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GEMS Wellington International School, Al Sufouh – The Review
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Review

GEMS Wellington International School, Al Sufouh – The Review

by November 21, 2015
Strengths

• Students attain good to outstanding standards of learning in English, Mathematics and Science at Foundation, Primary, Secondary and Post—16 Levels
• Children’s personal and social development is outstanding across every level of education
• Students demonstrate outstanding attitudes toward learning and contribute broadly and with depth
• Teaching and assessment is outstanding at all ages and in most subjects inspirational
• The curriculum is relevant, responsive, rich in breadth and texture and highly innovative
• Extensive after school extra-curricular sporting and cultural activities and provision including debating, robotics, musical and dramatic productions and computing
• Highly effective communication between the school and parents via weekly bulletins, online resource, informal meetings and direct mail contact
• Strong links with other schools and outstanding links with local and global businesses gives students a pioneering and entrepreneurial skills base and outlook
• Special education needs provision is exceptional and a stand-out feature of Wellington’s commitment to developing talent across the ability and needs spectrum
• Outstanding value-added exam performance at all levels given its mixed ability inclusive intake
• Outstanding Key Stage 4 options - with exceptional and thoughtful focus on the needs, potential and gifts of individual children.
• Stand-out BTEC Options

Weaknesses

• Children struggle in learning Arabic as a first or additional language compared with outstanding attainment in English, Mathematics and Science
• Arabic and Islamic education is at an acceptable level, but not a core strength of the school’s provision or children’s attainment. Teachers expectation of students in both areas is limited.
• Teaching of Islamic Education at secondary and post-16 is inconsistent
• The school consistently fails to improve in the quality of its teaching of Arabic as an additional language
• Poor transparency in publishing the examination and flight path data for International Baccalaureate diploma performance of students
• Significant concerns that the limited International Baccalaureate Diploma only Sixth Form necessarily limits the required choice of study required by the broadest mix of student abilities, gifts and potential.

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

Wellington International is without question in the very top tier of Dubai schools, offering an exceptional education across core traditional "Western" disciplines. Whilst for some parents its on-going weakness in Arabic Language and Islamic Education provision will present less off an issue, we think that it remains a concern in a global economy where international appreciation, context and language skills are one key aspect of many parents decision to opt for a local, rather than offshore boarding-based, education. To be balanced, the mismatch in attainment is very pronounced at Wellington because of its genuinely inspirational development of children in other areas of the curriculum and its exceptional special needs provision. The school is also a large school, partly because it carries its children through every stage of education. This has clear benefits in continuity and its forging of close relationships between peers, but, despite relatively small class sizes, the size of school will not suit all children. On balance, however, GEMS Wellington International School is a (very) deserving Editor's Pick. The school provides a powerful, inspirational education, one of the best on offer anywhere in the region, in Mathematics, English and Science - and its results demonstrate significant, impressive value-added to its mixed ability intake. For linguists in particular, however, and for those parents seeking a genuine depth of Arabic context and language in their children's education, there are better options, at least for now. We just wish that GEMS would broaden the Sixth Form offer to include the IB CrP and Level 2 BTEC. It might just then approach being a perfect all-through school for all children, rather than just the most academic at age 16.

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Our Rating
B+
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Top of shortlist
33%
In my Top 5
42%
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13%
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8%

Updated February 2017 – GEMS Wellington International School provision

A mixed private school owned and run by the GEMS group, Wellington International ranks in the premier league of Dubai schooling with a KHDA ranking of “Outstanding” awarded for the past six years. It is a hybrid English National Curriculum-International Baccalaureate Diploma school – but what really stands out, for us, is the exceptional thoughtfulness of its Key Stage 4 option provision. Stand-out is the school’s choice to offer all students both GCSE, IGCSE and, critically BTEC options. BTEC subjects are, we believe, very important in providing students with vocationally focused qualifications, and also a qualification not dependent on linear examinations at the end of Year 11. We have included below the options literature provided by the school because it provides a benchmark, we believe, for both exceptional clarity in guiding students through the complexity of Key Stage 4 options – and indicates a school genuinely committed to providing an array of examinations best able to fit the potential, gifts and ambitions of its children.

The school takes children from 3 years (pre-KG or FS1) to 18 years of age (Year 13) and even with this broad intake, its 2400 plus student body is large by any standards.

Intake is drawn from over 80 nationalities of which the largest grouping is from the UK. Children are taught by 179 full-time teachers of which the majority are British and almost all whom have relevant UK teaching qualifications.  Of these teachers, 52 (29 per cent) were new in the last academic year and 65 (36 per cent) are in their third year at the school. The teachers are supported by 67 teaching assistants – up one from the previous academic year.

The student to teacher ratio is currently at approximately 13:1, with classroom sizes of between 25 and 27.

An extended review of the school is currently in planning, but our limited critique of the school is focused on Post 16 provision in which all children are required to study for the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We think GEMS is missing a trick here in not providing students with either the option to continue with BTEC qualifications at Level 2, and/or introduce the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IB CrP). The latter provides a more academic, but still vocational rich alternative to the Diploma and much better suited to many less academic children. The IB CrP also has the same prestige with UK university admissions.   It seems strange to us that a school so intent on providing an outstanding level of choice to children at Key Stage 4, should then go on to provide such limited choice of study at Sixth Form. We also note that the school publishes no information on the academic performance or flight paths of children who go on to study the Diploma and how many children leave the school to continue a British education elsewhere. We would like to think that the school will revisit this whole area over time. As it stands, we believe that for those children for whom the International Baccalaureate Diploma is not the most suitable option for Sixth Form study, there will more suitable post-16 alternatives elsewhere. This is a shame as children ideally should have the ability to remain in the school in which they have been educated without risking low grades at a qualification ill-suited to their natural potential and gifts.

This said, we do not want to take anything away from GEMS Wellington International. It is truly exceptional school, notwithstanding the above concerns.

 

Go to the FULL REVIEW on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Details to consider
Type of school

Private

WSA Good School

Yes

Full WSA Review
Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 38600
FS2: 48619
YEAR 1: 48619
YEAR 2: 48619
YEAR 3: 48619
YEAR 4: 48619
YEAR 5: 48619
YEAR 6: 48619
YEAR 7: 67036
YEAR 8: 67036
YEAR 9: 67036
YEAR 10: 75433
YEAR 11: 75433
YEAR 12: 83977
YEAR 13: 83977

Curriculum

National Curriculum of England, International Baccalaureate, BTEC

External Exam Boards

IGCSE, IBDP, BTEC

IB DipM Pass Rate

96% (2013). GEMs no longer publishes the results for individual schools.

IB DipM Average Grade

30.4 (2012). GEMs no longer publishes the results for individual schools.

Number of A Levels offered

n/a

A Levels offered

n/a

A Level A* to A

n/a

A Level A* to C

n/a

IGCSE A* to C

GEMs no longer publishes the results for individual schools.

IGCSE A* to A

GEMs no longer publishes the results for individual schools.

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

20

I/GCSEs offered

Arabic
Dual Language (French and Spanish)
French
Spanish
Additional Studies (invitation only)
Business
Computer Science
Drama
Geography
Media
Psychology
Art
Music
Psychology
Astronomy
Human Health and Physiology
Economics
History
PE
ICT

Selective

Selective

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

2425

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:13

Largest nationality teachers

UK

Teacher turnover

17%

Year opened

2005

Location

Al Sufouh, Dubai

Student composition

British (largest nationality)

Gender

Mixed

School canteen

Yes

Owner

GEMS Education

Admissions Telephone

+971 4 348 4999

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100%

Attainment Pri SEM

100%

Attainment Sec SEM

100%

Attainment Post-16 SEM

91.6%

Progress Nur SEM

100%

Progress Pri SEM

100%

Progress Sec SEM

100%

Progress Post-16 SEM

100%

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

75%

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

50%

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

50%

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

NA

Islamic St. Primary Results

75%

Islamic St. Secondary Results

50%

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

50%

Leadership

100%

Community

100%

Facilities

100%

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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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities