Founded in 2010, Grace Valley Indian School is located in the Manaseer area of Al Ain. Students follow the CBSE curriculum from KG to Grade 12.
Grace Valley Indian School (GVIS) was founded in 2010 by Mr. Saif Ali Saif AbduRehamn Al Nasseri. The school follows the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education curriculum, together with the requirements set by the Ministry of Education of the UAE in regard to Arabic and Islamic Studies.
The school website features the school's Vision:
Grace Valley Indian School aims to be an institution of excellence, dedicated to producing leaders of tomorrow.
The school Mission statement notes:
We are committed to render ace quality education, impart practical worldly wisdom, mould new generation for the society, cater life-oriented pedagogy, serve the social needs, impart quality education using the state of the art technology.
The school's Principal, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, in his introduction to Grace Valley Indian School says "The students, staff, and all stakeholders take great pride in maintaining a safe and inclusive school environment. These qualities are ‘felt’ from the moment you walk into our school.Together we are creating an environment in which our children will experience the joy of learning and develop as unique and happy individuals."
He also states "We want our children to be creative and resilient, become excellent decision makers, demonstrate compassion and tolerance, grow in courage and confidence, and make a difference in this changing world."
In 2021, GVIS has a total population of 1,600 students. The largest nationality group is Indian (at 40%), followed by Pakistani (32%) and Afghan (22%). Some 3% of students have been identified as Students of Determination. Despite having been open for over ten years, the school has built up the Middle and Secondary sections slowly over the years having only relatively recently introduced Senior Secondary (Grades XI and XII) .
Students are supported by a total of 130 teachers and an undisclosed number teaching assistants. The school has grown rapidly since 2019, when it had 88 teachers and 12 teaching assistants. Staff turnover at 20% was on the high side for an Indian curriculum school although it had improved from 30% previously. The current Principal had been with the school three years at the time of the inspection and it is likely that his arrival had potentially precipitated the increased turnover as new processes and improvements were implemented. The staffing of the school provides for a teacher to student ratio of 1:22 in KG and 1:17 for the remainder of the school.
The school provides some information about the curriculum offer, which as expected is in line with the requirements of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
The KG curriculum is based on the provision of a holistic education that "reflects the diverse and connected themes of the world". Based on the UK's EYFS curriculum, the seven key areas of learning include Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Communication and Language, Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.
The staff focus on theme-based teaching that threads through all subject areas. This is designed to enable students to see connections and start to make their own connections from one experience to another. It also supports students in becoming creative thinkers. The KG learning environment provides for child-initiated play and carefully planned opportunities which allow children to explore, create and learn through exciting, stimulating, interactive and accessible resources.
There are clearly significant changes taking place in relation to the curriculum at GVIS. The school states that "STEAM education is the 'top-of-mind' topic of every learner. Students are challenged to become inventors and innovators by working on projects in Design Thinking, Digital Literacies and coding. GVIS follows a digital approach of teaching by implementing classrooms enhanced with technological equipment. Our classes are well equipped with computer and audio- visual equipment."
In addition, although not compulsory, all students are encouraged to learn a musical instrument. Music is given prime importance as part of the school curriculum. The school says that it "boasts of a highly accomplished music staff and a well-equipped music room". Every student is encouraged to learn at least one musical instrument, although it is an optional subject from Grade 4 to 8. All basic musical equipment is available to the students. Instruments include harmonium, tabla,drums, piano, and keyboards.
The Primary Curriculum is designed to offer "an exciting and creative learning environment" with an interdisciplinary and cross-curricular appreciation of Languages, Mathematics and Science. It encourages inquiry and exploration and develops children’s competence in various skills including reading, writing, speaking, problem-solving and the use of information and communication technology.
Core Subjects include English, Mathematics, Environmental Systems, Arabic, ICT, UAE Social Studies and PE. Additional subjects include Languages ( Hindi or Malayalam or Additional English), Communicative English, Islamic Studies (for Muslim students),
Moral Education, Art & Craft, Music and General Knowledge.
As students move on to the Middle School, the curriculum continues to follow that of the Primary section but incorporates Science (in place of EVS), providing a well-structured curriculum that meets the children’s intellectual and developmental needs. The curriculum is designed to address students' age-specific interests, build awareness and promote compassionate and ethical conduct. It ensures progression and continuity across various stages of learning and incorporates continuous evaluation and review of students' performance.
The planning for Secondary and Senior Secondary school starts with an emphasis on a detailed understanding of concepts through interpretations and evaluations. Each student’s intellectual, aesthetic, physical and cultural growth is strengthened and extended to a foundation course designed to enable them to excel in the CBSE Board examinations.
In common with most CBSE curriculum schools in the UAE, GVIS offers solely Science and Commerce streams. Core subjects in Grades IX and X include English Literature, Mathematics, Science, Language ( Hindi or Malayalam or Urdu or Arabic), Social Studies, Physical Education and Information Technology.
Science stream options in Grades XI and XII include English Core, Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Computer Science, Mathematics/Psychology and Physical Education. Commerce stream options include English Core, Accountancy, Business Studies, Computer Science, Psychology/Economics, and Physical Education.
According to GVIS, curricular and co-curricular activities help students to explore strengths and talents outside of academics. The school believes that when students challenge themselves creatively, physically and academically, they develop important skills, learn from valuable experiences and strengthen their intellectual curiosity.
Despite the relatively small number of students who have been identified with additional learning needs or with gifts and talents, the school provides detailed information about the support it is able to provide. Details can be found here. This is clearly an area of development for the school, with the most recent ADEK report finding that "Teachers are aware of students’ strengths and weaknesses. However, provision is not matched closely to their needs, particularly for students with SEN and higher-achieving students."
No information is provided on the school website about the successes of its students in their Board examinations.
According to GVIS, it offers "world-class educational facilities to facilitate the best possible learning experience for our pupils". The school offers specialist facilities including physics, chemistry, biology, and computer laboratories. Classrooms are designed allowing for hands-on learning about the world and the environment, creating social, collaborative learning spaces that increase student engagement. Outdoor areas, designed to utilize sustainable cooling methods, allow all students to enjoy as many days outside as possible. Outdoor learning for class projects and social learning facilities are supported by optimization of greenery.
The school library has a collection of more than 10,000 books, comprising subject books, dictionaries, periodicals, reference books, fictions, non-fictions and curriculum based topics. It also has a computer section and reading area which allows students to access e-books and library books/material.
Outdoor spaces include KG and Primary sections with a playground and Kiddies Park as well as an outdoor sports ground for higher grades.
The most recent inspection of Grace Valley Indian School took place in the 2018-19 academic year when the school achieved an Acceptable rating. It was due to be inspected in the 2020-21 academic year, but as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, all ADEK inspections were cancelled.
According to the report for 2018-19, students’ achievement in KG and primary, which comprised almost 80% of the student body, was acceptable in English and mathematics and good in all subjects except science, where achievement was very good in the KG. In the middle and high phases, students’ achievement was at least good in all subjects. Teachers use a range of teaching strategies to engage and motivate students. However, teaching were not consistently good enough to bring about good progress overall in lessons.
The inspection team noted that "the senior leadership team, under the guidance of the principal, has displayed a commitment to development and improvement since the last inspection."
A striking factor of the inspection report was the very noticeable divide between the KG/Primary sections and Middle/Secondary sections where the latter was definitely performing more strongly in English-led subjects than the lower grades.
According to ADEK's inspection team, the quality of teaching remained acceptable as it was in the previous inspection. Most teachers demonstrated secure knowledge of their respective subjects, but teaching was not yet rated Good because planned differentiated learning objectives were frequently not executed in lessons. Insufficient opportunities were provided for students to be innovative and creative, and dialogue and questioning between students and teachers were limited.
However, the inspector team found that the school had made good progress in improving the curriculum. A range of curricular choices were offered to older students. They also found that the school had also made good progress in enhancing the KG learning environment. Activity-based teaching approaches, circle time, music and adequate resources are now key features in a pleasant KG environment. None-the-less, the inspectors noted that choices were limited within lessons across the school and students relied mostly on teacher guidance and direction.
In terms of the six key performance standards, Student Achievement was found to be Good across Islamic and Arabic and across all subjects in the Middle and Secondary. sections. However, it remained largely Acceptable in KG/Primary.
Personal and social development and innovation skills are clearly a strength of the students at GVIS. Their personal development and their Understanding of Islamic values and awareness of Emirati and world cultures were both rated Very Good, whilst their Social responsibility and Innovation skills were rated Good.
However, Teaching and Assessment, whilst rated Good in the Middle and Secondary sections remained Acceptable in KG/Primary as did the Curriculum across the school. The Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students was also rated Good. The final key performance standard of Leadership and Management was rated a mix of Good and Acceptable.
Encouragingly, despite the overall rating of Acceptable, the inspectors found, based on the implementation of the previous recommendations, the school’s capacity to improve further was Good. It is rare, in our experience for the ADEK inspectors to suggest that a school's capacity for improvement is greater than its overall rating. Clearly, the inspectors felt that the leadership of the school (which was rated Good), was very clearly on the right track to improvement.
The inspection team defined the key areas of strength of Grace Valley Indian School as:
Inevitably, the list of key areas for improvement was somewhat longer:
Clearly, whilst there is much to be done, it seems that the inspection team are confident in the ability of GVIS to make the improvements and to move closer to the overall Good rating. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the next inspection which is likely to take place in 2021-22.
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.
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There is little information about parental relationships with the school, although school indicates a strong desire for positive cooperation between home and school. According to ADEK, "relationships and communication within the school community are professional. Parents are welcome in the school and communicate with their children’s teachers as required."
We found Grace Valley Indian School to be a particularly interesting school to review. It has clearly gone through significant change with the arrival of its current Principal who has now been with the school almost five years. The growth of the school over the past two years within the Secondary and Senior Secondary has been significant and we would hope that the school has maintained the evident strengths identified by the ADEK team within these sections. We would very much encourage the school to publish its CBSE results in order to provide further context of its students' successes.
Based on the feedback from ADEK, it would also seem that progress was being made in the KG and Primary sections also.
We look forward to receiving further feedback through the inspection process, but particularly from the school community whose members are best placed to provide their opinions on the day to day life of the school.
Fees at GVIS range from AED 4,800 in KG to AED 12,000 in Grades XI and XII. These are moderate to low by ADEK standards.
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