An all through school, GEMS Modern Academy (previously, Dubai Modern High School) educates children aged three (pre-KG) to 18 years of age. The school is the only Indian curriculum school to be ranked Outstanding by the KHDA and offers the CICSE curriculum to grade 12, with an alternative International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme option in grades 11 and 12.
The Story So Far
GEMS Modern Academy was originally located in the Karama area of Dubai. It opened with 200 students in 1986 but grew rapidly, firstly after its move to a campus located in Al Safa, and more recently to its purpose-built campus at Nad Al Sheba.
GEMS Modern Academy is currently home to over 3,825 students taught by 234 teachers and 72 teaching assistants. Inevitably, the vast majority of students are Indian nationals. GEMS Modern is also notable for the significant number of Students of Determination registered at the school with some 360 students supported by the SEN team. GEMS Modern Academy is one of the few schools in Dubai to be rated Outstanding for its provision and support of students with additional learning needs by the KHDA's inspectors.
The teacher to student ratio is a 1:16 - mid to low for an Indian curriculum school. Teacher turnover in 2017-18 was almost 10%, double the turnover of 5% a year ago, but still relatively low for the UAE, and more in line with Indian schools that suffer less from teacher attrition. Clearly, in GEMS Modern Academy's case, this level of stability is an important factor in the success of the school.
What about the curriculum?
The school follows the Indian CICSE curriculum from Grade 1 to Grade 12 with an additional option of the International Baccalaureate Diploma for the post 16 students seeking an international (as opposed to Indian) University entry qualification. GEMS Modern has offered the IB DP since 2014, and this appears to be a recognition that many students will carry on their tertiary education outside of India.
Find out more about the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme here.
Children in the KG section follow the English National Curriculum-based Early Years Foundation Stage, recognised as a leader globally. Based on a practical, hands-on approach and learning through play, the curriculum aims to develop children with a focus on the seven interconnected core areas which include Communication and Language, Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design.
GEMS Modern offers a wide range of Extra-curricular activities aimed at the holistic development of every child through the compulsory Activities for Curriculum Enrichment (ACE) programme. Students from Grades 6 to 12 participate two days per week in these after-school activities. The school encourages children to enjoy their game, club or activity, "as the fun element is important and should not be lost".
The ACE programme also encompasses the Accelerator programme which is designed to challenge students and to nurture their creative thinking and problem solving skills. This has been divided into five parts - Callido and Occams Razor (Problem Solving and Critical thinking), Online courses, Mentoring (Enhancement classes for students who need extra support in any particular subject) and Circinate (for Gifted and Talented and high achiever students.)
What about the facilities?
GEMS Modern Academy is housed in a large purpose-built complex at Nad Al Sheba - between the Al Ain and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed highways. In addition to the usual range of classrooms, the facilities include five ICT Suites, four Computer trolleys with laptops for use in classrooms, a S.T.E.M Lab, the Budhayana – The Spark Lab – Makers Space Innovation Centre, the Senior School Library, the Primary Learning Centre, the Discovery Centre, an IB Lounge, and Learning corridors. Outside a Meditation Garden, Planter’s Patch and Sensorial Garden provide restful areas and greenery.
Extensive sports facilities include four Basketball courts, two Football Fields, a Cricket pitch, Volleyball court, an 8-lane synthetic track with areas for field events including long jump, Shot put, Discus and javelin, two 25 meter swimming pools (one for Primary Students and a main pool with facilities for water polo), five Cricket nets with flood lights, three Tennis courts, a Multipurpose hall (also used for assemblies, Drama and Musical productions) with markings for Badminton and Basketball, a fully equipped Gym, and a Cycling and roller skating track.
What about academic achievement?
As with other GEMS Education schools, Dubai Modern aims to develop the person as well as the student, acknowledged by the KHDA which noted the school produces well rounded and confident individuals, as well as fostering talent at the school.
This is important. Previous feedback from parents to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com had suggested too strong a focus on the academic over the 'human'. GEMS Modern seems to have taken this on board and acted upon it.
Unlike most GEMS schools, information about exam results is posted on the school's website.
For the 2019 ICSE (Grade 10) exams, the average for the cohort was 90.1%. 64.8 percent of students received an aggregate of 90 percent or more in the ICSE examinations and there was a 100% pass rate. Unfortunately, the school did not reveal the number of students who presented themselves for the exams. However, we do know that 43 students scored 100% in Computer Application, 10 students scored 100% in History, Civics and Geography, 9 students each scored 100% in Commercial Application and in Economics, 7 students scored 100% in Mathematics, four students scored 100% in Environmental Application, and two students scored a perfect 100% in Science.
In the ISC (Grade 12) examinations, the overall average for the cohort of 144 students was 86.8%. 47.9% (compared with 55.9% in 2017) of students received an aggregate of 90 percent or above, with a 100% pass rate. Five students scored 100% in Computer Science, three students scored 100 % in Mathematics and Commerce, and one student each scored 100% in Economics, Psychology, Accounts and Physics.
In the May 2017 exams, Atharva Pulujkar, 17, set a record for his school when he became the first valedictorian to be named the UAE’s top science pupil. He planned to attend Imperial College, London, to study Chemical Engineering.
For the first time in 2017, the school also published its IB Diploma Results. Of the 30 candidates registered for the May 2017 session, 24 were Diploma Candidates and 6 were IB Courses candidates, sitting a reduced number of subject papers and without the Core requirements of Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay. The average overall point score obtained by Diploma candidates was 33 points, far exceeding the world average of 30 points. In addition, 8% of candidates achieved 40 points or higher, 29% achieved 35 points or higher and 71% achieved 30 points or higher. One student secured 44 out of a maximum of 45 points.
In 2019, the IB results indicated that 66 students (so more than double the cohort two years ago) sat the IB Diploma achieving an average of 34.6 points with 13% achieving 40 points or more.
GEMS Modern can be deservedly proud of its students' achievement in 2019 - 34.6 points is not only the highest score among the six GEMS schools whose students participated in the IBDP in 2019, but also among the highest in the UAE.
What the Inspectors Say
In the 2018-19 Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau round, GEMS Dubai Modern Academy was again rated Outstanding for the eighth year in a row.
According to the Dubai regulator, Dubai Modern Academy provides an Outstanding quality of education, with attainment and progress across all age groups (Primary, Middle and Secondary) ranked Outstanding for English, Maths and Science. In fact, the latest Inspection report is remarkable (and very similar to that of 2017-18) with every measure across the six performance standards rated Outstanding. Islamic Education and Arabic as a second language (the main area of challenge for most international schools) fall a little behind the standard set elsewhere, but are both now rated as Good in attainment and progress across all phases of the school.
At the heart of the school's achievement - as is so often the case - is the Outstanding leadership of the Senior leadership team, supported by its Governors. The inspectors note that "The Principal and other leaders have a shared vision of inclusion for all. Partnerships with parents and organisations across the globe make a significant contribution to school improvement. Leaders encourage and empower others to solve problems using a wide range of strategies and resources. Governors hold them accountable for their work".
In fact, the KHDA inspection team states that the strengths of the school are:
As would be expected, given the overall ratings across all other areas, the sole area of improvement identified by the inspection team was to:
Undoubtedly, GEMS Modern Academy has got it right! Sadly, they were not one of the schools who participated in the Abundance mentoring project set up by the KHDA in 2016-17, and as a result other schools were not able to benefit from their evident skill.
If you would like to read the KHDA inspection report in full - and we strongly advise you to do so - please go here.
And it's not only the KHDA that is highly satisfied with the standard of education at GEMS Modern. In the pre-inspection survey, 94% of over 780 parents expressed their satisfaction with the quality of education at the school, noting that leaders and teachers listen to their concerns and answer their questions appropriately; almost all feel that their children are safe at school, and parents believe themselves to be well informed about their children's progress and school events.
As, if not more importantly, students' sense of well-being at GEMS Modern exceeded the Dubai average in almost every key indicator. Almost all students are happy, optimistic and report positive teacher-student relationships.
The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey shows that parents are equally positive in their feedback to us. 86% of respondents report that their children enjoy going to school and have a strong sense of belonging. A significant 76% of parents are fully satisfied with the quality of education being delivered by the school (compared with a UAE average of 65%), and are also satisfied with communication and policies at the school. A whopping 81% would recommend GEMS Modern Academy to other parents, although, interestingly, at some point 38% have considered moving their child to another school.
If you are a parent, teacher or senior student at GEMS Modern Academy, please share your experience with other readers by completing our Survey here.
There is no doubt that as the only Indian curriculum school in Dubai to be rated Outstanding - and interestingly also, one that does not offer the more popular CBSE curriculum - other Indian schools have a hill to climb, but also an impressive example to follow. And not just Indian curriculum schools for that matter. GEMS Modern Academy is also a substantially larger school than the vast majority of the other Outstanding schools in Dubai which are largely UK curriculum.
Steering a ship with close to 4,000 students and staff on board - not to mention the parents who also form an integral part of the ship's company (to use the same analogy) - to such high standards is a remarkable achievement, and one that should not be overlooked or underestimated.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's sister website - SchoolsCompared.com - certainly did not do so, voting GEMS Modern Academy the Best Indian curriculum school in Dubai at its Top Schools' Awards in March 2019.
What are the Fees?
Fees at Dubai Modern are relatively affordable for a GEMS school, ranging from AED 28,646 for pre-KG to AED 35,360 for KG rising to AED 40,044 in Grades 1 and 2 and reaching AED 52,427 for the ICSE curriculum in Grades 11 and 12. Fees for students following the IB curriculum in Grades 11 and 12 are AED 68,302. Compared to Indian curriculum schools, the fees are very, very top end. Compared to IB schools, they are in the Value range.
A registration fee of AED 500 is due at the time of application. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferable - a practice which is increasingly raising concerns among parents.
When an offer of a seat in the school is extended, there is an additional fee of AED 1,000 to secure the seat. This again is non-refundable, but is adjustable against the first term's fees.
Tuition fees must be paid by the 10th of every month, and are collected in 10 installments except during the months of July and August.
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I studied in this school from Grade 4 to Grade 12. Apart from academics, what stands out in this school is the day boarding programme. Apart from the actual activity/sport that you learn in this programme, it teaches students to manage time and be involved in a number of activities and still not be left behind academically. This experience specially helped me in college where I could stay in college and work for extra curricular activities and still not worry that I have a test the next day or classes in the morning because I had learnt from school on how to plan these things in advance/deal with them as they come.
My child studied at GEMS Modern from KG through Year 12.
Children at Modern High are very well behaved. This is in sharp contrast to the kids at other schools especially Western schools which have a more "laissez faire" attitude to raising kids.
Birds of a feather flock together. Parents who expect their children to be academically focussed will choose Modern High.
Many of the teachers show amazing level of commitment considering how poorly paid they are both in isolation as well as compared to their peers at Western schools. There is no link between teachers salaries and their ability or commitment when one compares teacher pay across schools with high fees and low fees.
Note all teachers are competent. Sending our child for tuition [in a specific subject] resulted in the marks going from 50 to 95 which is where they stayed thereafter.
The school lays too much emphasis on academics. It is absolutely vital that the School encourage a base level of sport so that every child develops a sound body to house a sound mind. Not to forget the team building and leadership skills that sport provides.
I'm here to ask if this school accepts Arab/ Non- Indian students to be enrolled
The school info here needs to be updated. E.g Darryl Lancelot Bloud is no more the Principal now. It is Ms Nargish Khambatta.
This has been updated.
Hi: Can anybody provide me an insight into the admission tests for Grade 1 kids at Gems Modern Academy - What is the school looking for and what kind of questions/subjects does the kid need to prepare for. Thanks in advance to those who reply.
One of the top 3 Indian schools in Dubai, for sure.
Can we get some feed back about Gems Modern Academy!!!!
I have my child enrolled in this school. I have to say that although the ratings are excellent and the school seems structured, I find the teaching staff could be better and the focus should be on developing well rounded individuals. Teachers are given a target and that target soon becomes a problem for the parent if your child interferes with the 100% success rate and outstanding KHDA rating. I think the Indian curriculum is great, but we should focus on the joy of learning. If I could go back, I would have enrolled my child in another school
"becomes a problem for the parent if your child interferes with the 100% success rate"
That is always an issue with "for profit" schools.