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GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai Leads UAE Investment in C21 Digital Industries with Region’s First BTECs in Games Design and ESports – UPDATED

GEMS FirstPoint School has announced another series of firsts for the UAE and the wider GCC region with major new investment in BTEC and the Digital Industries.

The move is part of wider investment by the school in building unparalleled links between GEMS FirstPoint students and some of the biggest Blue Chip names in global business and industry.

Increasingly, employers and universities are seeking students who stand out with branded industry experience, relevant skills and broader whole child qualities that cannot be learned in books, including, for example, in proven emotional intelligence.

Photograph showing the exterior entrance of GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai. GEMS FirstPoint school is a British all-through offering a high value Tier 1 education to students from Primary through to GCSE, A Level and BTEC.

GEMS FirstPoint, in its new focus, aims to crate a calibre of students graduating from its school to either industry or university that stand-out, head and shoulders in a crowded space awash with qualifications.  

SchoolsCompared has long been a proponent of BTEC, the gold standard technical stream alternative to A’ Levels in British curriculum schools. The International Baccalaureate equivalent is the Career-related Programme, this, tellingly, also usually based on British BTEC at its core. Investment in technical stream education is a growth area, seeing in the UK emergence of new “T Levels” designed to directly mirror the power of A Levels but in the technical space. These are expected to be introduced across Tier 1 UAE schools in the coming years.

  • More on BTEC can be found here.
  • More on how and why GEMS is strengthening its position as the leading pioneer and proponent of BTEC in the UAE can be found here.

The new investment will see GEMS FirstPont school securing its place in the history books as the first school to offer BTEC courses in Game Design and Esports. Forbes identifies Esports as a $1.1 billion industry which PWC calculates is growing at an astonishing 10% compounded growth rate. The games industry is worth far in excess of $100 billion dollars each year worldwide – and pressure is mounting for Esports to be recognised as an Olympics sport following in the footsteps of Chess. Finally, Esports and the digital industries are both highly inclusive as well as being sectors in which both men and women equally excel.

Worth noting the other major example of a school pioneering investing in BTEC, the Tier 1 British School of Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi, reviewed here, which, also uniquely, offers a BTEC in an equivalently vital but underleveraged area: engineering.


GEMS FirstPoint confirmed:

  • New BTECS will deliver student-specialised teaching in emerging digital industries 
  • School will be offering added support from sector experts from home and overseas
  • Courses are part of the school’s focus on preparing students for a digital-led future

The BTEC courses, will be offered  at GEMS First Point School Dubai from September 2021 with the backing of both Pearson and the British Esports Association, here

GEMS Education and GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai invest in BTEC esports and Unreal Engine as part of the most cutting edge digital education offer for children in the UAE

The move is an interesting one too because it switches many parental  concerns about screen time on its head – showing that screen time can actually be a major force for child achievement and future industry success.

The digital technology space has become, it is argued, the new Law and Medicine in terms of cache and ability to command huge industry salaries, respect and job security. More on the screen time issue can be found here.


Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Digital Games Design and Development

btec-international-level-3-creative-media (1)


Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Esports

specification-pearson-btec-international-level-3-esports (2)


Pearson BTEC – The Full Guide for Students and parents

BTEC_International_L3_Parent_guide (1)


Matthew Tompkins, Principal/CEO at GEMS FirstPoint, explained:

“GEMS FirstPoint continues to respond to the evolving needs of industry and listen to student demand for competitive advantage.

As a school we stand-out in the meaningful ways we steadfastly track the ambitions of all of our students and, then, personalise and invest in the pathways we provide for them.

I am therefore very excited that GEMS FirstPoint School will be the first in the region to offer these post-16 courses – not just because we will, again, be first in delivering a truly 21st century, cutting edge education for our students, but because it showcases that we absolutely do listen to – and then deliver for, FirstPoint students. 

 This is serious investment on our part. We have industry-qualified staff delivering the courses – and developing opportunities for the future workforce in an industry that is experiencing exponential growth and a need for skilled practitioners.”


Dr Daniel Doyle, GEMS FirstPoint’s Head of School,said:

“By offering esports opportunities and game design qualifications, we are showing that at GEMS FirstPoint we live and breathe innovation.

We want to give the students of Dubai and the UAE a real chance to be the first to study ground-breaking qualifications that will make them the innovators of the future.

These qualifications have grown out of a well-established, proven, innovative culture at FirstPoint setting benchmarks across UAE education.”


Baldish Nijjar, Assistant Principal Specialism at GEMS FirstPoint and Head of the school’s Centre of Excellence for Digital Industries, added:

“We’ll be using our global industry partnerships and university links to incorporate the use of industry experts, external resources and alternative accreditations that are recognised in industry. We are excited to be leading the way for the region and look forward to creating the most dynamic and innovative curricula of the future.

The BTEC International Esports and BTEC International Creative Media – Game Design qualifications will be overseen by industry-qualified and trained teaching staff. To take just a single example – Michael Bradbury, Head of Computer Science at GEMS FirstPoint, is the first teacher in the region to be accredited by Unreal Engine.”

 More on UNREAL Engine, which grounds industries as diverse as gaming, architecture, automotive, aviation and training, can be found here

 Applications are now open for both BTECs for students entering Year 12 Sixth Form at GEMS FirstPoint in September 2021.

GEMS FirstPoint  is a founding member of the GEMS Education premium GEMS First Royal Alliance schools Group with GEMS Royal Dubai School. Established in 2005, GEMS Royal Dubai School, review here, is one of GEMS Education’ elite historic British, English National Curriculum primary schools and a school which has now achieved a KHDA Outstanding top rating for a straight five years in succession. Established much later in 2014, GEMS First Point School Dubai, review here, is the “jewel in the crown” within GEMS portfolio of British curriculum schools designed ground-up to bring an outstanding, cutting edge British education within reach of families across Dubai – with affordable fees that (significantly) undercut its Tier 1 competitors.

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

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