United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Warqa / Our Own High School Al Warqa'a

Our Own High School Al Warqa'a Review

Established as a separate Boys School to allow a single shift at the original Our Own High School in Bastakiya, Our Own High School Al Warqaa opened in 1975. Run by GEMS Education, OOHS AW had 4, 650 students on its register, looked after by 223 teachers at the time of the 2019-20 KHDA inspection.
Parents' Rating
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3.5 out of 5 based on 30 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 10,500
Annual fees
AED 8,734–15,069
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Gender
Opening year
2005
School year
Apr to Mar
Teacher turnover help
8%
Principal
Mr Sanjeev K Jolly
Owner
GEMS Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
India
Main student nationality
India

Nearby nurseries

1.8km • EYFS curriculum
2.6km • EYFS curriculum
2.8km • EYFS curriculum
2.9km • EYFS curriculum
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Our Own High School Al Warqa'a
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 10,500
Annual fees
AED 8,734–15,069
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Gender
Opening year
2005
School year
Apr to Mar
Teacher turnover help
8%
Principal
Mr Sanjeev K Jolly
Owner
GEMS Education
Community
Main teacher nationality
India
Main student nationality
India
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Established as a separate Boys School to allow a single shift at the original Our Own High School in Bastakiya, Our Own High School Al Warqaa opened in 1975. Run by GEMS Education, OOHS AW had 4, 650 students on its register, looked after by 223 teachers at the time of the 2019-20 KHDA inspection.

The story so far...

The original Our Own High School was founded in 1968 in Bastakiya, making it one of the oldest international schools in Dubai, and its younger associated school (catering to male students only from Grades 1 to 12) also follows the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum.  There is a close relationship between the schools with ‘Our Own’ Al Warqa’a sharing the same vision, ethos and work culture as the parent school. 

The Principal of OOHS Al Warqa'a, who has been with the school since 2012, explains the ethos of the school as follows:

“At ‘Our Own’ Al Warqa’a, we strive to create a stimulating and secure environment, to help develop lively enquiring minds and a positive desire to learn. We aim to help students develop creativity and give them opportunities to hone their talent in various co-curricular activities like music, dance, public speaking, sports, art, and drama. We ensure that our students develop a strong sense of self-esteem and individuality by encouraging self-reliance and independence. The school’s mission is to ensure that its students imbibe sound moral and spiritual values within a supportive and caring community”.

At the time of the last DSIB inspection in September 2019, prior to subsequent inspections being put on hold as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic in early 2020, OOHS AW had 4,640 students of mainly Indian nationality, supported by a team of 223 teachers and four Guidance Counsellors.  This represents a teacher:student ratio of 1:21, very much at the top end of what is acceptable in terms of class sizes. Teacher turnover at 12% was well below the UAE average for international schools of 20-22%, but towards the high side for an Indian led school.

What about support for students of Determination and those with Gifts and Talents?

Some 180 students had been identified as Students of Determination at the time of the 2019 DSIB inspection. Provision and outcomes for students of Determination and those with Gifts and Talents was rated Good in the most recent inspection and the subject of a number of specific recommendations. 

What about the curriculum?

OOHS AW follows the CBSE curriculum believing that its students should be fully involved in the process of building a curriculum that appeals to them and embraces 21st century learning – allowing them to follow their own interests and retain connections with their own country and culture. To widen the learning platform for students and to incorporate a holistic learning environment, the school curriculum focuses on STEAM, integrating the learning of Science and Maths with Art, Technology and Engineering. STEAM education focuses on promoting creativity and spirit of exploration in the learning process.

In addition, the school has had an interest in Robotics and has participated in the U.A.E. National Robotic Olympiad for a number of years. Our Own High School has represented the United Arab Emirates in the World Robotic Olympiad at Naning (China 2006), Taipei (Taiwan 2007), Yokohama (Japan 2008), Seoul (Korea 2009), Manila (Philippines 2010), Abu Dhabi (UAE 2011& 2012), Malaysia (2012) & Jakarta (Indonesia 2013). Its students were Winners of National Robot Olympiad -2014.

OOHS AW is also committed to encouraging students to explore their talents in areas such as music, dance, public speaking, sports, art, and drama, in order to develop a strong sense of self-esteem and individuality.  In addition to its successful involvement in Robotics, students from the school have also won First Place in the Children’s Film Festival, Dubai with the winning film subsequently being represented overseas, and achieved First Place in the Under 19, CBSE World Athletics Games held in India.

What about Academic Achievement?

To its credit, unlike many Dubai schools, OOHS Al Warqaa does publish its results-  providing detailed information going back over the past seven years. We do wish that the school would provide overall averages for all students, rather than the focus on Toppers, but in any event, this information does enable parents and students to celebrate the achievements of the most successful students.

For the Grade 12 examinations of May 2021, 329 students were registered with 182 in the Science Stream and 147 in the Commerce Stream. The topper in the Science stream was Sandip Kumar Manivannan with 97.8%, placed second was S Kumara Nidhirajan Pillay with 97.4% and Ashvin Changarangath was placed in the third position with 97.2%. The toppers in the Commerce stream were Ashish Ganapathy and Chris Sequeira with 96.8%, placed second were Joel Manoj Kurian and Zafar Mohamed Badarudeen with 96.0% followed by Chirag Harish Gyamlani and Gershom Samson Samuel with 95.8%.

What about the facilities?

Facilities at the school are in line with most GEMS Indian curriculum schools – functional and adequate without being at the high end of the spectrum. The building has spacious classrooms and wide passages. The administrative offices and the lobby are centrally air-conditioned. The school has a large multi-purpose hall, an indoor play area, an art and craft room and a canteen. A large canopy covers the courtyard where the school can assemble under its shade for morning assembly.

Basic facilities include a spacious library stocked with periodicals, newspapers and books catering to all age groups. There is also a collection of maps, charts, audio and video-cassettes, and CD-ROMs are available as teaching aids. Computers with internet access are available for students' use in the Senior Library. A Composite Laboratory, equipped with materials for Maths and Science, helps students form concepts through realistic and meaningful activities.

Three large well-equipped Science laboratories provide the facilities necessary for demonstration, experimentation and project work at various levels in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The schools also has five fully-fledged computer laboratories. All laboratories have Pentium processor machines with the latest software and interactive white boards. An independent work station is made available to each student.

External facilities, including  two Basketball courts, a Volleyball court, Cricket Nets, and an Astro-turf playground, are provided for Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Cricket, Badminton, Table Tennis and Athletics. Students are trained in various sports including cricket, football, basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, chess, athletics and swimming. Special coaching is given outside regular school hours for which transport is provided. The school conducts a Sports Day separately for Primary, Middle and Senior School.

What the Inspectors Say

OOHS AW was again rated Good for the 10th year by the KHDA inspection team who visited the school in September 2019. In fact, at first sight, one might wonder why the rating was only Good! 

Student achievement - the first of six key performance standards evaluated by the DSIB inspection team - rated English, Maths and Science Very Good (with one exception) across the school.  Islamic Education retained the Good and Very Good ratings (the latter in the Secondary section), although Arabic remained largely Acceptable (with the exception of Primary where it was Good).

Teaching and assessment for a rise in ratings for the latter standard to Very Good across all sections of the school, though Teaching for Effective learning retained the previous ratings of Good (in Primary and Middle school sections) and Very Good in Secondary. The third key performance standard of the Curriculum which makes up the other vital leg in support of Student Achievement, retained its Very Good rating for Curriculum design and implementation, and a mix of Good and Very Good for adaptation.

Clearly a major strength of the school is the Personal and Social Development and Innovation skills of its students. The school retained its Outstanding ratings across all sections of the school and all three performance standards.

The protection, care, guidance and support of students retained their previous ratings of Very Good for Health and Safety (including Child protection) and Good for Care and Support.  The final key performance standard of Leadership and Management, retained its mix of Very Good and Good for the most part, with an important improvement in the Self-Evaluation and improvement planning, which was also upgraded to Very Good.

In terms of the strengths of OOHS AW, the inspection team found these to be:

  • Students' confidence, ambition and articulate speech, and their well-developed work ethic;
  • The school's strong sense of ethics and community, and its appreciation of the UAE and its values;
  • Students' very good progress in Islamic Education in the Secondary phase, and in English, Mathematics and Science across the school;
  • The thorough approach to organisation that provides a healthy, safe and nurturing environment for learners.

So what, one might wonder, are the areas that hold OOHS AW back from achieving the Very Good rating overall, when so much of what it does appears already to be at that standard.  Recommendations focused on two specific areas.

Areas for improvement, according to the inspectors, require the school to:

  • Ensure that teaching in all subjects and phases reaches the best levels more consistently by:
    - developing students' higher order skills through more careful questioning, challenging tasks, and a balance of independent and teacher-directed learning;
    - using assessment data in all subjects so that all students are challenged and supported to achieve their best' and
    - careful monitoring and targeting students' individual needs in Arabic across the four areas of language acquisition.
  • Extend the provision for students of Determination so that:
    - the inclusion team is fully represented within Senior leadership;
    - there are sufficient learning support assistants to maximise the progress of all students of Determination, and
    - class teachers are fully informed about exceptional learning needs and develop the expertise necessary to provide a consistently high quality of modification and support.

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.

The Buzz

The WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent survey has received a limited number of responses thus far, given the overall size of the school.  Those parents who have commented have given the school an overall rating of 3.4/5 - or a positivity rating of 68%.

Interestingly, although 70% of parents were satisfied with the academic performance of the school, 100% believed that their child needed additional tuition outside school. Parents also rated the feedback and disciplinary policies of the school positively with 70% being fully satisfied. And 77% of respondents would recommend the school to others, though an adamant 13% would not do so.  This decision does not appear to have been driven by fee levels either; whilst 6% totally disagreed that they represented value for money, almost four in ten parents agreed that they did represent value for money with the remainder unsure.

If you are a parent, teacher or student at OOHS AW, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community and complete our Survey here.

Parent satisfaction with the school is high and has been ranked Very Good by the KHDA team. "The involvement of parents in learning and in school life is a strong feature of the school. Communication is very effective and ensures that parents are well-informed about students' achievement. This strong partnership has led to improved student achievement and to the vibrant ethos within the school". 

Some 1,430 parents completed the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, with 96% of respondents saying that they were fully satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school.  They considered that teachers and leaders listened and acted on their views, and that they were well-informed about their children's learning. A large majority said that they were involved in activities at the school.  

A whopping 3, 583 students also participated in the KHDA's Well-being survey, with the majority saying that they were happy with the quality of education they received and a large majority were very happy. Students felt safe, well looked after and valued as individuals.

The school also has a strong Parent Support Group and an active Parents Advisory Committee who partner with the school to raise its standards by providing regular feedback. They regularly support endeavours of the school with positive advice and help accelerate the school's efforts towards improvement.

Our View

Whilst we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com may feel that Our Own High School Al Warqa'a is possibly undervalued by the DSIB inspectors, parents and students certainly do not see this as a reason to be dissatisfied with the education provided.  Quite the reverse in fact.  With the high levels of satisfaction displayed by the school community, and the high standards of education that they believe is available, there is no doubt that OOHS AW will remain a popular choice.

What are the Fees? 

Fees at OOHS AW are at the affordable end, starting at AED 8,734 for Grades 1 to 3 and rise to AED 15,069 for Grades 11 & 12 (Science) and AED 14,569 for the Commerce stream.

There are minor additional fees including AED 31.50 for students' bus ID card, diary and report card as well as Board Exam Fees which are AED 650 for Grade 10 and AED 715 for Grade 12 together with the CBSE registration fee of AED 100.

There is a non-refundable application fee on offer of a place of AED 425, and a non-refundable registration fee of 10% of the tuition fees collected during the admission process which is deducted from the first term's fees.

Fees may be paid in 10 monthly payments.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

Our Own High School Al Warqa'a is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:

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