrs Nandkeolyar is particularly proud of the school’s “Multi-Disciplinary Annual Day”. A concert/performance which involves every DPS student. Designed to be a platform for each child’s strengths and passions, the event covers 12—14 different disciplines such as Science, English and a “Mock Parliament”. Parents are encouraged to attend and be involved as much as possible. As the proud Principal tells WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, “we value much more than just academic results at DPS”.
Regular health and wellbeing initiatives and a life skills programme (from Kindergarten and up) also complement academic life at DPS.
A less than balanced programme is sometimes a criticism of Indian schools, and Mrs Nandkeolyar was keen to stress that is most definitely not the case at DPS. In fact, the “rich curriculum” has been complemented in the past two KHDA reports. “We want to touch the interest of each child” she said, adding that “design thinking, critical thinking and rich experiences are something that happens every day at DPS. We are school that will find each child’s strength and nurture it”.
Professional development for teachers is led and delivered by the leadership team. A team of leaders travel to London, Miami and India for training every year and then relay what they have learnt in internal workshops. This ‘relay’ system is perhaps indicative of budget constraints not seen at higher fee schools, but nonetheless evidence of updated learning techniques can be seen in many areas of the school (for example, the use of the “Harkness Method” for student led dialogue in the older year groups) hopefully proving that the team have built a teacher development system that works well.
We speak to a team of key department leaders. The first point of emphasis for them is that they see themselves as stakeholders in the school “who are given authority and the freedom to innovate”. The teachers agree that the CBSE programme can have some limitations, but believe that the school does much to complement and improve the standard curriculum.
In terms of their own careers, they feel able to develop through the internal professional development which they describe as being ‘specific to the needs of our department and the school”. As well as internal workshops, the teachers are able to take online courses and workshops.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com team spoke to a panel of ten parents, with children spanning the entire school age range.
Parents had chosen DPS for a wide variety of reasons. Being a known brand was one (although the school is now no longer linked to the Delhi Public School Society, India); the curriculum, ambience, teachers, and the huge array of trophies, awards and achievements on display in reception being other reasons!
One parent in particular praised the inclusive nature of the school, saying that it had been the only school willing to accept their child who had some additional learning needs.
The parents felt that the school did a good job of keeping children connected to Indian culture, whilst also encouraging them to be “global citizens”. Parents believe that the school is egalitarian, with children from different backgrounds being valued for “what they give, not what they have”.
As with any school, parents see challenges ahead and some issues that need addressing. They hoped that the management team would become “more flexible and listen to parents when challenges occur”. They also hoped for a continued emphasis on wellbeing and happiness, and didn’t want to see their children “pushed too hard”.
The parents believe that all Indian curriculum schools have the challenge of “embracing change and connecting to the world of tomorrow”, DPS included. Reflecting on education in the UAE as a whole, they felt that their children might simply lack “street smarts” when compared with their peers at home in India!
Parents emphatically agree that the school represented good value for money. Some practical matters could be an irritation: local traffic being one, though they felt that the school had done all that they could to improve matters. Uniforms were generally well liked and reasonable quality, though parents disliked the white uniform (Grades 1-12) saying that it was easily stained.
Communication between home and school was described as good, with parents and teachers mostly using WhatsApp groups and weekly phone calls (in a specifically allocated time slot for each family) to discuss activities, events and each child’s progress.
School trips are reasonably priced and have useful links to the curriculum. Previous visits have included nearby places of interest in Dubai and Sharjah: The Dubai Mall, Ferrari World, Dubai Dolphinarium, Sega Republic etc. The school also organizes excursions to Indian cities and towns like Shimla, Jaipur etc. for senior students.
DPS offers a reasonable selection of extra-curricular activities such as swimming, cricket, volleyball, netball, calligraphy, science and gardening. Some sports (e.g. tennis) are an additional expense.
On the thorny issue of homework: parents tell our reviewer that the amount of homework can be a burden. That said, that they all agreed that it is the curriculum rather than the school that necessitates so much time spent in home study.
Our last port of call was to meet a panel of student leaders from across the school phases. The children are smartly turned out, most wearing blazers and we are impressed by their confidence and incredible good manners. Some memorable phrases from our discussion include:
One improvement for the school? The “canteen menu...they have made it healthier and we miss the ice cream sandwiches!”
We were able to observe activities in lessons across the school. In KG we were invited to join the children planting in their outdoor vegetable patch, and observed them documenting the growth and progress of the plants. In one of the older classrooms, we saw children using high tech Virtual Reality headsets. Classrooms are quite traditional in layout and design, with most having rows of desks and a teacher stood at the front delivering information.
DPS is a school that offers children a high quality Indian curriculum education at incredibly good value price. With a dedicated leader and team and immense pride in the school right across its community, we can see why the KHDA commends DPS as a “Very Good” school.
Delhi Private School Dubai 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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