International Indian School Abu Dhabi is a relatively new CBSE curriculum school located in Baniyas West. It is the sister school to Global English School in Al Ain.
Owned by an educational consulting business that manages every aspect of school operations from set up to recruitment and day to day operations for both other organisations and of its own schools, Global Education Services, International Indian School (IIS), established in May 2016, is a sister to school to the long-established Global English School in Al Ain which has operated for over 30 years. There is no question that their owners have invested significantly in both operations, opening state of the art campuses and developing a new approach to delivery of the CBSE curriculum.
The school's motto is 'Nurturing the Future Generation, Moulding Tomorrow's Citizens.'
The school's stated aim is "to provide a challenging and supportive environment for the best possible programmes of academic and personal development through integrated studies and hands on participation. Redefining Education Through Innovation."
International Indian School envisions "creating a challenging learning environment that encourages high expectations for success and that allows individual differences, thinking and learning styles."
In common with the increasingly frequent ambitions of many UAE schools, IIS aims to create lifelong learners who understand the needs of the society and the world they live in, "tolerant to all and are successful individuals capable of securing opportunities that are beyond imaginations of today."
The school accepts children from 3 years and 8 months of age (joining KG1) and is currently open to Grade 8. It will grow organically each year until reaching Grade 12. In 2018-19, when last inspected by the ADEK inspection team, IIS had just over 600 students, the vast majority (68%) in KG, 30% in Primary and 2% in Grades 6 and 7. With the opening of Grade 8 a proportion of students will have now have moved on to Middle school, though inevitably, Primary will outweigh the Secondary section for some years to come.
The vast majority of students are Indian nationals (some 89%), a further 9% are Pakistani and the third largest nationality group - from Egypt - makes up the remaining 2%. Approximately 3% of students had been identified with additional learning support requirements.
At the time of the inspection, there were 42 teachers, a further 17 teaching assistants and a teacher:student ratio of 1:15 - very low by Indian school standards. Whether the school will be able to continue to offer such support as it grows, given its very low fee level, remains to be seen.
IIS will offer the CBSE curriculum from Grade 1 to Grade 12, in combination with the English National Curriculum-based Early Years Foundation Stage, and the Montessori Method, to facilitate stress free learning in KG. The school intends to provide an interactive platform for learning and a strong focus on the development of 21st century skills of Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking.
The curriculum will be delivered through Activity-based Learning at Primary level and Project based learning, individual learning and formative assessments as students move through the school. Every child is treated as a competent individual capable of self-directed learning.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum will also feature a blending of academic curriculum with Information Technology. It is enquiry and skill focused, catering to individual learning styles in terms of pedagogy and assessment. It addresses global needs as well as relating to the local issues and culture. It promotes critical and creative thinking skills, effective communication skills, interpersonal and collaborative skills, and information and media skills. The inbuilt flexibility that the curriculum will offer provides a foundation and an extension curriculum in all subject areas to cater to the different pace of learners.
Key features of the curriculum and its delivery include that it is
• Enquiry and skill based
• Catering to individual learning styles
• Learner and Learning centric
• Focused on Experiential Learning
• Focused on Analysis and Discovery approach
• Focused on real world experiences.
There are five areas of learning or units of enquiry with a core area that incorporate perspectives, Critical Thinking, Research Project, Life skills and social empowerment through work and action. In many ways, these areas of learning are not dissimilar to the highly regarded International Baccalaureate programme which was the first to focus on the need for the development of students' independent learning skills in such a rapidly developing world.
The KG/EYFS syllabus teaching-learning is centered on experiences that promote life skills, intellectual skills and real word knowledge. The unique approach of offering the EYFS programme coupled with the Montessori Method focuses on the theme of ‘A Unique Child’ is based on the principle that ‘Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured’. The four aims of EYFS – Quality and Consistency, Secure Foundation, Partnership Working, Equality of Opportunity are firmly embedded in IIS' unique approach at the Pre-School level.
Once students join the Primary school, they are assessed on a 9 point scale in Scholastic areas and a 5 point scale in co-scholastic areas with focus:
1.Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation;
2.A move away from purely summative (test/exam-based) assessments to a variety of assessment tools depending upon various learner needs;
3.A combination of summative (tests/exams) and formative (on-going) assessments;
5.Co-Scholastic Assessment in the areas such as Life Skills and other co-scholastic skills such as Literary Skills, Attitudes, Value Systems, Scientific Skills, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Clubs, Health and Physical Education – assessed on a five point scale.
Language development is an important area on which IIS also intends to focus. The aim is to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in a variety of contexts and train students to be able to adapt the language to suit different tasks, audiences and purposes. In recognition of the nationality mix of students, IIS offers Malayalam, Urdu and Hindi as language options in addition to compulsory Arabic.
With the closure of schools in the UAE and the move to remote learning as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, IIS is also committed:
IIS is located in a new, purpose-built campus with a modern Architectural Design and Technology Integrated Classrooms offering the latest facilities. All classrooms have access to internet technology, and the Learning Resource Centre is a particular focus of the school's development.
It is expected to become the hub of the school and will consist of diverse and various collection of books and resources. It includes a number of study areas primarily for senior students who will be able to conduct research and study when they are not timetabled in a class. Other small groups may use these study areas as well. The LRC will provide access to technology for study purposes through online digital resources and the Librarians will be trained to develop research skills with the upper school and to liaise with class teachers from the Junior School to ensure that Library lessons support learning in the class.
Activity rooms, additional to Chemistry, Physics and Biology Labs and alongside the LRC, will provide Science Stream students with excellent facilities and a hub for learning with activities and piratical experiments. These Labs will have exhaust/aeration booth providing the safety requirements for such a facility.
A Multi-Purpose Auditorium (MPA) will be the centre for action at IIS. This air-conditioned facility will allow students to continue their sporting and physical education programmes during the heat of spring and summer. In addition, the MPA will provide a venue for performing arts as the school develops a Creative and Performing Art Programme. It will also be a venue for meetings and social gatherings.
A fully equipped canteen that fulfills ADFCA requirements for food preparation will allow the school to provide a wider range of healthy and nutritious food freshly produced daily.
Indoor and outdoor playground facilities including a dedicated football field with an artificial turf surface, basketball surface, increased shade areas and the development of green areas will provide students with venues and resources for play and sporting activities and are integrated into the design of the school campus.
On its first inspection in 2016-17 (with school less than a year in operation) and again in 2018-19, IIS and its owners showed that their commitment to excellence in education was real. The school was rated Good in both inspections - above the Acceptable level that is required of Abu Dhabi schools and an improvement on the rating of its much longer established sister school - Global English School - in Al Ain, which has not yet been able to make the step up to the Good rating.
Given the growth in the school - from 94 students in its first year when the original inspection took place to an almost 7-fold growth on the second inspection, IIS did well to continue to maintain and improve on its standards. Given also that the first cohort of students consisted of almost entirely KG students (80 of the 94) with a smattering of students in grades 1 to 3, the school has clearly changed beyond recognition in the intervening two years.
In fact, inspectors commented in their introduction to the initial report that "This new school, formed in May 2016, has made a very good start in establishing a good quality of educational provision. This is because of effective leadership and teachers’positive impact on students’ personal and academic achievement. Students achieve well academically across the curriculum and the school recognises the need to further strengthen their skills in English. The school celebrates the values and heritage of the UAE and integrates these well with all aspects of learning through a well-designed curriculum. The facilities and the stimulating building provide a pleasant learning environment that contributes to students’ wellbeing and enjoyment of school."
Commenting on the school's performance in the second inspection report, the ADEK inspection team noted that "The school has grown rapidly since the last inspection and now has 520 more students. It has grown almost seven times since the previous inspection and has students from KG to Grade 6. Aligned with the influx of new students, the number of teachers has grown. The senior leadership remains the same and the teacher turnover is low.
The overall performance of the school is good. Students make good progress due to effective teaching, clear guidance of school leadership and students’ positive attitudes to learning. This has enabled the school to sustain its good standard and continue to improve."
At the time of the second inspection, the inspection team identified the strengths of IIS as:
In particular, students attainment was found to be good in English in all phases. This was because of the subject specific focus, good teaching strategies and professional development provided for teachers. In fact, attainment and progress for English, Maths and Science were deemed to be Good across all sections of the school. Unfortunately, in line with many international curriculum schools in the UAE, the attainment and progress in Arabic and Islamic Studies was not as effective, although rated Acceptable - a positive level compared with that achieved by many schools where these two subjects remain the Achilles Heel so often. Only 7% of students were native Arabic speakers, but IIS will need to ensure that it provides full curriculum entitlement for Grade 5 and 6 native Arabic speakers in Arabic and Islamic education subjects - it seems that insufficient lesson time was being provided in this context.
Students' personal and social development was found to be good across the school which had also developed students’ innovation skills and high order learning skills through the introduction of an Innovation Club and Robotics lessons.
The key performance standards of the Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum were also deemed to be good. However, the focus on assessment and the need to match teaching to students' individual abilities was an area on which additional focus will be required.
Inspectors found that IIS had also improved the quality of provision for the individual learning needs of students. The individual needs of a large majority of new students were successfully met through daily tutorial lessons, although the needs of the gifted and talented (G&T) students were not as consistently met in lessons.
Importantly, overall, the school leaders had been successful in sustaining good standards in spite of the big influx of students.
Whilst there were clearly many positive indications, the inspection team identified a number of areas of improvement, and did not feel that sufficient progress had been made to raise the school's overall rating above Good. However, the level of achievement by IIS in retaining the Good rating should not be under-estimated in the face of such significant growth.
Key areas for improvement included:
Students achievement in Arabic and Islamic education by:
i. giving sufficient focus to students’ Quran recitation skills in Islamic education lessons
ii. ensuring students have sufficient opportunities for paired or group discussions and more reading and writing opportunities
iii. improving the quality of helpful, formative feedback in lessons
iv. ensuring teachers make more effective use of assessment for learning to inform planning and teaching
v. ensuring teachers are using differentiated strategies to meet the needs of all groups of students
vi. ensuring school is providing the full curriculum entitlement for all students studying Arabic as first language and Islamic education in Arabic particularly in primary and middle.
Students’ innovation, research and use of ICT skills by:
i. providing opportunities to students to research and work independently
ii. planning to include regular opportunities for students to consistently develop enquiry and critical thinking skills in lessons
iii. ensuring students use ICT labs to research iv. providing computers in classrooms for students’ use.
Development of middle leaders with clear responsibilities by:
i. ensuring subject coordinators have clear job descriptors with roles and responsibilities
ii. providing them training and time to assess the quality of teaching and learning of students
iii. ensuring they use assessment data to sharply target students’ next steps in learning.
If you would like to read the full ADEK inspection report - and we strongly advise you to do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
Partnerships with Parents and the Community were rated highly by the ADEK inspectors, who commented that "Parental involvement in the school and in decision making is very good. Communications and reporting are effective in keeping parents well informed about their children academic and personal development."
Although there is no Parent Survey for IIS published by ADEK on the TAMM website (where all ADEK reports are hosted), it is very clear from the school's own website that a strong and consistent process for communication is in place. In particular, aside from direct contact with parents, the school issues a detailed (and large, 50+ page) newsletter which contains a mass of information about school activities and events, and students' achievements. A sample of this can be found here.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at International Indian School and would like to share your experience with other potential members of your community, please complete our Survey here.
First impressions of International Indian School are most certainly positive ones. Based on the school's own detailed and informative website, and two very positive ADEK inspection reports, IIS is clearly a school that has set out with a clear goal to provide a quality education at an affordable price.
As it continues to develop and grow, attracting more students at higher grades, it will be interesting to see if it lives up to its early promise. We at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com will continue to follow IIS with interest.
Fees at IIS are very affordable, starting at AED 10,500 from KG1 to Grade 7, and rising to AED 11,500 for Grade 8. Note that these fees are reduced from the ADEK approved fees and are payable in 4 installments.
Schools hours are for KG, 8.00am to 11.50am; Years 1–2, 8.00am to 2.10pm; Years 3–12, 8.00am to 2.10pm.
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