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Dubai GEM Private School, Oud Metha, Bur Dubai
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Review

Dubai GEM Private School, Oud Metha, Bur Dubai

by February 28, 2016
Strengths

• Owners committed to children’s welfare over profit
• Outstanding school leadership
• Dedicated, passionate, accomplished teachers committed to their students
• Extremely low rate of staff turnover by Dubai standards
• Tier 1 academics extraordinary for its sector and facilities
• Historic school with considerable cache in its sector
• Highly transparent school with full annual publication of academic performance across all phases

Weaknesses

• Oversubscribed
• Tired buildings and limited facilities
• Over time, as competition intensifies owners may have little choice except to begin major capital investment in new buildings and facilities
• Convoluted, unnecessarily complex fee structure needs streamlining to be transparent
• Increased investment in IT and broader technology provision, including robotics, a priority

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

• One of Dubai’s best kept secrets in the sector with outstanding academic success hidden behind tired old buildings and limited facilities.
• For the many parents clamoring for a place at the school, and the many alumni who have left for top-tier universities worldwide, beauty really is only skin deep.
• Dubai GEM sparkles - rarely has a name been more apposite, or a school more deserving of its name.

B-
Our Rating
A-
User Rating
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Top of shortlist
22%
In my Top 5
33%
Shortlisted
22%
A possibility
22%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

Updated December 2016

If Dubai GEM Private School was magically transplanted into modern buildings and facilities, it would almost certainly be a KHDA Outstanding school. This is not a school typical for its value sector.

Opened in 1973 as “Dubai Nursery School and Crèche”, Dubai GEM Private School [DGPS] is a private, for-profit full phase FS-Primary-Junior-Secondary providing a British, English National Curriculum based mixed education from EYFS to (I)GCSE O’ and GCE A’ Level to 2143 boys and girls.

The school, founded by Sultana Rabi, its current owner, began as a typical villa nursery school, providing first phase education to around 20 children from 0-5. Today the school still provides a nursery education but through its sister, Dubai GEM Nursery in Al Badaa, Jumeirah, which also provides a slipstream to DGPS.

In a landscape increasingly dominated by bells and whistles, Dubai GEM is very much a throwback in architecture and facilities – and this will undoubtedly put some parents off, particularly as it operates at the higher end of the value fees segment based schools after additional compulsory levies and costs are added to its basic fee structure (10, 260 AED at FS1 to 21, 613 AED in Year 13). The school, to objective eyes, is tired and facilities look increasingly out of touch with a schools’ sector being pushed by the KHDA to exceed the highest international standards of school provision.

It is at this point, however, once past appearances, that the school sets a different course. The owners, clearly facing the limitations of investment that are inevitable with the income generated from value fees, and being intent to keep fees affordable for its parents, has chosen to invest in teachers and leadership. The results, measured in academic performance and curricular quality and breadth, place Dubai GEM Private School into Outstanding school territory notwithstanding that, across the board, the school has sat within the upper- edges of KHDA “Good” school banding with consistency for the last 5 years.

Dubai GEM is one of few schools in Dubai that has the courage and conviction to transparently publish, in full, the examinations performance of its students. Little wonder – they are impressive.

In June 2015 Examinations at IGCSE the school achieved 99.8% pass grades with 58% of students securing A*- A grades; 77% A*- B and 93% A*- C. At GCE’ A’ Level 41% of entries secured A*A grades; 62% A*B and the overall pass rate was 97%. 28% of students achieved 3 A*A and 54% A**B.

The full breakdown of 2015 examination results can be found here: http://www.dubaigem.org/IGCSE%20A%20level%20results.pdf

The curriculum breadth is also top-tier with a 21+ choice of subjects at (I)GCSE drawn across the arts, social and traditional core sciences. A Level choice, whilst relatively much more limited, still numbers 13 choices at A2 and 1 at AS, significantly broader provision than elsewhere in this sector. Subject choice here too is again considered and well structured, including a good mix from the arts, social and traditional sciences to meet the curriculum needs and skills of its Post-16 students.

Investment in staff, the single most expensive on-going cost of any school is equally impressive. A mere 8% turnover of staff says what marketing speak does not need to. Faculty simply will not stay in schools without the school investing in them across the mix of salary, inset training and development, school conditions and, as importantly their sense of being valued. In their appointment of the new Head of GEMS, the school continue to follow a tradition of recruiting leadership to high international standards.

The school’s principal, Dr. Tassos Anastasiades, is as experienced as any in Dubai, a doctor in biochemistry from Nottingham University, UK by training, with an MBA from Leicester in Educational Management. Professionally he brings 3 decade’s experience in education to the role drawn from the UK, Middle East, Africa, Cyprus and Malaysia. Recent roles include being Head of the British International School of Al Khobar in KSA, a co-educational English National Curriculum school where he introduced parallel stream International Baccalaureate and GCE A’ Level provision and latterly, Group Director of Quality for Innoventures Education, the owners/managers of Dubai International Academy  Raffles Schools and Nurseries, Collegiate American School educating some 7,700 children in Dubai. Dr. Anastasiades has published extensively in the area of leadership, morale in education and structuring schools.

Leadership is the creation of environments that influence others to achieve group goals. People support a world they help create. […] We as teachers should be motivated and challenged by our work, with real enthusiasm and inspiration. On a personal basis, this is why I remain in education – I know that I can make a difference.” Dr. Tassos Anastasiades, Principal, GEM Private School Dubai

Where investment in teaching is significant, facilities are efficient. These include 4 computer laboratories assigned by phase – 2 at primary, 2 at secondary; dedicated e-learning centre with access to shared on-line mathematic and numerical teaching programmes accessible for use by primary and secondary school at school and home; 3 independent laboratories – science specific for physics, chemistry and biology; primary school library, secondary school library; multi-purpose hall used for assemblies, performing arts and indoor sorts; 3 dedicated art rooms by phase; free-flow internal and external shaded areas for play; prayer room and 2 medical centres.

The school leverages the ‘Iranian Club’, adjacent to the school, for comprehensive sporting provision including swimming pools (and a learner’s pool), sports oval and courts.

There are irritations. Here, the fee structure is simply mind boggling. It is very difficult to actually calculate fees, part of whose structure includes adding a cost per subject taken at GCE and A’ Level and a strange all-consuming additional levy that simply has no place in transparent modern schooling. No doubt the fees are a throwback to different times and the difficulties of increasing fees under KHDA guidelines. We have attempted to simplify the calculations on our table.

Taken as a whole, however, this is a school that defies expectations. It may not be all bells and whistles, or offer the sorts of facilities now standard in the Tier 1s. But the tired school buildings and limited facilities of this gentle lion hiding behind tired old walls in Oud Metha exist so that the school can invest in the teaching that it believes counts above all else.

Given the recent, unambiguous and positive feedback to whichschooladvisor, its trailblazing commitment to transparency for prospective and existing parents alike – and the first rate academic performance of its students against significant odds versus the opportunities of students in the premium sector, Dubai GEM Private School is a lion that has every right to roar – and its students, leadership, teachers and owner feel very proud.

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

Private, for profit

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 10,260 + 150 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) +1410 levy*
FS2: 10,260 + 150 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1410 levy*
YEAR 1: 11,126 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) +1680 levy*
YEAR 2: 11,126 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) +1730 levy*
YEAR 3: 11,126 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1780 levy*
YEAR 4: 11,674 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1980 levy*
YEAR 5: 11,774 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) +2030 levy*
YEAR 6: 13,395 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 2030 levy*
YEAR 7: 13,724 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) +2130 levy*
YEAR 8: 14,567 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) +2130 levy*
YEAR 9: 15,445 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1850 levy*
YEAR 10: 16,286 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1904 levy*
YEAR 11: 16,286 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1904 levy*
YEAR 12: 20,568 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) 1527 levy*
YEAR 13: 21,613 + 200 (activity fee) + 300 (medical) + 1577 levy*
+ 296 AED – 851 AED book fee according to phase
+ 350 AED equipment fee per subject Years 9 – 11
+ 500 AED equipment fee per subject Years 12-13
*Levy is for trips, upkeep of labs and maintaining school

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England
(I)GCSE
GCE AS Level
GCE A' (A2) Level

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
EDEXCEL

Number of A Levels offered

13A2 + 1AS

A Levels offered

Art & Design
Arabic I
Accounting AICT
Biology
Business Studies
Chemistry
Economics
English
History
ICT
Mathematics
Physics
Psychology
Environmental Management (AS only)

A Level A* to A

41% A*A A2 (2015)
28% (14 students) achieved 3 A*A or above A2 (2015)
29% achieved A AS Level (2015)
52% achieved A/B AS Level (2015)

A Level A* to C

54% A*B (2015)

IGCSE A* to C

77% A*C (2015)

IGCSE A* to A

58% A8A (2015)
15% A* (2015)
6 students achieved Distinctions for the Cambridge ICE Baccalaureate (2015)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

21

I/GCSEs offered

CAMBRIDGE FIRST LANGUAGE ENGLISH CODE EXAMINATIONS 0500 (CORE)
CAMBRIDGE MATHEMATICS CODE EXAMINATIONS 0580 (CORE)
CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LITERATURE CODE EXAMINATIONS 0486 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY 0417 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE BIOLOGY CODE EXAMINATIONS 0610 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE CHEMISTRY CODE EXAMINATIONS 0620 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE PHYSICS CODE EXAMINATIONS 0625 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE ACCOUNTING CODE EXAMINATIONS 0452 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE BUSINESS STUDIES CODE EXAMINATIONS 0450 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE ECONOMICS CODE EXAMINATIONS 0455 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL CODE EXAMINATION MANAGEMENT 0680 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE GEOGRAPHY CODE EXAMINATION 0460 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE HISTORY CODE EXAMINATION 0470 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE CHILD DEVELOPMENT CODE EXAMINATIONS (FOUNDATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY) 0637 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE SOCIOLOGY CODE EXAMINATIONS 0495 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE TRAVEL AND TOURISM CODE EXAMINATIONS 0471 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE ART AND DESIGN CODE EXAMINATIONS 0400 (OPTION)
EDEXCEL ARABIC CODE EXAMINATIONS 4ARO (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE FRENCH CODE EXAMINATION 0520 (OPTION)
CAMBRIDGE URDU CODE 3248 (OPTION)
EDEXCEL ISLAMIYAT 4IS0 (OPTION)

Selective

Yes

Waiting list

Yes

Value Added

Not published (WSA projected HIGH)

Number of Students

1355

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:25

Largest nationality teachers

Indian

Teacher turnover

8%

Year opened

1983

Location

Oud Metha, Bur Dubai, Dubai

Student composition

Indian (largest nationality)
Emirati: 3
Special Educational Needs [SEN]: 47

Gender

Mixed, Co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Private, Sultana Rabi (Founder)

Admissions Telephone

00971 (0)4 337 6661

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

75%

Attainment Pri SEM

75%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

83.3%

Progress Pri SEM

83.3%

Progress Sec SEM

83.3%

Progress Post-16 SEM

83.3%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

37.5%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

NA

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

75%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

75%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

75%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

75%

Leadership

75%

Community

75%

Facilities

50%

Quality of teaching

75%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

75%

School Governance

50%

SEN Provision

68.75%

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

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Academic
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Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
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