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GEMS Royal Dubai School, Al Mizhar 1, Mirdif – The Review 2021
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GEMS Royal Dubai School, Al Mizhar 1, Mirdif – The Review 2021

by May 4, 2021

GEMS Royal Dubai School (GRDS) is a KHDA rated “Outstanding” school, established in 2005, providing an FS to Year 6 British, English National Curriculum based education to children between the ages of 3 and 11.

Parents have a choice of slipstream to either IGCSE/International A Level based GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa or IGCSE/International Baccalaureate based alternatives at GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS International School Al Khail and GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail.

We believe that parents should not underestimate the strength of the school, which in 2016-17 scored an exceptionally impressive “Outstanding” rating in 28 of a total possible 43 categories within its KHDA inspection. GRDS scored a “Very good” or “Good” rating in 14/15 of the remaining categories with a single “Acceptable” score in the teaching of Arabic as a first language at Primary phase.

KHDA inspectors identified the following outstanding features of the school:

  • Teachers have extensive knowledge of their subject material and understand well how children learn. All teachers plan lessons effectively;
  • The curriculum is of outstanding quality, exciting and inspirational, developing learners who are creative, aspirational, reflective and effective communicators;
  • Children at Foundation Stage have outstanding attainment in Mathematics and Science;
  • Across both Primary and Foundation phases, learning skills are outstanding with students making outstanding progress in acquiring knowledge, understanding and skills in English, Mathematics and Science;
  • Students’ personal development is excellent;
  • Understanding of Emirati culture is exemplary;
  • The curriculum is outstandingly modified for the teaching of Special Educational Needs (SEN) with tasks and activities well matched to the learning needs of different groups of students;
  • Care and support for all students is of the highest quality – students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and disabilities benefit from targeted and customised support in their learning and personal development;
  • Arrangements for health and safety, including child protection, are excellent;
  • The quality of leadership from the Principal, senior team, and other staff is of the highest quality. Under the inspirational leadership of the principal and senior leaders, all staff successfully implement a shared, ambitious vision for the school;
  • Governors support the school with no letting up on the drive for improvement. They ensure that the school is appropriately resourced;
  • Partnership with parents is highly developed;
  • Students flourish in the rich learning environment and developed into mature and thoughtful young citizens; and,
  • School buildings and facilities are of the highest

In fact, there is very limited KHDA critique of the school at all. Inspectors highlighted a need to strengthen Arabic language provision – although to be fair to GEMS Royal, this is an area which seems problematic for all British schools, even where Arabic is a student’s first language. Otherwise Inspectors noted that the school could better develop the critical thinking skills of students and broaden understanding of wider cultures outside those of the UK and Emirates.

There have been significant changes to the school’s composition over the last few years. Our sister site WhichSchoolAdvisor.com noted that in 2014 GEMS Royal had a very high level of students with Special Educational Needs, this running to 27% of the student body. In 2016-17, however, that has dropped to just 8%, raising questions whether the school has initiated much greater limitations on SEN intake to be able to better serve all students across the ability spectrum, or redefined what it means by special needs. The school also continues to grow, but manageably, adding between 50 -100 pupils to its role each year. The impact of the change, however, whatever its cause, has seen the school and its students flourishing.

Facilities at GEMS Dubai Royal include a digital campus with dedicated Foundation Stage “Techno Room”; indoor multi-purpose hall with theatre facilities (including staging); dance and drama studios; multiple art studios; a Mac suite; dedicated Foundation Stage library; “Creative Learning Zone”; Music Suite; school canteen (from Year 2); BEEBOT and LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Lab; a “Community Café” (which can be used by parents); fabulous senior library with beanbags, reading pods and even a stage; “Royal Gallery” art space; “Community Education Zone” (open to parents to join in shared learning); and a Science Laboratory.

Sporting facilities include a learner pool; further 25m main pool; outdoor artificial sports field; outdoor tennis, basketball and netball Courts; shaded tiger turf area with play equipment and climbing frames; and, shaded Foundation Stage play areas accessible from each FS classroom.

VHPS_MPU1_DESK

GDRS has a typical English pubic school house system with four houses, each named after royal residences: Windsor (Blue); Sandringham (Yellow); Balmoral (Green); and Clarence (Red). We particularly like the school’s decision to engage both students and staff within houses, a good way of further strengthening student-teacher relationships.

Independent feedback to our sister site has improved significantly, although limited concerns at the accessibility of parking remain (as they do with many schools in Dubai!) – and some parents continue to have exceptionally high demands of the school given its reputation which, in the context of its recent outstanding KHDA scoring, are only likely to intensify.

 

Bottom Line. The SchoolsCimpared.com Verdict 2021. 

For parents in Mirdif and Al Mizarh seeking a traditional British Prep school, GEMS Royal provides for, in our view, the best possible schooling by location currently available.

Yes, there are trade-offs, not least that students will need to change school in Year 7, potentially joining schools where children are already settled. This said, GEMS Royal does provide a choice between A Level and IB slipstreams at a stage of education when parents will be much better equipped to make considered choices in deciding the most suitable option for their children’s education – something not available to parents in all through schools, and a guaranteed place for their child(ren) to boot at one of four extremely good GEMS schools. Children who choose dedicated Primary schools inevitably face this leap to Year 7 moving schools – but, in return, they garner all the benefits of a protected early years education.

It is also worth noting that the school today (April 2021) has been subject to major new investment by GEMS Education:

First, the school has joined the First Royal Alliance Group of schools within GEMS which will see formalisation of the very close relationship it enjoys with GEMS FirstPoint School. More on this can be found here. Our review of GEMS First Point School can be found here and more on its investment in 21st century digital technologies here.

Second, in August 2021 GEMS Royal Dubai will see the appointment of new Principal John Bagust whose role will be to lead the school in its new First Royal Alliance partnership with GEMS FirstPoint School Dubai.  Mr Bagust brings with him more than three decade’s experience in school leadership both in the UK and worldwide, including latterly as Principal of The New Cairo British International School, Egypt – an IB World School, a post he held for some four years. A Primary school expert, Mr Bagust led Prague British School Primary education for 12 years prior to and post its takeover by Nord Anglia Education where he guided Early Years Learning. An educationalist by training, Mr Bagust is a History major, securing his B.Ed. from Lancaster before, in 2018, securing his Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of London. He was an elected Member of the Board to COBIS for a decade (2008-2017) and the founder of the COBIS Games. Mr Bagust is married to Aimee, a Dutch national, with three children.

Photograph of John Bagust, new Principal of GEMS Royal Dubai School - A GEMS First Royal Alliance School.

This new investment by GEMS is designed to further strengthen the success of its standout KHDA Outstanding primary in Dubai.

The accomplishment of all the GEMS Royal team, the school’s students – and parents, to date, cannot be over-stated. They each deserve significant praise for a journey that has achieved the pinnacle of KHDA recommendation in Dubai. New investment is only likely to strengthen the historic success of a school with a very much deserved place in the higher Tier 1 group of leading British Primary Schools in the UAE.

© SchoolsCompared.com. 2021. All rights reserved.

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Details to consider
2018/19 Overall ADEK / KHDA Rating

Outstanding
2019/20: Outstanding
2020/21: Outstanding

2017/18 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Outstanding

2016/17 Overall ADEC / KHDA Rating

Outstanding

2015/16 Overall KHDA / ADEC Rating

Outstanding

Rating FS

Outstanding

Rating Primary / Elementary

Outstanding

Rating Secondary / Middle

NA

Rating Post 16 / High

NA

Type of school

Private, for-profit

WSA Good School

Yes (2021)

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 38,331
FS2: 48,331
YEAR 1: 48,331
YEAR 2: 48,331
YEAR 3: 48,331
YEAR 4: 48,331
YEAR 5: 48,331
YEAR 6: 48,331
YEAR 7: NA (Guaranteed slipstream to GEMS FirstPoint, GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis or GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail)
YEAR 8: NA
YEAR 9: NA
YEAR 10: NA
YEAR 11: NA
YEAR 12: NA
YEAR 13: NA

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England:
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 2

External Exam Boards

NA

IB DipM Pass Rate

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail or GEMS International School Al Khail

IB DipM Average Grade

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail or GEMS International School Al Khail

Number of A Levels offered

See slipstream to GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa

A Levels offered

See slipstream to GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa

A Level A* to A

See slipstream to GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa

A Level A* to C

See slipstream to GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa

IGCSE A* to C

See slipstream GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, or GEMS International School Al Khail

IGCSE A* to A

See slipstream GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

See slipstream GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, or GEMS International School Al Khail

I/GCSEs offered

See IB and UK option slipstreams: GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Selective

Fully inclusive
Notes:
(1) All children are welcome to apply to GEMS Royal Dubai School, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or religion
(2) GEMS Royal Dubai School has limited spaces for children with additional learning needs
(3) GEMS Royal Dubai School does NOT have the provision for "children with severe or complex educational needs"
(4) Places can be offered against the two latest reports from the child's existing school ONLY if they have National Curriculum Levels included.
(5) Otherwise GEMS Royal aims to interview every GEMS Royal Dubai School child and their parents prior to entry and each child must take an age related placement test and provide, where applicable, the most recent copy of their child's school report when submitting an application form.

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

850 (March 2021)
Notes:
(1) Capacity 1200

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:15
Notes:
(1) Number of teachers: 77
(2) Number of Teaching Assistants: 62

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

15% (2021)

Year opened

2005

Location

Al Mizhar 1, Mirdif, Dubai

Student composition

International
Emirati: 236

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

GEMS Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0) 4 935 8494

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

93.3%

Attainment Pri SEM

80%

Attainment Sec SEM

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Attainment Post-16 SEM

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Progress Post-16 SEM

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

60%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Islamic St. Primary Results

60%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

See slipstream GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint School - The Villa, or GEMS International School Al Khail

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

Quality of teaching

90%

Student personal responsibility

100%

Quality of curriculum

100%

School Governance

100%

SEN Provision

100%

Strengths

• A KHDA Outstanding school 2017 - 2021
• Dedicated preparatory schooling dedicated to EYFS, Key Stages 1 and 2 education
• Choice of four, Tier 1 GEMS slipstreams, including IGCSE, IB and International A Level options – each with guaranteed places for GEMS Royal students. Links with GEMS FirstPoint are extremely strong.
• Outstanding performance across the whole spectrum of educational provision
• Outstanding independent WhichSchoolAdvisor independent feedback
• Many parents prefer a dedicated Primary school to nurture and protect childhood

Weaknesses

• Significant scaling back of the number of Special Educational Needs places may limit availability for some students
• Demand for places is high
• Some parents will prefer an all through option for their children to avoid later disruption
• No publicised bursaries or scholarships

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

Polished, highly successful, KHDA Outstanding school setting the benchmark for British preparatory education in Dubai. Highly recommended.

A
Our Rating
A
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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
2 Comments
  • Mr Craig
    October 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    My daughter loves GRDS.

  • Sana
    June 20, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    RDS is in many ways an amazing school with a very friendly staff. I like the activities they provide for children and teaching methods. The sports team is excellent – Ms. East is an amazing P.E Teacher, who helped me with all my concerns. How they teach a child reading and writing is outstanding too. It is like a small community and your child is known by all. They care about the safety of children. Extra clubs are free and are excellent!!!.

    However, one issue that is a real concern to me is the “Your child needs Support” part which is very frustrating, because the school makes this obligatory which involves paying additional fees. I know of a few parents who have taken their kids out of RDS and they are now doing very well in other schools, so I wonder whether they perhaps exaggerate this requirement.

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