Private English International School (PIES), in Abu Dhabi's Mussafah area, is far better known as the Abu Dhabi branch of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan group of schools. PIES was the first UAE school to be managed by BVB; an arrangement that is evidently viewed positively by ADEK, the Abu Dhabi regulator, which rated the school as Very Good in the 2018-19 inspection round - the second-highest achievable rating.
The story so far...
Private International English School (PIES), Abu Dhabi was established in 2010 and is a part of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, founded in 1938 by Dr. K. M. Munshi, a chief member of India’s constituent assembly. The society aims to represent Indian culture and reflect the ethos of Indian traditions.
Nowadays, the Bhavan runs over 400 schools in India and 10 international centres in the UK, USA, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Portugal, and schools in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. Private International English School, Abu Dhabi was the first school in the UAE to open in collaboration with BVB. It is an English medium, day boarding school affiliated to the CBSE, Delhi. There are two further schools in the UAE, the Al Saad Indian School Al Ain and Wise Indian Academy, which appears to have grown out of the defunct Ajman-based branch of Al Saad Indian School.
Private International English School's Vision is:
Its Mission is:
To make the students mentally developed, physically strong, socially adjusted, emotionally balanced, and technically talented.
The school focuses on "The four pillars of education – learning to know, learning to do, learning to live and learning to be".
The school currently has some 1,975 students studying from KG1 to Grade 12. The student population of the school is almost entirely Indian, with a small (1%) coming from Nepal. There is a slightly higher ratio of boys to girls. A teacher to student ratio of 1:15 is on the low side for an Indian curriculum school and should ensure individual attention for students and adaptation of the curriculum to meet their needs.
In line with the school's relatively young age, the KG section with 10 classes in each grade, and Primary, with 30 classes overall, outweighs students in the Secondary School section (with 27 classes, similar in size to Primary), but with only 7 classes in Grades 11 and 12.
Some 123 teachers from India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Sudan support the students. Expectations of teachers is clearly high, with staff expected to work on Saturdays to meet with each other and to provide additional support to students in need of this. Evidently, teachers do not mind this arrangement; staff turnover in the past three years has averaged 4% - very much below the 20-22% average across international schools in the UAE. Most Indian-staffed schools do tend to have a lower ratio, but such a low turnover is the exception, and a sign of a faculty who are satisfied with the employment and their employers!
The experience of teachers at PIES ranges from three to almost 30 years. Junior level staff are trained by the more experienced teachers, with senior teachers training the junior teachers and taking classes for junior students. This blend is seen as a strength by the school. Almost all teachers have a Post Graduate Degree in their respective subject with all teachers having Bachelor’s in Education, which is mandatory for a teaching position.
What about the Curriculum?
PIES follows the CBSE curriculum with a Montessori based approach in KG. At the Montessori level, children are encouraged to establish their independence, whilst the teacher acts as a facilitator, exposing the children to knowledge based on a thematic curriculum, encouraging the development of skills for lifelong learning and instilling a sensitivity to aesthetics through creative arts.
The Primary school follows an integrated and interlinked curriculum, framed within the guidelines provided by NCERT, aimed at connecting knowledge to life outside the school and real life situations, and providing activities to ensure holistic learning and personality development. There is continuous and comprehensive evaluation of students on an on-going basis.
At the Middle and Secondary level the prescribed NCERT curriculum is followed. The focus remains on the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, a second language (either Hindi or French), ICT, Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies or Moral Science and Life Skills. The focus is on providing the opportunity to learn through everyday experiences.
In Senior Secondary (Grades 11 and 12), the focus is on the preparation of the students for CBSE competitive examinations with classes split into Science and Commerce streams.
PIES is able to support students with additional learning needs with the assistance of a Special Needs Coordinator and assistant who support subject teachers at the class level through the practice of differentiated teaching, designed to suit the various ability levels of children.
In line with its holistic approach. the school also offers a range of Extra-curricular activities, based around Art, Music, Sports, and Aerobics. The school also encourages students to see the wider world through a series of overseas visits which have included locations such as the USA, China, the UK and India. The cost varies depending on air fares and related expenses but the trips are organised on a non-profit basis.
What about academic achievement?
Having now graduated two Grade 12 classes, although PIES does not publish comprehensive exam result information, it did confirm to us at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that in the March 2019 CBSE Board examinations, 93% of students achieved above 80% marks, whilst 50% of students achieved over 90%.
With this level of academic success, the school states that 100% of senior students go on to tertiary education, with the most population destinations being the UK, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a wide range of Indian universities, including Christian Medical College, Ludhiana; ICAI – New Delhi; Manipal University, Karnataka;Visvesvaraya Technological University, Karnataka; Rajiv Gandhi University Health Sciences, Karnataka; Kerala University; M. G. University, Kerala; Goa University, Goa; National Institute of Technology (NIT), Surat – Gujarat; National Institute of Technology (NIT), Trichy; National Institute of Technology (NIT), Calicut; Nirma University, Ahmedabad; Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry; University of Pune - Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT); Savitribai Phule Pune University, Vadagavsherry; and Mumbai University, Mumbai.
What about the facilities?
Private International English School (PIES) is located on one of the largest campuses in the Mussafah area on a 12,000 sq meter plot, which includes a built up area of 5,200 sq.mtrs and a playground area of 1,100 sq.mtrs. The campus is purpose built, supports classroom spaces for music, art, and drama, and includes state-of -the-art facilities for students at all grade levels. Students enjoy classrooms that are both modern and spacious, providing a safe and pleasant learning environment.
In addition to the classrooms, the school offers a range of specialist classrooms and facilities, including art and crafts rooms, music and dance rooms, and an indoor play area for the juniors, facilities for Yoga and Aerobics, a Multi-Purpose fully furnished Auditorium and Performing Art Room, fully equipped labs for Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, a large and spacious cafeteria, and a library with 10,000 books for children.
What the inspectors say
In its latest inspection in 2018-19, PIES was awarded a Very Good rating by the ADEK inspection team. This is a significant achievement - one rating below the highest available Outstanding rating. Unfortunately, ADEK has not yet released the inspection reports and we will therefore update this information once the latest report is available.
In the previous inspection which took place in late October 2016, PIES was rated Good, one rating below that most recently achieved.
The school's strengths at that time were found to be:
Key areas for improvement were identified as the need to:
Without access to the latest ADEK report, it is not possible to confirm how much progress PIES has been able to make against these targets, but the achievement of the Very Good rating suggests that it must indeed be substantial.
Interestingly, Private International English School described its strengths to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com as:
"Academic Excellence and International Assessments. We make learning fun-filled. Our facilities and the total ambiance are child friendly, and conducive for learning. The amount of homework is scientifically fixed here, and we always wish our children, especially in the KG and the Primary levels to go home and spend quality time with their parents and siblings".
The most recent CBSE Board results and the ADEK inspection findings two years ago appear to support these claims. There are very few Indian schools in Abu Dhabi that have achieved a Very Good rating - PIES and Bhavan should be congratulated.
Fees are in the low to mid-range according to ADEK, starting at AED 9,700 in KG and rising to AED 17,000 in Grades 11 and 12. Books are an additional AED 600 to AED 700 - far below prices charged at other schools.
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