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GEMS Wellington Primary School to Close by July. Children to Transfer to GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail.
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GEMS Wellington Primary School to Close by July. Children to Transfer to GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail.

by Jon WestleyFebruary 4, 2021

GEMS Education has today confirmed that its top tier GEMS Primary School is to close by July 2021. The decision is final and will not be reversed. Existing students will transfer to GEMS Wellington Al Khail for the start of the new academic year.

GEMS Wellington Primary School has been established for 14 years since opening in 2007 and has achieved the KHDA “Very Good School with Outstanding Features” rating consistently for the last six years. The decision to close the school will directly impact on all 855 students.

GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail achieved its first comparable “Very Good with Outstanding Features” rating from the KHDA in January 2020, this following a “Good” rating for four years since its opening in 2013.

Parents will face a slight lowering of fees as a result of the closure:

  • Fees at GEMS Wellington Primary School run from AED 47,338 at FS1 to AED 54,691 between FS2 and Year 6.
  • Fees at GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail run from AED 43,941 at FS1 to AED 55,346 between FS2 and Year 6.

Many parents choose a dedicated Primary school because it is seen as protecting childhood by limiting a school’s role to younger children. Usually dedicated primary schools too, result in much smaller schools. GEMS Wellington Primary School, with a role of some 855 children, falls into the category of larger primary schools. GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail has a total school capacity of 2500 students. Currently the school has a role of approximately 1200 students. The joining of the schools will see GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail running at full capacity.

 

Location

Parents moving their child(ren) to GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail will potentially see their commute increasing. The new school is around 15.5KM from GEMS Wellington Primary School, a journey that takes between 15 minutes and half an hour depending on traffic.

GEMS_INARTICLE  

GEMS Wellington Primary School to close. Map to the new school at Al Kahil children will transfer to. Full Directions.

This said, GEMS has clearly identified its top performing all-through also within Jumeirah to provide parents with the best possible fit.

 

A better education …

GEMS told SchoolsCompared.com that its decision has been guided by long-standing calls by parents to expand Wellington Primary School so that its children did not face a move to Secondary. This was, however, simply not possible given the physically constrained campus on Sheikh Zayed Road.

“We can confirm that GEMS Education will unite GEMS Wellington Primary School with GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail at the end of the current academic year, with the combined school operating from the latter’s campus.

This move is in response to parental feedback indicating an overwhelming desire for GEMS Wellington Primary School to extend its education through to senior-age children.

The unification will enable students to make a continuous journey through primary and secondary education.

GEMS Education Spokesperson. 04 February 2021.

The new school, given its economies of scale and Tier 1 build, will see children moving to the new school accessing a much higher standard of premium facilities and enhanced curriculum opportunities:

“Children joining GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail will benefit from the school’s exceptional facilities.

It will also enable us to considerably expand the activities available to the children in our care both during the normal school day and in terms of extra-curricular options and opportunities.

GEMS Education Spokesperson. 04 February 2021.

GEMS clarified that:

“Parents and staff have already been informed of this decision, and we will provide every assistance to members of both school communities to ensure the upcoming transition is smooth and seamless.”

GEMS Education Spokesperson. 04 February 2021.

 

Official Q&A

The new home for children from GEMS Wellington Primary School following its closure

Why are you uniting GEMS Wellington Primary School with GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail?

“Over the years, we have received consistent feedback from our parents asking whether the great education that our school offers can be extended through to secondary-age children. While our current circumstances and limited space have not allowed us this opportunity, we have closely listened to your comments, with the promise to take the most appropriate action when the time is right.

Having carefully explored all possible options and now received approval from the regulator, the time has come to take the necessary steps to provide our students with a full through-school offering. As such, we have made the decision to unite our school with a sister school in the Wellington family, namely GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail in Dubai Hills – a move that will allow your children to make a seamless, uninterrupted journey through primary and secondary education, while taking advantage of the Academy’s exceptional facilities and offerings.”

When will the move take place and why are you informing us only now?

“Our aim is to begin this transition without delay and to complete the transfer of our students and their teachers to GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail in time for the start of the next academic year in September, with operations at GEMS Wellington Primary School coming to an end in July. We are informing parents at the very earliest opportunity, having now received approval from the relevant authorities.”

What does this mean for students?

“GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail, rated ‘Outstanding’ by BSO and ‘Very Good’ by KHDA, offers some of the best facilities of any school in Dubai – and with a similar fee structure to that of WPS. The move will enable us to expand the activities available to your children considerably, both during the normal school day and in terms of extra-curricular options.\The Academy is the GEMS Swimming Centre of Excellence, with two 25-metre swimming pools as well as a pool just for Foundation Stage students. Other sporting facilities include a three-level gymnasium, two large indoor sports halls, full football and rugby pitches, tennis and netball courts, and individual outdoor covered play areas for all Key Stages.

The Academy’s academic record is outstanding, as is its array of activities, which include the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and Model United Nations. Performing arts spaces comprise a 580-seat auditorium, black box studio theatre, recording studio and TV studio. Visual arts and design areas include design and manufacturing workshops, a food technology kitchen, a textiles suite as well as studios for fine arts and other creative subjects. Please visit the website for further details.

GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail may be larger than our school, yet our firm promise is that we will continue your child’s experience of the close family atmosphere and sense of belonging that has made GEMS Wellington Primary School such a successful and happy community over the years. In addition, as a fellow member of the GEMS Wellington family, the Academy shares the same ethos, vision and approach to teaching and learning, which is why we are confident that the upcoming transition will be smooth and seamless for all involved.”

What will happen to WPS staff?

“All GEMS Wellington Primary School staff members will be fully supported during the upcoming transition and we will endeavour to find suitable positions at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail for as many teachers and support staff as possible.”

How does this affect tuition fees?

“Tuition fees for all GEMS Wellington Primary School families will remain unchanged, with students having their fees protected until they graduate from Year 6, at which point the GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail fee structure will apply. In addition, all application and transfer certificate charges will be waived.”

Will this affect class sizes?

“In the immediate term, until the end of the current academic year, GEMS Wellington Primary School students can expect their class sizes to remain the same. From September 2021, class sizes will be aligned with the rest of the GEMS Wellington family of schools.”

Is there sufficient space at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail to accommodate the WPS student body?

“The expansive campus at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail has more than enough space to accommodate a larger student body – even in light of the present COVID-19 restrictions. This was a key consideration for both GEMS Education and the regulator, whose approval we have now received. We have already carefully planned how to make optimal use of the space available, ensuring all students have equal access to the school’s large classrooms and exceptional facilities.”

What plans are in place to support WPS families with potentially longer journey times to and from GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail?

“STS is the transport provider for all GEMS schools, arranging pickup and drop-off services across the GEMS network, including GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail. Our parent relations team will contact all families directly, so we can understand your needs and preferences with regard to school transportation. We will be offering bus services to and from the Academy for all families. In addition, depending on demand, we may also be able to offer a shuttle service between GEMS Wellington Primary School and GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail in Term 3, enabling parents to drop off and collect their children as they do now.”

What support is available to those WPS parents who do not wish to enrol their children at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail?

“We do understand that other schools may be a better fit for some families, and we will of course do our utmost to help them find the right choice and support them in every possible way to ensure the upcoming transition is smooth and seamless. As an immediate first step, our dedicated parent relations team will contact all parents directly to assist them in finding the best solution for their family. Alternatively, please contact the GEMS Parent Experience Centre by calling 600-567771 or emailing parents@gemseducation.com.”

 

Bottom line? The SchoolsCompared.com verdict on the Closure of GEMS Wellington Primary.

We rated GEMS Wellington Primary School very highly – in closing the school GEMS has lost arguably its top performing British Primary in Dubai. The school had also established itself over a very long period by Dubai standards – and enjoyed an extraordinary, premium location on the Sheikh Zayed Road. Parents and students have lost a school that we know from feedback was exceptionally well loved.

Inevitably many parents and children will be saddened by the news of their school’s closure. Some parents will find that the commute becomes impractical too.

However, the balance here is that GEMS has genuinely and unequivocally pulled out all the stops to provide an extraordinarily good match for parents to minimise the frustrations they recognise that some parents will feel. The schools are both in Jumeirah, and by Dubai standards in relative proximity. Fees will fall, not rise – and the quality and breadth of facilities and curriculum at the new school exceed those of GEMS Wellington Primary in our view significantly.

GEMS does not always get things right – and we are the first to call them out when they don’t , but in this case we feel that parents have grounds for optimism.

We rate GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail as an absolutely outstanding school. Our review can be found here.

Writing in 2021, we reported:

“The SchoolsCompared.com 2020 bottom line? GEMS Wellington Al Khail today, with BTEC technical stream provision now in place (September 2020) for those children whose ambitions and skills do not align with A’ Levels is, in our view, an outstanding, inspirational and genuinely child-centred school that delivers for its children at every phase.

On offer is a whole child focused, academic education, layered with unique features that clearly sets the school’s offer apart from its peers in the Tier 1 sector. In its steadfast focus on meeting the needs of every child, and without qualification, this is a school that absolutely sparkles.

Very highly recommended.”

SchoosCompared.com. Independent review of GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail. 2021.

What parents will lose, unequivocally, is their child being part of a dedicated Primary School.

GEMS cannot avoid this, although GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, like most top performing Tier 1 all-through schools, does make a clear demarcation in its care and approach to younger children that sets their education apart from those of older children at the school.

Parents can, in our view, be assured that whilst GEMS Wellington Al Khail is not a dedicated primary, it is a very happy and caring school that GEMS has chosen for children to transition to – and a relatively young school where joining families will have a genuine opportunity to shape the evolution of the school ethos and values.

All things being equal, and given the major impacts we have seen across the schools sector as a result of Covid 19 and other pressures that have had far from happy endings, this decision, in distinction, has been handled well by GEMS – and it is students and families, after suffering the inevitable disruption, that we think will eventually benefit.

This is a rapidly developing story which will be updated with news as we receive it.

© SchoolsCompared.com 2021. All rights reserved.

Notes for parents

The official site for GEMS Wellington Primary School can be found here.

Our review of GEMS Wellington Primary School can be found here.

The official site for GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khal can be found here.

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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