JSS Private School is a private KG to Grade 12 school located in Al Wasl, Dubai. The school was established in 2011 and is part of the JSS Mahavidyapeetha group (JSSMVP), an Indian-based charitable trust that operates over 100 schools in India and a handful around the world.
The story so far...
On opening, in 2011, JSS had a student cohort that grew from 180 to 240 students over the course of the academic year. JSS Private School is the sister to the JSS International School in Dubai which offers the ICSE curriculum, instead of the more common CBSE offered by the Private School. The school is now fully open to Grade 12 and has around 1,935 students (2019-20).
Irrespective of curriculum, both schools are clearly 'doing it right' in terms of the standards of education being offered - both were rated Very Good (the second highest possible rating) for the first time by the KHDA's DSIB inspection teams in the 2019-20 academic year.
The school's comprehensive website explains its motto and philosophy stating that "JSS believes that every individual is unique and is born with innate talents. We constantly strive towards unlocking the distinctive talents of each child thus leading to the holistic development of an individual. We believe in building a love for learning and developing long-lasting inquisitiveness among students in a stress-free and conducive environment that will lead them to seek learn and excel in life!".
The school's CEO states that "Our core focus is delivering high quality academic programs that will enable students to achieve their intellectual potential and have greater choice in their lives beyond school, including access to the best universities worldwide. We will continue to raise the bar of excellence as we mould young minds with sound characters, clearness of thought and the courage of their convictions".
The Principal's focus is succinct, but heartfelt. Mrs. Sharma has been the leader of JSS since it opened. "It is my personal commitment to provide a learning environment that prides itself on a culture of mutual caring as well as learning through a dedicated approach in the whole process. Through our personalized learning approach, it is our objective to meet and address the unique educational needs of our students in a positive and friendly manner that aids the learning process. I assure you that the faculty is dedicated to ensuring that all our students are well prepared to face and meet the challenges of the future by equipping them with all the necessary skills to be global citizens who would contribute positively to the society."
Some 50 students have been identified with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities - a relatively small number for a school of this size - but they are clearly provided with excellent support. The latest inspection report states that "The school promotes diversity and inclusion. Leaders, at all levels, are committed to this ethos. The leadership has a very good strategic overview of all work, and important developments have been made on the assessment of students’ progress. High levels of care, guidance and support for almost all students of determination ensure that they make above expected personal, social and emotional progress."
The vast majority of students and staff are Indian passport holders. There are 143 teachers and 28 teaching assistants - small reductions from two years that have impacted the teacher to student ratio; now 1:14, it was 1:12 previously. This is an acceptable number to allow for a good level of individual attention, though higher than the 1:11 found in premium schools in general. Staff turnover, has risen from 12 percent two years ago, to 19% in 2018-19, still below the average of between 20-22%, but back towards the level of previous years when JSS was replacing a fifth of its staff. This is on the higher side for Indian curriculum schools.
What about the curriculum?
The school follows an international curriculum set by the Central Board of Secondary Education and claims to provide a number of programmes designed to aid each students intellectual development, such as creative and critical thinking programmes, discussion, debate and research groups.
The JSS curriculum takes its lead from the National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005). The paramount guiding principles as proposed by NCF-2005 are connecting knowledge to life outside the school, ensuring that learning is shifted away from rote methods, enriching the curriculum to provide for overall development of children rather than remain textbook- centric, and making examinations more flexible and integrated into classroom life.
Students in the KG follow the UK-based Early Years Foundation stage curriculum which is largely play-based. The cognitive and perceptive abilities of the children are developed through various activities such as art, crafts, music, dance, nature walks and excursions.This curriculum is described by the KHDA inspectors as "very good and well adapted to the children's needs".
In the Primary School section, JSS aims to offer a comprehensive and flexible curriculum that promotes the active involvement of children in a learning process that is imaginative and stimulating. Its overall vision is to enable children to meet, with self-confidence and assurance, the demands of life, both now and future. Initial steps are taken to provide the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science, together with Arabic, Hindi, French, Social Studies and Environmental Systems. Students also participate in Music and broader Performing Arts, as well as Visual Arts and PE.
In the Middle School section, (from grades 6-8), there is an extension of the Primary school learning with the focus on developing learning through collaboration. The Social Studies curriculum includes History, Geography and UAE Social Studies. Students are provided with opportunities to enhance their self confidence through experimental, co-operative and participative learning.
By Secondary school (grades 9-10), students prepare for their first CBSE public examinations through a curriculum that requires them to focus on five areas of learning. Students are required to study two or three languages of which English is compulsory, and either Hindi, a Mother Tongue/Local language or a foreign language (usually French) are options. All students study History, Social and Political Structures, Geography and Economics. In addition, they are required to study Mathematics and Technology. Information and Communication Technology is a compulsory component of the curriculum designed to enable students assess the impact of new technologies on society and train them to use these productively. Sciences include Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The final subject group includes Physical Education, Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Work Education.
For the final Board exams at the end of Grade 12, students study core subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Accountancy, Marketing, Business Studies, Economics, Computer Science, English and Mathematics. According to the school, the curriculum has been designed "to nurture multiple intelligences including linguistic or verbal intelligence, logical mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, sports intelligence, musical intelligence, inter-personal intelligence and intra-personal intelligence".
JSS offers many clubs, details of which can be found on its very competent web site, including a literary club, science club, civics club, mathematics club, fine arts club, library club, nature club, adventure club and sports club. The aim of the co-curricular activities is to make students aesthetically responsive, whilst sports activities are designed to make the students physically fit and mentally alert. A range of annual sports events take place including an Interschool Soccer Tournament, Interschool Swimming Competition, a Soccer Tournament, Swimming Gala and the Geeta Devi Memorial Cup.
In addition to the academic and co-curricular activities, JSS also has a strong focus on community involvement. Students have formed the Hope Club with the primary objective to work for children who are victims of poverty, as well as to extend support to needy members of society, not only around the school, but to organisations across the world. This involves acts of charity within the school premises and also within the community and includes activities such as games, club activities, literary activities, life skill programmes and practice time for competitions. The school time table is designed to accommodate these activities.
All students from Grades 1 to 8 participate in these activities for one period a week, during the regular school working hours.
What about academic achievement?
JSS publishes its results for both Grade X and Grade XII - something which we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com very much encourage. For the 2018 students at Grade X, all of the 79 students who entered for exams passed. 17 students (21%) achieved marks of 90% or above, whilst 57% of students scored 80% and above. Subject averages ranged from 71% for Hindi to 86.5% for English.
For the Grade XII exams, all the students entered (the number is not specified), passed the exams with 14% of students achieving above 90%, whilst 63 students scored above 75%. The overall average score for the school was 78.7% with the Science stream average at 80% and the Commerce stream at 77%. The Science stream topper achieved a score of 94.6%, whilst the Commerce stream topper scored 95.2%.
For 2019, there was a 100% pass rate among Grade 10 students, with 37% of students scoring above 90%. All students scored a First class pass, with 81% of students scoring a distinction. Subject averages were not provided, but 4 students each scored 100% in Maths and a further student achieved the perfect score in Social Studies.
In the Grade 12 exams, 16% of students scored 90% or more, 60,5% scored above 80%, 82.7% of students scored 75% and above, and 98.8% of students scored 60% or more. The overall average for the cohort (unfortunately, no student numbers are provided), was 81.4%. The average for the Commerce stream was 80%, whilst for the Science stream it was slightly higher at 82.2%.
Details can be found here.
What about facilities?
JSS took over the school campus that was previously occupied by Dubai Modern Academy. The buildings are traditional, set among trees and with a courtyard area that is used for PE activities. This lacked shade during the most recent KHDA inspection (in September 2017), and the school has been asked to rectify this.
The school has facilities suited to its students, including ICT labs, Science labs, and other specialist rooms such as Music and Art. However, although the school does have interactive white boards, and uses tablet technology, the KHDA found that there are a lack of IT facilities within classrooms and some classes were found to be overcrowded.
What the Inspectors Say
After having been rated Good for five years by the KHDA's DSIB inspectors, JSS Private School made the breakthrough to the Very Good rating in 2019-20. It was one of four schools to move up to the second highest rating, including sister school JSS International.
The inspection team defined the strengths of JSS Private School as:
Perhaps the most striking comment made by the inspection team relates to JSS' students, who the inspectors describe as "this school's best feature. The student leaders are positive role models for the younger students. Their understanding of Islamic values and how these can be included in their daily lives remain [sic] outstanding. They help maintain the inclusive and caring ethos in the school. Student voice is heard."
Overall, it is the Secondary section of the school which is its strength - unusual, since generally the KG and Primary sections tend to be stronger. However, the report notes that "the school recognises that teaching in Primary needs further development to reach the same standard. Assessment practices are rigorous and have improved in Primary."
In terms of students' achievement, ratings for English, Maths and Science in the KG section are now all Very Good. English is also rated Very Good in the Primary section, Very Good for progress and Outstanding for attainment in the Middle school section, and Outstanding for both criteria in the Secondary school section. Science is also largely rated Very Good - the exception being the Primary section. Maths is also more variable, being Good in the Primary and Middle school sections, whilst Very Good in the KG and Secondary school section.
Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills are rated either Very Good or Outstanding. Teaching and assessment and the curriculum have also improved largely to Very Good, with the exception of the Primary section where these indicators are now rated Good. Inspectors noted that "The KG, Primary and Middle have all benefited from science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) initiatives which promote cross-curricular learning and encourage students to relate their learning to the different subjects or to real-life situations."
They also noted that "The school has introduced new initiatives such as skills for life, financial literacy, makers’ hub, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and fusion flow. All of these are helping improve students’ learning outcomes."
The protection, care, guidance and support of students is also broadly rated Very Good (let down in Primary by a Good rating for the care of students, which appears to have been driven by concerns around students involved in play or learning activities in the non-shaded play area). All indicators for Leadership and Management are now rated Very Good including broad participation by parents and others in the governance of the school - in area of particular concern in the inspection report from 2017-18, when participation from outside the school's owners and management was found to be lacking.
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspectors recommended that JSS Private School should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to find out the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
The 2019-20 Inspection report clearly shows that there has been significant improvement at JSS Private School over the past two years; a very positive step forward for all concerned. The school is only one of nine Indian curriculum schools to be rated Very Good in the current academic year. There is, however, much still to do to reach the next level - that of Outstanding - held by only one Indian curriculum school. Based on progress over the past two years, it will be interesting to see how quickly, and if, JSS can make this final step to the top of the ratings.
The pre-inspection survey carried out by the KHDA with students and parents that they were overwhelmingly positive in their comments about the school. Some 152 parents participated in the survey, and some 92% stated that they were satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. The parents who responded to the survey were very positive about the education that their children receive at the school. Most indicated that they feel that their children are happy and safe at the school. There were, however, a few negative comments regarding the high turnover of teachers.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com from our on-going Parent Survey suggests that parental opinion is mixed. although the very small number of responses received would suggest that feedback has mainly been from more disgruntled parents. Whilst 33% of participants say that they would recommend the school, an emphatic 22% would not. 56% of those who responded felt that the standard of education being offered was lower than they would have received in their home country and two-thirds of respondents had considered moving their child to another school.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at JSS, please share your opinion with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
What are the Fees?
Fees are at the lower end of the spectrum, ranging from AED 11,771 for KG up to AED 24,384 for Grade 12. Parents are also required to pay a non-refundable AED 1,500 admission fee and an AED 500 registration fee. Bus fees are a set AED 5,000 per year for students in Dubai and AED 6,000 for students from Sharjah.
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