GEMS New Millennium School is located near two other GEMS schools in a mini GEMS compound immediately off the Al Khail Road and Al Marabea Street, across from the Al Qouz Industrial Area. The school has been established with the intention of providing an Indian curriculum education to families moving into the Mohammed Bin Rashid City development, where it is based. However, in reality, it serves children travelling from a wide area across Dubai.
GEMS New Millennium School has been rated Good for the fourth year running 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...
GEMS New Millennium School (GMNS) opened in 2013 and follows the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum. Currently with almost 1,300 students on the roster, the majority of students and its 75 teachers hold an Indian passport, although the school counts 37 different nationalities overall.
The school is currently open to from Pre-KG to Grade 11 and will grow to offer Grade 12 in 2019-20. Students in the KG section follow the UK curriculum based EYFS curriculum. Although 1,300 students sounds like a large number, in reality, the school was designed to accommodate many more students, and most grades have only two to four sections. Average class sizes are a maximum of 25 in pre-KG and KG, to a maximum of 30 from Grade 1 (although, in reality, classes are generally smaller the higher up the school students are). The teacher:student ratio is 1:17 - on the high side for many schools in Dubai but average for the Indian curriculum. Teacher turnover at 20% is around the average for Dubai (20-22%), but on the high side for an Indian curriculum school.
GEMS New Millennium School aims to be an inclusive school and offers specialist facilities and staff to support students with additional learning needs. Approximately 4 percent of the students are classified as SEND (Students of Determination). These facilities include a well-equipped Achievement Centre and Skills Development Room. External Speech and Occupational Therapists visit the school on a weekly basis. Specialist staff include a SEN Coordinator and a Special Educator, together with 21 mentors. A three-tier wave support system (based on group to one-to-one) supports children with differing abilities. Uniquely, no additional fees are charged to parents whose children require such support. The school also offers an ELL programme for non-English speakers.
The school states that it has a specific focus on "Innovation and 21st Century Skills such as Critical Thinking and Problem-solving." It also singles out its Extended Day-care facility, supported by its After-school Enrichment Activities, the Genius Hour and its rigorous Career Guidance programme as specialist features of the school.
In support of these, GNMS also offers some advanced facilities and equipment. The school is located on a large purpose-built site that includes a Music Technology suite, a Makers lab, a MAC Suite, CISCO certification and 3 D printers, as well as sports facilities that include a cricket field, dance studios, a multipurpose sports hall, 2 swimming pools, additional sports fields, a rooftop play area, and Indoor & Outdoor Kindergarten free flow Play Areas.
The school offers over 30 Enrichment Activities at no additional charge, including visual arts, performing arts, career guidance programmes, IIT JEE coaching, creative arts, painting, Chess and Robotics, as well as sports such as Swimming, Football, Basketball, Roller skating and Badminton. Music classes are held on campus and students may study for and enter exams with the Trinity School of Music. In addition, GNMS has a programme of international trips which have included Germany, Sri Lanka and Thailand so far.
Food at the school is inspected by Dubai Municipality. As the school's website states, "he school management is very particular about the health of the students and ensures that unhealthy food such as fizzy drinks, chips, chocolates, glass bottled drinks, etc. are not sold or made available at school canteen in any form."
Read our most recent school visit review here.
What the Inspectors say
In the school's first KHDA report, the school was ranked as a Good school. Subsequently it has retained this rating for 2016-17 and for 2017-18. Of the four sections of the school, student attainment and progress is most highly rated in KG with it found to be Very Good in all core English-based subjects: English, Science, and Mathematics. For primary, middle and high school, student attainment and progress is found to be Good or Very Good in all core subjects with Science strengthening further in Primary. Progress in Islamic Education has improved to Good across all three sections of the school where it is taught (this excludes KG), and Arabic as an Additional Language is now rated Acceptable. However, in common with many Dubai schools, this remains the Achilles Heel of GNMS.
Inspectors identified the strengths of the school as:
The report notes that "there are significant improvements to an already strong leadership and management team. A culture of learning is evident which enables leaders to perform more effectively as well as enabling parents to participate more fully in the school's direction. These improvements, in turn, support governance with its accountability and support roles."
In terms of Student Achievement, children in the Kindergarten (KG) continue to perform at high levels. "In other phases, there are improvements in attainment or progress in the core subjects. The school's fresh focus on investigative learning is effective in raising student performance in Science."
Students' personal and social development and their Innovation skills have also been positively impacted, with inspectors noting that "children in the KG continue to show high levels of personal and social development and there have been measureable improvements in the oldest students. Leadership responsibilities, offered to the older students, as well as a greater emphasis for all students on environmental awareness and participating with wider communities, is enhancing their development." This key indicator reflects a strength of the school with all performance measures rated Very Good or Outstanding.
Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum and its Adaptation have shown improvements, with all measures rated Very Good or Good. These two areas must remain a focus of the school. Inspectors commented "students' learning skills are at least good and show improvement in the secondary phase. Actions from the school improvement plan have resulted in a greater awareness by teachers of a wide range of teaching strategies. Assessment procedures, across all phases and subjects, remain strong and there is some improvement to the use of assessment in lesson planning, most notably with regard to students with special educational needs/disabilities (SEND)." Concerns in relation to the curriculum are largely focused on the provision of Arabic as an additional language where "the curriculum for Arabic as an additional language remains weak. Although the school is now supporting students learning Arabic for the first time, insufficient account of learners' previous language experiences is taken."
The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students is a further strength of GNMS with Health and Safety factors rated Outstanding across the school and Care and Support upgraded to Very Good. Inspectors noted that "students have benefitted from the development of an extensive career guidance programme, which provides step by step advice for student choices. Improvements to provision for students with SEND are also impacting positively on their progress."
Additional provision for students in relation to Career and University Guidance includes SAT training and SAT Mock Tests conducted in school by an external provider, and MNR classes in school for preparation for IIT-JEE and NEET entrance exams. In addition, GEMS has partnered with the British Council, as a result of which GNMS has become an IELTS Test Centre. Students can register and take up the IELTS test in school, complemented with one hour free training and a mock test conducted by the British Council. From September 2018, the British Council will offer a Student Ambassador Programme for two 11th grade students, and a Train the trainer programme for two teachers, in order to embed the programme within the school.
Key recommendations from the latest KHDA report focus on two specific areas for improvement:
The recommendation in relation to Arabic additional language learners is one that the school will need to take seriously, given the very clear focus on this subject as part of the UAE National Agenda. More accurate evaluation by the leadership in terms of teaching quality and progress are fundamental to improvement planning. With so many indicators now rated Very Good and even Outstanding, it is the consistency of improvement across the key areas identified that will enable the school to reach the next rating level of Very Good overall.
What about Academics
GNMS students will not take their final Grade 12 exams until early 2020. However, the first set of results for Grade 10 students showed that there is clearly some talent in the school! The overall school topper achieved a grade of 97.2%. Subject toppers achieved the following grades: Maths and Social Science - 99%, English - 97%, Science - 96%, Malayalam - 95%, Hindi - 93% and French - 100%. We do not know how many students were presented for the exams, nor do we know the overall grades and averages; it is to be hoped that NMS will be open about its Grade 12 results when they are finally revealed.
Fees start at AED 17,818 for pre-KG and rise to AED 30,936 for Grade 11, making it currently among the most expensive CBSE schools in Dubai. For balance, there is a return from those fees - the factual things we have mentioned, but there are more intangibles, like Day Boarding, or the parent outreach programme that for many parents will mean that New Millennium is actually value for money. Read our review visit or experience to find out more.
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