JSS International School is a private co-educational through school located in Jumeirah Village Circle (between the Al Khail Road and Hessa Street) to which it relocated from its nearby Al Barsha site in 2017. The school was first established on March 2009 by the JSS Education Foundation and provides education for students between KG to Grade 12, or ages four to 17 years.
The Story so Far...
JSS International School (JSSIS) is one of over 130 schools, including 122 State Board schools in India, one ICSE and 12 CBSE schools, operated by the JSS Mahavidyapeetha (JSSMVP), a charitable trust that is dedicated to "the development of culture, literature and education for the prosperity of humanity". Education for All is the central teaching of this Trust which aims to improve the socio economic circumstances of those it touches. Established over some sixty years ago, JSSMVP aims to transcend boundaries and cultures. The standard of education in its schools is consistently above average, with excellent academic results in the All India Secondary School Examinations.
JSSIS is one of two schools in Dubai, the other being the CBSE curriculum JSS Private School, that are part of the JSSMVP. Both schools show similarities despite the difference in curriculum. Notable among these is the achievement of the KHDA's Very Good rating for the first time in the 2019-20 inspection round. This was a particular achievement for JSSIS which had been rated Good for the previous six years.
The school, in common with many, has a Mission and Vision which is shared on its very comprehensive website, but it is the School Promise which seems, in relatively brief words, to provide an overview of its aims:
"Students.....We promise to help you become independent, responsible and reliable citizens with high standards of behaviour and exceptional character. Parents……We promise to provide your child an inspiring and engaging learning environment, with a sound programme in all areas of study, with honest feedback and transparency in all our student dealings. Teachers… …We promise to listen to your thoughts, encourage your creativity, believe in your efforts and ideas, value your strategic insight, input and experience and stand by you in your innovative approach to academic and non-academic endeavours".
The school encourages students to work hard and at the same time cultivate a habit of creative-thinking and a desire to excel at every level "with an amalgamation of a rich culture with modern technology - knitted with 3 C's - Confidence, Creativity and Character which enables students to become critical thinkers and life-long learners".
The Principal's introduction to the school provides more details in terms of its aims for the students it educates. "The need of the day is to equip our children with critical thinking and practical skills so that they can be useful contributors to a global society in the 21st century. For this, educators have to be innovative and exploit all tools that Information Technology provides. Even social networking has to be adapted and linked to classroom learning".
Interestingly, she also notes that many studies about the academic success stories of Asian immigrants results in the need to "take a hard look at the Eastern Education system that does not rely much on technology". She comments that "Parental expectation and involvement, strong family values and the desire to succeed in life in a competitive environment is the Eastern contribution to successful education. If we can link the Western pedagogy and their best practices to the Eastern belief and value system, we would be on track to make our pupils global citizens in a continuously evolving world".
Currently JSS International School caters to some 2,100 students from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities, but predominantly Indian, with 188 teachers and around 14 teaching assistants. With a low teacher to student ratio of 1:11 (typical of premium-priced schools), students are said to be highly motivated to learn and should have sufficient individual attention to support their goals. Students are taught in quite respectable classroom sizes of approximately 25.
A previous concern in relation to staffing was the high staff turnover of 30% at the end of 2017. This is high for an Indian-staffed school and well above the UAE average of between 20-22%. However, in 2018-19, the number reduced to only 8%, indicating a much more stable environment and satisfied staff.
JSSIS has a relatively large number of students with additional learning needs - some 150 who have been identified formally with SEND requirements, though this is not yet a strength of the school. The Inspection report provides further details in this context - you can find out more here.
What about the curriculum?
The JSS International School follows the curriculum laid down by Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE). The school has designed an international curriculum that is built around a strong ethical component and sets considerable store on knowledge and respect for the cultures and values of different regions of the world.
The programme stresses experiential and collaborative learning through workshops, interactive sessions, role plays, project work, group discussions and games. Technology is an integral part of the curriculum from the Primary classes onwards and is used as a tool to enhance and accelerate the learning process. English is taught as the primary language from KG level with secondary languages being taught in Arabic, Hindi and French with Sanskrit also being offered from Grade 6. Arabic is a compulsory language for all grades.
Once students enter the Secondary phase in Grades 9 to 10, they are offered a range of subjects from which to choose in preparation for the ISC, with compulsory studies in English, Hindi or French, and Arabic, History, Civics and Geography. They are able to choose two subjects from Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry and Biology), Economics and Commercial Studies, and one further subject from Computer Application, Commercial Application, Art, and Physical Education.
Senior Secondary subjects offered for Classes XI and XII, in addition to compulsory English, are selected from the three streams of study offered - Commerce, Humanities and Science. Students may select a minimum of four elective subjects from the chosen stream. The Commerce stream includes options of Commerce, Accounts, Mathematics, and Economics, Computer Science, or Art. The Humanities stream includes History, Sociology, Psychology, and Economics or Art. The options within the Science stream include Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, Psychology, Biology, Economics, Computer Science or Art. Students are required to achieve minimum grades of 65%, 60% and 55% of marks to enter the ISCE the Science, Commerce and Humanities streams respectively.
In addition, all students are evaluated internally by the school and must secure a pass grade in the compulsory Socially Useful Productive Work and Community Service programme. The school offers the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Scheme to provide a platform for this Work and Community Service programme.
JSS International School says that it has a very deep commitment to the Inclusion and pastoral support for all its families and students. This includes support for students who are identified with Special Educational Needs or are more able and gifted students. The school aims to be fully inclusive school by 2020. Its goal is to "nurture every student to achieve their personal, social, emotional and academic goals in a safe, secure and positive environment". A qualified clinical psychologist and specialist teachers are available to support the 80+ students who had been identified with SEND requirements in 2017.
Although the academic focus of the school is very clear, JSSI does also recognise the importance of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The school programme includes Athletics, Squash, Cricket, Swimming, Basket Ball, Chess, Football, Yoga, Volley Ball, and Table tennis. Clubs include the Literary Club, Science Club, Civic Club, Mathematics Club, Fine Arts Club, Library Club, Nature Club, and Adventure Club.
What about Academic achievement?
Unusually, in our experience, JSSIS publishes its exam results at Grades X and XII. For the 2017 session, the school's students achieved 100% pass rates in both CISCE and ISC examinations.
In ICSE, the school average was 88% with total passes at 100%. Three were in Commercial Studies, two in Computer Application and one in Mathematics. In ISC, the school average was 84% and with a total 8 passes at 100%, of which five were in Psychology, and one each in Computer science, Economics and Sociology. Sixteen students secured more than 90% in ISC and 27 students secured above 90% in ICSE.
In 2019, in Grade X, the ICSE average was 89.8% - the school's highest ever batch average - with 50 students achieving 100% passes. All students, who entered for the examinations, passed.
For the Grade XII students, the school's students achieved a 100% pass rate, with an average score of 86.3% and 10 students achieved 100% passes in specific subjects.
2019 Results can be found here.
Unfortunately, the school does not provide information about the number of students who participated in the examinations, and it is not possible therefore to see what proportion of students were among the highest achievers.
What about facilities?
According to the most recent KHDA report, the move to the new premises has improved facilities considerably. There are now an excellent range of facilities, including ICT, that supports students’ learning. The new building offers a comprehensive library, well equipped IT laboratories with the latest PCs and Wi Fi connection and a Project room where students can explore and experiment, to do the assigned projects.
The auditorium, with modern acoustic features, is in compliance the Green building regulations of Dubai Municipality. It has a seating capacity for over 1,000 guests, and offers a platform for students to demonstrate their talents in co-curricular and extra curricular activities. Specialist facilities in labs for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and Language, a Lecture Hall, Canteen, Music rooms and Sports facilities, including a swimming pool.
Classrooms are spacious and airy with internet access for a blended approach to learning.
Read the report of our most recent visit of JSS International School campus here.
What the Inspectors Say.
After six years rated Good, JSSIS finally made the jump to the KHDA's second highest Very Good rating in 2019-20. This achievement should not be underestimated. After so long at the Good rating, this is a significant step up.
A particular strength of the school is its students who the DSIB inspectors describe as follows: The courteous, well-behaved and hard-working students continue to be the major strength of the school. They have very good knowledge and understanding of Emirati culture and how Islaminfluences life in the UAE. They also have a good understanding of their own cultures and heritage. Students show initiative, and secondary students demonstrate strong leadership skills. They support the younger students very well.
Overall the school's strengths include:
With the sole exception of English progress in the Primary school, all ratings for English, Maths and Science across the KG, Primary and Middle school sections are rated Very Good. However, it is in the Secondary school section where Student Achievement at JSSIS really shines. Four of the six indicators for the three English-language based subjects are now rated Outstanding. But while Islamic Education is rated Good across the school, Arabic still appears to be something of a challenge, and nowhere more so that in the Secondary section, where it is rated Acceptable for both attainment and progress. This is an area on which the school will continue to need to focus.
The remaining key performance measures of Students' Personal and Social Development and their Innovation Skills - rated Outstanding across ten of the twelve indicators - Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum, show Very Good ratings across almost all sections of the school, though in common with sister school JSS, the Primary school section still has some catching up to do.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students is rated Outstanding across the school for health and safety and has improved to Very Good for care and support across all sections except the Primary where it remains Good. Despite the obvious and stated desire of the school to support children with additional learning needs, it seems that there is some degree of improvement required.
Provision and outcomes for students with SEND were again rated Good. The report notes "This inclusive school is led with commitment, energy and drive by the inclusion champion and governor for inclusion. The inclusive education improvement plan is a direct response to the recommendation in the previous inspection report and contains key markers for generating better progress. Very good levels of care, guidance and support ensure that students of determination make good and sometimes very good academic and personal progress." Clearly words are now translating into positive action and outcomes.
In the remaining key performance area of Leadership and Management, the school retained its Very Good rating achieved after the relocation to the new premises in 2017-18.
Key recommendations for the school include:
If you would like to read the inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
427 parents responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey. 95% agreed that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by JSSI. The report notes that "Almost all parents are satisfied with the quality of education and communication provided by the school. Almost all consider that their children’s learning, physical, and health and safety needs are met. Parents believe that their children’s social and emotional well-being is secure, and that relationships and learning in school and at home are good."
A significant number of students also responded to the survey - some 474 in total. Students’ responses to the well-being survey were mostly positive and broadly in line with other students in Dubai. Most felt a strong sense of belonging to the school. They reported high levels of emotional engagement with teachers and friends. The large majority of students had a strong sense of academic self-belief and high expectations of success.
In the ongoing WSA School Survey has received very limited feedback, and would appear to reflect opinions of parents who are not especially satisfied with the school. There was a strong sense that parents felt that the school is overpriced.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at JSSIS, please share your opinion with other potential members of your school community by completing our survey here.
Despite the reservations expressed by the respondents to our survey, it is evident from the KHDA pre-inspection survey responses, and more particularly, the views of the KHDA's DSIB inspection team, that JSSIS is a school with a great deal to recommend it. In particular, for parents seeking an alternative to the CBSE curriculum, JSSIS is only one of three schools in Dubai to offer the CISCE curriculum - including the only Outstanding rated Indian curriculum school - GEMS Modern Academy.
What about the Fees?
School fees are mid to top range for an Indian curriculum school, starting at AED 14,424 for pre-KG students, AED 15,606 for KG1 and KG2, and rising by increments of approximately AED 3,000 per year to AED 37,638 for Grade 12 students (not including additional registration fees or bus fees). The school operates buses across Dubai and into Sharjah.
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