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.
At a glance
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
hourglass_empty
Annual fee average
AED 16,500
Annual fees
AED 11,102 - 22,000
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
2012
School year
Apr to Mar
Teacher turnover help
11%
Principal
Susan Rubin Varghese
Community
Main teacher nationality
India
Main student nationality
India

Nearby nurseries

2.6km • EYFS curriculum
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The Indian Academy Dubai
School type
International
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
hourglass_empty
Annual fee average
AED 16,500
Annual fees
AED 11,102 - 22,000
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
2012
School year
Apr to Mar
Teacher turnover help
11%
Principal
Susan Rubin Varghese
Community
Main teacher nationality
India
Main student nationality
India
MORE arrow_drop_down

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 owned 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 two years. 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 900 in the 2020-21 academic year.  There is - in common with most newer schools - a strong bias towards the KG and Primary sections. The Secondary and Senior sections together have around 250 students. 

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%, and with a somewhat higher ratio of boys to girls at 6:4.  Average class sizes are 25, with a maximum of 30 students.  The number of sections per grade varies from 1 in pre-KG and from Grades 7 to 11, to 5 in KG2, 6 in KG1 and between 2 and 4 in the other grades with Grade 12 being notable at the top of the school for 3 sections in the 2021-22 academic year.

Students are supported by some 54 teachers and 8 teaching assistants, across 37 classes. 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 1:20 is a relatively low level and should ensure individual planning and attention for each student. In 2016-17, the teacher turnover rate stood at over 30% - this has reduced significantly to 11% in 2017-18, although had climbed again to 21% in 2019-20  - more in line with 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.

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:

English                
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
Maths                 
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
Science                
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 will sit the Grade X and XII CBSE public examinations - no results have as yet been published.

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 three years in succession - the minimum goal of the KHDA for all schools, the DSIB inspection team determined in their 2019-20 report that the strengths of The Indian School Dubai are:

  • The strong leadership and the capacity of the school to continue improving
  • The improved teaching in the KG and primary phase, which is leading to better progress and attainment in a number of subjects
  • Students' very well developed personal and social skills and their understanding of Islamic values
  • The safe and hygienic environment in which students can make healthy lifestyle choices
  • Children’s experiences in the KG, which provides them with a very good start to their education.

The DSIB inspectors noted that teaching and assessment had continued to improve.  With almost all ratings for English, Maths and Science rated Very Good in the KG section, and all ratings for these subjects in Primary, Middle and Secondary school sections now rated Good or Very Good, these improvements are clearly reflected in students' achievement. 

Unfortunately,  the school still appears to struggle with the delivery of the core Arabic subjects, rated predominantly Acceptable - and notably in Arabic in the Middle section, where it was downgraded to Weak.  This will need to be an area of particular focus for the school.

Students' personal and social development, and their innovation skills are clearly a strength of the school - rated almost entirely Very Good.  Teaching and assessment - rated Very Good in the KG and Good across the rest of the school, and the Curriculum - also rated Good across the school, are now clearly at a standard with which the inspection team will be satisfied, but TIAD must not rest on its laurels.

Health and safety were rated Very Good across the school, whilst care and support was again rated Good.  Progress of students with SEND was found to be good and most students made good progress against IEP targets. The parents of students of determination are welcomed to the school. A majority of them report that they have been kept well-informed regarding the progress of their children. Efforts are made to engage parents in the development and monitoring of their children’s educational programmes.

The inspection report also notes that "The governing board now includes parents, students and individuals with expertise in education... The board is developing a better understanding of the school, but the impact of this is not evident. The board discusses the principal’s reports fully and follows up issues in the school with learning walks and meetings with staff and students. It has funded the refurbishment of the library, but the availability of technology for student use is still limited. Resources are available for teachers and students, but advanced technology, tools, equipment and spaces are limited."

These comments, made in the inspection report from October 2019 (so effectively well over 18 months ago from the time of writing), would, we hope, have been noted by the owners and Board members and necessary action taken.

Areas of improvement noted by the report include the requirement

  • Improve students’ achievement in Islamic education, Arabic, the UAE social studies and moral education by:
    o ensuring that the curriculum in each subject is well planned to meet all of the relevant standards and to provide a smooth, continuous progression in learning from one grade to the next
    o planning and teaching lessons with clear objectives that meet the relevant curriculum standards
    o making sure that assessments evaluate each component of the curriculum at the appropriate standard for each grade.
  • Improve the consistency of the high-quality teaching across the school.
  • Develop the curriculum further by establishing clear progressive programmes that address the required learning objectives in each subject from one grade to the next.
  • With support from the governing body, improve the availability and use of technology for students in lessons.

This was a very positive inspection report for The Indian Academy Dubai.  As is so often the case, the key to raising student achievement is through improving the quality of teaching and ensuring that the curriculum is adapted to meet the needs of individual students.  However, the inspectors have also clearly identified a need for further investment in technology which will be vital to future success.

It seems, with the progression over the past four years from Acceptable to Good, that the determination lies within the school to ensure that this progress is maintained.  The key will be to ensure that the school continues to invest in its staffing, training, infrastructure and technology in order to ensure that there is no backward slide.

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

At the time of the last school inspection - prior to the halt on visits by the DSIB inspection teams as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, parents were highly supportive of the school and met regularly with the senior leadership team to solve problems and develop plans together. Most parents were well informed about their children's learning, as a result of the regular and highly-effective communication with the school. Reporting to parents was found to be detailed, regular and constructive and provided areas for improvement in learning. The school made considerable social contributions to the local community, but its national and international partnerships were not so strong.

Some 226 parents responded to the pre-inspection survey, with almost all parents who responded to the survey satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. They believed their children were safe and happy. Parents felt that teachers had helped their children develop learning skills. Most believed that teachers and staff listened to their views and act upon them.

A small number of 60 senior students responded to the KHDA's Well-being Survey. Those who responded to the survey expressed high levels of happiness, optimism and satisfaction with life. Data showed that almost all of them had a positive engagement with teachers at school. Almost all believe they were safe at school, which was in line with the average for schools in Dubai.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's own survey has had insufficient responses to be able to share the views of parents.  If you have a child or children at TIAD, or are a teacher or student at the school, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here..

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.

What about the Fees?

Fees start at AED 9,250 for pre-KG, AED 9,700 (reduced from AED 11,102) for KG1 and rise to AED 17,580 (down from AED 22,000) for Grades 11 and 12, accepting 10 monthly payments. The school has reduced all KHDA approved fees by approximately 10%, compared with 2018-19. The school offers a sibling discount with the first sibling receiving a ten percent discount and subsequent siblings receiving a 25 percent discount. 

 

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