GEMS Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a 2
GEMS Our Own High School, updated August 2019, KHDA
GEMS Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a, was created in 2005 to provide a single sex boys school equivalent of its namesake, girls-only, ‘Our Own English High School, Dubai’ which was established in Bastakiya in 1968.
The school presents some difficulty in reviewing, and this is even more the case because identified problems identified by the Dubai Inspectorate of Schools in 2015 have not been addressed, particularly in the areas of overcrowding and weaknesses in the provision for SEND (including accessibility and Year 9+ differentiation) .
The value proposition of “Our Own” lies in its fee structure; fees are low by any standards running from just DHS 7,881 in Year 1 to DHS 13,595 for Science stream provision in Years 11 and 12.
However, there are very significant trade-offs for that level of fees. For some parents, if they have a choice, those trade-offs will be too significant to make “Our Own” an option for the education of their child(ren).
Parents should also be advised that the GEMS brand here does not function as a guarantee of the quality of provision it is known for elsewhere in the sector. “Our Own” was established to meet a specific need for low-fee educational provision and GEMS has had to make compromises.
Key weaknesses of the school lie in the area of overcrowding sufficiently serious to breach KHDA rules; weaknesses in the curriculum limiting the attainment and progress of children; poor Special Educational Needs [SEN] and Gifted and Talented child [G&T] provision, ongoing failures in the effective teaching of Arabic; weak school governance, confusion on teaching numbers, a number of unqualified teachers and poor facility provision including a complete absence of a sports field.
There are positives, particularly in exceptional community integration, personal development, the achievements of many children in the CBSE syllabus, particularly in the Sixth Form and good extra-curricular provision. The vital role of the community and parents in supporting the school and its leadership cannot be overstated – and it does, impressively, rise to the challenge.
Children at the school should be very proud of their achievements.
Taken together, however, prospective parents should investigate the school in detail before committing themselves.
Visiting the school and speaking with teachers and students at the school is imperative in order to understand how well the school will be able to meet the needs of individual children.
There are risks, in particular, that children outside the average, whether they have Special Educational Needs [SEN], are Gifted and Talented [G&T] (whether academically, musically or in the Performing Arts), or are sensitive quiet types, may fall through the net of a school stretched to capacity. So too “Our Own” simply does not have the facilities to meet a minimum standard of sporting provision.
In the annual whichschooladvisor School Survey, “Our Own” continues to secure mixed results, with a majority of respondents recording “partial satisfaction” to questions on academic performance, and feedback from the school.
The school will deliver for some, but not all children.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com believes that overcrowding should be taken seriously by parents. Teachers faced with overcrowding, however good they are, are forced to compromise teaching style and the time they can spend on children individually. No amount of teaching support, or genuine caring for children (a strength of the school) can address this. Teachers have no choice but to adopt regimented, book-based, highly disciplined rote-based lessons with little whole-child development, or individualized learning simply to manage, with all the knock-on effects that come with these limitations on a child’s education. For whichschooladvisor inspectors, until this is addressed, at a minimum, the school has a structural weakness that means it fails in delivering the basic minimum standards of education that all children in Dubai, and elsewhere, should expect and require.
YEAR 1: 8,734
YEAR 2: 8,734
YEAR 3: 8,734
YEAR 4: 8,837
YEAR 5: 8,837
YEAR 6: 9,915
YEAR 7: 9,915
YEAR 8: 9,915
YEAR 9: 12,274
YEAR 10: 12,274
YEAR 11: 14,569 (Commerce) 15,069 (Science)
YEAR 12: 14,569 (Commerce) 15,069 (Science)
CAT 4-11, CBSE 10, 12
CBSE All India Secondary School Examination (AISSE)
CBSE All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE)
Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi, India
152 Special Educational Needs and Disability [SEND]
2005 (1968 roots)
Al Warqa’a 2, Dubai
Indian (largest nationality)
Boys only, single-sex
+971 4 280 0077
• Students’ attainment and progress in most subjects reaches a “good” standard
• Students throughout the school have outstanding attitudes and behaviour
• Relationships between staff and students are positive and “caring,” a powerful word rarely used by the KHDA Inspectorate
• Low fees
• Students’ personal and social development a major strength
• Outstanding provision for students’ health and safety.
• Wide range of extra-curricular options, particularly in secondary phase, including sporting events, film making and animation
• School leadership is “efficient” and the vison has “clarity”
• Focused and informative career and/or further education guidance for older students
• Extensive community links including charitable support, business fairs and environmental improvement
• Teachers at primary phase expect too little from children
• The school’s curriculum does not adequately address needs of children with Special Educational Needs [SEN]
• The number of children identified with SEN does not relate to the size of the school suggesting children are falling through the net
• Class sizes are too large and over-crowding breaches KHDA guidelines, this seriously impacting on the quality of students’ education
• Governance is weak. Governors fail to ensure effective provision of Special Educational Needs [SEN], do not hold the school accountable for failures in Arabic core area provision and do not enforce KHDA rules on class sizes and overcrowding
• Not all teachers are qualified
• The teaching of Arabic as an additional language has significant weaknesses and fails students
• Confusion on school web site claiming significantly different numbers of teachers employed by the school, between 152 and 218 teachers, raises issues about transparency and accuracy of school data
• Provision for the Gifted and Talented child [G&T] is not well developed.
• The curriculum is not rigorous, meeting only a limited number of the needs of children – modifications are generic and not focused on the individual needs of children
• The school leadership team has not been able bring the teaching of Arabic to a good standard
• The school has no appropriate sports field for children, seriously limiting sports provision and attainment within thee school
• Significant parental concern over class sizes
• Weak Secondary level inquiry, research and critical thinking skills with limited opportunities to develop imagination or creative writing based talent