GEMS Our Own English High School is the largest school in the emirate and serves 10,105 predominantly Indian girls aged 5-19 (KG to Grade 12). The CBSE based school currently has a rating of Very Good by Dubai's education regulator, the KHDA, a level of education it has maintained for the last two years.
GEMS Our Own English High School has been rated Very 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 tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full report has been issued.
The Story so Far?
The last two years have seen GEMS Our Own English High School prosper and grow academically under the guidance of Principal Mr. Thomas Mathew Koickal.
GEMS Our Own English High School employs 452 teachers, which may sound like an incredibly large number, but still only gives the school a student to teacher ratio of 22:1. This is, simply, one of the largest schools in the UAE, with a population of over 10,000 students - the size of a small town.
Given its size, the 21 nationalities represented is rather unimpressive - we are used to seeing over twice that for schools one tenth of the size. That said, the Indian curriculum is not a global one, unlike GCSEs, A Levels or the IB. Students coming from Indian families unsurprisingly therefore represent the majority of students
The school follows the CBSE curriculum and students sit CBSE examinations in Grades 10 and 12 every March.
What do the Inspectors Say?
Post Grade 4 this is an all girls school, which may be one reason why this is also a high performing one. The schools has now maintained a Very Good rating for the second year, proving very affordable can also be very good. The trick that GEMS Education has pulled that no other school group in the UAE has is scale. Other school groups can do premium schools. Only GEMS so far has managed to make scale schools very profitable.
The lastest 2016/2017 KHDA report has the school rated as Very Good for the second year in a row. GEMS Our Own High School achieves Good attainment and progress in Islamic Education and Outstanding attainment and progress in middle and secondary English. Primary English is ranked Very Good while KG is ranked Good.
In Mathematics, there has been a drop in attainment in the secondary school but progress remains outstanding.
The report applauds teaching and learning at the school. As it notes:
"At all phases, a proportion of lessons are very good or outstanding. Particularly in the middle and secondary phases, teachers plan and implement lessons which are stimulating and engaging, and match tasks to the learning needs of different groups of students. Assessment is done very well at a whole-school level."
Leadership is also a strength of the school, rated as Very Good by the KHDA. "The principal and his senior colleagues work well together and provide strong leadership for others, including the wide range of effective middle level leaders. Partnership with parents is developed very effectively."
In addition to improvements at the KG phase, there have also been improvements in Grade 10 and Grade 12 external CBSE examination results; and there is stronger self-evaluation, improvement planning, monitoring and evaluation of teaching and learning.
How Well do Students do?
For the 2016 CBSE results, the school's website shows that "GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai has secured 100% pass in the CBSE Class 12 examination. Of the 383 students of who appeared for the examination, 23.5 % per cent scored an average of 90% and above. A total of 74.4% students scored 75% and above, and 99.5 % per cent of students got above 60%.
Five students secured 100% marks in Psychology, Chemistry and Computer Science respectively. First and Second position Humanities Toppers came second and third respectively in the UAE."
The school claims a 100 percent graduation into higher studies. Interestingly according to the school's Web site the vast majority head to universities in the UAE (although this information conflicts with the information we have in our Q and A), with Indian based universities coming second. Canada comes a distant third as the destination of choice.
Earlier reports recommended significantly reducing classroom sizes to allow better teaching and learning opportunities across the school. This is not mentioned in the school's latest report as a recommendation, however with class sizes from Grade 1 to 12 still averaging between 33 and 39 students this should be a priority for the school.
The school does offer extra curricular activities, details of which may be found here, however some parents and students do not believe these are presently sufficient. It is not clear whether these clubs are part of the school fee, or incur an extra cost.
WSA likes the "Beyond the Curriculum" activities (a theme for GEMs Education schools) which seem to both help shape the human being, as well as prepare students for the next phases of their lives. Activities such as internship preparation, and community service are to be applauded.
Based on WSA feedback, students are the most happy stakeholders in the school, followed by parents, with teachers the least happy bunch; however, teacher turnover is at 8 percent.
What do Parents Think?
In parent feedback GEMS Our Own English High School gets mixed results, with a majority of respondents recording "partial satisfaction" to questions on academic performance, and feedback from the school. A majority of parents have thought about moving their child from the school, and despite its Very Good rating and lower fee level, parents do not think fees represent good value for money.
The school provides some special needs provision. Individual programmes are developed for SEN children, and the school a special needs educator and two counselors. Children also have access to an educational psychologist.
What are the Fees?
To register for the school a 500 AED not refundable payment is required, a practice increasingly questioned by parents in the UAE. A 1,000 AED non-refundable deposit paid at the time of acceptance of a place which can be offset against school fees. There is also an annual fee that ranges from 150 AED to 450 AED, the exact purpose of which is not clear. Tuition fees range from 6,804 to 14,397 AED per year depending upon age group. Fees are paid monthly, over 10 months.
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