WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Senior Editor, Susan Roberts, visited JSS International School, one of Dubai’s rare CISCE curriculum schools, located in JVC. Find out what she discovered and experienced with ‘behind-the-scenes’ access, observing classes in action, chatting in the teachers’ lounge, having in-depth conversations with students and parents, and quizzing the school’s leaders on what makes it stand out. For a taste of her findings, continue reading…
What do we know from the outside?
JSS International School (JSSIS) is one of over 130 schools operated by the JSS Mahavidyapeetha (JSSMVP), an India-based charitable trust that is dedicated to “the development of culture, literature and education for the prosperity of humanity”. The school is one of only three CISCE curriculum schools in Dubai.
Initially opening on Hessa Street in 2009, the school relocated to its current purpose-built campus in JVC in 2017.
Read the full experience feature here
Arriving at the School…
Our reviewer arrived on time to observe students arriving at the school, at 7:30am. The school’s location, in a residential community without any other schools close by, allows for a relatively smooth drop off for parents, without heavy traffic or parking challenges.
Students made their way into the school, chatting socially in groups as they did so, while the school’s security welcomed us and guided us to the main reception.
JSS International School has an exceptionally experienced leader. Principal Mrs Lata Nakra has worked in the field of education for almost four decades, starting her career in Mumbai before relocating to Dubai in 1987. She comes across as humble and grounded, with a calm self-assurance that puts those in her company at ease.
Mrs Nakra described her career so far as “a very smooth, very enjoyable journey” and explained that she has gone through “every rung of the ladder”, providing her with the ability to truly understand and empathise with her team.
She explained some of her views on education:
“Excellent academic results, while important, should be viewed as a byproducts of education, not the focus of education.”
“The school should be a very safe environment, it should be non-threatening and learning should be fun. At the same time, there should be high quality learning, and of course, to do this, high quality teaching is very important.”
Inside the Classrooms…
Our reviewer was invited to observe a Grade 1 class and a Grade 8 class.
Grade 1 children were learning to distinguish between a question and an answer, identifying punctuation and forming their own sentences accordingly.
While our visit took place very early in the academic year (week four), the teacher appeared to have a warm connection with the children in the class and had established class rules and routines that the children were very responsive to. The children appeared to feel secure and comfortable, and the majority were engaged and actively participating.
Grade 8 students were engaged in an English Literature class, analysing a Percy Blysshe Shelley poem. Our reviewer was impressed by the level of student engagement and enthusiasm observed; a lively discussion unfolded, due to the gentle steering and guidance of the class teacher, with students demonstrating a strong understanding of the text.
Across these classes, our reviewer noted that students demonstrated a high level of maturity and confidence for their ages and the utmost respect for their teachers and for each other. Academic expectations placed on students are high at JSS International, based on these observations, but motivation levels appeared to match this.
Around the Campus…
JSS International School’s campus is large enough that our reviewer could easily feel a little disorientated, with what felt like long indistinguishable corridor after corridor, however the character-less classrooms themselves were not at all representative of the many characters inside. This is a school with personality, with many inspiring educators, and passion on display at every corner.
The school offers high quality sports facilities for its fee level, and spacious learning environments for the less mainstream subjects, such as a dance studio, music rooms and a particularly inspiring art studio.
The school’s rather eccentric Head of Art, Mr Sugat Priyadarshi, explained that he had a background in art therapy, and expressed the view that art is for all, not only those with artistic talent. His studio was an oasis of calm in this bustling school, with soothing music gently playing, and a mild aroma of incense circulating.
Head of Physical Education, Mr Boban Chacko proudly provided a tour of the school’s sports facilities and described the school’s offering with such energy and enthusiasm that even our athletically challenged reviewer felt motivated to take part.
JSS International is more than meets the eye; while the school’s academic results speak for themselves, this school is far from being an academic pressure cooker. A look beyond the surface reveals a creative and rather interesting learning environment, that manages to keep the process of teaching and learning very personal, despite having more than 3000 students enrolled.
The school’s focus on wellbeing and providing a ‘safe environment to learn’ should not be overlooked either. This is clearly an area appreciated greatly by students and parents alike and contributes to an apparently very happy school.
If you’re interested in finding out more, read the full experience feature here