Woodlem Park School Dubai - formerly Bilva Indian School - is a CBSE curriculum school located in Al Qusais that opened in 2014. It currently caters to boys and girls ages 4 - 14 and will expand its provision annually until reaching Grade 12.
In April 2021, the former Bilva Indian School opened under a new name. Woodlem Park School Dubai (WPD) is a sister school to the original Woodlem Park School located in the northern emirate of Ajman. Bilva Indian School was an improving school that had been rated Good by the KHDA in its 2019-20 for the second time. Quite why the school has changed hands is not clear, but in light of the impact of Covid 19 on many families in the UAE, and the fact this school had remained relatively small in numbers, we can only assume that it was no longer economical for the former owners to retain.
With a slogan of “For a sustainable growth”, the Woodlem Park Dubai School’s Vision is ‘To instill a desire to be innovative’.
Its Mission Statement is:
The school is currently open from pre-KG to Grade 10, although it appears that only transfers from existing UAE schools are permitted to Grades 9 and 10 – we assume this is based on the requirement for students to already being studying in CBSE curriculum schools in advance of the Standard X examinations.
According to the school, Nursery (pre-KG) and KG classes will be no larger than 25 students, and from Grade 1, the maximum class size will be 30. Once fully open from pre-KG to Grade 12, WPD is expected to accommodate up to 5,000 students.
At the time of the 2019-20 school inspection, 58 teachers and a further 25 teaching assistants, providing a staff:student ratio of 1:11 - a number that ensures plentiful individual attention whilst the school is growing, but likely to change as further students join the school. Student numbers have reduced slightly in the past academic year, to around 600. Approximately 5% of students are Students of Determination with SEND requirements.
The school says that its curriculum is planned with the aim of providing a broad, balanced and relevant programme of study for all.
Woodlem Park Dubai is a CBSE school that operates within the framework set by the Indian National Curriculum. However, the school says that it is continually developing the curriculum to provide a personalised curriculum for all students. The learning programmes and syllabus ensure strong quality assurance and are periodically revised to meet changing needs and incorporate the latest developments in teaching and learning.
The overall language of instruction is English. All students are taught Arabic from KG to Grade 10. As a second language WPD offers a choice between Hindi, Malayalam, French, Kannada or Tamil from Grade 1 to Grade 10 and students may choose a third language from the same range from Grade 3 to Grade 8.
Woodlem Park has an in-house team of multi skilled education professionals and staff who are backed by eminent educationalists. The hand-picked dedicated qualified and experienced professionals are chosen for their expertise in creating a motivational atmosphere for students. Woodlem’s experience in education management ensures their infrastructure and resources meet the top teaching and learning quality.
The school strives to foster enthusiasm for learning, encouraging each student to reach the highest possible academic standards. A wide range of teaching and learning strategies are used depending on the age and stage of learning of the students. Information technology is integrated into the curriculum to support and extend learning.
In the KG/Primary section of the school, there is a focus on Personal, social and emotional development, Physical development, Knowledge and understanding of the world, Numeracy, Literacy and Creative development. This would appear to be in line with the UK-based Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
According to WPD, students follow an internationally recognized curriculum in an environment carefully constructed to encourage them to become highly explorative and independent learners.
In addition to the core subjects of Maths, English, Science, Arabic and Islamic Studies (for Muslim students), the school offers a STEAM curriculum incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. STEAM is an educational approach towards learning that utilizes Science, Technology Mathematics and arts as the key access points for guiding student inquiry, critical thinking and speech. This programme encourages students to take thoughtful risks, engage in experimental learning, collaborate, work creatively and develop problem solving capability.
The school focuses on a holistic blend of academic, creative and sporting development, which promotes a strong sense of pride in personal growth and achievement. PE classes are scheduled age appropriately and include at least 2 periods per week across all grades, with the Kindergarten and Primary classes having 2 to 4 periods in a week.
As part of the goal to provide holistic development, the school has made a point of incorporating extra-curricular activities into students’ daily schedule. Among the most popular activities are Reading Club, Sports & Games, Art & Craft, Drama Club and Music & Dance.
The school also offers a co-curricular programme which includes personality development, music, dance, arts and craft, sports activities and club activities. Students ‘participation in athletics, leadership, and clubs is designed to help them interact with peers and strengthen the overall culture of the school.
Woodlem Park School says that it admits children with a broad range of academic ability. Consideration is given as to whether or not a child would genuinely cope with the curriculum and the school environment. Places are offered, subject to assessment criteria, when the school team is confident that WPD can meet the needs of each individual applicant whilst maintaining the balance of needs within each year group.
WPD uses the International Benchmark Test (IBT), an internationally administered programme of assessment, to compare the performance of its students. Using this process, student performance can be tracked against these international standards. The test covers mathematics, English, science Arabic and reasoning type of questions. The reports produced on students’ performance enables teachers and the school management better understand the position of their students in the learning process. If a student’s progress seems to be insufficient, teachers can implement action programmes to help students realise and bring out their full potential.
In addition, the school will offer the CBSE Grade X and XII examinations in due course and we would hope that the outcome of these examinations will be published at that time.
The school is located in a large modern building in the Al Ghusais Education Zone area. The three storey building offers shared facilities including a library, Science and IT labs and a specially equipped STEAM lab, an indoor Yoga/PE room, an Art and Craft room and Music room. Classrooms are based on flexible workspaces that allows teachers to organise the space to meet changing needs and activities that help the children to be enthusiastic and engaged.
In addition, smart boards are provided with digitalized content which support active participation and meaningful interaction between students and teachers. The entire campus is Wi-Fi enabled; all teachers have laptops and class rooms have projectors for technologically enabled learning. There is a spacious auditorium with a seating capacity of thousand which has a control room for balancing lights and sound, and a large backstage area with sufficient green rooms. A school canteen offers a range of healthy snacks and beverages at affordable prices and spacious dining areas are provided on each floor for children who bring their own meals and snacks.
Sports and play facilities include a Multi-purpose hall, outdoor and indoor sports facilities, indoor and outdoor KG play areas, shaded outdoor spaces, a football turf, Athletic track, a Swimming pool, and Volley ball, Throw ball and Badminton courts.
Following the initial KHDA report in 2016-17 in which the school was rated Weak, significant changes had clearly been made at both a leadership level (with the appointment of a new Principal and Vice Principal) and through a staff turnover of 19% - thus one in five teachers were new in 2017-18. This is a reduction on the 30% turnover in 2016-17, but it is to be hoped that the staffing situation has now stabilised. It is not clear whether the staff of Bilva Indian School have been retained.
It appears that the Governors of the school took decisive action to address weaknesses identified in the first inspection. The impact has clearly been positive in light of the subsequent KHDA report for 2017-18 when the school achieved an Acceptable rating. It improved this rating in 2018-19 to Good which was retained in 2019-20 when the school was fortunate to have been inspected prior to the halt to inspections as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.
The inspection team identified the best features of the school as:
- Ambitious, committed and dedicated governors and leaders
- Outstanding health and safety arrangements, and an excellent range of learning resources
- Students’ positive attitudes, self-reliance and work ethic
- Enthusiastic, personalised and successful learning in KG
- Improving outcomes in Arabic as an additional language and in Islamic education in the primary phase.
In terms of Student Achievement, there is no question that the Good rating overall was solidly deserved. Attainment and progress across English, Maths and Science in each section of the school were rated at least Good, with English in KG and Middle school sections being a particular strengthening warranting Very Good ratings. Unfortunately, the provision in Arabic and Islamic Studies (rated Acceptable with the exception of the Primary section), did not quite meet the standards required for a Good rating across the board.
The other two key performance indicators which contribute so importantly to Student Achievement - those of Teaching and Assessment, and the Curriculum - were also rated almost entirely Good. Students' personal development was another strength, rated Very Good across the school. Health and Safety was rated Outstanding.
These positive evaluations also resulted in the Leadership and Management of the school being evaluated as Very Good across four of the five indicators.
In terms of areas of improvement, the inspectors found that the school should:
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 schools, Woodlem Park School Dubai (under its previous name) participated in the Distance Learning Evaluation carried out to assess schools' provision of online learning to students as a result of the Covid 19 virus disruption. The school achieved the Developed rating - the highest of three ratings available.
The KHDA inspection report noted that parents are very supportive and are becoming more involved in the life of the school. Through informal coffee mornings and a parents’ committee, they are able to express their views on school policies and their children’s education. Parents spoke positively of the approachability of teachers and senior staff.
This approach would appear to continue to be a focus of the school under its new ownership with assurances that "Parents are partners in the education and development of their children at the School. We have a structured process of inviting parents to be active members of the Parent Council Committee along with their voluntary engagements in other areas of the schools’ planned activities".
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Whichschooladvisor.com was encouraged by the very decisive and positive steps taken at Bilva Indian School to address the concerns raised in their original inspection. At the time, we said that "The challenge now will be for the school to continue to build on the very positive steps taken in the past academic year and to raise the overall performance to the next level".
Our expectation had been that this would enable the school to grow and succeed. With the change of ownership and name transformation, it is hard to known whether the newly incarnated school will continue to perform as well academically, since information on school performance in the Northern Emirates is not published.
It worries us that the school appears to be pricing itself to such a low level (fees are approximately 50% less than under Bilva Indian School) whilst promising to deliver high quality. This will be dependent on the quality of teachers -arguably the most expensive and important resource of the school - and there does appear to be something of a disconnect between fee levels versus provision promise.
However, the new owners have presumably made their investment in the expectation that they will be successful and this can only be achieved if Woodlem Park School Dubai succeeds in delivering on its Vision and Mission.
Official KHDA fees at WPD range from AED 12,497 in KG1 to AED 23,000 in Grade 10. Fees are payable in 10 monthly instalments.
However, the school is offering a discount on all fees, starting at AED 7,850 in pre-KG and AED 7,350 in KG rising to AED 10,350 in Grade 10. Fees are discounted by close to 50% across all grades from Grade 1 upwards.
Additional fees include a registration fee of AED 200 and an admission fee of AED 500 (both non-refundable). There is a further 'first installment' fee of AED 850 on offer of a place which is deductable against tuition fees.
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