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.
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:
- Impart desirable traits of integrity, punctuality, courtesy and cooperation
- Proudly preserve their cultural heritage while honouring the national identity and culture of the UAE
- Acquire a high standard of academic, social and personal competencies and skills
- Develop lively, enquiring minds with a drive to learn and strive for academic excellence
- Be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers
- Develop a strong sense of self-esteem and individuality, encouraged by self-reliance and independence
- Imbibe sound moral and spiritual values within the supportive and caring school community and society at large
- Be useful citizens who will contribute towards the environmental preservation of the societies in which they live.
UIS was home to almost 3,000 students at the time of the last ADEK inspection in February 2019, a figure that had grown to over 3,600 at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. With an eventual capacity of 4,000, a second building opened for the start of the academic year in April 2017 and there were plans for expansion to two further teaching blocks.
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 130 teachers plus 13 teaching assistants and this provided a staff to student ratio of 1:25 in KG, with a lower ratio of 1:20 through the rest of the school as a result of specialist staff numbers. The majority of students (96%), 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.
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.
It seems that UIS not only aims to offer an innovative approach to the curriculum, but is delivering it! The ADEK inspection team noted in 2019: "The ‘Teacherintern’ programme provides excellent opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills. For example, students prepare some parts of the lessons and teach alongside their teachers."
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).
At the time of the most recent ADEK inspection in 2019, UIS had approximately 40 students who had been identified with additional learning needs and an unspecified number of students identified with Gifts and Talents (G&T).
The latest ADEK inspection report notes that "Students with special educational needs (SEN) make similar progress to their peers, as do students from other nationalities. There are effective processes to identify SEN and G&T students. SEN students now receive good support and learn well..More-able and gifted and talented (G&T) students do not always make the progress of which they are capable. On occasions, the curriculum is not adapted well enough to provide sufficiently high levels of challenge".
Unfortunately, UIS is one of the GEMS schools that does not publish its exam results in detail, although it does provide an overview of its student entries and pass percentage. This can be found here.
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 for 2017 noted that the Grade 10 results were a strength of the school.
In 2019, the inspectors commented "External assessment data including CAT indicates that attainment in reading is well above the national levels. CBSE Grade 10 examinations show that attainment is outstanding" - which makes it even more of a pity that the school does not shout about their students' success.
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.
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.
This was followed by its second inspection in February 2019 when the school again achieved an overall Good rating.
Summarising their findings at the second inspection, the ADEK inspectors commented: "Since the previous inspection, students and staff numbers have doubled. Senior leaders and governors have worked tirelessly to ensure the efficient management of the school. They have undergone a restructure of leadership and staffing, and have recruited and trained experienced teachers. The school is stable.
"The overall performance of the school has remained good. The leadership team and staff have maintained good standards of education despite the significant increase in numbers. Teaching and assessment and the curriculum are good. Achievement in most subjects is good, except for Arabic that has remained acceptable. Students continue to make good progress.
In terms of the school's strengths, the ADEK inspection team noted:
Those key areas for improvement identified by the inspection team included the need to:
Improve students' achievement in Arabic by ensuring that teachers:
- match tasks to students’ prior learning and abilities to enable them to develop their speaking and writing skills
- consistently check the provision that students receive and offer them well-targeted support so that their attainment matches those of other subjects taught in school.
Enhance the consistency of teaching and learning by ensuring that all teachers:
- use assessment information they gather on students more effectively to plan meticulously for next steps and help students consistently make more than expected progress
- deliver appropriately challenging tasks and activities for all students within lessons, particularly for the more able and G&T and provide the appropriate support for low achievers
- offer more opportunities to help students develop their investigative skills, and innovation, and use learning technologies particularly in primary
- offer high-quality feedback to help students further improve the quality of their written work.
Further modify the curriculum to support and extend student’s learning by:
- ensuring the curriculum is adapted effectively to provide sufficient challenge for all students.
Further improve the impact of leadership by:
- ensuring improvement systems focus more directly on the quality of students’ learning outcomes, particularly in Arabic
- developing further the roles of the middle leaders so that they can monitor and evaluate the quality of their subjects effectively.
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings, you will find it here.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from parents to our School Survey has been very limited. However, the small number of parents who have shared their views have rated the school 3.8/5 or a positivity rating of 76%.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at GEMS United Indian School, please share your thoughts and experiences with other potential members of your community and complete our Survey here.
The most recent ADEK inspection report notes that "Partnerships between parents and school are strong. Parents contribute well to the life of the school.Parents speak of the very good support their children receive. They report that staff keep them well informed about their children’s progress and well-being."
There can be little argument that UIS got off to a flying start.
In our initial assessment of the school we said: "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."
The second ADEK inspection very much indicates that with that growth in student numbers has also come investment across all key areas of the school - notably in terms of curriculum development and professional development of its teachers. As a result, despite of a doubling in student numbers, the school has not only maintained its provision but clearly improved it - no small challenge for a school of this size.
Fees at UIS range from AED 9,750 in KG1 to AED 19,030 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:
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