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GEMS Founders School Dubai announces “Extraordinary” New School Expansion and Pathways for Children.
Good for Sport

What is happening?

In an extraordinary twist and show of confidence, GEMS Education has responded to overwhelming demand at GEMS Founders School Dubai by instituting a radical takeover of the adjacent GEMS Al Barsha National School for Boys to double the facilities and curriculum pathways available to its children overnight.

The major new investment by GEMS Education in its flagship Founders school in Al Barsha will aim to at least partly meet the overwhelming demand from parents for places and set the highest bar of offer for value fee-base outstanding British school education in the history of GCC education.

Our original review, currently being updated, of GEMS Founders School Dubai can be found here.


What will it mean in terms of Facilities for children?

The major investment by GEMS will see:


  • A new expanded GEMS Founders School Dubai school opening in September 2021. The new school will take over the adjacent flagship site of GEMS National School for Boys and all of its facilities. The remodelling of the new GEMS Founders School will be complete by April 2021.
  • Significant investment in new facilities and space to “transform the experience of existing students as well as those now able to join the school from overflowing waiting lists.”
  • Doubling of existing space and facilities overnight.
  • Doubling plus of Sports facilities with 2 additional Sports Halls (the new school will now offer four in total). This will see students being now provided with two double-basketball sized multi-purpose halls and two single sized Sports Halls. Additionally there will be 2 further multi-use games areas with now five in total basketball-sized games spaces, all linked with seating and viewing areas for students. There will also be a doubling of full sized football pitches with two now in total.
  • The new GEMS Founders School Dubai will also see investment in two more libraries – the school will now offer students five libraries in total.
  • A new Dining Hall will result in total school-wide provision of 3 Dining Halls in total
  • A new landmark 200 square metre playground area, learning and event space linking the existing and new school buildings.
  • A doubling of Dance Studio space at the school.
  • Whilst not part of GEMS Founders, the on-site Swimming Pool owned by Hamilton Academy is available to GCSE students after school – strengthening the already stellar achievements of many students in swimming at the school.
  • Opening of 20 new FS1 classrooms in the all-new Founders Phase 3 building enhancing TLC for the very youngest children joining the school each year.
  • The existing FS teaching spaces at GEMS Founders School Dubai will now be focused on children at FS2 only enabling the school to better target the individual needs of younger children in their second year at school. The total capacity will now be 44 FS classes across the whole school with a total FS role of 1103 FS children – but these cleverly and caringly separated to ensure the individual needs of both are met in full.
  • Separation of Years 1 – 8, which will continue to be educated in the original Founders School building from Secondary school provision from Years 9 to Year 13 in the new Phase 3 building. The radical move to situate Year 9 students with GCSE and A Level students is designed to remove all the transition issues faced by other schools which so many students find difficult – and aims to significantly ratchet up academic performance. “Year 9 students at Founders will become part of the the GCSE and A level cohort.”
  • Introduction of dedicated Science Labs for all students from Primary phases through to Year 8. “Science investment in Primary school children is ratcheting up enormously and we expect the impact to be extraordinary.”

The impact will be a doubling of Sporting space and facilities with less than a 50% increase in students. In practice, in fact, the majority of new Sports facilities are being focused on just 700 Secondary School children – creating a ratio of sporting provision space to each child that competes with many of the UAE’s Tier 1 most expensive schools.


What will it mean for learning opportunities and Curriculum Pathways for Students?

The new facility investment will also see substantial new investment in learning opportunities for children.

  • New transformational technical stream options for students will launch in Business, the Performing Arts, Technology and Sport, these ranging across new BTEC, ASDAN, City and Guilds and The Princes Trust learning options and opportunities. The original Founders model provides an education focused only on IGCSE and A level. The additional new technical stream options will be a first for any school in the UAE operating at this fee level.
  • Major ratcheting up in investment in Children of Determination including Gifted and Talented Children. “Our new inclusion framework will make wrap around independent learning skills centre stage for Children of Determination. We will provide the spectrum of different pathways for children for whom academic routes are not well matched. “All the needs of every child will be met at Founders meeting our fundamental core value of never leaving any child behind.”
  • Extension of the GEMS Founders  iFlourish Scholarship Programme. This makes available up to 12 scholarships for Founders children between Years 10 and 13 who excel in one or more areas of giftedness in “Arabic language and Literature”, “Academic Achievement”, “Sporting Excellence” and “”Outstanding Contribution to the Ethical Values of Founders School Life and Learning”.  The elite scholarships provide students with the honour and recognition of being a Founders Scholar and 100% fee -remission for Term 3 fees each year.
  • New investment in Sport  and completive Sport.  Exploration of a new landmark BTEC in Sport will leverage the success of the school in existing completive Sports leagues including DASSA in which the Under 11 Boys both won their league and secured their place in the finals of the Cup. Girls football remains a stand-out feature of school sporting life.


Will fees rise?

Despite the major new investment, GEMS Education committed to us that “Fees will remain identical. There will absolutely not be an increase in fees.”


What will it mean for the capacity of the school and availability of places?

When the newly remodelled and enhanced GEMS Founders School Dubai opens its doors in September 2021, it will see its total capacity rise to 6160 students. The total role will be capped, however, in September 2021, to 5580 students to allow for students moving up through the school.

New availability of spaces will be in Foundation Stage (FS1 and FS2). “This will be the first time in three years that we will have any availability for families for child places in FS2.” The remaining  places are being released in Key Stage 3 as he school focuses on GCSE and then A Level provision.

Parents looking for FS and Key Stage 3 places are advised to urgently apply to the school immediately. Parents should note that no new places are available in Years 1 to 6 – these classes are capped. 

Parents can apply here.


Why is Founders so successful?

GEMS Founders School Dubai originally opened in September 2016.

On the first day of opening, the school welcomed 1881 students – a GCC record for the opening of a school that has never been repeated.

Over 5 years the school has grown to meet capacity and is, as of March 2021, unable to meet overwhelming demand from families across the UAE. GEMS Founders Dubai reached its full capacity of 4260 students in 2019 after just its third year of operation. As of April 2021, 60 children are enrolling at the school per week.

The success of the GEMS Founders model is explained by its providing:

  • Affordable very high quality British education not available at any other school at this price point. Current fees run from AED 23,000 to AED 33000 in Grade 13. The school offers longevity of affordable fees with none of the hidden, ratcheting up of Secondary fees found in other schools that eventually prices families out of staying with schools as their children progress to GCSE and A Level. The Founders model is “Affordable from Day One and then throughout the duration of each child’s education until they graduate for university or industry.”
  • GEMS Education backed guarantee of quality.
  • Heavy investment in design and quality of facilities and, particularly, teaching faculty. The cost of teacher salaries accounts for over 75% of any schools costs – and it is here that many schools compromise. “Pools, Planetariums and the like are cheap relatives to the real cost of paying for outstanding teachers – too often historically parents were bamboozled by bells and whistles rather than what really matters – outstanding teachers and learning. This is what Founders delivers – and in spades.”
  • Minimum Good with Outstanding Features school inspectorate ratings. GEMS Founders Dubai too has achieved a BSO Outstanding rating in five of its eight categories of inspection (2021).

The overwhelming demand for a Founders Education led GEMS Education to:

  • Open a second GEMS Founder School in Al Mizhar, review here. This is already operating with a role in excess of 2500 students with waiting lists across key stages.
  • Plan, prior to Covid, to launch a third GEMS Founders on the site of the planned School of Digital Futures. Months away from this launching as a new Founders school, “Covid flipped the world on its head.”
  • Further out, in the medium-long term, plan for a GEMS Founders School launch in Abu Dhabi.
  • The new major, radical investment in the original GEMS Founders Dubai and its students.

The investment in the expansion of GEMS Founders Dubai is subject to KHDA approval but it is “hoped that this is weeks away, not months.”


The impact?

“The new GEMS Founders School Dubai is going to create yet another revolution in outstanding British education at an affordable fee point we first started in 2016.

Our new model of Secondary education, which will see Year 9 students join their GCSE and A level peers, will ratchet up academic attainment and ambition.

Our Sports offer now sets a benchmark that will be hard for other schools to match with an unparalleled investment in children.

Our pathways choices for children will open up new technical stream, world class pathways including BTEC, ASDAN and specialist offers from providers including the Princess Trust. The GEMS Founders curriculum opportunities and choices for students will be transformational.

Finally, and absolutely as important, our ethical, values-rich framework – one which has always ensured that no Founders child is ever left behind and that the care of children is placed centre stage – is being even further strengthened. We are a school that is large in numbers but in practice functions with all the warmth and kindness-rich values of the most traditional British small-scale family community school.

The all new GEMS Founders Dubai adds only 35% more children to achieve 100% more space, – and an absolute  doubling of facilities and pathways for children.

When we first launched Founders, they said what we planned was too ambitious. They said we could not do it.

They were proved wrong.

We are now setting the bar even higher.

With the new GEMS Founders School Dubai opening in September 2021 GEMS Education will again go down in the history books as transformers of what parents – and students – can expect  from an affordable British education in the UAE.

What they can expect is outstanding – and never less.”

Matthew Burfield. Principal. GEMS Founders School Dubai. Vice President of Education GEMS Education. 

Mr Burfield continued:

“There has always been too much talk about bells and whistles. Education is not about this. Come to Founders and you will see children immersed in learning. Here there is a school-wide love of reading with children clutching books as something to be valued, shared and treasured. This new investment will see us adding two more libraries to a school already steeped in a love of books. This sort of embedded culture of shared learning rooted in compassion is what defines GEMS Founders School Dubai.

GEMS Founders, as a brand of schools, set out to to transform the educational landscape of British schooling in the UAE in 2016.

Today, in 2021, impossibly so many said, we take that even further.

I aim to secure full BSO Outstanding school status by 2023 – and Very Good School with Outstanding Features KHDA status is deeply embedded within the ambitions of every teacher at my school.

GEMS Founders School Dubai has grown into a giant of outstanding British educational provision for its children. But it is a gentle giant with deeply human values at its core and as the rocket fuel for the extraordinary academic and whole child achievement of every, single, Founders’ student.

2021 marks the year we will do even more for our children and families as we embark, together, on the next phase of our remarkable shared story.

Watch this space.”

© 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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