The four-year reign of the venerated Doon School, Dehradun as India’s most respected traditional/legacy boarding school has been ended by the new age Rishi Valley School, Chittoor
The highlight of the EW-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2011 based upon the perceptual responses of 2,044 know-ledgeable respondents comprising fees-paying parents, principals, teachers and educationists countrywide, is that the four-year reign of The Doon School, Dehradun (TDS) as the country’s most respected traditional/legacy boarding school has ended. Ranked undisputed No. 1 in 2008 and 2009, last year TDS was obliged to share top billing with the alternate-style Rishi Valley School (RVS), Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh). But this year with a discernible shift within the SECA (socio-economic category A) public in favour of new age education, RVS has been decisively ranked numero uno with TDS obliged to share second rank with the consistently ascending Mayo College Girls, Ajmer. The third slot is also shared by Welham Girls, Dehradun and Bishop Cotton School, Shimla with Lawrence, Sanawar and Daly College, Indore retaining their No. 4 and 5 ranking of last year.
The new entrant into the Top 10 league table of the county’s most respected boarding schools is the Orchid International, Nasik (Maha-rashtra) which has been steadily rising in public estimation from No. 19 in 2008 to 12 in 2010, and No. 9 this year. The Assam Valley School, Balipara (Assam) is also winning golden opinions and has moved further up the league table from No. 7 to 6. On the other hand Sherwood College, Nainital, Lawrence, Lovedale, St. Paul’s, Darj-eeling and Welham Boys, Dehradun — all highly respected schools of more than a century vintage — have yielded some ground in the latest EW-C fore survey of India’s most respected legacy boarding schools.
“Although we don’t accord much weightage to the ratings and rankings of education institutions, it’s encoura-ging to learn that there is a discernible shift in the mindset of the know-ledgeable public in favour of so-called alternate, new age school education. This trend is confirmed by our interaction with our parent body with members expressing growing dissatisfaction with excessive focus on academics. Our efforts and objective in RVS is to balance academics with enjoyable experiential learning and exploratory self-study. The top-ranking given to RVS is encouraging endorsement of new ways of teaching and learning,” says Siddharth Menon, the low-profile principal of RVS. Quite obviously, this alternate pedagogy is striking roots because Rishi Valley School, Chittoor is rated No.1 on the parameters of faculty competence and commitment, academic reputation, discipline and life skills education and institutional leadership.
The passion for broad-based holistic education is also shared by Roy Robinson, the cheerful principal of Bishop Cotton School, Shimla which has moved up the league table to be ranked the country’s third (together with Welham Girls, Dehradun) most respected traditional/legacy boarding school this year. “It’s good to learn that our school is steadily moving up the EW-C fore annual league tables. It’s an indication that we are on the right track to development and continuous improve-ment. I am particularly pleased that we have been highly rated on the parameters of sports, life skills and especially, disability friendliness. We have a very active non-formal education centre in the school which facilitates the education of children of migrant labour and provides physiotherapy and remedial education not only to our students but also to children in our neighbourhood. Learning to care and help the less privileged in practical ways is also important for children,” says Robinson. Unsurprisingly, BCS, Shimla is co-ranked No.1 (with Rishi Valley School) on the parameter of leadership and management quality.
In this context it’s important to bear in mind that in boarding/residential schools a greater responsibility devolves upon the management and faculty to exhibit commitment towards sports and co-curricular education, infrastruc-ture, and leadership competencies given that students are on campus 24/7.
Further down the list, Welham Boys, Dehradun; Scindia School, Gwalior; St. Joseph’s, North Point, Darjeeling; Maharani Gayatri Devi Public, Jaipur; St. John’s International and Riverdale International, Pune have yielded some ground but have retained their Top 20 club membership. Within the Top 20 the all-girls Vidya Devi Jindal, Hisar (Haryana) has risen in public regard to be ranked 15 (18) while the co-ranked Himali Boarding School, Kurseong has retained its No. 15 perch.
The only primary-secondaries which have moved up in the bottom half of the league table this year are the Pinegrove School, Dharampur (Himachal Pradesh) ranked 22 (27) and the previously unranked Moti Lal Nehru School of Sports, Sonipat (Haryana) at 28 and Coorg Public School, Kodagu (Karnataka) 40. All others including Blue Mountain, Ooty ranked 30; G.D. Birla, Ranikhet (Uttarakhand) 31; Shigally Hill International, Dehradun 35 and Tashi Namgyal Academy (Gangtok) 38, yielded ground this year. But their modest rankings on the all-India league table can be misleading. For instance, Coorg Public, Kodagu is the top-ranked boarding school outside greater Bangalore in the southern state of Karnataka (pop. 61 million).
Changing parental preferences and societal norms seem to indicate that boarding schools within reasonable geographical reach are being preferred by latter day parents for the games and sports facilities and salubrious climatic conditions they offer children. Therefore regional league tables (see following pages) are assuming greater importance and relevance with the passage of time.
To read the following click on Read More:
India's Best Boarding Schools league table
Boarding Schools: Regional Rankings
Parameters of Excellence: India's Top 10 Boarding Schools