GEMS Wellington Primary School, Al Satwa
• Genuinely inclusive schooling
• Commitment to the individual child
• Outstanding school Principal
• Outstanding child progress
• The mix of facilities
• Missing Outstanding school status - attainment needs to ratchet up a notch
Prospective parents should note that GEMS Wellington Primary School was not considered as part of this year’s 2017 SchoolsCompared.com Awards for the Best Schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the school had not been reviewed in time for consideration by our panel.
GEMS Wellington Primary School will be considered in our 2018 Awards.
Located behind the Shangri-la Hotel in Satwa celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2017, following its founding in 2007.
GEMS Wellington Primary School is ranked “Very Good with Outstanding Features” by the Dubai Inspectorate of schools, its second highest rating, and an award it has held for the last two years.
GEMS Wellington Primary School has also achieved the highest rating awarded by British Schools Overseas (November 2016 Inspection), securing Grade 1 Outstanding recognition for the quality of its (innovative) curriculum; the strength of teaching and assessment; depth of whole child development; the formidable way it meets the needs of its highly inclusive intake; the academic progress of children from defined starting points on entering the school; and, determined, charismatic school leadership with high integrity and vision.
By way of our introduction, and choosing one of the many stand-out of the features of GEMS Wellington Primary School to highlight, we would draw parents attention to the very inclusive, welcoming philosophy of the school.
Whilst the school has not currently made available added value data to us (we will update our review should this data may be available), parents are advised to look at the notable differential highlighted by the KHDA between student attainment and the (“Very Good”) level of progress achieved by its children.
This is a school that delivers beyond expectation for the vast majority of its children, with highly differentiated learning to meet the needs of individual children across the spectrum of abilities (including Gifted and Talented). The (sensitively adapted) Curriculum that underpins this differentiation is, as above, innovative, and Outstanding. Parents considering the school should note that communication with parents is another strength of the school and added value information is widely shared internally.
The challenge facing the school, and one that we believe is not insurmountable given current progress, is to further strengthen academic attainment for children.
Parents must, however, bear in mind that this is a genuinely inclusive school and not one that “stacks the decks” by welcoming only the most academically gifted children. There is a balance to be drawn between creating a happy, creative, whole child focused school and one driven to deliver academic attainment at whatever the cost. It is at least arguable that GEMS Wellington Primary has struck a very healthy balance, a view supported by the exceptional relationships the school enjoys with parents and our finding a school both alive to learning and one very evidently “buzzing” with very happy, and stimulated children.
Other areas highlighted by the Dubai Inspectorate include:
- GEMS Wellington Primary School’s “Innovative and inspirational” school Principal, Stephen Chynoweth
- The school’s Outstanding, “vibrant, supportive and creative” learning environment across all phases with stand-out care for children
- Outstanding ECA and enrichment provision
- Outstanding facility provision
This is supported by the views of BSO inspectors recorded in their particularly complimentary 2016 inspection.
One of the key ways we judge British primaries is in the ways they balance delivering a British education and the values and culture that go with this, whilst also inspiring an understanding and appreciation for the Arabic context of education.
We feel this is exceptionally important: building at such an early age an appreciation of international context and, ideally broader language skills, gives expat children educated in the UAE a big advantage over children educated in, for example, the UK.
Surprisingly, there are still British (and its even more true of many US schools) that operate in a vacuum, taking away some of the real advantages that flow from being educated abroad. Equally, as here, this relationship must be two-way, with Arabic children also securing the benefits of understanding and being inspired by the British context of their education. GEMS Wellington Primary is a good model in this respect, although, as with all British schools, Arabic language acquisition is more limited that would be ideal.
A good example of innovation is evident in the on-line learning resource delivered, in most part, by the children themselves. Whilst in its infancy, we hope this will be further developed, and ideally better designed… On a personal note, whilst my children do not attend GEMS Wellington Primary, I have actually used some of its mathematical “How to” videos with my son, who struggles with Mathematics. It is interesting to see how much better he responds to other children explaining. With enough investment this could be an exceptional resource for future generations of children.
GEMS Wellington Primary School Principal, Stephen Chynoweth, brings with him almost a decade’s experience of teaching at GEMS including as Principal of GEMS Jumeirah Primary School (which under his tenure secured its longstanding Outstanding rating from the KHDA).
Mr Chynoweth is widely credited with a key role in securing GEMS Wellington Primary School’s “Very Good with Outstanding Features” rating (of course, it takes a school working together), and in his first two years is mooted to have led a highly inspirational transformation of the school.
On our visit we found a conviction-led Principal of evident integrity, an abundance of passion for his school and clear ambition for delivering on the individual needs of all its children. He is clearly on a mission, but carries this sense of purpose with a gentleness and compassion that evidences the deep emotional intelligence that is a common feature we have found in the UAE’s most outstanding school leaders. One word comes to mind: impressive.
“I am immensely proud of GEMS Wellington Primary School.
It is an exceptional school.
Every child has the right to a world class education.
Every child is an individual – and must have their needs met.
The children of our school are wonderful and special; they are the lifeblood of our school.
They pass through this school only once – we have to get it right first time. “
Stephen Chynoweth, Principal, GEMS Wellington Primary School
It’s worth noting the feedback from our last independent visit to the school:
“On the tour the young children all wanted to hug and tug him off to whatever activity they were doing and share time with him. Each classroom we went into the children were pleased to see him and responded warmly.
I left with the strong impression of a happy, family orientated, community school with excellent facilities and absolutely outstanding leadership.”
SchoolsCompared Visit, September 2017.
Parents will also be interested to note that Mr Chynoweth educates his own three girls at GEMS Wellington Primary School.
Facilities are outstanding including an outdoor AstroTurf football area as well as hard courts and 2 pools. There is a large Auditorium which doubles for sport; 3 Music Rooms; 4 ICT suites; Music Performance rooms and Art Rooms – as well as a (genuinely) well-stocked library. It’s not though a “bells and whistles” school sparkling with modern chrome and artifice – expect a lived in, homely typically British home grown Primary feel. There’s a mix of old and new buildings, evidencing GEMS ongoing investment in the school. Rooms are light and airy. There’s a particularly fabulous and large breakout space in FS1 with stepped padded seating areas for informal learning. The whole school is deceptively large, but the school fills its spaces with activities and life so that, if anything, there is a sense of compression. Discovery lies around every corner. Bottom line children want for nothing.
ECA provision and enrichment is as good as it gets; there are simply too many options to list here in full. Orchestra, Super Scientist, Dance Fever …. these are the tip of an iceberg that well captures the ambition. Many schools talk the talk about delivering to each individual’s child’s ambitions, needs and gifts – and in many cases a look at the breadth and depth of ECA provision quickly tells you a very different story. At GEMS Wellington Primary School the investment in each child’s development outside academics is more than evident – and a clear pillar of the school’s strategy to build community and the self confidence of children so integral to their academic development. It’s a virtuous circle clearly recognised by the school that links each child to their peers, family, broader community and teachers in a journey of discovery that is clearly, and impressively, working.
GEMS Wellington Primary School missed out on consideration for our Best School in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this year. On the basis of our recent visit, its very likely that it would have secured a very well earned place. This is a fiercely impressive, values-rich, nurturing inclusive school led by a very strong Principal.
In a recent (June 2017) internal poll of parent, students and staff across all GEMS schools, GEMS Wellington Primary School was placed first in terms of satisfaction from both Parents and Students. Little wonder we found a school that that lights up the spark of imagination, self belief and ambition in its children.
It’s also one, in our view, that deserves a place on any parent’s shortlist of potential primary schools for their children.
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good with Outstanding features
Very Good with Outstanding features
Under consideration 2017-18
YEAR 1: 53,582
YEAR 2: 53,582
YEAR 3: 53,582
YEAR 4: 53,582
YEAR 5: 53,582
YEAR 6: 53,582
YEAR 7: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
YEAR 8: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
YEAR 9: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
YEAR 10: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
YEAR 11: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
YEAR 12: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
YEAR 13: "Priority placement for Year 7 at GEMS Schools across Dubai."
(1) Primary only
(1) Significant SEND intake
(2) Age-related placement test
(3) EAL inclusive
(4) "Families are welcome to apply to GWPS regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender or religion."
FS1 Full (2017)
1:20 (Years 1 - 3)
1:27 (Years 4 - 6)
Al Satwa, Dubai
(1) Emirati: 49
(2) 73+ nationalities
(3) British: 10%
(4) English as an Additional Language (EAL): 25%
(5) Gifted and Talented (G&T): 20%
(6) Special Educational Needs and Disabilities(SEND): 25%
(7) Indian: 23%
+971 (0) 4 343 3266