Dubai Gem Private School is also known as Dubai Gem School. The school celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2017. The school is located in the heart of Bur Dubai, the traditional centre of the city to the south of the Creek.
The story so far...
Founded in 1973 as a private nursery for 20 students, Dubai Gem (DGS) is one of the longest established schools in Dubai and appears to be well regarded by both the KHDA inspectors and by parents. The published exam results and inspection report suggest that these are very good, with most students achieving above curriculum standards.
Dubai Gem Private School is based in Oud Metha in Bur Dubai, and takes students from 3 years to 18 years of age. The long-established nursery, located in Al Hubaiba, also offers places to Lower and Upper Nursery children, the majority of whom go on to attend Dubai Gem Private School. The school is not related to the GEMS Education group.
Dubai Gem has recently updated its introduction to the school.
Its Motto is ‘Strive for Excellence’
The school's Vision is:
To be an exemplary 21st century inclusive learning community whose students are empowered to excel in a complex, interconnected, changing world; to develop life-long learners upholding the core values of the school.
Its Mission - Dubai Gem Private School seeks to create a challenging and inclusive learning environment that encourages high expectations for all students. The school community is committed to developing students who are resilient and adaptable, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to continue their education and become personally fulfilled, interdependent, socially responsible adults.
The school has adopted Core Values of:
Dignity and Integrity – Respect and honesty in all our endeavours in an environment that embraces change, new ideas, respect for the individual and equal opportunity to succeed.
Generosity of Spirit – Empathy and tolerance for every individual and embrace differences with respect which creates a culture of magnanimity and kindness.
Pursuit of Excellence – Perseverance in identifying challenges and striving to overcome them.
Sincerity and Commitment – Students are encouraged to be diligent, develop sound work ethics, and become inventive and resourceful.
In total 1,200 students (2019/20, a decrease of around 200 on the previous academic year) are presently enrolled with 126 teachers and 24 teaching assistants. According to the KHDA most students are of Indian nationality. A teacher:student ratio of 1:25 overall, with smaller class sizes within the Secondary school, appears to provide students with sufficient academic and social support.
Teachers appear to be happy with their employment at the school; staff turnover was 11% two years ago and fell to zero in 2019-20 - well below the Dubai average of 20-22%.
The school follows the English National curriculum leading to IGCSE examinations (in Year 11), 'AS' (in Year 12), and 'A' levels (in Year 13). The language of instruction and communication is English. Arabic is mandatory from FS2 to Year 9 and optional from Year 10 onwards. Islamic Studies and the Quran are mandatory for Islamic students while non-Islamic students study Social Studies.
The school provides little information about the range of additional subjects available, stating only that English, Mathematics and Science lie at the heart of the curriculum in the Primary school. In Secondary school, students study Mathematics, English, Science (Bio/Chem/Physics), History, Geography, Art & Design, Information Technology, Arabic, Islamic Studies/PSHE and Physical Education in Years 7 to 8. Hindi, French or Urdu are offered as additional language options from which students may choose one.
Unusually, IGCSE are studied over three years, rather than the usual two. Compulsory subjects include English Language and Literature and Mathematics. Students may choose five additional subjects including Accounting, Arabic, Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Economics, Environmental Management, French, Geography, History, Islamiyat, Physics and Urdu. Although largely focused on Commerce and Science (as is common is UK curriculum schools whose students are predominantly from Asian families), more unusual subjects include Child Development, Sociology and Travel & Tourism. Arabic, Islamic Studies and Physical Education are non-examined, but mandatory subjects.
The school has a liberal approach towards subject options for AS and A Level students, designed to enable them to choose from a uniquely flexible menu of courses, allowing students to select the most appropriate options. Unlike many schools, DGS does not start with a pre-determined list of options, but design the timetable each year in order to accommodate the wishes of students. Most students study four subjects at AS Level before continuing with three for A Level.
Options include Art & Design, Accounting, AICT, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Economics, English, Environmental Management (AS only), History, ICT, Mathematics and Physics. However, the school notes that not all options may be available, driven, presumably by student numbers.
Dubai Gem offers only a limited range of co-curricular activities. These include Educational and Field Trips which are undertaken each term to support the learning of students. The Environmental Awareness Programme is run in collaboration with Dubai Municipality and the Emirates Environmental Group. Students are encouraged to take part in various projects including the Can Collection Campaign, Recycling Newspapers and Magazines and Clean-Up Campaigns.
Students, both boys and girls, of Year 9 onwards, are offered The Duke of Edinburgh International Award Programme, preparing them for the Bronze and Silver Awards. Expeditions, trekking and camping programmes are organised which encourage team spirit, friendship, self reliance and a sense of responsibility. The Dubai Gem Scout Group aims for students to develop their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential. The Scouting programme enables students to develop themselves as organised, responsible, and proactive citizens of their communities.
What about Academic results?
Dubai Gem is one of the Dubai schools that publishes its exam results - something we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com applaud. Whilst a school cannot be judged by its results alone, they are inevitably an important measure of parents and when placed in context (is the school selective, how many subjects does it offer, what is the size of the cohort, what are the resources?), we believe that schools should be willing to share their students' successes.
For 2019-20, results were centre-assessed (that is awarded by the school itself through a submission process to the examining boards) and its students achieved the following:
A Level - 100% pass rate, with 78% of exam entries at A*-B. 39% of students achieved passes graded A*-A, and 59% of students achieved passes at A*-B. The school does not reveal the number of students who took the exams, nor the number of exams taken - important in the context of school size in comparison with others. We would also like to see a further break down of grades awarded to entries - most schools report A*-A, A*-C and A*- E at a minimum. Having said that, with over three-quarters of entries graded at A*-B, this was clearly a high-achieving cohort.
AS Level - a 97% pass rate, and with 84% of entries graded A-B. 63% of students achieved at least one A-B grade, whilst 28 students obtained 4 A grades at AS Level. Again, there is no indication of the number of exams taken, nor the number of students.
IGCSE - a 100% pass rate, with 60% of exam entries at A*-A, and 81% at A*-B, 64% of students achieved at least one A*-B grade. The school does not reveal the number of students, nor the number of exams taken. We would like to know the number of passes at A*- C including English and Maths, the most common measure used for comparison by UK curriculum schools.
University destinations include the highly rated Heriott Watt University in Scotland, Kings College, London, Loughborough and Warwick in the UK as well as Monash in Melbourne, Australia, the Universities of California (USA) and British Columbia in North America.
What about facilities?
The school has a satisfactory range of facilities including four Computer Laboratories, an E-learning centre used by both Primary and Secondary school students, three Laboratories for Physics, Chemistry and Biology, three Art Rooms, two well resourced Libraries, and a Multi-Purpose Hall used for assemblies, music lessons, indoor sports,and examinations.
Students also have access to a Sports Centre – the school hires the 'Iranian Club', adjacent to the school - for the use of its swimming pools, sports oval and courts. There are also two Medical Centres staffed by 2 nurses and a doctor. The school has invested in IT infrastructure over recent years.
What the inspectors say
The school has achieved a KHDA ranking of Good for the last ten years. During the 2019-20 inspection that took place in February 2020, the DSIB inspection team found the strengths of Dubai Gem Private School to be:
In reviewing each of the six performance indicators around which the inspection is based, it is evident that many of the key measures reflect the overall school rating, but with clear evidence of Very Good attainment in a number of areas.
Dubai Gem is very clearly a school of two halves from a Student Achievement, Personal and Social Development and Innovation Skills, and the Curriculum perspective. Whilst the Foundation and Primary stages are rated Good across almost all areas, the Secondary and post-16 sections are rated almost uniformly Very Good. Students across the school are rated Outstanding in terms of their Personal development, whilst Secondary and post-16 students additionally achieved the highest rating for their Social responsibility and innovation skills.
Unfortunately, the ratings for Arabic remain Acceptable across the school.
Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum are the areas which are clearly those for additional focus if Dubai Gem wishes to raise its overall KHDA rating to Very Good. Whilst there are elements at this level in the Secondary and post-16 sections, all key indicators in this context are rated Good in the Foundation and Primary sections.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students was deemed to be Good across the school with the exception of Care and Support (rated Very Good) for older students who benefit from effective emotional and academic counselling and from exceptional further education guidance.
Although the school welcomes students with SEND requirements, its rating for this indicator was downgraded to Acceptable from Good in 2017-18. The school achieved an improved rating to Good again in the most recent inspection, with the report noting that "the appointment of a governor for inclusive education, and the development of a focused action plan, are leading to improvement." However, the inspection found that limited resourcing reduces the overall effectiveness of the school’s provision.
The school's areas for development over the past few years have related to managing educational changes in partnership with the school community, the development of teaching approaches that create independent learners and improvements to the language skills of students studying Arabic. Given that the Principal and Senior leadership team all joined the school in 2016, the fact that they have been able to maintain consistent standards is a tribute to them and to the staff of the school.
The latest inspection report notes that the governing board includes the owners and representatives of the school community. "Recent additions bring important expertise and knowledge, which help in the effective review of all aspects of the school’s performance. The board regularly seeks the views of students, staff and parents. Governors actively support school leaders to help the school to meet its commitment to parents, and to ensure that statutory requirements are met."
Dubai Gem is a school with a clear focus on academics, but with a strong sense of social and community support. The Governors and leadership of the school are clearly determined to maintain and improve standards across all areas, supported by a stable teaching staff that enables students to achieve strong academic results at the higher end of the school.
The key improvements recommended by the inspection team are to:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order better to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
The inspection report found that parents are highly supportive of the school and of senior leaders, who engage them effectively as partners in the life and work of the school. Parents report that the school takes seriously and acts upon any concerns that they raise. Leaders use a good variety of methods to communicate with parents. Consequently, most parents feel well informed, especially about their children’s learning and development.
Of the 229 parents who responded to the KHDA pre-inspection survey, 94% said that they were satisfied with the standard of education provided by Dubi Gem Private School. Almost all parents are satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school. They feel that their children are safe. They consider that the school takes their views seriously and often acts upon them.
There have been only a limited number of responses to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey. There are the usual grumblings over fees. 50% of respondents had considered moving their child to another school, with the same percentage of parents saying that they would recommend the school to other parents (compared with a UAE average of 72%). 14% (compared with the average of 12%), said they would not, whilst over one-third were sitting on the fence and were undecided as to whether to recommend the school or not.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Dubai Gem Private School, please share your experiences with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
School fees are relatively affordable for a UK curriculum school, but high mid-end for a school serving the Indian community, ranging from AED 16,885 for new students in FS1 to AED 27,355 for current students in Year 13. Fees are approximately AED 3,500 higher for new students joining throughout the school. There is a registration fee of AED 735 for new admissions.
Students in Years 9, 10 and 11 also pay an additional 'equipment charge' for each additional subject selected for IGCSE, whilst those in Years 12 and 13 pay an additional AED 500.
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