United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Nahda / The Central School Dubai

The Central School Dubai Review

Based in Al Nahda, Dubai, The Central School is located close to the Sharjah border and attracts students from across Dubai and the Northern Emirates. It follows the CBSE curriculum, blended with Montessori in the KG section.
Parents' Rating
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3.1 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Acceptable
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 4,800
Annual fees
AED 3,718–6,545
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
1981
School year
Apr to Mar
Teacher turnover help
23%
Principal
Ms Mala Mehra
Community
Main teacher nationality
India
Main student nationality
India

Nearby nurseries

0.8km • Montessori curriculum
0.9km • EYFS curriculum
1.7km • EYFS curriculum
2.6km • Montessori curriculum
2.9km • EYFS curriculum
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The Central School Dubai
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Acceptable
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
AED 4,800
Annual fees
AED 3,718–6,545
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
1981
School year
Apr to Mar
Teacher turnover help
23%
Principal
Ms Mala Mehra
Community
Main teacher nationality
India
Main student nationality
India
MORE arrow_drop_down

Based in Al Nahda, Dubai, The Central School is located close to the Sharjah border and attracts students from across Dubai and the Northern Emirates. It follows the CBSE curriculum, blended with Montessori in the KG section.

The story so far... 

Established in 1981, The Central School (TCS) is part of the NIMS Group of Schools, which includes the New Indian Model School Dubai, New Indian Model School, Sharjah, New Indian Model School, Al Ain and The Model (New Indian) School in Abu Dhabi.  All five schools in the group are noted for their low fees.

The school's vision is Providing Our Best In Education, For As Many As We Can.
Its mission is to provide a Holistic Education In An Environment Most Congenial And Innovating, Where Virtue Is The Strongest Shield.

In order to add some further substance to its goals, TCS also publishes its "Central Philosophy" which includes

  • Pursue Academic Excellence
  • Appreciate Cultural Diversity
  • Cherish The Community And Environment
  • Promote Islamic, Scientific And Moral Values

The Central School is a mixed school, taking children from 3 to 18 years of age. It presently has around 3,020 students on its register, a reduction of some 200 since its previous inspection, driven almost certainly by economic circumstances. 

Though strongly discouraged by the regulator, The Central School runs two separate sessions in order to be able to meet the demand of parents.  A morning session is provided for boys and girls from Kindergarten to Grade 2 and for girls from Grades 3 to 12. The afternoon session consists of boys classes from Grades 3 to 12. The school employs 184 qualified teachers and six teaching assistants. This means that a staff:student ratio of 1:18 has been maintained, indicative of large class sizes. 

There have clearly been issues with teacher retention in the past, with some 38% of staff having left the school in 2015-16, but this trend appears to have steadied, with the turnover in 2016-17 having reduced to 16% and that for 2017-18 having increased to the norm for the UAE of 21%.  The turnover figure in the 2019-20 report was 23%. Having to replace a quarter of the teaching staff is inevitably disruptive.  The majority of staff and students come from Indian and subcontinent expat families.

What about the curriculum?

TCS students follow the Indian-based National Council for Education and Research and Training syllabus (NCERT) until Grade 9, and complete the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) examination syllabuses for Grades X and XII. TCS follows the Montessori approach in KG. The school offers both a Science and Commerce stream - in common with most Indian schools - and there is little provision for Arts within the main curriculum.

In addition to Hindi, Bengali and Urdu, the school offers Malayalam or Tamil as an additional language.  Computer is taught as a subject from Std. I onwards to provide students.  Co-scholastic activities include The Science Club and a Debating and Dramatic Association (LDDA), whilst students may also prepare for Qirat.  Hifz-E-Quran classes are conducted at the school for Hifz (ie memorization of the holy Quran).  Other activities include indoor games, such as tennis, chess and carom, and karate training, as well as audio-visual programmes, fine arts and project works which also take place.

Sports provision is limited - cricket, throw ball and athletics are offered, while special training is given for Basketball, Football and Volley ball under the supervision of trained coaches of the game. 

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

In common with other schools in the group, TCS is particularly supportive of Students of Determination, with close to 300 children identified with Special Educational Needs. According to the 2019-20 inspection report, "The identification of students of determination is acceptable in Primary and Middle but more consistently applied in the KG and Secondary" and the provision and outcomes for Students of Determination is rated Acceptable.

What about Academic Achievement?

Unfortunately, TCS provides very little information about the achievements of its students.  According to the school 100% of students passed their Grade 10 and 12 CBSE examinations, but there is no detailed information about the number of students, and their average pass grades, so aside from the four named toppers (whose scores are provided) there is no means of knowing how the cohorts as a whole succeeded. The available information can be found here. 

What about facilities?

The school houses a range of facilities for its students, with separate labs for Computer science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Home science. Two Computer labs (for Senior and Junior students separately) are enabled with updated computers. The school has a fully equipped library with a reference section and a reading room area, stocked with books in various categories and a number of periodicals. A school clinic, canteen and store are among other facilities.  Outside, a large play ground, Basketball and Volley Ball courts and a Cricket Pitch provide ample facility for games and sports.  A separate play area for the primary section and another for the Kindergarten section are equipped with play items suitable for the younger children.

What the inspectors say

The school is rated Acceptable by the KHDA, a rating it has held for the last eleven years - since inspections began.  This is an achievement it shares with both the New Model Indian School in Dubai and The Model School in Abu Dhabi. Bearing in mind that Acceptable is the absolute minimum rating schools are expected to achieve, this is not necessarily a sign of significant strength or improvement.

The latest report for 2019-20 did show moderate signs of improvement, with four improved ratings to Good for Student Achievement split across English and Maths in the Primary and KG sections. However, these were the only improved ratings across the entire report. Overall the ratings for Student Achievement across the school remained solidly Acceptable. Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum, the other two key performance areas that are vital for Student Achievement, retained their ratings of Acceptable across all areas with the exception of the Secondary section where they were largely rated Good.

If the school does have an area of strength, it is the Personal and Social Development, and the Innovation skills of students, which with the exception of the Primary section, are rated Very Good and the Secondary section, which retained two of the three ratings at Outstanding.

A further area of relative strength is Health and Safety, which retained its Good rating, whilst the Care and Support of students was Good in the KG and Secondary and Acceptable in the Primary and Middle sections.

Leadership and management was again rated Acceptable across the board. On a positive note, the report states that "The principal and leadership team are committed to improving the school, especially students’outcomes".  Clearly, within such a large organisation, change and improvement is unlikely to be a fast process.

In terms of the strengths of The Central School, the inspection team found these to be:

  • Students’ personal and social development, including their understanding of Islamic values and UAE culture, across the school
  • Students’ attainment and progress in Islamic education in the middle and secondary phases
  • Students’ achievement in English and mathematics in the KG and Primary.

As far as areas for improvement were identified by the DSIB inspection team, The Central School should:

  • Ensure that the governing board makes a more significant and effective contribution to the overall performance of the school, especially by providing the school with more of the resources it needs to achieve its goals.
  • Strengthen the effectiveness of leadership at the middle level to secure improvements in teaching for effective learning and ensure that students’ progress is at least good in all the key subjects.
  • Enhance the self-evaluation processes so that better use is made of information, including the detailed assessment data, to create a more realistic view of the school’s performance.
  • Work with teachers across all the phases of the school to ensure that they:
    o provide students with more opportunities for independent learning, innovation and critical thinking
    o make more effective use of time and resources in lessons
    o enhance their use of assessment information to meet the needs of all groups of students, including students of determination.

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.

In common with all UAE private and public schools, the Central School participated in a Distance Learning Evaluation implemented to assess the level of provision for online learning, as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. The Central School achieved a rating of Partially Developed, the second of three possible outcomes. The inspection report can be found here.

The Buzz

Responses to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey have been limited.  Those parents who had provided their feedback rated the school 3.8/5 or a positivity rating of 76%. Whilst they were positive about the academic performance of the school (with 80% satisfied), they were less impress with the school's communication and disciplinary policy. There was disagreement over whether fees were value for money (60% said yes, whilst 20% each said either partially or not at all). Despite their concerns, 80% of respondents would recommend TCS to other parents.

To enable us to share a more representative view of your school with other potential members of your community, if you are a parent, teacher or student at The Central School, please complete our Survey here.

The inspection report notes that "the school has initiated projects to involve parents, and it responds to their views. Communication with parents occurs on a regular basis, and responses to complaints are generally effective. There is regular reporting on students’ academic progress to parents, but the feedback does not always tell students how to improve their work. Reporting on students’ personal and social development to parents is limited".  This would seem to reinforce the comments made by parents to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.

Some 640 parents responded to the survey and whilst the vast majority (90%) were satisfied with the quality of education provided by TCS, 10% disagreed.  Whilst a high proportion of parents were happy with the efforts of teachers and leaders, a considerable minority of parents were dissatisfied with the provision of homework and were critical of the school’s transport arrangements. A good number of parents were dissatisfied with the boys' provision timing.

Over 760 students responded to the KHDA pre-inspection survey and were mainly positive about TCS with 61% feeling Happy and a further 24% being 'Medium' happy according to the Well-being census.  The results showed positive scores for student satisfaction and levels of connections with adults at the school. Although a good proportion of students expressed high levels of peer satisfaction and optimism, a proportion expressed significant levels of distress and average rates of engagement. Overall, however, most participating students had high expectations and predict promising levels of success.

Our View

One of the more traditional CBSE curriculum schools in Dubai, TCS is very much like an oil tanker set on its path, where making a significant change of direction is inevitably going to be a long slow process. Clearly parents and students are satisfied with the current course for the most part, but the value of an outside eye (in terms of the inspection process) should not be underestimated. We would hope that the good intentions of the leadership will be translated into more obvious results in terms of the improvements recommended, providing all students with the opportunity to flourish.

What about the fees?

Fees for the school are comparatively very, very affordable, which will be the major draw for families with incomes at the lower end of the spectrum.  They range from AED 3,718 per year at KG 1 and 2 grades, to AED 6,545 for Grades 11 and 12.

There are a range of additional fees for Medical and Activity fees and Lab fees.  This level of fees will however put financial constraints on the school upgrading its facilities, teacher resources and recruitment, something the school greatly needs.

 

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

The Central School Dubai 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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