Established in 1992, GEMS-owned Our Own English High School in Al Ain serves some 1,760 students. Unusually for a school that is very much associated with the Indian community, Our Own English High School attracts families from a range of nationalities.
The story so far...
Having celebrated a quarter of a century in Al Ain, Our Own English High School is one of the longer established schools within the GEMS Education group. Unusually, OOL as it is known internally, offers a dual curriculum approach through Secondary School, with a Primary curriculum that is anchored in the CBSE curriculum.
Not only does the school offer two curricula, but it also operates two academic calendars for the Secondary school, with the CBSE curriculum operating from April to March, whilst the UK-based Cambridge International curriculum operates from September to June.
The school states that its Mission is "to strive to offer the best through a child-centric and learner-oriented educational programme that has much opportunity for all-round development. Together with this, character formation is guided towards a blend of traditional values and a progressive outlook, in order to enable pupils to make their mark, wherever they choose to locate themselves!"
OOL is one of the larger schools in Al Ain, with a student body of approximately 1,700 students, made up of 274 in the KG section, 895 in Primary, 557 in the Middle School and 245 students in the Senior School. Students are in mixed gender classes from KG to Grade 5, then segregated into separate boys and girls classes from Grade 6 upwards.
Students from over 30 different nationalities attend OOL, and although the highest proportion are from India, Egypt (16%) and Sudan (9%) together make up around 74% of the student body. Girls and boys are more or less equally split in terms of numbers. OOL has only a small number of students of Determination, and with Gifts and Talents (approximately 1% of each) who are supported by a designated SEN Coordinator. With average class sizes of 30 (the maximum is 33), and a teacher:student ratio of 1:20, OOL is typical of a school with a very moderate fee structure.
Teachers - a total of 87 - with two teaching assistants, come from a range of countries. Again, as would be expected, the majority are from the sub-continent, but also come from Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Jordan. All teaching staff have a minimum Bachelors and Teaching degree.
Within the KG and Primary sections, there are five classes in KG1 and KG2, and four classes in each section from Grade 1 to Grade 4. From Grade 5 onwards, when the curriculum splits between CBSE and the Cambridge (CIE UK-based) curricula, the number of classes offering the CIE curriculum is generally slightly higher than CBSE, ranging from three of each in Grade 5, to two CBSE classes from Grades 6 to 10, and only one CBSE class each in Grades 11 and 12. Surprisingly, perhaps, the CIE classes have three each in Grades 7 and 8, and four classes in Grades 10 and 11, with two classes across the other grades.
What about the curriculum?
According to OOL, the school, at Kindergarten, Primary and Middle stages, follows "an internationally accepted syllabus to suit children of different nationalities, who plan to rejoin educational systems in the countries of their origin". The curriculum at OOL is founded on the CBSE curriculum, but in the KG section skill in communication and numeracy is the primary focus, together with a "great deal of attention to colour and music."
OOL states that it is uniquely placed to serve the needs of a multicultural society since "it is affiliated to two distinctly different, international Boards of Study … pupils from completely different backgrounds learn and play together; and in so doing, learn how to function in a cosmopolitan environment which calls for understanding and tolerance of differences, all the while realizing the essential universality of all humans."
In the Primary School, language skills (particularly those for the English language) are developed, while a problem-solving approach teaches students to search for solutions, rather than learn by rote, in other subjects. Core subjects include English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, Arabic, a Second Language, ICT and Moral Education. Arabic is compulsory for all students, and optional languages offered include Hindi, French, and Malayalam which are taught from Primary to Grade 8.
A significant feature at this level is the curriculum in Social Studies that is designed to meet the varying needs of Indian, International and Arab Nationals (the last category takes this subject in Arabic as required by the Ministry of Education) in these grades.
At the Secondary stage, the school is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi which conducts the All India Secondary School Examination (Grade 10) and University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), United Kingdom which conducts the International General Certificate of Secondary education (IGCSE) in Grade 11. CBSE subjects in Grade 10 include English, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Malayalam, French or Hindi Course B.
At the end of the Senior Secondary stage (Grade 12), the pupils sit for either the All India Senior School Certificate Examination or Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced Level.
Students following the CBSE curriculum have an option of either a Commerce or Science stream. Subjects include Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Business Studies, Accountancy, Economics, Informatics Practices, Engg. Drawing, English and Psychology.
This year, OOL has launched its “Preparedness to Career Pathway” Programme, where students are given training by Internal and External Experts in Academic and employability Skills. The school has also Launched UniFrog- an online platform for High School Students to explore their interests and design comprehensive applications for themselves.
What about academic achievement?
GEMS Our Own English School Al Ain has shared its academic results for the CBSE examinations in 2020 with WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, something that we encourage all schools to do. Exam results are not the be-all and end-all of education, but they remain an important part, and we believe parents should be able compare progress year on year and with other schools. We hope to be able to share the IGCSE and A Level results also.
In 2020, 36 students appeared for the Grade XII CBSE All India Senior School Certificate examination and 36 passed with first division. The school average was 81% compared with 78.1% in 2019. 17% pupils obtained High distinction in the aggregate (above 90%), 70 % pupils obtained distinction in the aggregate (above 75%) and 100% of pupils obtained First Division in the aggregate (above 60%).
In the Science stream, Jyosna Philip stands first in School with an overall aggregate of 94.4% while Jishnu Jeevan Prathayoth stands second with 94% and Ben Sebastian Mathew stood third with 92%.
In the Commerce stream, Simran Erica Mathias stands first in School with an overall aggregate of 93% while Shamsa Cholakkal Kalayangal stands second with 90.2% and Surabhi Suresh stood third with 88.2%
For the CBSE Grade 10 Results in 2020, 47 students appeared for the examination and 43 passed with first division, with the school average being 80%. 21% pupils obtained marks with 90% and above, 72% pupils obtained distinction in the aggregate (above 75%), and 92% pupils obtained First Division in the aggregate (above 60%).
Timothy Joseph stands first in School with an overall aggregate of 97.4%, having scored 100% in Mathematics, while Anagha Ganesh Nayak stands second with 96.2% , Arnav Prashanth stands third with 94.8%. Diya Zainab Arayal Thope stands 4th with 94.4% and Harshitha Yashashwini stands 5th with 94.2%.
Students from OOL join universities across the world including the University of British Columbia, Carlton University, Delhi University, Debrecen Medical University and UAEU. University destination statistics for 2018-19 were as follow: India (35%), UAE (19%), and Canada (19%), with universities in places as diverse as Croatia, Egypt, Hungary, Pakistan, China, Germany and UK also being chosen by OOL graduates.
Almost all students (99%) go into tertiary education, while 1% take medical coaching and then, within a year, join university.
What about the facilities?
Within its dual curriculum, OOL offers an extensive array of facilities to meet the needs of both including four laboratories for the teaching of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and General Science, well-equipped ICT laboratories, which are equipped with the latest computers and peripherals to support the development of ICT skills from as early as Grade 1, a well-stocked library with an impressive index of titles, covering a variety of subjects, and a 600-seat auditorium with multimedia facilities. The campus is Wi-Fi enabled
Facilities for sports activities include a basketball court, two football fields, a volleyball court, a cricket pitch, a tennis court and also a well furbished KG play area.
What the inspectors say
In the last ADEK inspection which took place in the 2018-19 academic year, OOL was again rated Good with inspectors noting improvements in 33 inspection parameters.
In fact, the performance across the parameters for Student Achievement are remarkably consistent, with all ratings for all school sections for the non-Arabic subjects rated Good for both progress and attainment. Islamic education is rated Acceptable and Arabic as a first language is broadly rated Good in the Primary and Middle school sections, and Good in the Middle and High School sections for Arabic as a second language.
Students' personal development is rated Very Good across the school, whilst their Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures, and their social responsibility and innovation skills are rated Good.
Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum are also rated Good across the school. The other key performance standards of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students, and the Management and Leadership were also rated almost entirely Good.
Inspectors defined the strengths of the school as:
In terms of areas of improvement, the inspection team recommended that OOL should:
It is the focus on Teaching and Assessment which will be at the heart of the school's ability to improve Student outcomes.
If you would like to read the full ADEK inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so - you may find it here.
Unfortunately, ADEK does not survey parents or staff to obtain their views on the children's school.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Our Own English High School Al Ain and would like to share your experiences with other parents and readers, please complete our Survey here.
Fees at Our Own English High School are affordable. They start at AED 5,800 in KG rising to AED 6,510 in Grades 1 and 2, and AED 8,410 in Grades 5 and 6. Fees in Grades 11 and 12 are AED 11,480 irrespective of curriculum. There are a range of additional charges, including school ID (at AED 10 per student), Session, Lab and Computer fees which are between AED 100 and AED 300 per fee. These are dependent on the curriculum and also on the stream and examinations being taken.
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