GEMS United Indian School began as Our Own English School, opening in 1990 and now, following a restructure and a new campus, has been renamed.
The story so far
GEMS United Indian School is the most recently opened GEMS school in Abu Dhabi. Although a brand new school on a very large, purpose-built campus on the outskirts of Baniyas, the school opened with 400 children who had transferred from the villa accommodation of Our Own English High School – a school that had been operational for 25 years. As such, this is a school with a heritage, a long list of success stories that topped all results for the CBSE curriculum in its previous home and intends to maintain these strong traditions in its new environment. The school believes that it offers an affordable, high quality education in an environment offering excellent resources and facilities.
UIS states that its Vision is "For our students to be forward thinking leaders, equipped with competencies and positive attitudes that fulfil individual aspirations based on universal values, and to become socially responsible global citizens".
Its mission is for each student to:
UIS is currently home to almost 1,500 students, but will have an eventual capacity of 4,000 with a second building due to open for the start of the academic year in April 2017 and plans for expansion to two further teaching blocks in due course. On opening in 2016, demand for places in Indian curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi was so high that the school already had a waiting list of 14,000 students for KG1. Class sizes are 26 in KG and 30 in all other grades with children separated by gender from grade 5 though classrooms located on separate corridors.
The school employs some 70 plus staff and this provides a staff to student ratio of 1:25 in KG, with a lower ratio of 1:18 through the rest of the school as a result of specialist staff numbers. The majority of students (95%), as would be expected, are Indian passport holders, followed by a small Pakistani contingent (2%) and a number of students from Nepal and Bangladesh. Teacher turnover, at 10%, is relatively low, hopefully providing a stable environment.
What about the curriculum?
UIS had intended to offer the CBSE-I curriculum (a modified version of CBSE which offered a more international approach including best practice from the IGCSE, IB and Common Core curricula), but with the decision to withdraw this version, has reverted to the standard CBSE curriculum with some additional features to reflect the elements of CBSE-I that are valued by the Academic leadership. The school aims to offer a very broad curriculum with a focus on Languages, ICT, Numeracy and Sciences. Additional focus on cultural and financial studies will provide an option for an entrepreneurial opportunities and experiences for students from grade 1 upwards.
In addition to the core subjects, there is also a wide range of Sports and Performing Arts and Arts activities in which students engage. In addition to the outdoor sports field that offers football, cricket and volley ball (as well as track and field), a state of the art hall enable students to put on performances of mime, dance, theatre and drama. In addition to art studios, there are also Food Technology classrooms as well as the usual range of Science laboratories with up to date equipment.
Extra curricular activities include Music, Elocution, Recitation, Debating, Essay writing, Dramatics, and Art and Craft (includes paper-craft, clay modelling, mural painting and origami).
What about Academic Achievement?
Unfortunately, UIS is one of the GEMS schools that does not publish its exam results. This is a pity, since inevitably, the CBSE Board Exams which students sit in Grades 10 and 12, are interest to both parents and students. The ADEK inspection report does note that the Grade 10 results are a strength of the school - which makes it even more of a pity that the school does not shout about their success.
What about facilities?
There is no doubt that the scale and design of UIS is impressive. Its location means that there is no shortage of space and the layout of the school, located as it is towards the rear of development and below road level, means that architects have been able to develop substantial buildings and outdoor space. The three storey buildings (although the first of these is effectively at basement level below the road), are set around an enormous sports area forming a quadrangle, with the three main teaching blocks on three sides of the sports area, and with a multi-purpose hall and a sports hall forming the fourth side.
According to GEMS, the school has science, technology, sporting, culture and performing arts facilities. All facilities have been designed to allow students to stimulate and support their learning experience.
What the inspectors say
UIS had its first inspection in January 2017, when it was rated Good overall. This is in line with the majority of first inspection ratings - it appears to be the norm for schools to achieve Good as the highest rating at this stage in their development. Although the overall rating for the school was Good, in terms of the six key performance areas, UIS did rather well, with both Students' Personal and Social Development and their innovation skills, and the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students being rated Very Good.
In terms of the school's strengths, the ADEK inspection team noted:
In terms of student achievement, the majority of ratings for the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science were Good across the Primary and Middle school sections and Very Good or Outstanding (in English), for the High School section. The KG fared a little less well, with Maths being rated Acceptable, although English and Science were both found to be Good. Arabic as a second language was found to be Acceptable across the school, and this will no doubt need to be an area of focus for the school. The report also notes that "Students from Grades 3 to 9 sat the International Benchmark Test (IBT) through the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The average performance levels in almost all subjects and grades were well above international averages. Students with SEN and G&T make similar progress to their peers".
Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills were rated highly by the inspection team with the majority of ratings being Very Good, whilst Personal Development was found to be Outstanding in the High School. Inspectors commented that "Throughout the school, students have very positive attitudes to learning. They like school and their teachers. They are self-reliant and have a very strong work ethic. Almost all students are keen to learn and are engaged in tasks, concentrating fully on their work. They have many opportunities to develop leadership roles, particularly in the High school".
Teaching and Assessment reflected the ratings already given in relation to Student Achievement in many ways. The most effective teaching was in the Middle and High School sections, although inspectors found that "The quality of teaching and assessment is good overall; it is good or better in most lessons...and in most grades". Similarly, "The quality of curriculum design and implementation is good. The curriculum has a clear rationale, breadth and balance and is planned effectively to motivate and interest students". The curriculum is supplemented with additional programmes and subjects to provide additional challenge for students, including Hindi, Malayalam, and French which are offered from Grade 7.
The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students is a particular strength of UIS. Inspectors commented that "The school is inclusive. It has an SEN coordinator to identify and support students. The school has good procedures to identify students with SEN or G&T. Students are identified internally, based on information provided by parents and teachers. SEN students have IEPs based on their needs. The school support the students with learning difficulties especially in mathematics and English outside lessons in withdrawal groups. No support is provided in lessons. There are classes after school for upper grade students who are underachieving. The well -being and personal development of all students is routinely monitored. The school provides personal, careers’ guidance and support to Grade 10 students so that they are aware of suitable academic choices for their next stage of education".
The final key performance area of Leadership and Management was also found to be Good. The effectiveness of leadership, the relationship with parents and the community and Governance were all found to be Very Good. Inspectors noted that "Parents have very positive attitudes towards the school. The school portal, open door policy, regular newsletters and parent open house meetings keeps parents abreast of the progress of their child, their schedules and events in the school. Parents receive regular reports about their child’s attitudes to learning. Parents and other adults from the local community are involved in the school and sit on the School Advisory Board".
All in all, there is much that GEMS United Indian School can be proud of during their first inspection. Of course, the ADEK team identified key areas for improvement on which the school will need to focus its efforts prior to the next inspection due in 2019.
Those key areas identified by the inspection team included:
There can be little argument that UIS has got off to a flying start. The challenge potentially will be maintain its strengths and improve those key areas for development whilst potentially continuing to grow at a considerable pace. However, all the indicators, particularly given the evident strength and support from the Board of the school, suggest that it will continue to progress and improve.
Fees at UIS range from AED 9,300 in KG1 to AED 18,500 in Grade 12. Although viewed as higher end by ADEK, given the apparent quality of provision and resources, this would appear to be a reasonable range.
GEMS United Indian School is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information