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GEMS Modern Academy, Nad Al Sheba 3 – The Review
WSA Good School
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Review

GEMS Modern Academy, Nad Al Sheba 3 – The Review

by February 26, 2018
Details to consider
2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Outstanding

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Outstanding

Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

Pre-KG: 28,065
KG1: 34,642
KG2: 34,643
YEAR 1: 39,232
YEAR 2: 39,232
YEAR 3: 41,367
YEAR 4: 41,367
YEAR 5: 43,635
YEAR 6: 43,635
YEAR 7: 43,635
YEAR 8: 43,635
YEAR 9: 41,701
YEAR 10: 46,508
YEAR 11: 46,508
YEAR 12: 51,364 / 66,917 IB Diploma
YEAR 13: 51,364 / 66,917 IB Diploma

Curriculum

CISCE
International Baccalaureate (Diploma or Courses)

External Exam Boards

Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations [CISCE]
International Baccalaureate

IB DipM Pass Rate

2017:
(1) 30 candidates registered: 24 Diploma / 6 Course candidates.
(2) 40 points or higher: 8%
(3) 35 points or higher: 29%
(4) 30 points or higher: 71%
(5) Around 10% of children site for the Diploma.

IB DipM Average Grade

33 Points

Selective

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

3939

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:17

Largest nationality teachers

Indian

Teacher turnover

5%

Year opened

1986

Location

Nad Al Sheba 3, Dubai

Student composition

Indian (largest nationality)
Notes:
(1) Emirati: 0
(2) SEND: 340

Gender

Mixed co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

GEMS Education

Admissions Telephone

+9714 326 3339

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

100%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

100%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

60%

Islamic St. Primary Results

60%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

60%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

60%

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

100%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

100%

Strengths

• Worldwide pioneer in the provision of a dual IB and ICSCE school
• Top flight academics
• Class leading Arabic area subject provision within the non-Arabic school sector
• Resilient, driven Principal
• Excellent facilities across arts, sport and core teaching areas
• Low staff turnover and excellent, class leading high ratio of teacher: student provision
• Transparency: Since 2013 GEMS has ceased publishing examination data, limiting the ability of prospective and existing parents to benchmark academic provision. GEMS Modern has resisted this and published examinations data in full. This matches its excellent overall provision of information for both existing and prospective parents.
• Outstanding value for money

Weaknesses

• Large schools are not for all children
• Mid-range pricing - although expensive relatively for an Indian family focused school

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
A+
B
Value
A+
B
ExtraCurricula
A
B
Languages
A-
B-
Sports
A
B
Arts & Drama
A
B
Teaching
A+
B
Communications
A
B+
Warmth
A-
B+
Differentiation
A
B-
SEND Provision
A
B+
Scl Community
A+
B
Scl Facilities
A-
B
Opportunities

• Outstanding, pioneering school carving out a reputation on the international stage
• The top choice for parents seeking an education founded on the Indian (CISCE) curriculum within the UAE as a whole
• Pricey for an Indian curriculum school
• A whichschooladvisor good school
• Exceptional educational experience for all children
• Highly recommended

A+
Our Rating
B
User Rating
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Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
37%
In my Top 5
33%
Shortlisted
4%
A possibility
7%
Pass
15%
No way
4%

Updated March 2018 – GEMS Modern Academy Dubai 2018 KHDA Inspection and SchoolsCompared.com verdict

“The mark of a progressive society is that it is an inclusive one.”

Nargish Khambatta, Principal, GEMS Modern Academy

Younger children learning at GEMS Modern School in Dubai

Background

Evolving from the original Dubai Modern High School, GEMS Modern Academy was re-named in 2013-14 to recognise both the evolution of the school to provide International Baccalaureate Diploma and Courses Options from Year 11 and its new, purpose built new school in Nad Al Sheba (opened in 2009).

Map showing the location of GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai

 

Historically, GEMS Modern Academy (in its previously names, GEMS Dubai Modern High School) grew from a small 200 capacity school in 1986 established in Karama and its second previous location in Al Wasl (1988). GEMS Modern Academy sits near both the premium English national curriculum  Repton School Dubai, reviewed here, and Kings’ School Nad Al Sheba, reviewed here.

For most parents, GEMS Modern will be considered with the only two other existing schools in Dubai offering the ICSE curriculum: JSS International School, Al Barsha, reviewed here; and the Ambassador School Dubai, reviewed here.

The International Baccalaureate option

Photograph of older students at GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai highlighting the specialist International Baccalaureate Diploma option available to gifted children

GEMS Modern Academy is an outstanding school – and now a pioneering one. The school took the extremely bold step of applying for, and achieving, International Baccalaureate status (teaching of the IB Diploma began in 2014), a high risk, trailblazing strategy for an outstanding school already punching above its weight in an Indian, hitherto ICSCE-only curriculum school.

So radically broadening the choice of post 16 options to include the International Baccalaureate option was a risk; the Geneva imported IB syllabus is based on a completely different pedagogical approach; teaching methodologies; academic baseline and skills; and outcomes. The latter include Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge and CAS (creativity, Action and Service) elements that do not sit easily with the ICSCE, despite its existing elements of skill development (rather than rote learning) and independent research that are less present in the CBSE alternative Indian curriculum offered by many Indian schools in the Emirate.

Has it been successful? Answering this depends on the terms of reference. GEMS Modern Academy is not a pure International Baccalaureate school but, rather, a school that offers high-performing students the International Baccalaureate Diploma, or International Baccalaureate courses, as an option. The vast majority of students will sit for the ISC Grade 12 examinations. Choosing the IB also carries a hike in fees (AED 66,917 for the IB Diploma compared with the ISC Grade 12 at AED 51,364).

Indicative of the challenges was the introduction by GEMS Moddern Academy in 2015 of an annual 3-month long highly intensive “Bridge Programme”, run between April to June, for all Modern students who opted to take the IB Diploma Programme in Grade 11. The Bridge Programme proved necessary to ensure that students could manage the very different practices and methodologies expected by IB including more advanced independent research skills, mathematical and statistical training; critical thinking and data interpretation skills, research methodologies, an introduction to the Theory of Knowledge and warnings about plagiarism.

The rewards on offer for students, particularly, but not exclusively, in providing a pathway for the Gifted and Talented [G&T], are exceptional. As of 2017-18, we estimate around 13% of children enter the International Baccalaurate Diploma, as opposed the ISE Grade 12 stream at 16 years of age – an achievement for an inclusive school.

The governing body of the International Baccalaureate does not grant IB status easily; its securing by GEMS speaks volumes about the school’s already outstanding capacity to educate.

In 2017-18 GEMS Modern Academy secured KHDA Outstanding School status for a sixth consecutive year.

Staff Turnover

GEMS Dubai Modern Academy has one of the lowest staff turnover rates of any school in Dubai (5%) and an exceptional student:teacher ratio (1:17). Salaries (the single highest cost base for any school) for Indian teachers are low/poor, and with a rapidly increasing population of some 3900 students GEMS has the financial might to invest in the International Baccalaureate without placing student education at risk.

Arabic subjects provsion

Elsewhere, the 2014-15 KHDA inspection award of Outstanding at least matches that awarded to any international school in the Emirate. In the Arabic syllabus, the area where British schools struggle, Dubai Modern has edged ahead, securing a “Good” rating across the board where even the best British schools struggle for an acceptable rating.

Leadership

The new Principal, Nargish Khambatta, now in her fourth year, was appointed from within the school. Rising up the ranks from Deputy Principal, she is by all accounts driven, respected, a people manager, an internationalist and very gifted in driving through change. It was a brave choice by GEMS, but a good one. She is also well known for her conviction that Special Educational Needs [SEN] needs to be better addressed in schools, high up on the agenda of the KHDA, and her insistence with the ICSE to effect changes to its examination procedure so that it better reflected the needs of a gifted child with cerebral palsy paid dividends, securing a high 69% pass for a child that might otherwise have slipped through the net. Mrs Khambatta was the first recipient of the GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award in 2018 for her outstanding contribution to education. This was a genuine achievement given the competition: runners up were Matthew Burfield, GEMS Founders School- Al Barsha, reviewed here; Asma Gilani, Our Own English High School- Sharjah Girls; Ruth Burke, GEMS Wellington International School, reviewed here; and Simon O’Connor, Jumeirah College, reviewed here.

Facilities

Children playing cricket at GEMS Modern School in Dubai

GEMS Modern Academy school facilities are tier 1 and exceed the provision you would expect from the fees, notwithstanding the size of the school. The school has an imposing façade that is matched by top drawer facility provision including an outstanding swimming pool, tennis courts, fully integrated fibre optic based IT throughout the school, Senior school library, (five) ICT Suites; dedicated STEM Lab; dedicated Primary school Learning Centre; International Baccalaureate Lounge; Meditation Garden; “Sensorial patch”; Learning Corridors; and a stylish area developed specifically for parents designed to emphasise the importance placed by the school on parental partnership and open, two way channels of communication. One of few compromises lies in the “Bring Your Own Device” [BYOD] approach to technology – the school simply cannot afford to provide each child with an IPAD or laptop within the limits of such a low fee structure. With a DHS 60,000 ceiling even for IB provision, GEMS Modern, in our view, offers seriously good value for parents.

Sports facilities are equally wide-ranging including (four) basketball courts; (two) football fields; cricket pitch; volleyball court; 8-lane running track with integral areas for field events including long jump, shot put, discus and javelin; Primary 25 meters swimming pools; Main 25M pool with provsion for water polo; (five) Cricket nets with flood lights; (three) Tennis courts; multipurpose hall with provision for Badminton and Basketball; gymnasium; and, cycling and roller skating track.

Bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict 2018

Extensive ECA provision at GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai is highlighted here by a photograph of children playing musical instruments in band practice

It is difficult to overstate the degree to which GEMS Modern Academy meets, exceeds and deserves its definition of an Outstanding school within the Dubai educational system. Trailblazing, risk taking, successful for its children; a hugely impressive school across the board. GEMS Modern leadership, teaching staff, and students, should all be very proud. Extraordinary is not a word we use often but in this case it is apt.

In many ways too, GEMS Modern Academy has an important role within the UAE in providing a benchmark for ISCE curriculum provision which is, in our view, far too limited.

GEMS Modern Academy was awarded Good School status, its highest award, in 2013-14; 2014-15; 2015-16; 2016-17 and 2017-18.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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