It’s the most highly rated KHDA Indian school and has been, deservedly, ranked Outstanding for some seven years. With the downgrading of the Indian High School for the last two years, it pretty much stands alone as a beacon for what a world class Indian education can look like within the UAE.
It’s unfair to compare it to alternative curricular schools. Indian schools work so differently and with a very different palette of learning strengths and opportunities for children. Pushed to do so, the single weakness here, arguably endemic in Indian education, is the comparative weakness in inspiring child innovation – something that the best international schools, in distinction, prioritise as integral to learning.
This said, it’s an area that is being at least significantly targeted at GEMS Modern School, almost uniquely in the sector, with very specific, high quality programmes in each phase to encourage children to “think outside the box” and develop pioneering solutions to their own problems, rather than those set by the curriculum. In essence, what is being pioneered here is an Indian education motivated by the benefits of inspiring students to think for themselves – and be confident in doing so.
Whilst, as in all Indian schools, you will not find an Emirati child, the role does welcome Muslim students and Arabic as a second language is encouraged. Performance of children in the Arabic subjects area is good – and, in our view, actually puts many international schools to shame.
Academic performance is exceptional – but, importantly, (relative) subject breadth (Environment, Art, Cookery and Music) and whole child provision comes with the territory rather being seen as a diversionary add-on.
We have always rated the CISCE curriculum highly for its teaching methodology and depth of learning – but here its advantages and potential over the alternative CBSE curriculum are highlighted in full.
GEMS Modern Academy takes the further step too of offering its students the International Baccalaureate Diploma. As a result, we did vex over whether GEMS Modern Academy should be considered within the Blended IB Award category.
But this is such an obviously Indian school that, with the majority of children sitting for the CISCE, we decided, after some deliberation, that that would be unfair. Instead, we think, the IB should be seen as a profound and serious demonstration of the school’s commitment to meeting the needs of all its children – in this case the most academically gifted. By offering the IB, GEMS Modern Academy, for the children who study it, delivers a whole new ball game of extraordinary, wide ranging, learning – and it deserves every credit for introducing this.
Of course, there is a catch. This circa 4000 role school also attracts extremely high, eye watering, comparative fees for the Indian school market, running to 67K for the IB. GEMS, unlike other schools more sensitive to the prevalent financial constraints of this market, has the luxury here of money to invest in children and exploring every possibility of outstanding education.
Is it fair to compare such a stand-alone outstanding school with the other schools here? Yes, we think so. GEMS Modern Academy sets a benchmark for what the Indian education sector can deliver at its very best. This school deserves to be celebrated, not least for the cascading impacts its winning will have on setting the course for other schools to follow and compete with. And it is all children that will ultimately be the beneficiaries of a sector pushed, across the board by a shining star like this, to be the very best it can be.
KHDA Rating: Outstanding
KHDA weakness: None
Subject breadth/meeting the needs of children: Outstanding
Fees: AED 28K – 51K (67K for the IB)
Number of students: 3825
Age of role: 4 – 18
School type: Private, for profit
Number of students with SEND: 363/9.5%) (Above 5% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive for SEND)
Number of Emirati children: 0/0% (Above 10% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive to the local population)