GEMs Wellington International School, Dubai
Wellington International School, a mixed private school owned and run by the GEMS group, has been ranked Outstanding for the past five years, one of a highly select few to have achieved that level of consistency.
The school takes children from 3 years (KG1 or FS1) to 18 years of age (Grade 13). The 2376 students (from over 80 nationalities with the biggest groupings from India, Pakistan and the U.S.) are taught by 179 full-time teachers. Teachers are predominantly British and almost all have relevant teaching qualifications. Of these teachers, 52 (29 per cent) are new this academic year and 65 (36 percent) are in their second year at the school. The teachers are supported by 66 teaching assistants.
The student to teacher ratio is currently at approximately 13:1, with classroom sizes no larger than 25.
Note, the school has a (relatively) new Principal, Keith Miller, who has been in the role since September 2012. Previously Mr Miller had been the “Founding Principal Designate” of another GEMs school, The Cambridge International School in Abu Dhabi. In the UK Mr Miller had been the Principal of the Crest Boys Academy, London and prior to that a Consultant Headteacher at Parkwood High School in Sheffield.
The school follows the English National Curriculum from Foundation Stage to Year 11. At the end of the secondary phase, students are entered for IGCSE and GCSE. In the post-16 phase, students follow the increasingly sought after International Baccalaureate programme.
The school’s latest KHDA report notes the very strong commitment to developing each individual “academically and also as a person”, and the school publicly posts its academic achievements (a big tick as far as WSA is concerned) on its Web site.
In 2013, 93% of its students achieved 5 x A* – C and 89% achieved 5 x A* – C including English and Maths. The results were broadly similar to 2012 when 93% of students achieved 5 or more A* to C grades including English and Maths. These results constituted a 13% increase from 2011 and were “the best ever achieved at the school”.
In 2013, 96% of its post-16 students were awarded the IB Diploma, with results 18% above the World IB Average (WIS fails however to give the average score). This was a step up from 2012 when 80% of the school’s students passed the IB Diploma, and achieved results 2% above the IB Average of 66.2%. At the time the average IB grade at Wellington was 30.4 out of 45. While there is no rule 34 is generally considered the benchmark for acceptance into ‘Redbrick’ UK universities. Tier one universities (such as Oxford) look for 38 or above.
Note: We would like to see some consistency in how examination results are presented. GEMs Jumeirah College provides a model that allows direct comparison with previous years, the UK average, and if results we made consistent with other schools, with other schools.
Many schools do not like the focus parents give to academic results, because doing so fails to recognize the value addition a school provides. Clearly a selective school taking on more academic students, will ultimately post better academic results. Wellington International School is not selective, but an inclusive, mixed ability school.
Students with Special Educational Needs are supported by a SEN team of teachers and teaching assistants. More information on this may be found in our Q and A with the school. (Note: GEMs has ramped up its SEN provision across its schools in recent years. Parents should note, however, the individual attention students receive comes at an additional cost).
Strengths of WIS according to the KHDA include its “established record of students’ outstanding academic progress, attainment and learning skills in English, mathematics and science; Students’ personal and social development (“Outstanding”), especially their understanding of Islamic values and local, cultural and global awareness; the confident, high quality teaching supported by accurate assessments; the curriculum quality and design (“Outstanding”); the school’s protection and support for its students, and its Outstanding leadership and management.
The school needs to improve further student attainment, progress and learning skills in Islamic Education and Arabic and complete the work to refine assessment in the Foundation Stage.
Facilities at Wellington are as you would expect for a “premium” GEMS school – impressive. There is an indoor, air-conditioned swimming pool, soccer fields, a state-of-the-art gym, three science laboratories, a library, and four computer laboratories with over 120 computers.
Fees at Wellington are as impressive: Tuition starts at 35,244 for KG 1 (rising to 44,391 AED for KG 2). Year 13 students pay 76,765 AED per annum. There is a non-refundable registration fee of AED 500 is due at the time of application. When an offer of a place in the school is made, an admission fee of AED 7500 is required to secure the place. This admission fee is non-refundable and adjustable against the first term’s fees.
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