UAE

Why GEMS Millennium is Sharjah’s only ‘outstanding’ private school

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The campus is located in the School Zone, in Muweilah area
Image Credit: Amna Alansaari/Gulf News

Sharjah: Out of the 129 private schools in Sharjah, only one school – GEMS Millennium School (GMS) – is officially rated “outstanding” currently.

This highest possible rating has been granted by the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) following its inspection process of schools, called ‘Itqan’, an Arabic word to describe the achievement of excellence.

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So, what makes GMS (which follows the Indian CBSE curriculum) outstanding?

One main reason is teamwork – between students, teachers and parents, GMS Principal Lini Shivaprasad told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.

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Principal Lini Shivaprasad with students
Image Credit: Amna Alansaari/Gulf News

Parents in the classroom

“We have a very strong Parent Forum. We invite the Forum even to observe our lessons so that they can give us quality feedback. So parents are not just bystanders; they are here in order to ensure that there is a quality of education that we’re providing the children,” said Shivaprasad.

“Parents are closely engaged with the core scholastics in our school. They are a part of our LAB, which is a Local Advisory Board. Every class is associated with a parent representative, who is part of the Parent Forum. Therefore, we get to know their feedback and we bring those changes in all the possible ways we can.”

The GMS Parent Forum operates within an organisational structure, with parents serving as leaders and working in groups. The Satellite Group collaborates with the main Parent Forum to support school events, activities, and new ideas.

Key topics are discussed at regular meetings, and parent opinions are taken on board. The GMS Parent Forum is a recipient of the Sharjah Award for Distinguished Parent Council.

GMS at a glance
Founded: 2010 by GEMS Education
Location: School Zone, Muweilah, Sharjah
Annual tuition fees: Dh11,907 for KG to Dh22,943 for Grade 12
Curriculum: CBSE, Central Board of Secondary Education of India
Current SPEA school rating: Outstanding
Number of students: 2,400+
School principal: Lini Shivaprasad

Anonymous student feedback

Another GMS practice is gathering feedback from students anonymously.

“We take this feedback on an anonymous basis so that children are free to express what they want to tell us,” Shivaprasad said.

The opinions, ideas and suggestions of students are part of an Action Plan for improvement, on around 26 “parameters”, which every teacher works on.

“Every two months, we go back to this Action Plan to see what have they achieved. Once we’ve got the feedback, individual teachers are called and the feedback is shared with them.

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Students working on a project at GMS
Image Credit: Amna Alansaari/Gulf News

“Teachers are given every two months to cover at least four or five of those parameters, because you can’t work on all the 26 parameters at the same time. So they take small steps in order to improve and then we go back and take another feedback from students.”

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This constant loop between parents, students and teachers stems from the ethos at GMS, the principal pointed out.

“We are all in for improvement, we are all in for development. It’s not that we enter into a classroom or we enter into the school with a feeling that we know it all and therefore nothing can be changed in us. So I think this [feedback system from parents and students] has been a great step,” she added.

Digital natives

Another priority at GMS is “aligning our curriculum with the latest educational standards and incorporating innovative teaching practices”, Shivaprasad said.

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Virtual Reality and Robotics, seen here at GMS, are increasingly common in schools nowadays
Image Credit: Amna Alansaari/Gulf News

“In fact, AI [Artificial Intelligence] is one subject that we have introduced right from kindergarten through Grade 12… Integrating technology also helps to enhance teaching; it’s about how educational software can be used in classrooms to make lessons more interesting for students. We know that our children are digital natives and we like to give them that scope to further their learning.”

Shivaprasad thanked SPEA and GEMS, the school’s operator, for their evaluations of GMS, which has helped the school achieve an “outstanding” rating, she said.