That the largest league table in the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings (EWISR) is always of co-ed day schools is socially positive testimony that despite the daily horror stories of sexual violence visited upon women and girl citizens, Indian society is determinedly moving forward towards the constitutional goal of gender parity. This year the co-ed day schools league table, which rates 1,700 primary-secondaries on 14 parameters of school education excellence, is the lengthiest since the annual EWISR was introduced way back in 2007. Although over the years EWISR has evolved into the world’s largest and most detailed schools assessment and evaluation project, it’s pertinent to note that all told, a mere 2,300 of the country’s 1.5 million sufficiently well-known schools of good repute are included in annual EW league tables.
Against this backdrop, this year there’s been a minor rearrangement of seating at the Top 5 table of the country’s most admired co-ed day schools. The Top 5 actually comprise nine schools because of several tied total scores and a new outlier, viz, Vidyashilp Academy, Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) which has ascended in the esteem of this year’s sample respondents who have promoted it to #4 from #9 last year.
However at the head of top table, there is no change. The highly-acclaimed Heritage Xperiential Learning School, Gurugram/Gurgaon (HXLS) has retained its #1 ranking, albeit by a razor-thin margin ahead of the venerable Vasant Valley School, Delhi and Step by Step, Noida, jointly ranked #2. Inventure Academy, Bengaluru retains its 2019-20 #3 rank and is tied with The Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar/Moulsari, also ranked #3. The remaining seats at the rather crowded Top 5 table of co-ed day schools 2020-21 are filled with Vidyashilp Academy and the Valley School both in Bengaluru tied at #4 and Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania, Thane (Mumbai) and Mallya Aditi, Bengaluru tied at #5.
“We are absolutely delighted and honoured to learn that HXLS has retained its top ranking this year. I am grateful to our teachers, parents and students who always do us proud. During the past 15 years, our team at HXLS has worked tirelessly to re-imagine education and make it relevant for the times we live in. At the start of our transformational journey almost two decades ago, our unfamiliar pedagogy was questioned by several eminent educationists. Looking back I am glad we stuck to our guns and convictions to defy convention to develop a unique experiential learning school, though I’m conscious that we still have a long way to go. Yet the major lesson that we have learnt is to never stop learning. We remain focused on continuously improving and contemporising our pedagogy and programmes to ensure that every child in our school gets an education that empowers her to live a fulfilling and meaningful life,” says Manit Jain, an alumnus of the blue chip Harvard School of Education, USA and promoter-director of HXLS (estb.2003). Currently this new genre co-ed day school which especially values its top score under the parameter of individual attention to students (“we teach children, not the subject”) has 3,768 students mentored by 431 highly-trained teachers on its muster rolls.
Although the new genre CISCE and Cambridge International (UK) affiliated Inventure Academy, Bengaluru (estb.2003) has not moved up the national ladder and retains its #3 all-India ranking, co-promoter and managing trustee Nooraine Fazal derives considerable satisfaction from this co-ed day school’s #1 rank in Karnataka (pop.65 million) and India’s Silicon Valley city of Bengaluru, which has emerged as a pre-primary to class XII education rivalling Delhi. This year four Bengaluru-based schools — Inventure Academy, Vidyashilp, the Valley School and Mallya Aditi — are ranked in the national Top 5 co-ed day schools table usually dominated by Delhi schools.
“We are very pleased that Inventure Academy in which we accord highest priority to innovation and adventurous experiential learning in the broadest sense, is ranked #1 in Bengaluru, a city which has a global reputation as a hub of new digital technologies and innovation. Almost two decades ago, Inventure was promoted with the mission to encourage students to discover and realise their individual potential and become self-directed learners in the pursuit of excellence in their chosen vocations. Therefore I’m especially pleased with our high scores under the parameters of sports education, digital readiness, parental involvement, infrastructure and value for money. It’s validation that we are on the road to attaining the off-the-beaten-track objectives for which this school was promoted,” says Nooraine Fazal, an alumna of Bangalore and Boston universities who after a decade of working abroad with IBM, and Reuters returned to India in the new millennium to “give back to Indian society”. Currently, the school has 1,230 students, mentored by 211 teachers on its 38-acre campus in suburban Bengaluru.
Although several Bengaluru-based co-ed day schools have risen high in the esteem of this year’s informed 11,368 sample respondents, the star of the show is the low-profile Vidyashilp Academy (VA, estb.1996) which has risen sharply from #9 in 2019-20 to #4 in the national league able and is jointly ranked #2 in the garden city, on a par with the highly respected Krishnamurti Foundation promoted Valley School, Bengaluru. With excellent scores under the parameters of curriculum & pedagogy (digital readiness), individual attention to students, parental involvement, infrastructure, internationalism and community service, VA, which is all set to relocate to a state-of-the-art new campus next year, has prompted a major seating reshuffle at the Top 10 co-ed day schools league table of 2020-21.
“We are elated to learn that Vidyashilp Academy has risen significantly in the EducationWorld rankings this year! It’s a validation of our persistence to provide holistic, child-centric, education to every student. This promotion would not have been possible without the full cooperation the school tinues to receive — from our teachers, staff, students and the parents’ community. With this recognition we are determined to continuously improve under all parameters of excellence and rise in the rankings,” says Dr. Kiran Pai, the highly-qualified — Southern New Hampshire (USA), Monash University (Australia) and Ph D in education awarded by the University of Southern California (USA) — director of Vidyashilp Academy.
Kalai Selvi, one of the first teachers to sign up when VA admitted its first batch of children way back in 1996, and appointed principal of the school in 2015, is particularly pleased that the school has been awarded a very high score on the parameter of internationalism. “The world is rapidly being globalised. Therefore it’s important that children who will emerge as future leaders in politics, industry, business and the civil service should have a wide international outlook and perspective. This has prompted us to encourage our students to continuously participate in global campaigns and events. For instance, VA is a participant member of the global Fair Trade network of schools which sources cotton for our uniforms directly from farmers, rather than through middlemen so that farmers receive fair market prices. VA is also a member of Unesco’s Happy Schools Project that encourages online research and debate on the subject of happiness between students around the world. Moreover, we have signed a teacher exchange programme with the University of Missouri, USA under which their education students can come to teach in VA on short-term teaching assignments,” says Selvi, a science and education postgraduate of Bangalore University.
Likewise US-born Anjum Babukhan, who migrated to Hyderabad after her marriage to take charge of the Glendale Group of schools promoted by her in-laws, is enthused by the promotion of the flagship Glendale Academy (GA, estb.2003) into the national Top 10 (#8), and #1 rank in Telangana and the fast-track city of Hyderabad (pop.10 million). This year’s sample respondents have awarded Glendale Academy excellent scores under the parameters of individual attention to students, parental involvement, infrastructure, internationalism and value for money.
“We are ecstatic to be ranked among India’s Top 10 in the highly competitive co-ed day schools category, and #1 in Hyderabad. Glendale is an institution committed to continuous improvement and betterment and it’s highly gratifying that your knowledgeable sample respondents have acknowledged our persistent institutional effort towards cultivating the character, competence and holistic development of our students. Our aspiration to ‘live, learn, love and leave a legacy’ has become meaningful for us with the #1 rank in Hyderabad,” says Babukhan, a psychology and education alumna of the Loyola and Illinois universities. Currently, GA has 2,200 boys and girls mentored by 200 faculty.
A notable feature of the lengthy EWISR 2020-21 co-ed day schools league table is the massive promotion into the Top 10 awarded to several schools, apart from Glendale Academy. Another Hyderabad-based school which has risen sharply in public esteem is Vidyaranya High jointly ranked #8 (#22 in 2019-20). And perhaps even more spectacular is the huge promotion given to the low-profile Abacus Montessori School, Chennai, promoted to #9 (69) by this year’s sample respondents. Unfortunately, all efforts to get a reaction and explanation from this rising star school proved fruitless.
Even beyond the Top 10, several schools have been conferred big promotions this year. Among them Strawberry Fields, Chandigarh ranked #11 (45); Ahlcon International, Delhi #11 (17); DPS, Rohini, Delhi #15 (44); Arya Vidya Mandir, Mumbai #15 (42); Vega School, Gurugram #17 (52); Elpro International, Pune #21 (52); Kalyani School, Pune #22 (53) and Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh #23 (52). Similarly, down the length of the massive 1,700-strong list of the country’s best co-ed day schools, instances of institutions that have risen high in the esteem of this year’s informed sample respondents are numerous.
This phenomenon underlines the social obligation of self-respecting schools to raise their public profiles through advertising, public relations and brand-building initiatives. Although in the self-abnegating socialist lexicon, advertising and brand building is a cardinal sin, this unwarranted piety is obsolete. It is submitted that in the emerging liberalised economy, it is incumbent upon the managements of schools — and higher education institutions — to build strong brands through advertising, public relations and outreach campaigns. Education institutions with brand equity not only attract best students and faculty, but also alumni bequests and endowments. Moreover they are less vulnerable to harassment by government regulatory agencies, and assorted fringe groups and meddlesome parents and individuals.
A last word. It’s important for schools modestly ranked in this lengthy league table to bear in mind that there are 1.5 million primary/secondary schools in India. Therefore, being listed in the EWISR 2020-21 league table is per se a certificate of distinction. Secondly, institutional managements, especially of day schools should note that national rankings are not nearly as important as city/town rank followed by state and national rankings in that order. For day schools national league tables with detailed parameter scores at best serve as benchmarks for upgrading and improvement.
Moreover, it’s also important for school managements, parents and all stakeholders to note that although a school may be modestly ranked nationally it will inevitably be highly ranked in its host city. For instance, Elpro International ranked #21 nationally is the #1 co-ed day school in the highly industrialised city of Pune (pop.6.6 million) and #7 in Maharashtra (pop.115 million). Similarly, the City Montessori School, Lucknow ranked #28 in India is #1 in Lucknow (pop.3.6 million million) and Uttar Pradesh (pop.215 million).
Such examples of high, more relevant civic rankings abound in the EWISR 2020-21 co-ed day schools league table. Therefore institutional managements, parents and students are cautioned to carefully study the painstakingly compiled and globally unprecedented league tables featured in this issue to avoid rushing to rash conclusions.
“The annual EW India School Rankings are inspiring because they are objective. Therefore, it is motivating and reassuring that for over a decade Udgam has been consistently ranked among the city’s Top 5 schools. I attribute this to the positive attitude of our teachers and staff and full cooperation between teachers and parents” — Manan Choksi, executive director, Udgam School, Ahmedabad.
“Our #1 rank in Amritsar is the outcome of continuous experimentation with new pedagogies to contemporise curriculums and equip our children with the skills needed for success in a fast-changing world. We thank our parents for supporting our new initiatives with enthusiasm and teachers for providing the best academic and co-curricular education environments for children” — Manjot Dhillon, founder-director, Mount Litera Zee School, Amritsar.
“We are elated about Presidency School’s inclusion among Bengaluru’s Top 10. This is an inspiration for us to continue evolving with changing times. The commitment of our principal, Asha Micah to holistic, well-rounded education is behind our higher #8 ranking this year. Also the enthusiasm and support of our parents and students” — Nafeesa Ahmed, director, Presidency Group of Schools, Bengaluru.
“Our overdue inclusion in Chennai’s Top 10 is the result of the sustained efforts of teachers, parents and students. I am glad that our investment in excellent infrastructure and facilities and well-qualified teachers and in-service training has been recognised by your sample respondents” — Bharathi Laksmi (centre), principal, Hindustan International School, GST Road, Chennai.
“We are appreciative that our quiet effort to the cause of providing selfless and high-quality meaningful education has been recognised. The leadership of the core team; our creative pedagogies; the individual care and attention extended to every student; open, honest and meaningful parental connect; and most importantly, the belief, faith and trust our children have reposed in us are the factors behind our continuous rise in the EW rankings” — Charu Wahi, principal, Nirmal Bhartia School, Delhi.
“It was always a matter of surprise that Heritage, Rohini, one of the most sought-after schools of west Delhi hadn’t received the EWISR ranking it deserved all these years. Therefore, we are especially pleased that this year we are ranked #6 in Delhi. Evidently this year’s sample respondents are aware of our distinctive experiential learning pedagogy, socio-emotional learning curriculum and special focus on continuous professional development of teachers” — Neena Kaul, principal, The Heritage School, Rohini.
“I am delighted with our #1 rank in the fast-growing city of Ghaziabad. We owe our steady and continuous improvement to parental support and hard work of teachers and students. Also the smooth induction of latest digital technologies to personalise learning has helped achieve better learning outcomes” — Shishir Jaipuria, chairman, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions.
“We are delighted and enthused that our efforts have been recognised by your sample respondents. Our Top 10 ranking is the outcome of the seeds sown by our founders Dr. Saroj Suman Gulati and the Late Shri B.D. Gulati who constructed a strong foundation based on values and best practices for our schools. Moreover, our commitment to continuous improvement under all parameters of school excellence has contributed to our steady progress over the past 40 years” — Ashish Gulati (centre right), vice-chairman, Blue Bells Group of Schools, Gurugram.
“It’s a great honour to be ranked Jaipur’s #1 co-ed day school. I am thankful for the continuous, untiring efforts of our faculty and management and the enthusiastic support of our parents and students. This has made it possible for our school to be ranked #1 for the seventh consecutive year” — Manisha Tyagi, principal, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya, Jaipur.
“The entire Jodhamal Public School fraternity is proud of our #1 ranking in the trusted EWISR for the fifth consecutive year. I dedicate this award to our accomplished and courageous teachers, exceptionally understanding, supportive and satisfied parents and most importantly, eager, confident, disciplined students who are excelling in academic, co-curricular and sports activities” — Nandan Kuthiala (second from left), trustee, Jodhamal Public School, Jammu.
“We cherish our ranking as Kanpur’s #1 co-ed day school. Over the years we have won respect for our academic rigour, teaching-learning innovations and sports and co-curricular education excellence. We are the first school in the city to provide technology integrated with experiential learning pedagogies. Our top ranking also imposes responsibility to continuously improve the learning environment to stimulate creativity, critical thinking and innovation” — Bhawna Gupta, principal, Sir Padampat Singhania Education Centre, Kanpur.
“The persistent efforts of the school’s trustees, parents, teachers, students, well-wishers and associates have made it possible for Heritage to be ranked Kolkata’s #1 co-ed day school again. Together we have built a centre of K-12 excellence defined by experiential, holistic learning, continuous teacher training, student participation in national and international events, inclusive education and academic integrity, empowerment and entrepreneurship” — Pradip Agarwal (centre right), CEO, Heritage Group of Institutions, Kolkata.
“Our Ludhiana #1 co-ed day school ranking for the sixth consecutive year reassures us that we are on the right track. I attribute our success to the harmonious relationship between the school’s four major support pillars i.e, students, teachers, parents and the community who have whole-heartedly endorsed our student empowerment, Satyan Entrepreneurship, Buddy Reading, teacher empowerment, parent engagement and community connect programmes” — Bhupinder Gogia, principal, Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana.
“It’s always satisfying to learn that the good work done by our management is being appreciated. For the past 50 years, JNS has ensured provision of holistic education with equal attention to academic, sports, cultural, extra-curricular and value-based education. It’s encouraging that this collective effort is appreciated by well-informed people” — Jairaj Thacker, managing trustee, Jamnabai Narsee School, Mumbai.
“In midst of the Covid-19 crisis, news that Children’s Academy, Kandivali is ranked among the Top 5 co-ed day schools of Mumbai has lifted our spirits. This huge annual exercise stimulates us to work harder to maintain the high standards of excellence and to continue our quest to improve across all parameters of school education excellence” — Rohit Bhat, CEO, Children’s Academy Group of Schools, Mumbai.
“I believe our #1 ranking in this fast-expanding city is the outcome of our special efforts to create a non-threatening teaching-learning environment, regular teacher training and development and according high importance to co-curricular and sports education while providing state-of-the-art infrastructure” — Rita Kapur, director (education), Gyanshree School, Noida.
“Elpro’s success is the result of tireless hours of hard work, effort, planning and commitment of a dedicated team that is shaping the future generation of a globalising world. Our students and teachers are shaping the success of the school through their perseverance in performance” — Dr. Amrita Vohra (right), principal, Elpro International School, Pune.
“I am delighted with our #3 rank in this fast-growing satellite city. I attribute our steady rise in the annual EWISR to focus on delivering quality education and simultaneously educating our parents community and society. During the Covid-19 crisis we have successfully maintained learning continuity of our students and are now looking at ways to build our technology management capabilities to design a new teaching-learning paradigm” — Asha Narayanan (centre), principal, Lodha World School, Thane.
“We are proud to be ranked Bhilwara’s #1 co-ed day school for the past three consecutive years by the most trusted school rankings survey in India. We are thankful to all our stakeholders for their support and cooperation and to EducationWorld for conducting this massive survey. Our consistently top rank is attributable to our dedicated staff, involved parents and high-quality curriculum, pedagogies and other value added services including the city’s best sports and co-curricular education” — Vinay Jain, founder, Witty International School, Bhilwara.