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GEMS Dubai American Academy, Al Barsha
WSA Good School
0
Review

GEMS Dubai American Academy, Al Barsha

by November 23, 2015
Strengths

• Rapidly expanding and successful IB Diploma provision reflects the richness of the US Curriculum to Grade 10
• Perfect alignment of the best features of US educational approaches (whole child focus/inclusion/warmth) with academic stretch of the IB
• Outstanding, visionary leadership
• Robust, professional development culture - and commitment to on-going improvement -delivers consistently outstanding outcomes for children
• Outstanding teaching secures excellent learning outcomes in English, Mathematics and Science at every level of the school
• Strong, vibrant and inspirational partnerships between parents and the school create impressive and genuine integration of the school within the broader community
• Extremely high standards of collaboration between teachers and students are highlighted by the commitment to meeting the different needs of children across age, ability and outlook
• Competent, experienced and caring Special Educational Needs leadership delivers consistent outcomes across all abilities within the programme
• Wide-ranging and ambitious after-school activities are available to all students from Kindergarten through to High School, these developing individual student talents and interests beyond the classroom
• At Post-16, in all external examinations in mathematics, most students attain levels that are above international benchmarks. Attainment and progress, critical thinking, inquiry and investigation skills are all outstanding
• Students’ understanding of Islamic values is excellent, translating into a culture of kindness and charitable initiatives throughout the school and within the local community.
• Students show a deep understanding of Emirati society, culture and history, this developed through a rich program of school events and field trips
• Despite Tier 1 fee levels, the value proposition is extremely high.

Weaknesses

• Islamic Education and Arabic language programmes are not as developed, or as well integrated, in school life as other core areas of the curriculum
• Arabic and Islamic Education provision within the Special Educational Needs department provides worse outcomes for students than in Mathematics, English and Science
• Writing skills development and the development of motoring skills amongst the youngest children is only inconsistently successful
• Impending new school merger is untested.

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

GEMS Dubai American Academy deserves its many accolades. Whilst the Academy excels in teaching the traditional subject areas of English, Mathematics and Science, it is the school's combination of educational attainment in the context of, and appreciation for, Arab culture, its students exceptional engagement with critical thinking, the Academy's whole child approach to individual student education, sophisticated (and rapidly developing) dual stream IB/US curriculum and depth of its after-school programmes that really set it apart.
For an international, world class traditional education - set in a genuinely inspirational whole child Arab and Emirati context, GEMS Dubai American Academy sets the benchmark for excellence in UAE schooling. For many children no better, more successful - or happier - education will be found elsewhere.
The question mark over the school's ability to seamlessly transfer and integrate into GEMS Nations to create the new Dubai American Academy Nations Campus is a real one. The stakes are very high and the complexity of the integration should not be underestimated.

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Updated April 2017

The following review provides historical context for the merger of GEMS Nations Academy and the KHDA Outstanding Dubai American Academy (DAA) due to complete in September 2017. The merger will see the launch of a new school, Dubai American Academy – Nations Campus,  blending the flagship facilities and faculty investment of GEMS Nations with the historically outstanding teaching and achievements of Dubai’s premium US curricular school.

GEMS Dubai American Academy (DAA) is the only school in Dubai following an American curriculum to have been awarded an “Outstanding” rating by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau. The accolade has been awarded in each of the five consecutive years since 2011 and in 2015-16 the school was described by inspectors as having “outstanding teaching leading to outstanding learning outcomes in English, Mathematics and Science.”

The school has 2,340 students aged between 3 and 18 years of age providing education at every level between Kindergarten and Grade 12. 99 nationalities are represented within the student body, with the largest number, 22.07%, drawn from the United States. The school has a mixed intake, with a 50% balance between male and female students, and is non-selective. SEND provision is outstanding.

The school offers both an enriched US High School Diploma based syllabus and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, this helping it achieve flagship “Highly Recommended” status in the definitive Which School Advisor UAE Survey 2015. The school is one of a very limited number of exclusive schools to have achieved whichschooladvisor Good School status, an award it has secured for the last five years, latterly in 2017-18.

A very good example of the high quality of information provided to parents can be found below where the school provides detailed information on the High School curriculum.

2017-2018 High School

Prospective parents should note too a quite extraordinary increase in the numbers of students now sitting for the International Baccalaureate Diploma. 8 in 10 children now sit for the Diploma (up from 1 in 4 children at launch and 7 in 10 children in 2015-16) and all students sit for the Certificate and High School Diploma. Grade mean point average is a highly creditable 34. This is quite some achievement for a fully inclusive school – and one combining two arguably very different curricula.  The very clever way that these are melded and interwoven to create such a rich whole-child education that targets the individual needs, potential and ambition of each child – particularly in integrating the warmth and individuality that comes from the US curriculum focus, is a stand feature of the school.

As it stands DAA is a genuinely outstanding school and one that is unambiguously, and very highly, recommended.

In September 2017 DAA will, however, merge with GEMS Nations Academy in an entirely new school. DAA will relocate entirely to the landmark GEMS Nations campus. Dubai American Academy – Nations Campus, will host arguably the best facilities of any school in the Emirates but will need to blend a number of core differences between the schools across almost every aspect of provision from SEND and bursaries to co-teacher models of education and a defined US curriculum approach from DAA that GEMS will not want to dilute. This is no small undertaking and the risks are very high for GEMS. It will not want to damage in any way two of its most important flagship schools.

It is far too early to take a considered view of the eventual outcome. Parents at both schools will need to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses that could come with the new super-campus. DAA parents in particular are going to face the upheaval of a new school, albeit one that comes with very significantly improved facilities at a fraction of their originally defined cost. Our launch review of the new school is in development. Watch this space.

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to GEMS MERGER on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to THE VARKEY INTERVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to NATIONS LAUNCH  on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the NATIONS Q&A on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 21,781
FS2: 57,2013
YEAR 1: 80,640
YEAR 2: 80,640
YEAR 3: 80,640
YEAR 4: 80,640
YEAR 5: 80,640
YEAR 6: 80,640
YEAR 7: 80,640
YEAR 8: 80,640
YEAR 9: 80,640
YEAR 10: 80,640
YEAR 11: 80,640
YEAR 12: 80,640
YEAR 13: NA

Curriculum

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB DP)
US High School Diploma

External Exam Boards

Council of International Schools
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
International Baccalaureate

IB DipM Pass Rate

100%

IB DipM Average Grade

34

Selective

Inclusive

Waiting list

Yes - some Grades

Value Added

Not Published

Number of Students

2340

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:12

Largest nationality teachers

American

Teacher turnover

25%

Year opened

1997

Location

Al Barsha, Dubai

Student composition

American (largest nationality)
SEND: 249
Emirati: 30
Nationalities represented: 100

Gender

Mixed

School canteen

Yes

Owner

GEMS Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 347 9222

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

100%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

100%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

100%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

40%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

40%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

50%

Islamic St. Primary Results

40%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

60%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

50%

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

100%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

100%

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