Indian International High School, Dubai is a private K-12 school located in Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai. It currently caters to 2,000 students (well below the figure of 2,300 of 2017). The school is rated Acceptable by the KHDA, a ranking it has held for eight years in a row. This puts it sharply at odds with its sister schools in Garhoud and Oud Metha, which have received Good and Very Good respectively.
The story so far...
Indian International School Dubai Silicon Oasis is a sister school to the highly regarded Indian High School, and its Junior campus in Al Garhoud. The IHS website (which – somewhat confusingly – serves all three schools) states that IHS “has expanded itself with two campuses in the heart of Dubai and one campus in Dubai Silicon Oasis. Our resources, both human and material, are remarkably geared to prepare the students for the 21st century”.
The Vision of Indian International School is to “Create Proactive Global Citizens”.
IIS states in its Mission that it aims to “Unfold the inherent talents of all students and enable them to do their best; Nurture a cosmopolitan atmosphere by encouraging the appreciation of world culture; Instil appropriate and desirable ethical values to make the students productive and responsible members of society; Train the students to realise their educational potential and become independent, lifelong learners; Embody commitment to expectations of society by continually improving the quality management systems; Develop an environment that will enable the school to meet the objectives of the National Agenda and the Vision of the Rulers of UAE”.
IIS also has a series of stated Objectives aimed at specific provision and support within the school.
These include to “Build an effective technology-based learning environment for the creation of global digital citizens; encourage the growth of an environment conscious generation by promoting eco-friendly practices in campus; support and guide students to alleviate learning difficulties and integrate them with the mainstream and to transform the infrastructure and supporting facilities into a centre of creativity & innovation". It is evident from the school’s inspection reports that a real effort has been made to achieve these objectives, albeit to varying degrees of success.
The school opened in 2011 to meet the ongoing demand for affordable quality education for Indian families in Dubai. It is currently open from KG1 to Grade 10 and was expected to add a grade each year until it reached completion in April 2019 with the opening of Grade 12. However, it seems that the inability to raise the KHDA inspection rating to Good has resulted in a halt being placed on further expansion. It has consistently been rated Acceptable by the KHDA inspectors – well below the previously Outstanding (now Very Good) rating of the Indian High School Senior branch and below the Good rating of the Junior branch.
In common with many Indian curriculum schools in the UAE, IIS is a large school, with 2,000 students during the 2020-21 academic year. The KG section alone represents 20% of students at the school. The school employs 120 teaching staff and a further 100 staff across all areas of the school. The school makes a point of noting that 50 of its teachers have more than ten years' experience. With a teacher:student ratio of 1:16, this is in line with expectations for an affordably priced Indian curriculum school. KG class sizes are 24-26, whilst those in the remaining grades are 28-30.
The school is led by Principal Mrs. Rebecca Antony who joined IIS in January 2018. Staff turnover, at 19% at the end of the 2019 academic year, was below the UAE average of 20-22% but high for Indian curriculum schools.
Part of the reason that parents may initially consider IIS is in the hope that this may lead to transfer to either the Junior or Senior section of the Indian High School.
However, there is no direct internal transfer of students between the two. The school also places restrictions on students trying to join IIS from outside the Indian system; they may apply and participate in the Admissions test, but their admission will not be confirmed until the month of June (meaning that they will miss the first two months of the Indian academic year).
The school is permanently affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi, and the autonomous federal board, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) Government of India. The school is also recognised by the Ministry of Education, Dubai, UAE. IIS “adheres to a strict educational regimen and extra-curricular activities that inspire the highest levels of overall academic excellence among all students”. All students take Hindi from Grades 1 – 6. Students in secondary can additionally follow options in French or Hindi.
Interestingly, despite the close alignment and evident commitment to the CBSE Board, the KG curriculum is broadly based on the UK Early Years Foundation Stage framework. This section, according to the KHDA inspectors, is also the most effective in the school in terms of student attainment.
The focus of the Kindergarten stage (KG1 and KG 2) revolves mainly around three curricular areas - Literacy, Numeracy and Understanding Our World. These areas are complemented and supplemented by activities designed for personal and social development, health and physical development and the development of the artistic and creative skills of the students.The teaching and learning approach is a blend of inquiry, experiential learning and play, with a clear focus on developing healthy attitudes, values for life and learning skills.
Primary (Grades 1 to 5) and Middle School (Grades 6 to 8) students follow the CBSE curriculum with core subjects including languages, Math, Science and Social Studies (SST) and the co-scholastic-disciplines including Computer, Physical Education (PE), Art, Dance, and Music. Swimming is also integrated into the timetable. The subjects of UAE-Social Studies, Moral Education, Arabic and Islamic Studies form an integral part of the curriculum as per the directives of the Ministry of Education (MOE). French and Hindi are offered as curricular choices for the second language option from Grade 1.
According to the school, in line with the competency-based educational initiatives from the CBSE, National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and international benchmarks, the school’s curriculum expectations directly align with the age-appropriate skills and core competencies identified as per global standards.
The curriculum information for students in Grades 9 and 10 (the Secondary section) is somewhat limited. IIS says that "the curriculum scope and expectations in the secondary phase are in strict adherence to the guidelines and specifications from the CBSE". Artificial Intelligence and Computer Applications are offered as curricular choices for the skill subject option from Grade 9. Hindi and French continue to be options for the second language. The Ministry of Education subjects of Arabic and UAE Social Studies are a part of the curriculum until Grade 9. Moral Education and Islamic Studies are continued until Grade 10.
The curriculum promotes innovation through activities such as the ‘Innovation week’, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEAM) agenda and an organic farming project.
The curriculum is also enhanced by a range of close to 20 after-school clubs and activities, including field trips and thematic assemblies as well as a variety of sports and fitness programmes. Drama, dance and music ensure that students are provided with choices and opportunities to develop other interests. Further details can be found here.
PE and extra-curricular activities are clearly an important element of school life. Besides regular Physical Education classes, the Physical Education Department also conducts Swimming classes, after school coaching classes, after school fitness classes and Friday and Saturday Sports Clubs.
The Eco Club appears to be a particular focus of IIS. It aims to create awareness about the environment and foster a commitment among the students to work individually and collectively towards environment related issues. There is an emphasis on recycling so that many materials are re-used and refurbished. The Club consists of about 100 members, “the Green Patrol”, from Grades 3 to 9. Students participate in the recycling of electronic waste through the E-waste campaign and are encouraged to exhibit their creativity, increase public awareness on the consequences of tobacco use by organising a ‘No Tobacco Day’ campaign, organise Earth Hour and create awareness about it.
The Club encourages students to take action to save the environment and to “go a step further to educate friends and family on the significance of the three P’s – Protect, Preserve and Promote Mother Earth by a variety of activities including Organic Farming, Paper Bag Campaign, Clean -Up Campaign etc.”
Another area of focus for IIS seems to be the development of their SEND provision, in line with the KHDA Inclusive Education Policy which requires that all schools should be able to support children of Determination. At the end of 2019, IIS had 120 students who had been identified with additional learning needs.
The school already operates a Learning Centre which undertakes the Identification and Assessment of support requirements and provides Skill training for 2 or 3 periods/week, reviewing progress on an on-going basis. The SEN team of 6 Counsellors and 2 Learning Support Assistants provides guidance and support in relation to a range of Special Education Needs (SEN) including Behavioural, Social, Emotional; Sensory and Physical; Medical Conditions or Health Related Disability; Communication and Interaction; Gifted and Talented; Disabled and Learning.
The team supports children with a wide range of diagnoses including Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Nonverbal Learning Disability, Disorders of Speaking and Listening, Auditory Processing Disorder and Learning Disabilities including Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are some 150+ children who are registered as in need of SEND support.
Unfortunately, despite having had at least three cohorts of students present for the CBSE Grade 10 examinations, IIS does not publish its exam results. We find this disappointing, since although academic results are not the be-all and end-all of education, they are an important factor in the decision-making process for parents and students.
As a relatively new school, IIS boasts a range of modern facilities including a well-equipped Science Laboratory which provides technical support in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, where scientific or technological research, experiments and measurements are performed. Staff at the Science Laboratory works closely with students to explain or demonstrate experiments, how to use equipment, as well as assist and support individual students on research projects.
The school also boasts a Mathematics Lab which provides a positive and professional environment for learning. It helps students grasp the concepts dealt with in class and promotes independence in learning. Facilities in the Mathematics Lab include Geoboards, Bingo cards, Puzzles and Coursework sheets.
The ICT lab is equipped with 25 PCs with Internet connection, a Projector and Robotic Kits. It provides students with software training and up- to- date knowledge in computer technology. It also serves as a platform for staff Continuous Professional Development (Assessment software and technology) as well as internal and external assessment. After school Graphic Design Classes are also held at the ICT Lab.
The 2017-18 KHDA report noted that STEAM facilities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) “are particularly noteworthy and include a splash pool and a recycling area. Technology is commonplace in all classrooms with computers available”. With technology-driven innovation a key focus for the UAE Education Agenda, this is also a focus for inspectors.
Flexible learning spaces facilitate problem solving and independent learning particularly in the KG where it is stimulated through activities and play.
The school features a Library which has over 8000 books in circulation. It provides an easy access to reference books, E-books, newspapers and magazines for students as well as staff and a fully air-conditioned Auditorium with a seating capacity of around 500. The Auditorium has a large screen projector with state of the art sound and lighting systems. A Wi-Fi facility is available in the Main auditorium, Green rooms, as well as the Canteen and Foyer areas.
The school’s resources include a full-sized swimming pool and ample resources for extra-curricular activities. Facilities include a KG Gym with trampolines, walkers, steps, cycling areas and balancing beams; a Grade 1 and 2 Activity Room containing trampolines, wall climbing features, football goal posts, basketball rings and a Yoga and Gymnastic room with soft mattresses and wall mirrors. There is a Table Tennis hall with 5 Table Tennis tables, Carom boards and Chess boards.
Unusually for Dubai, IIS boasts a Football field with natural grass, as well as a standard size Basketball court, a Mini Basketball court with adjustable pole, a standard size Tennis and Volleyball court with adjustable pole, Cricket nets and 2 concrete pitches.
On its eighth inspection in October 2019, IIS was again rated Acceptable, the legal minimum requirement for schools in Dubai, and one rating below that of Good which the KHDA wishes all schools to achieve.
Whilst there had been some improvements in Student Achievement, the majority of measures for which across the core subjects of English, Maths and Science were rated Good, the progress and attainment in English in the Primary and Middle sections, and for Maths in the Primary section remained stubbornly Acceptable. Not only this, but the downgrade of Arabic in the Secondary section to Weak on both measures will have been a cause for concern among the inspection team if not for parents and students.
In many ways, the ratings for Teaching and Assessment and for the Curriculum are reflective of the mix of Acceptable and Good outcomes for students. Teaching and assessment in the Primary and Middle school section was rated Acceptable and it is this particular area of the school's delivery that is clearly in need of improvement - a challenge not only faced by IIS, but by the Indian High School Junior section also.
Without doubt, the Personal and Social Development and Innovation skills of the students at IIS are a strength - rated Very Good across the school - as are the Health and Safety arrangements. The remaining key performance standards, Care and Support rated Good, and Leadership and Management, rated predominantly Good also areas where the school is succeeding.
In terms of the strengths of Indian International School, the inspection team determined these to be:
As far as areas for improvement are concerned, IIS must ensure that steps are taken to:
It is rare the an inspection outcome to focus on one area of action only - but it is very clear that the standard of teaching lies at the heart of the current performance of the school. On a positive note, the recognition by the inspection team that there is scope within the school team to improve this key area of performance is an important one.
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.
It should be noted that IIS (together with the other two schools in the family) achieved A a highest Developed rating from the KHDA inspection team for the Distance Learning Evaluation which took place in 2020.
Feedback from parents at IIS to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey is insufficient for us to comment objectively on their views. Suffice to say that the small number who have responded, have been reasonably satisfied with the school, giving it a rating of 2.9/5 - a positivity rating of 58%.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Indian International School DSO, please share your experience and opinions with other potential members of your community and complete our Survey here.
Feedback from the most recent KHDA inspection report notes that "Parents report that they are happy with the school and feel that their involvement in the school’s activities is contributing positively to their child’s learning. Many feel that their participation in Parents’ Focus Group meetings has led to better communication between the school and parents. Parents show a keen interest to support the school in their initiatives. Partnerships between the school and the wider community are limited."
273 parents responded to the KHDA pre-inspection survey. Almost all parents responding to the survey were satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. Almost all parents agreed that their child was happy at school and a similar proportion said that their child felt safe. Most parents who responded said that the school leaders and staff listened to them and acted on their views. Almost all agreed that they have access to all of the information and support needed to help their child in their education.
The report notes that written responses were invariably positive especially with regard to the recent changes that had taken place [as a result of the change in leadership], and support provided for students. A small number of parents were still concerned about communication with the school and in the case of Students of determination, inspectors agreed . The same parents were also concerned about the turnover of staff. However, this below the average for Dubai.
412 students participated in the KHDA's Well-being Survey. The student survey outcomes were generally positive. Almost all students answering the survey said that they felt safe, happy and optimistic. They persevered with their studies and enjoyed positive relationships with their teachers and with their peers. Whilst bullying was not identified as a major issue, it was broadly in line with the average occurrence in other schools in Dubai. Students’ participation in sports was higher than other students across Dubai and their participation in music and art was also much higher than other students across Dubai.
As part of the Indian High School group of schools, it is unsurprising that IIS has attracted significant numbers of parents and students. Its challenge now is to deliver at least the same quality as the two other schools in the group. Based on the comments of the inspection team, it would seem they believe that the school has the capacity to improve and to move beyond the Acceptable rating that it has held for a prolonged period.
With no inspections having taken place since 2020, it is hard to know whether these expected improvements have gained traction and begun to bear fruit in terms of Student Achievement. There are a number of CBSE curriculum schools in the city that have already made the Good grade at a similar price-point. It will be interesting to see with IIS has started to realise its potential when the next round of post-Covid inspections finally takes place.
Indian International High School, Dubai is relatively affordable, with fees starting at AED 9,679 per annum for KG1 and rising to a maximum of AED 14,290 at Grade 10. These fees are considerably high than those of the other two schools within the IHS group and parents should reasonably be able to expect higher standards as a result.
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