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The Winchester School – Jebel Ali, The Gardens, Jebel Ali Village
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Review

The Winchester School – Jebel Ali, The Gardens, Jebel Ali Village

by June 6, 2016
Strengths

• Whole child focus
• Value fee structure
• Outstanding teaching
• Outstanding ECA programme
• KHDA “Very Good” school status
• Uniformly excellent independent whichschooladvisor feedback
• A hub for creativity, innovation and commitment supported and nurtured by both teachers and students
• Outstanding parental links
• Significant, effective and proactive career counseling
• Inspirational school environment

Weaknesses

• Student:teacher ratio
• Large schools are not for all children
• Location will be an issue for some parents

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Academic
B+
B
Value
A
A-
ExtraCurricula
B+
B+
Languages
B+
B
Sports
B+
B
Arts & Drama
A-
B
Teaching
A-
B+
Communications
B+
B
Warmth
A+
B+
Differentiation
A-
B+
SEND Provision
A-
B
Scl Community
A-
B-
Scl Facilities
B+
B-
Opportunities

Firing on all cylinders for its children. For a very good British education on a budget – and one that has the potential to nurture the gifts and talents of children at least as well as the Tier 1s, the Winchester School – Jebel Ali, takes some beating. A truly impressive, inspiring school that teachers, leadership – and students should be very proud of.

B+
Our Rating
B+
User Rating
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What a wonderful, extraordinary school. It is a rare thing to be able to be so positive about a school that many parents will simply not have heard of, this partly because it (confusingly) shares a name with another very different GEMS school, GEMS Winchester- Dubai (the poorest performing of all GEMS schools). The two schools could not be further apart.

Where to begin? First, this is a big school. With 3,583 students, The Winchester School- Jebel Ali (WSJA) may strike alarm bells with some parents. The logistics of managing this number of children – with a role that dwarfs the size of many companies, would be testing of the skills of any leadership team. But Winchester somehow does it – and the upsides of losing the intimacy of a small school are legion. Stand-out is its culture of innovation and creativity, as well as the buzz of a big, industrious school.

There is a real sense of a community here working together to explore the world in all its facets. Around every corner something is happening, discoveries made. The ECA and enrichment programme could fill the pages of a small novella. One benefit of a large school is the possibilities opened up by the blending of skills, ambitions, talents, personalities and student enthusiasms on such a grand scale. And what is striking is that the children work together, each sharing and feeding off their individual stories and discoveries as they work through the school.

Little wonder that the KHDA has picked this school up in its “Very Good” schools category – and this is a school that is genuinely not far off “Outstanding” – not in its bells and whistles, but in its child development and educational fundamentals. There are so many stand-outs it is hard to know where to begin, but prospective parents could start by looking at some of the presentations given in the school’s TEDx programme (they are all outstanding in different ways and it would not be fair to highlight one here) and the films made for its Tolerance Week (see video below).

This is a school that has come from nowhere to shine a real light on what is possible in a school which simply works. This is reflected in WhichSchoolAdvisor.com feedback since its last review in 2014-15. Feedback has been almost wholly positive.

To put some context to the KHDA performance, a placing in the Very Good Schools category puts Winchester School, Jebel Ali in the top 20% of schools in the Emirate. When we further weight its scoring in individual categories it is heading into the top 15% or higher of all Dubai schools.

Winchester Jebel Ali follows an all-through English National Curriculum from FS to Year 13. Again it sets itself apart from other schools at this fee level in providing a rich choice of subject provision at both IGCSE and AS/A Level. There is none of the shoehorning of many other predominantly Indian schools to push children into Sciences or Business, with the limited subject provision to match. In sharp contrast, options compete with the Tier 1s – and stretch from the classical Sciences and Arts through to psychology, sociology and economics. This is a school that can talk credibly about whole child focus – and delivers in the academic structure that enable children to follow their individual gifts. It should be noted that with more than 80 nationalities at Winchester the feel is cosmopolitan; it is clear that the school draws from a broad audience precisely because it is operating at a very different level, and with a very different approach, to other archetypal Indian, English National Curriculum based schools.

Core subjects at IGCSE in English, Islamic Education (or Personal Social Health & Citizenship Education (PSHCEE) for non-Muslim students), Mathematics, Arabic and Physical Education (PE) are supplemented with four options drawn from Biology, Travel and Tourism; Economics, Business Studies, French, Geography, Chemistry, Sociology, Physical Education, Accounting, Child Development, Environmental Management, Physics, Art, Computer Science, Global Perspectives, ICT and History.

Sixth form students sit four subjects drawn from Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Sociology, English Literature, Mathematics, Applied ICT and Psychology.

Again a stand-out feature of the school is that English Literature is not dropped as an A Level option (as it is in many predominantly Indian role English national Curriculum schools), despite the majority of children coming to English as a second language. The KHDA rates the teaching of English, and the progress and attainment of children in the language as uniformly “Outstanding” at every phase.

On the subject of fees, Winchester School – Jebel Ali probably offers the best value British education in the Emirates with annual costs ranging from 12,996 AED at FS phases to just 28,992 AED in the A-Level years. Yes, the majority of teachers are recruited from India which brings the costs down – but these are GOOD teachers, in a school environment that brings out the best of them. And the school invests in professional development. We were struck that 10% of all teachers are placed on the Cambridge International Certificate for Teachers programme – and then return to the school to cascade down their knowledge with their peer groups.

The best explanation for the success of the school comes from this investment in people – teachers (who are recognised); students (who are empowered to find their talents), and parents (with exceptionally good parental communications and engagement).

“Frequently I am asked what makes Winchester so special. My answer is quite simple – people. Children, who enhance and stimulate the environment, staff who really care and the lovely parents who support our children and the school.” Ranju Anand, Principal, The Winchester School – Jebel Ali

Facilities include a fully digital campus; independent Primary school building, Secondary building; multi-purpose landmark auditorium with full theatre production facilities and indoor games set-up; Music rooms by instrument cluster; Craft technology labs; Primary Science laboratories; Secondary Science laboratories by specialism; 6 computer and ICT labs; two libraries; Foundation play area; Outdoor shaded play and recreation areas by phase; bus fleet; two medical centres (with two permanent doctors and for nurses); canteen; prayer room; PHSCEE Centre; and, a career counselling hub.

On the latter, Personal Social Health & Citizenship Education (PSHCEE) and Career counselling are both further stand-out features of the school.  PSHCEE operates in practice as a catch-all hub for enrichment and creativity, and the Career Counselling is some of the best we have seen – with genuine, structured investment in helping children focus on, and achieve their graduation ambitions, whether for university or for other pursuits.

Sports facilities include an indoor sports centre (above) for basketball, volleyball and whatever generally inspires children at any given time; multiple sports fields for cricket, tennis, and football (boys and girls); table tennis; track and field; aerobics and dance.

Whilst the school, like nearly all GEMS schools lamentably does not publish comprehensive and systematically accessible IGCSE, AS or A Level examination results, it does provide one of the best on-line experiences of any GEMS school for prospective parents through (fabulous) on-line blogs, newsletters (The Winch); dedicated youtube channels (including an excellent “WinTrendZ” arts and film making channel that feeds into one of its ECAs) and exceptionally open publication of forward planning for the school (including for the new National Agenda).

We particular like the school’s transparent publication of all KHDA reports, annual lists of major achievements of individual students and the recognition given to senior leaders and subject heads to publish their thoughts and plans – this is in sharp distinction to many schools which focus only on the Principal. Prospective parents can find a wealth of information about the school online – and Winchester, we feel, deserves considerable praise for its outward looking focus both in being open to parents – and celebrating the many (considerable) achievements of its pupils. GEMS schools as a whole could learn from its clear ambitions to be open – and celebrate its students’ achievements.

As above, the ECA programme is ambitious – and far too extensive to cover in depth. It includes (an absolutely outstanding) TEDx Youth programme; GEMS Enrichment 365; Sports Days; Charity Events; subject-based weeks of activities; Visiting Speakers; Plays (including a plethora of Shakespeare theatre trips); Pageants; Debating; Competitions; Spelling Bees; Elocution Competitions; Poetry and Story Recitation Competitions; World Maths Day; Young Entrepreneurs Competition; NBD Bank Competition; Assemblies; Book Sales; Work Placements; an Education Fair; Field Trips and overseas trips (including to London); “Choirfest”; Performing Arts Week; French Week; WinTrendZ (above); Healthy Lifestyle Week; Humanities Week; Arabic and Islamic Day; Math quiz; ICT week; Britain and Greek Days; a Healthy Food Festival; and, an (excellent) Winchester Film Festival. The International Day of Tolerance through up some incredibly inspirational work by students at the school including the following, an original song composition by Year 9 students.

There is really not time here to go through every positive here but we are struck by the many changes that have taken place in the last few years. For parents seeking a high quality English National Curriculum based whole child education for their children, operating on a tight budget, that can forego the bells and whistles of the Tier 1s, it is hard to think of a better school. Yes, the teacher: student ratio is high (30:1) – but, with the drive and quality of teaching on offer here – in combination with the blending effect that comes from a school that genuinely nurtures the talents of its 80+ strong nationality mix, it just works.

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Under review 2016-17

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 12,996
FS2: 12,996
YEAR 1: 16,246
YEAR 2: 16,246
YEAR 3: 16,246
YEAR 4: 16,246
YEAR 5: 16,246
YEAR 6: 17,329
YEAR 7: 17,329
YEAR 8: 17,329
YEAR 9: 20,579
YEAR 10: 23,197
YEAR 11: 23,197
YEAR 12: 28,992
YEAR 13: 28,992

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England:
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
IGCSE
International AS Level
International A Level

External Exam Boards

Cambridge International Examinations [CIE]
Pearson EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

11

A Levels offered

Accounting
Business Studies
Economics
Biology
Chemistry
Physics
Sociology
English Literature
Mathematics
Applied ICT
Psychology

A Level A* to A

Not published
Notes:
(1) GEMS Education is not transparent and does not publish the examination performance of students in its individual schools
(2) The school has published 2014 results of 31.9% of students securing A*A grades

A Level A* to C

Not published
Notes:
(1) GEMS Education is not transparent and does not publish the examination performance of students in its individual schools
(2) whichschooladvisor reports 2012 results of 38% A*B

IGCSE A* to C

Not published
Notes:
(1) GEMS Education is not transparent and does not publish the examination performance of students in its individual schools
(2) whichschooladvisor reports 2012 results of 70% A*C
(3) The school has published 2014 results of 77% of students securing 5 A*C grades

IGCSE A* to A

Not published
Notes:
(1) GEMS Education is not transparent and does not publish the examination performance of students in its individual schools

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

23

I/GCSEs offered

English (Core)
Islamic Education / Personal Social Health & Citizenship Education [PSHCEE] (Core)
Mathematics (Core)
Arabic (Core)
Physical Education (Core)
Biology (Option)
Travel and Tourism (Option)
Economics (Option)
Business Studies (Option)
French (Option)
Geography (Option)
Chemistry (Option)
Sociology (Option)
Physical Education (Option)
Accounting (Option)
Child Development (Option)
Environmental Management (Option)
Physics (Option)
Art (Option)
Computer Science (Option)
Global Perspectives (Option)
Information & Communications Technology [ICT] (Option)
History (Option)

Selective

Fully inclusive
Notes:
(1) There is no entrance test at FS Level although the school will complete an age-related assessment.
(2) For Years 1 -13 there may be an entrance test at the discretion of the school based on the required year of entry.
(3) "An offer of a place is NOT solely based on the results of any entrance test but on the availability of space and, finally, on the weighting we give to our interview with each child and their family."
(4) The Winchester School has limited spaces for children with additional learning needs.

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

3,583

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:30

Largest nationality teachers

Indian

Teacher turnover

19%

Year opened

2003

Location

Jebel Ali, The Gardens, Jebel Ali Village, Jebel Ali, Dubai

Student composition

Indian (largest nationality)
Emirati: 66
Special Educational Needs (SEN): 74
Total nationalities: 90

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

GEMS Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0)4 882 0444

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

66.6%

Attainment Sec SEM

80%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

80%

Progress Sec SEM

80%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

80%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

60%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

70%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

60%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

60%

Leadership

80%

Community

100%

Facilities

80%

Quality of teaching

80%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

90%

School Governance

80%

SEN Provision

85%

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities