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GEMS FirstPoint to become “Royal” in Push for Outstanding Plus KHDA Rating.  Launch of GEMS First Royal Alliance schools announced today.

GEMS FirstPoint to become “Royal” in Push for Outstanding Plus KHDA Rating.  Launch of GEMS First Royal Alliance schools announced today.  

GEMS Education have today announced launch of a new premium schools group, First Royal Alliance” designed to fast-track member schools to Outstanding+ KHDA school status. Initially two  schools have been invited to join the new premium schools group:

  • GEMS FirstPoint School The Villa; and
  • 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 is the “jewel in the crown” within GEMS portfolio of British curriculum schools designed ground-up to bring an outstanding British education within reach of families across Dubai – with affordable fees that (significantly) undercut its Tier 1 competitors.

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.

More on GEMS FirstPoint School can be found in our review here. We rate the all-through, FS1 to Year 13 British school on its own terms as outstanding with an extraordinary breadth of subject provision, outstanding school leadership and a creditable focus on the whole child just part of its unique mix of qualities for families and students.

Whilst the schools will remain separate with their own identities, in practice the approach here is to unite the leadership of two of GEMS powerhouse British schools and share best practice across the schools much more closely. GEMS FirstPoint School was already the preferred option for students and families seeking a Secondary British, English National curriculum founded education. It is yet to be seen whether other schools will be allowed to become part of the First Royal Alliance.



A new “First Royal” marque for top GEMS British Schools

GEMS Education is clearly targeting only its top British schools here for the new “First Royal” status moniker and it will not want to dilute its impact.

The approach is an innovative one, GEMS Education testing for the first time the impact of closely aligning two schools to fast-track outstanding plus school status for children in both. If it works GEMS is likely to roll out this close linking of two schools approach, across its network. As the largest school provider in the UAE it is uniquely positioned to do this.

GEMS is keen to emphasise that this is not a merger, but rather a move to recognise its outstanding schools and leverage the best of both schools as a way of fast-tracking the sharing of best-practice.

Internally, however, FirstPoint School families spoke to us of their delight at becoming “Royal”, even if the name is an informal one.

Officially the schools will now be known as:

  • GEMS FirstPoint School, The Villa – a First Royal Alliance school; and,
  • GEMS Royal School Dubai – a First Royal Alliance school.

First Royal Alliance Schools will be headed up by Matthew Tomkins, who will also continue as the Principal and Chief Executive Officer of GEMS FirstPoint School.

“This move by GEMS Education is a first for the UAE.

It is about sharing vision, ambition, events, resources, staffing across two of GEMS most extraordinary schools – to ratchet up the already outstanding level of education achieved by children at both schools.

Both schools remain independent with their own reputations and identity – but the best of both schools will now create something extraordinary by feeding back excellence to both.

We are creating an engine for outstanding British schooling and nothing less.

The First Royal brand is a status mark that recognises not only two outstanding British schools within GEMS, but the families and students that have made this achievement possible.”

Matthew Tomkins. CEO. First Royal Alliance Schools. Principal and CEO GEMS FirstPoint School.



GEMS Education has confirmed that the new “First Royal” premium brand status afforded to both schools will not be used to increase fees. Currently, based on an average over six years, both schools fall close to being identical in fee structure.

Year GEMS Royal School Dubai – A First Alliance School


GEMS FirstPoint School The Villa – A First Alliance School


FS1 38,331 40,183
FS2 48,331 40,183
Year 1 48,331 47,585
Year 2 48,331 47,585
Year 3 48,331 47,585
Year 4 48,331 52,872
Year 5 48,331 52,872
Year 6 48,331 52,872
Average Fees FS1 – Year 6 47,081 47,717

The comparison is interesting because GEMS FirstPoint, as a newer school, shines with its facilities and curriculum reach, whilst GEMS Royal distinguishes itself with its all-primary focus – something attractive to many families and often attracting a higher cost.


Summary – What it means for parents

The accolade of “First Royal” status is clearly something that appeals to parents. The response of parents at both schools has been positive – with parents and students proud to have been recognised by GEMS with the new  premium marque. It will certainly be interesting to see if the premium brand is afforded to other top tier GEMS schools in future years. Status matters to parents and the new Tier 1 “First Royal” marque recognising excellence is an astute move by GEMS Education.

The big strategic and substantive move here, however, is the recognition that two is always better than one – that aligning schools more closely to a common destiny allows the sharing of achievements, knowledge, best practice, learning and, crucially, ambition, across schools much more swiftly than schools operating in relative isolation, even if they are part of the largest schools group in the UAE.

This is all about “creating rocket fuel for outstanding schools” we were told. Overnight we have two schools working to a “common cause to be the best British schools in the UAE.”

Given GEMS Education’s choice of schools to be part of First Royal we would not want to bet against its working.

Our independent review for parents of GEMS FirstPoint School, The Villa, can be found here.

Our independent review for parents of GEMS Royal School Dubai can be found here.

© 2021. All rights reserved.

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

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