United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Muhaisnah / The Indian Academy Dubai

The Indian Academy Dubai Review

The Indian Academy is a holistically focused CBSE curriculum school located in the Muhaisnah area of Dubai, close to the airport and to the border with Sharjah. The Indian Academy now offers pre-KG to grade 12.
Parents' Rating
3.9 out of 5 based on 124 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Curricula taught
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 16,500
Annual fees
AED 11,102–22,000
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Apr to Mar
Ms Shiny Davison Francis
LEAMS Education
Main student nationality
Main teacher nationality

Nearby nurseries

2.6km • EYFS curriculum
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The Indian Academy Dubai
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Curricula taught
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
AED 16,500
Annual fees
AED 11,102–22,000
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Apr to Mar
Ms Shiny Davison Francis
LEAMS Education
Main student nationality
Main teacher nationality
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The Indian Academy is a holistically focused CBSE curriculum school located in the Muhaisnah area of Dubai, close to the airport and to the border with Sharjah. The Indian Academy now offers pre-KG to grade 12.

The story so far...

Muhaisnah-located The Indian Academy (TIAD), established in 2012, offers the CBSE curriculum, but with a holistic approach to all aspects of its students' education.  The school's motto is "Inspire, Innovate, Achieve" and it underpins these goals with detailed information about its approach and philosophy.

The school is operated by LEAMS Education, who also own the UK curriculum Oxford School and Apple International School and its latest acquisition, The Indian Academy Sharjah.

The school says that "We take pride in our school’s mixed approach which has created a unified caring family, a community committed to the development and wellbeing of every individual child as well as the broader school community". 

TIAD's approach includes

  • Using technology to enhance learning
  • Empowering students with a global and a local perspective
  • Developing each student’s individual potential for leadership
  • Responding sensitively to the full range of students’ educational needs
  • Bench marking with the highest internationally recognized performance standards
  • Utilizing the CBSE curriculum and reinforcing the core of the program models for our curriculum.

In terms of philosophy, the school aims to 

  • To be recognized by the success of our students
  • To make student development the center of all school decisions
  • To implement the CBSE curriculum Learner Profile in an innovative way
  • To celebrate the diversity of our cultures, backgrounds and perspectives
  • To aspire for to the highest internationally recognized performance standards
  • To create a learning environment that will positively contribute to international and local communities.

After four years ranked as Acceptable by the KHDA,  the improvements that were clearly being made were rewarded in 2017-18, with the school being rated Good, a rating it has now retained for a further three inspections. In addition, TIAD was rated Developed in the first Distance Learning Evaluation initiated for all UAE schools in 2020 with the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

After a fall in student numbers from a high of 700 students in 2016 to to under 600 in 2018, just as the school was improving in terms of the quality of education it is providing,  TIAD has been able to grow its student numbers to close to close to 1,200 in the 2022-23 academic year.  

The students at the school come from two main nationalities - Indian (85%) and Pakistani (9%), with the balance made up of a range of other nationalities including African 3%, Filipino 1%, Bangladeshi 1%, and Sri Lankan 1%. Average class sizes are 25, with a maximum of 30 students.  

The school is led by Principal, Shiny Davison Francis, who joined TIAD in August 2022, part way through the academic year.  Feedback from parents in early 2023 was positive in regard to the new Principal - you can find out more about parent views under the Buzz. 

Students are supported by some 84 teachers and 19 teaching assistants. Teachers, who all hold a Bachelors or Masters of Education qualification, are recruited from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, and the Philippines.  A teacher:student ratio of 1:15 is fairly typical for moderately priced Indian curriculum schools in the UAE.  In 2016-17, the teacher turnover rate stood at over 30% - this has reduced significantly to 11% in 2017-18, had climbed again to 21% in 2019-20 and was at 14% in 2022  - below the averages for international schools in Dubai. 

What about the curriculum?

TIAD believes in a holistic approach, informing WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that:

We follow the Indian Curriculum and are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education ( CBSE); however it's been integrated with international practices, providing students [with] a high and challenging platform for optimizing their personal and academic outcomes. It is integrated, interdisciplinary and theme-based to help children see the meaningful connections.

They go on to explain further:

"The school works on the principles of innovation, investigation and inquiry. [The curriculum] is activity based and experiential, thereby fostering involvement and enjoyment. The learning program is not only challenging but is designed to address the varied learning styles, thereby being sensitive to the needs of individual students. Our enriched curriculum includes activities like Coding, STEAM, Speech and Drama, Foreign Language and Painting to nurture and prepare our students towards a rapidly changing world. The caring and positive learning environment, which includes mindfulness, offers an overall and holistic development of the child".

The Kindergarten curriculum, is based on the UK EYFS curriculum, and focuses on age specific learning goals that need to be attained by the end of Kindergarten. This assessment pattern has been adapted successfully to provide the necessary range and balance. The curriculum framework gives a detailed view of the concepts that are being covered in all the seven areas of teaching:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Physical Development
  • Art and design

Activities such as Personal & Social Development, and Art & Design are integrated in the main curriculum areas of Literacy, Mathematics and Understanding the World. Children in KG undertake gardening, swimming, Music, cookery and PE, in addition to the academic program which includes Arabic from KG1. 

In Primary (Grades 1 to 4), the curriculum is driven by the natural curiosity amongst children by appropriate age group. At Primary level, the CBSE curriculum is integrated with NCERT (National Council of Education, Research and Training). Students share their experiences and ideas, enhance their sense of discipline and varied existence of community through interactions with different kinds of people and objects in their neighbourhood and environment. The inquiry-based approach to the curriculum recognizes the importance of developing the full potential of the child.  The core academic subjects include English, Math, Science, Arabic, Islamic studies, UAE Social Studies, ICT, Hindi, French, Moral education, Music, Dance, Art, PE, Life Skills (Value Education), Happiness and Wellbeing and ZFABLAB. Primary students have access to Arts and Crafts, Music and Dance, Drama and Role Play and Physical Education which are included within the timetable. 

At the Middle school level, TIAD seeks to combine academic consistency with an extensive range of extra-curricular activities to meet the students’ need for learning and development at this stage. The focus on inquiry based learning continues, as do parallel in-depth explorations of subjects – Arabic, Islamic Studies, UAE Social Studies and Moral Education/Value Education; Science including Biology, Physics and Chemistry; Mathematics including Algebra, Geometry and Arithmetic; History, Civics, Geography; English Language and Literature appreciation; Languages including either Hindi or French and Arabic; Art, Dance and Music; and Sports.

The transition from a theme-based approach to a more specialized and focused understanding of concepts in varied disciplines helps students gain insights into their areas of interest. The acquisition of new knowledge is made more meaningful through opportunities to apply it. Projects, exhibitions, presentations or field trips ensure that the learner finds many avenues to see the theory in practice.

The Secondary School curriculum follows the guidelines of the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi and is approved by the Ministry of Education, UAE.
The school acknowledges that subjects like language, Mathematics, Science and Social science help the cognitive development of the student and, therefore, require a greater academic emphasis.  The school also seeks to ensure the all-round development of students as part of a holistic approach to education and emphasizes integration of co-curricular and curricular activities.  

From an operational perspective, the secondary curriculum is learner-centered with school being a place where students will acquire a range of skills; building self-confidence and understanding, a sense of enterprise, aesthetic sensibilities and sportsmanship. Therefore, for the purpose of fostering core competencies in learners, TIAD ensures that the curriculum encompasses all major learning areas.

One interesting element of the curriculum is the Additional Skills Acquisition Period (ASAP), which aims to provide early awareness and guidance towards career choices and skill development. In addition to consistent interactive sessions with Inspirational guest speakers, the ASAP period provides students with skill choices including General Duty Assistant, Trainee Chef, Heritage Tour Guide, Front Office Executive, Solanaceous Crop Cultivator, and Retail Store operations Assistant. 

There is a strong focus on the integration of technology including resources such as iPads which the schools says "allows growth for powerful differentiation and gives every student the opportunity to work at his/her pace and level".  In addition, current classroom activities such as Flip classes, Powerpoint presentations, and assisting the teacher of working independently in class are designed to develop IT skills. 

With the opening of the final two school Grades 11 and 12, TIAD has trodden a broader path in terms of options than the vast majority of CBSE curriculum schools, not just in Dubai, but across the UAE, offering not only Science and Commerce streams, but an attempt, at least, at a third (somewhat inaccurately-named) Humanities stream. 

Whilst the Science stream covers the usual subjects of  English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Informatics Practices, PE, Psychology and Additional Skills Acquisition, the Commerce stream also does not deviate greatly from the usual palette of English, Accountancy, Economics, Business Studies, Psychology, Informatics Practices, Computer Science and PE. 

To be fair, the Humanities stream is realistically a mix of the two, including, as it does, English, Psychology, Economics, Informatics, Marketing, PE, Informatics Practices, and Computer Science, but at least there is some variation to the mix - though we would argue that without the inclusion of true Civics and Humanities subjects that it is decidedly misnamed!

Senior students are also supported with Bridge classes, Remedial classes, Additional Skills Acquisition Period, Career Counselling and Aptitude assessments, Career fairs, Global exposure in varied curricular and co-curricular activities, and PE as a theory subject.

In August 2021, TIAD announced that, as part of the KHDA's Rahhal programme, the school has opened a sports scholarship programme for the new academic year - allowing students to achieve their athletic pursuits along with their academic goals. Under this programme, the school will provide a scholarship covering up to 60% of tuition fees for exceptional student-athletes (determined on a case-by-case basis and for a single academic year).

In addition, these students will also have the flexibility to take extended time off from school to train/compete in tournaments, without the fear of losing out on studies. The school will provide the required training at its sports facility and will also support catch up of missed studies by dedicating teachers and extra classes for these students. The scholarship programme is open to any deserving student studying in the UAE.

The school offers After School Activities, which are apparently appreciated by both students and parents. These include Dance, Music, ZFABLAB – Coding, Speech and Drama, STREAM Club, Language club to learn Foreign languages and Painting, International School Award (ISA) Collaboration Programmes, Public speaking, Community outreach programmes, Additional Skill Acquisition Period (ASAP), Excellent Sports, International MUN and Public speaking competitions.

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

TIAD describes itself as "a welcoming Inclusive school; all subject teachers and activity teachers support Students of Determination" and has a strong focus on inclusion for children with SEND requirements. The Inclusion team consists of eight staff who currently support approximately 60 students. 

In addition, the school has established connections with external referral agencies for screening and assessment, and has put in place trackers for each IEP/BMP/IP programme for each SEND child. Teachers provide differentiated learning with learning plans that cater to at least three levels of learners in a class. Intervention includes Level 3 –Individual Support, Level 2- Targeted Support, and Level 1- General/Universal Support, with relevant intervention plans.

Students with varied education needs and disabilities (with or without medical diagnosis) are admitted to the school provided that he/she stands to benefit from his/her engagement in school in educational and social/life skills. The school says that its inclusive school culture ensures the safety and security of the Students of Determination as well as the other students is the top priority as far as admission and retention are concerned. 'Sibling priority' is agreed with all students of determination who choose to study at the school.

TIAD has also initiated inclusion of the Rahhal programme for appropriate students, which provides a creative and innovative alternative to mainstream education. It is a platform that helps to integrate learning with life, and life with learning. Under the umbrella of Rahhal, there is currently one student participating in the programme with a further three students expected to do so..

Although no additional fees are payable for SEN support, in the event that a student requires a Learning Support Assistant, parents are required to fund this.

The school says that is also provision and support for students with Gifts and Talents - a small number of five students currently fall into this category.

What about academic achievement?

The students undergo external examinations including IBT-ACER/ ASSET and Spelling bee and the school participates in external bench-marking test including TIMSS and PISA.

In the most recent ASSET tests the following results were achieved:

Grade Mode of test Average Scaled Scores Compared to the International Benchmark % Compared to the Top-10 Benchmark % Compared to the Dubai Benchmark % Compared to the Northern Emirates Benchmark % Compared to the UAE Benchmark % Compared to the Benchmark with schools outside India %
3 Online 605 121 95.8 107.6 118.4 112.9 113.7
4 Online 629.9 126 101.3 110.2 123.4 116.7 117.5
Grade Mode of test Average Scaled Scores Compared to the International Benchmark % Compared to the Top-10 Benchmark % Compared to the Dubai Benchmark % Compared to the Northern Emirates Benchmark % Compared to the UAE Benchmark % Compared to the Benchmark with schools outside India %
3 Online 597.1 119.4 94.8 108.2 120.4 114.2 115.4
4 Online 626.8 125.4 99.8 110.4 126.2 118.1 119.3
Grade Mode of test Average Scaled Scores Compared to the International Benchmark % Compared to the Top-10 Benchmark % Compared to the Dubai Benchmark % Compared to the Northern Emirates Benchmark % Compared to the UAE Benchmark % Compared to the Benchmark with schools outside India %
3 Online 581.7 116.3 89.6 104.4 115.2 109.7 110.6
4 Online 606.4 121.3 98.1 107.4 119.6 113.5 114.2

In the 2019 TIMMS tests for Maths and Science, Grade 4 students achieved a Maths score of 523 and a Science score of 518 (compared with a Dubai average of 550 for both subjects).  Whilst the scores of TIAD students may not have been as high as the overall Dubai average, they were still significantly above the TIMMS global scores. 

PIRLS and e-PIRLS scores (reading and literacy) were also below the Dubai averages of 527 and 539 respectively - at 490 and 503 respectively - but close to the PIRLS global averages of 500.  

Students sit the Grade X and XII CBSE public examinations - no results have as yet been published - something we hope the school will change once these become available.  We firmly believe that whilst exam results are not the be-all and end-all of education, they are an important aspect for parents and students and successes should be shared.

What about facilities?

The school is located on a large rectangular plot, with classrooms spread across the four floors of the main building, together with further facilities is a low-rise building at the back of the reception and administration area.  All classrooms are provided with interactive white boards and wifi coverage.

The KG is separately located with its own outdoor covered play areas including Sand and water play area, a Traffic Park and Gardening. Older students benefit from well-equipped laboratories, a Badminton court, swimming pool and multi-purpose hall, cricket nets and outdoor (paved) space for PE and sports activities..  A library and canteen are also available.

What the inspectors say

Having made the move up to a Good rating for four inspections since 2017-18 - the minimum goal of the KHDA for all schools - the DSIB inspection team determined in their 2022-23 report that the strengths of The Indian School Dubai are:

  • The very good quality of achievement in English, mathematics and science in Kindergarten

  • The personal and social development of students across all phases

  • The health, safeguarding and child protection processes

  • The commitment and support of parents and their belief in the school's ethos, mission and vision. 

Whilst there had been some improvement in Student Attainment in the KG section, and in Science in the Primary section (which is now rated Very Good across the school), Arabic as a Second language had been downgraded to Weak in the Secondary section.  Students' personal development had improved to Outstanding in the Secondary section, and their Personal and Social Development and Innovation skills are otherwise rated Very Good across the school. 

Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum remain Good across the school with the exception of the KG where Teaching and Assessment is rated Very Good. These are the two key performance standards that directly impact Student Achievement above all else, and must clearly be a focus for the school.  Across the remaining key performance standards, there were no changes with one exception - Governance is now rated Good.

The inspectors' key recommendations to the school were to:

  • Improve the quality of teaching for effective learning and use of assessment in Arabic and Islamic education so that students can achieve well.
  • Ensure consistency in the quality of teaching within and between the subject areas and phases, so that students access high-quality learning experiences.
  • Develop the leadership skills of middle leaders, particularly in Arabic and Islamic education, so that all demonstrate best practices in teaching, learning, assessment and the full understanding of curriculum expectations.
  • Ensure that the school provides adequate opportunities for extra-curricular activities to enrich students’ lives.
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

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's own survey has received a substantial number of responses from parents.  

In February 2023, over 120 parents of students at The Indian Academy shared their opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the school. With an overall rating of 3.8/5 - a positivity rating of 76% - it is evident that many parents are satisfied with the school.

Parents praised the school for its exceptional teaching skills, dedication to students, and focus on inculcating values in children. Parents appreciated the personal care and dedication of the teachers and the improvements brought about by the new principal. Children enjoy going to school and their confidence is boosted by the teaching staff.

However, although much of the written comment from parents was positive, there were clearly some concerns among parents who responded to our survey.  Only 50% of parents were fully satisfied with the academic performance of the school (well below the average of 75% for the UAE as a whole), although a further 45% were partially satisfied. This may simply be a sign of ambitious families, but does suggest that there is a requirement for more rigour in parents' opinionOver 60% felt it was necessary to arrange external tuition - double the UAE average.   

Communication is evidently another area of concern, with only 52% of parents satisfied, though again, 46% were partially satisfied. Views were also very mixed on whether the quality of education provided was better than (33%), comparable with (38%) or not up to their home country (24%).  And whilst 66% of parents would recommend TIAD to others (against the UAE average of 82%), a quarter were not sure and 1 parent in 10 would not.

Many parents highlighted the need for more extracurricular activities (also noted by the DSIB inspectors) and opportunities for social platforms to be incorporated into the curriculum. Additionally, some parents expressed concerns about  teacher turnover, and lack of communication between teachers and parents. Suggestions were also made to improve the quality of some teachers, reduce academic pressure on students, and provide more opportunities for professional sports training. 

We were also pleased to see a small number of comments from teachers at the school.  These were very positive with teachers noting:

"The best school for new learners whether its teachers or students. I teach and learn at the same time."
"Key strengths: Discipline, well trained teachers, organized, supportive staff. 
"Strongly provides for professional learning."
"Strength: It gives growth in your career. It gives you opportunity to excel in your work. 
"Strength - experienced teachers."

There were, however, some concerns around salary levels, financial support and teacher turnover, since many staff are sponsored by their husbands.

If you have a child or children at TIAD, or are a teacher or student at the school, please share your opinions and experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.

Our View

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com asked the team at The Indian Academy Dubai to explain what made it particularly special or unique.  They summarised their focus as follows:

  • The school is well equipped with resources to provide an enriched curriculum and vibrant Teaching and Learning ambience.
  • Specific emphasis is placed on free flow, outdoor and Niche activities to enhance creative and independent learning.
  • Teachers set high expectations and use data effectively to bring out best learning outcomes for all.
  • Very Good practices are consistently encouraged in teaching and learning.
  • Students are independent learners and collaborate effectively with the school and the wider community.
  • High quality, well balanced curriculum ensures inclusion, innovation, continuity & progression.
  • Rigorous self-evaluation and action plans drive school improvement.

Based on the feedback received from TIAD and the improvements that the school has achieved on its DSIB inspection journey, we are of the opinion that The Indian Academy Dubai certainly appears to represent a good option for families seeking the familiarity of the CBSE curriculum in an affordable, but increasingly well-managed environment.

What about the Fees?

Fees start at AED 9,335 (reduced from AED 11,435) for pre-KG a and rise to AED 18,675 (down from AED 22,660) for Grades 11 and 12 Science stream, and AED 17,675 for Commerce and Humanities, accepting 10 monthly payments. However, it should be noted that in addition to tuition fees, TIAD charges an activity fee and medical fee for all students of AED 1,000 and additional external exam fees, as well as Lab fees (for Science stream students in Grades 11 and 12).  

The school offers a sibling discount with the first sibling receiving a ten percent discount, the second sibling a 15% discount and subsequent siblings receiving a 25 percent discount. 


This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

The Indian Academy 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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