GEMS Heritage Indian School is a CBSE curriculum school which opened in 2016 in temporary premises at the GEMS New Millennium School on the Al Khail Road. It has now relocated to its permanent home next to the IMG World of Adventures site in Dubailand.
GEMS Heritage School has been rated Good in its first inspection (the minimum rating sought by the KHDA) in the 2018-19 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...
GEMS Heritage Indian School was originally intended to share the premises with GEMS New Millennium School for twelve months only, but in time-honoured construction tradition, its move to a permanent purpose-built campus was delayed by a year, with the eventual move taking place April 2018.
Leadership comes in the form of Executive Principal Darryl Bloud, Principal Anjuli Murthy and Vice Principal Kapil Chaudhary. All three have been in the UAE for more than 20 years and have come from GEMS Modern Academy, one of the few Indian schools in Dubai to have obtained an Outstanding rating from the KHDA. This is without doubt a leadership team not only of immense experience, but also with a very fine pedigree.
GEMS Heritage is currently operational from KG to Grade 9. It will eventually offer an all through education. The school is being opened in phases, with the first phase having a capacity of 3,600 students. The eventual capacity of the school is 10,000 students; although currently, it has about 10% of that number. With some 1,100 students and 75 staff, the school is definitely only a fraction of its intended size and approximately 1/3rd of the way to towards the target for the first phase.
What about facilities?
At the present time, there are some 128 completed classrooms, three science labs, three ICT labs, two music rooms and a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) lab. The school also has a Renaissance Centre which is a room and a huge curving corridor with outside seating for small groups of students to work on robotics, nanotechnology and coding. There are four outdoor courtyards with different themes, an indoor gym, an outdoor sensory garden and a massive play area. There are range of impressive sporting facilities, including a cricket pitch, 20 cricket nets, indoor and outdoor, four tennis courts, a massive multipurpose sports hall and two outdoor football fields.
Sensibly, the school is being developed in three phases, and the second phase will see the main reception and construction of some additional classes and more labs. Phase three will expand the number of classrooms, as the school goes up to Grade 12.
What about the curriculum?
In addition to the CBSE curriculum, the school also teaches 21st Century Skills which include a focus on "four critical areas for development: Collaboration and teamwork. Creativity and imagination. Critical thinking. Problem solving". In support of the development of these skills, GEMS Heritage is ensuring that an up to date approach to traditional Science and Maths subjects is provided through its STEaM curriculum, which is the traditional STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) with the addition of art. This integrated, interdisciplinary approach aims to "increase collaborative opportunities and rigour, encourage critical thinking, improve student achievement and enhance personal growth through authentic learning opportunities".
The Design Thinking space or The Renaissance Centre is the hub for emerging technologies, including the mobile Internet, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and advanced genomics. At GEMS Heritage, teachers are developing their skills in teaching with emerging technologies (tablets, iPads, Smart Boards, digital cameras, computers), while students are using advanced technology to shape how they learn. By embracing and integrating technology in the classroom, GEMS Heritage aims to provide students with the skills for a successful life outside of school.
The school’s other key aim is to achieve a balanced approach from early years onwards, and to emphasise that sports and the arts is an integral part of the curriculum - not a hobby.
In order to support this intention, the school has recently launched a cricket academy where cricketing legend Brian Lara played cricket with the boys and girls at the school. Executive Principal Mr. Bloud explained how this is very much part of what makes the school unique when compared to other CBSE schools in the UAE.
“You will not find another school with such an integrated approach to performing arts and sports. Both are integrated into the curriculum in the students’ timetable in the mornings. We play on the strengths and the interest of each child to choose what they want to be professionally trained in – say cricket or Kathak, the Indian classical dance. They then get specific training in that during their PE or drama lesson.” The Heritage Cricket Academy uses coaches from an outside provider and practice takes place during school hours.
The Academy has been launched with the aim of developing professionals by the time they are 17 years of age. Indian parents are often willing to let their children start to learn a game, but schools do not generally have the specialists to be able to provide professional training within the curriculum. This is what GEMS Heritage aims to offer.
In tandem with the sports focus, the school has also put in place arrangements to enable children who are more inclined towards the arts to participate. The school aims to nurture creativity in students by involving them in a whole spectrum of Performing and Creative Arts, including dance, theatre, performance and music for which purpose-designed Drama and Performance Arts studios are provided. Currently, specialised Indian performing dance and music classes are organised by Malhaar Centre. 300 of students signed up with Malhaar to learn Indian dance and music, which is not only integrated in the curriculum with classes being held in the mornings, during school hours, but is also available as an after school activity. Since an external supplier is used, classes are an additional cost to parents, but these are said to be very affordable at AED 35 per hour.
Historically, much comment has been made about the tendency of Indian curriculum schools to place a great deal of emphasis on rote learning, and learning to the test, which, whilst ensuring that students were well grounded in the basics, offered relatively little opportunity for them to develop their innovation, enquiry and creative skills. The inclusion of creative and arts subjects in particular, were generally given little attention. This appears to be changing.
While GEMS Heritage is not unique in incorporating Art and Sport into its curriculum, it is in the level of integration into the school timetable, and the emphasis being given to a broader, more balanced CBSE framework that makes its offering different. It will be interesting to see how traditional Indian families deal with this different focus. It will also be interesting to see how successful the school has been in the eyes of the DSIB inspection team - the first inspection is due in the 2019-20 academic year.
Also: See the GEMS Heritage review on our sister site, SchoolsCompared.com, here.
KHDA approved fees for GEMS Heritage Indian School start at AED 14,000 for Pre-KG (from 2019-2020) and KG1, AED 16,000 for KG2, AED 18,000 for Grades 1 to 4, and go up to AED 20,000 for Grades 5 through 8, and AED 22,000 for Grade 9. During the 2018-19 academic year, a discount of 10% is available. Fees range from AED 12,600 to AED 19,800 accordingly.
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