The newly announced Founding Principal of Metropole Al Waha is Jeremy Hallum, who is moving from his role as Whole School Vice Principal at GEMS Founders School Al Mizhar where he has been for the past five years, since the school's opening. Mr. Hallum is a graduate of Oxford University.
The news of the opening of GEMS Metropole Al Waha has not exactly come as a surprise. In Autumn 2022, Naveed Iqbal published a comment on LinkedIn about plans for the expansion of the Metropole brand and for the imminent recruitment of staff.
The Al Waha location had previously been planned for the GEMS Vertus School, which subsequently was to be the School of Digital Futures (both of which were put on ice), and, more recently, had been expected to be a campus for a further GEMS Founders School. However, the latter subsequently expanded into the site previously occupied by the GEMS National School for Girls in Al Barsha South.
Some observers will be surprised that GEMS has chosen now to expand Metropole rather than Founders, given the high demand for the latter. However, there are notable differences between the two schools. GEMS Metropole opened before GEMS Founders (back in 2014) and was marketed at a mid-range plus price-point versus Founders' proposition as an affordable school. Fees at GEMS Metropole are considerably higher than GEMS Founders, largely driven by higher staff costs, since a greater proportion of staff are British or native English speakers.
The new school is currently open for applications from students in FS1 to Year 8 and, like GEMS Metropole Motor City, the school will offer the English National Curriculum including A Level, BTEC and ASDAN pathways.
We have no doubt that the new Metropole School will be heavily influenced by Metropole Motor City. Indeed, given that the teacher recruitment has lain in the hands of Mr. Iqbal, we would expect there to be a very similar profile among leadership and staff.
GEMS Metropole Al Waha, says its focus is "on nurturing future leaders". ‘Nurturing leadership’ is the motto that guides MTW’s approach to education. The school believes that every student has the potential to be a future leader, and it is MTW’s mission to nurture that potential.
In recognition of the broad range of nationalities that are likely to be attracted to the school, MTW will offer specialist training to teachers with the aim of providing additional support to students who do not have English as their first language.
In common with all GEMS schools, there will be a focus on well-being and support, together with a wide range of extra-curricular activities. According to the school, it has developed enrichment programmes that cover a range of topics, including environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship, and leadership, all at a flat price point. The school will feature the MTW cricket academy, led by a qualified cricket teacher.
The inclusion department will be dedicated to providing an inclusive and diverse learning environment for all students. Staff in the department will support students with a wide range of needs, including those with autism, dyslexia, ADHD and other learning difficulties.
In addition to the direct on-site support of the Inclusion team, the school will also establish partnerships with therapy centres to provide therapeutic support to families within the school facilities and during the school day, enabling the school to provide a holistic approach to supporting students’ educational, emotional and social needs. If therapy is required, costs for therapy sessions will be payable directly to the relevant centre. MTW has partnered with the Neuropedia Children’s Centre, a provider of specialised therapeutic support for children with a wide range of learning challenges.
With the school having been constructed and ready to occupy in 2019, one major benefit for new students is that they are unlikely to be impacted by construction delays – though after four years vacant, we assume that a sizeable clean up and maintenance task will have been required.
Facilities at the school include a Biodome, a Farm, Forest school, specialist Arabic and Islamic rooms, Language rooms, a Drama room, a Music room, Chemistry labs, ICT labs, world-class BTEC mechanics, engineering and construction facilities, and an Auditorium. Recreation/sports facilities will include a Foundation Stage indoor play area, a Basketball court, Cricket pitches, a Floodlit Astroturf sports pitch, and Swimming pool.
Fees at MTW will increase on a sliding scale through the first three years of operation – an unusual arrangement, as under normal circumstances, fees are frozen for this period until the first DSIB inspection has taken place.
The school has also followed the flat fee approach for each section of the school, with fees throughout Primary school the same in each year group, and with the same approach in the Secondary section. Parents can therefore plan for the years ahead without having to worry about substantial increases as their children move from one section of the school to the other.
Fees in 2023-24 will range from AED 36,000 in FS (rising to AED 38,000 in 2024-25 and AED 40,000 in 2025-26), rising to AED 40,500 in Years 1 to 6 (rising to AED 42,740 in 2024-25 and AED 45,000 in 2025-26), and are AED 45,000 for Years 7 and 8 (rising to AED 47,500 in 2024-25 and AED 50,000 in 2025-26).