Delhi Private School, The Gardens, Jebel Ali – The Review
Updated January 2020 – Delhi Private School KHDA update and SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2019
“In the business of education, you must focus on quality. Schools must not be run for profits, and whatever you earn from the school must be invested in increasing the salaries of teachers.
I believe in providing value education and holistic development of the child at an affordable cost.
I can tell you that if I were to double my fees, I wouldn’t lose a single student because that is the kind of standard we have set.”
Dinesh C. Kothari, Pro-Vice Chairman, Delhi Private School – Dubai (KT)
“The USP of the school is our deliberate focus on encouraging students to have a moral compass: to have a sensibility greater than themselves and to have a philanthropic spirit.
We indoctrinate our students to cultivate the values taught by Mahatma Gandhi: to take a stand against injustice and [to recognise that] every person has the power to make a difference.”
Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal, Delhi Private School – Dubai
Finally, in its eighth year, Delhi Private School – Dubai (DPSD), stablised a KHDA “Very Good with Outstanding Features” rating for the (very high) quality of its provision. It is repeated the accolade in 2019. The awards should finally put to rest some critique that the school has been outshone by its Sharjah counterpart. As it stands, Delhi Private School now ranks in the top 5 of all Indian schools in Dubai.
In this sector, there are currently only two KHDA Outstanding schools:
GEMS Modern Academy offering the CISCE curriculum, reviewed here; and,
The Indian High School offering the CBSE curriculum, reviewed here.
Delhi Private School ranks with two other schools in the secondary elite class of KHDA “Very Good” schools “with Outstanding features”, these both owned and managed by GEMS Education:
GEMS Our Own English High School, reviewed here; and,
(GEMS) The Millennium School, reviewed here.
In some ways you would be forgiven, on first impressions, however, in wondering if there had been some mistake.
Delhi Private School is not a ‘bells and whistles’ school. Do not expect shiny steel and glass or anywhere near Tier 1 facilities. DPSD is, in stark contrast to what you might expect of a school operating at this level, resolutely a cosmetically very basic school. In fact, in almost every way this is a school at a surface level that seems unimpressive.
More substantially, even the simplest outward communications expected of schools is absent. Parents seeking even a rudimentary understanding of the school will certainly not find it on-line. Much of what is evident is written in a broken English that is hard to decipher. In terms of transparency this school competes as one of the least helpful in the Emirates.
Examples include a complete lack of any social media presence, newsletters, school prospectus, video journals, curriculum breakdown, minutes of meetings reflecting school governance, school plans or basic responses to KHDA improvement recommendations including school improvement plans. As it stands the school provides no means for parents to hold the school to account, or for prospective parents to properly benchmark school provision. The school does, however, provide limited curriculum information and details its examination performance over a five year period.
There is no excuse for this lack of transparency. GEMS manages to publish information in this sector. It recognises that schools need not only to celebrate their children – and faculty, but also provide the information needed for parents to hold a school to account. It is all the more frustrating too when even a fellow school in the Group, the excellent Victory Heights Primary School, reviewed here, understands – and delivers – school transparency and information for parents so extraordinarily well.
If Delhi Private School aims to compete in this sector – and pay credit to its children, it really does need to up its game in outwardly projecting what it does. After all, the school – and its children, have much to be proud of – and to celebrate.
So let’s try and make sense of what is happening.
There are 2 Delhi Private Schools in the UAE:
Delhi Private School – Sharjah, reviewed here.
Delhi Private School – Dubai, the subject of this review.
Both schools offer the CBSE curriculum.
There was a third school. This was the short-lived Delhi Private School Academy – Academic City which has now closed. Our historic review of the school can be found here. Frustratingly, the failed school had been one of a very limited number of schools in Dubai to offer the alternative ICSE curriculum. Why the school closed has not been, officially, revealed. What we can say, from our perspective, is that the school was over-priced for the quality of what it offered (when compared against its higher performing, lower cost peers). This said, the school was still over-subscribed and its closure, at face value, makes little sense.
There are two further schools advertised as existing in the UAE which do not, in fact, exist, have never existed and are not in planning:
Delhi Public School – Dammam
Delhi Public School – Abu Dhabi
We believe that the owners should remove these schools from their currently advertised list of existing schools as it confuses parents.
The DPS schools are part of the Delhi Public Schools Group comprising around 100 schools in India, the UAE, Nepal and Singapore. The Group advertises 200 schools, but, as far as we can tell, around 100 actually exist.
The schools are governed by the not-for-profit DPS Society. The Group established its first school in 1949 in New Delhi.
So what sets the school apart?
First, fees. This school provides very good value for money, given the attainment and progress of its students. Fees run between 10,089 AED and 14,124 AED. It’s not the best value school in the Emirates – that accolade lies with the Indian High School with a quite remarkable fee structure for a KHDA Outstanding school with Grade XII fees reaching only 14,124 AED. But make no mistake the value proposition here is high.
Second, inclusion. This is a genuinely inclusive school. At later phases this is moderated – the school has to, understandably, ensure that new children joining the school have the basic level of education required for Grade X and Grade XII exams – but, impressively, and unambiguously, this school welcomes all children regardless of ability, language skills or SEND.
Third, again, whilst not the best in this sector, the teacher to student ratio is excellent running at a maximum of 1:13.
Fourth, not-for-profit status. The school is not explicitly clear on its for-profit status. The parent society does claim not-for-profit status. The unstated implication is that all revenue is re-invested in the school. This is an important issue because not-for-profits, generally, are able to offer lower fees and better quality provision in comparison with their for-profit equivalents because they do not have the requirement to pay shareholders and owners. Whether or not the school is, in fact, not for profit, what is clear is the umbrella DPS Society has considerable expertise and recruitment capacity in India and this undoubtedly assists the school on an ongoing basis. If this is a genuinely not-for-profit school we would like to see the school publishing in full its accounts so that parents can better understand and hold the school to account for investment. We do know, however, that Dinesh C. Kothari has explicitly stated that profit is not the motivation for establishing his schools, and the driver is providing a high quality, but affordable, education for children and families.
Fifth, examination performance. This is a school that does achieve academically for its children. 2016 saw a class average of 9 points at Grade X 78% of children sat for Board Examinations. At Grade XII 143 children sat for the examination. The school does not publish the number of children who were not entered for the Grade XII examination. This is a critical figure as without this information prospective parents cannot understand how many children fall through the gaps. Of those that entered, however, 65% (93 students) entered in the Science Stream, 31% (45 students) in the Commerce Stream and 3% (5 students) for the Humanities Stream. 100% of those students entered for the Grade XII examinations secured a First Division pass. The grade aggregate at Grade XII in 2016 was 84.6.
One of the areas we believe that parents should look for in any school at Grade XII is provision for Humanities, even if, as here, there is only a minority of children who opt for the stream. Many schools remove provision for Humanities altogether in order to restrict subject choice and reduce costs. DPSD is to be commended for its ongoing provision for Humanity subjects so that it can meet the broadest possible needs, potential and talent of individual children. As a whole, curriculum provision and subject choice at the school, particularly for Grade XII is outstanding.
There are five different subject combinations offered within the Science Stream alone, for example, so that children do not have to forego subjects simply to meet timetabling demands of the school. In practice this means that children can study some more traditional commerce or humanity subjects (Economics, Marketing Psychology, Computer Science) with traditional core Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology). Humanity subject choice is outstanding including Sociology, History and Political Science.
Prospective parents should note that significant changes are taking place to Grade X accreditation from 2017-18 with assessment based in the majority on external examination only. Interestingly, this mirrors an almost identical change to UK GCSE examinations which will now be graded entirely by examination. In both cases it is expected that average examination grades may well fall as ongoing internal assessment is reduced or removed altogether in the calculation of final grades.
Facilities at the school are well maintained and of a good breadth and standard. These include two libraries by phase; Independent Science Laboratories for Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Mathematics Lab; ICT Labs; specialised early years learning “Activity Rooms”; external grassed sports fields for outdoor games including cricket; volleyball, basketball and tennis courts; gymnasium; school clinic; and pool. The provision of turfed outdoor playing fields however is a strength of sports provision and we like the openness of the school in sharing facilities with its broader community.
ECA provision is good, including a spectrum of Club provision across the Performing Arts; Model United Nations; Survivor Club, Music (Western and Indian), Art, Yoga, Environmental and Green initiatives, Sport, Mathematics, Photography and Debating. Charitable ECAs and initiatives are a stand-out feature of the school.
The features which are drawn out for particular praise by the KHDA include:
- The richness of each child’s appreciation of both Indian culture and its broader global context
- Outstanding curriculum breadth
- The school’s genuine commitment to inclusion and its broad-based culture of care
- Outstanding whole child development
- Tier 1 governance, (ambitious) leadership and community/parental engagement
- Outstanding levels of school attendance and punctuality
Areas in which the school can improve are identified in the provision for weaker students and those who are most talented on the SEND spectrum of needs; effective leverage of existing investment in facilities and teaching materials; and the teaching of Arabic as an Additional Language (AAL).
Feedback to our sister site, whichschooladvisor, has been mixed. Much feedback focuses on perceived weaknesses in its broad strategic levels of communication including historic issues with the cost of bus transportation (which for some children amounts to more than half the level of basic fees) and a general sense of not being consulted. This fits with our general view of poor overall communication. This said, communication with parents about the individual achievement and progress of their children is of a very good standard and parents are represented in governance. Weaknesses are primarily at the high level of school planning and investment – and very significantly in the front-facing level of communication provided to parents.
Firstly, nothing should be taken away from the achievement of Delhi Private School – Dubai. This is a school that has been a consistently KHDA “Good” school for some 6 years before now stabilising its “Very Good” school rating for its third consecutive year. The school does need to improve its front facing communication (a good start would be to take view of the basic information and structure of communication provided by the sister school in Sharjah and invest properly in an open social media platform). Bluntly Delhi private School does not communicate – and so celebrate its children – well at all. It’s a shame – without word of mouth this is a school you would not give a second glance to.
The value proposition, however, is high and children are educated to a very good standard.
We think there are really four areas that need focus.
First, much better strategic engagement with parents and an open five to ten-year plan for the future of the school in which parents are actively engaged.
Second, investment in teaching to pull up the standards across all phases and subjects.
Third, greater focus on SEND and modifications to the curriculum so that the impressive inclusiveness of the school is matched by the ability to deliver for those children in practice (and both at the weaker and G&T edges of the spectrum).
Finally., we also think there is room to invest further in specialist provision, particularly in technology – and that investment needs to be backed up by leveraging that investment so it does not simply become a label for an under-used resource.
One very telling critique of the KHDA is that there is a temptation for teachers to see success in terms of the volume rather than understanding of knowledge received/experienced by children. This goes to the heart of what distinguishes the highest performing schools – they are able to match the pace and focus of a curriculum to the needs, skills and potential of children at different phases of their development. The alternative is to risk leaving children behind. It may well be that the only way to address this, within such an inclusive school, is to further increase investment in teaching staff, and at the least teaching support.
These points aside, this is a very good school and one certainly worth shortlisting. It is just that the school is now operating in a much more competitive space in which expectations are (rightfully) much higher.
The puzzle pieces are not easy: the fees are extremely low, the school is extremely large – and growing each year putting pressures on space and crowding – and investment is needed to not stand still (or go backwards).
The challenges are enormous. This is no time to rest on laurels.
© SchoolsCompared.com 2020. All rights reserved.
Very Good with Outstanding features
(1) Delhi Public School Society - not-for-profit
YEAR 1: 11,116
YEAR 2: 11,116
YEAR 3: 11,116
YEAR 4: 11,116
YEAR 5: 12,050
YEAR 6: 12,050
YEAR 7: 12,050
YEAR 8: 12,050
YEAR 9: 13,097
YEAR 10: 13,097
YEAR 11: 14,124
YEAR 12: 14,124
YEAR 13: NA
Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi
Fully inclusive to secondary when selective
(1) School does not discriminate on grounds of race, nationality, sex, language, academic ability or gender
(2) School welcomes applications from all children including those identified with Special Educational Needs and Abilities
(3) School welcomes applications from children who are identified as Gifted and Talented (G&T) including those gifted academically, in Sport or the Performing Arts
(4) "Admission to Grade XI is at the discretion of the Principal, and dependent on the child's performance at the last annual examination and as per CBSE rules."
(5) Where demands exceeds the availability of places, priority is afforded to children who live locally, siblings and the children of teachers at the school.
(6) Testing is carried out only to determine the most suitable class/grade year for each child. Testing may be carried out in English, Science and Mathematics.
Class sizes are capped at 25 children at KG phases and 30 children between Grade 1 to Grade 12
The Gardens, Jebel Ali, Dubai
Indian (largest nationality)
Mr. Mohammad Abdalla Ahmed Al Khayyal
Mr. Ali Mohamed Al Khayyal
+971 (0) 4 882 1848
• KHDA Very Good (with Outstanding features) school status
• Genuine commitment to inclusion
• Exceptional – and outstanding - breadth of subject provision, particularly for Grade XII
• Reputation of parent Society
• Whole child development of children
• Outstanding academics
• Very high value proposition
• Overall poor school transparency and weakness in communications
• Limitations in the ability of teachers to modify the curriculum to the needs of individual children including the most vulnerable SEND students and those identified as Gifted and Talented
• Inevitable weaknesses in language provision, endemic to non-Arabic schools but a particular weakness here
• Risks ahead facing all CBSE schools in meeting challenging new exam based Grade X qualification