Dubai Gem Private School is also known as Dubai Gem School. The school celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2017.
Dubai Gem Private School has been rated Good for the ninth year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full reports have been published.
The story so far...
Founded in 1973, Dubai Gem 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. Its 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.
In total 1,316 students (2017/18, a small decrease on the previous academic year) are presently enrolled with 123 teachers and 30 teaching assistants. According to the KHDA most students are of Indian nationality. Forty eight per cent of students are Muslim. A teacher:student ratio of 1:11 overall, with smaller class sizes within the Secondary school, appears to provide students with strong academic and social support. Teachers appear to be happy with their employment at the school; staff turnover is 11% - well below the Dubai average of 20-22%.
The school follows the British 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.
Dubai Gem's education philosophy (its vision in modern parlance) reflects a set of core values which defines its aims:
"All students should be given every opportunity to be successful;
Sensitivity to the unique nature of every student as a learner, requires a commitment to provide learning programmes that meet individual language and learning needs;
For students to develop life long learning skills and attitudes, and a genuine seeking for truth, the use of inquiry-based teaching/learning approaches is essential;
The “Information Age” compels the school to provide students with the tools and skills to become competent users of technology, independent learners and critical evaluators of information;
Social, physical, creative and community service activities play an important role in student development and school spirit;
The promotion of self discipline in a caring and compassionate environment will assist students, staff, teachers and administrators to work independently and collaboratively toward their shared purpose of providing and obtaining the best education".
What about facilities?
The school has a satisfactory range of facilities including four Computer Laboratories, three Art Rooms, a Sports Centre – the school hires the 'Iranian Club', adjacent to the school, for the use of its swimming pools, sports oval and courts - and has two Medical Centres staffed by 2 nurses and a doctor. The school has invested in IT infrastructure over the last two years.
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 2017, Dubai Gem results were as follows:
A Level - a 100% pass rate with 71% of results at A*- B. 53% of students achieved these grades. 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.
AS Level - a 93% pass rate with 52% of passes at A - B. 36% of students achieved these grades. Again, there is no indication of the number of exams taken, nor the number of students. It will be interesting to see how these students have performed at A Level in 2018.
IGCSE - a 100% pass rate with 62% of passes at A*- A. 62% of passes were at these grades, whilst 82% were at A* - B. 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.
By comparison, according to the school, for IGCSE, 75% of students attained A*-C grades in the May/June 2016 exams, with 62% achieving A*-A grades and 82% A*-B. Students generally perform above curriculum level expectations across Maths, Science and English at A Level and this is reflected in the Very Good results achieved. In 2016, 100% of students passed their A Level exams with 53% of male students achieving A*-B grades, and an impressive 71% of girls achieving at this level. University destinations include the highly rated Heriott Watt, Kings College, London, Loughborough and Warwick in the UK as well as Monash in Melbourne, Australia, the Universities of California and British Columbia in North America.
What the inspectors say
The school has achieved a KHDA ranking of Good for the last eight years. During the 2017-18 inspection that took place in February 2018, the DSIB inspection team found the strengths of Dubai Gem Private School to be:
In reviewing the DSIB inspection process in 2018, after 10 years of inspections, the KHDA Director General emphasised the importance of effective leadership in the most successful schools. In the case of Dubai Gem, the current report notes that "Senior leaders and the owners are child-centred, inclusive and committed to the national priorities. All stakeholders value the principal’s leadership. Improvement planning has identified development needs, but has not had time to influence outcomes. The school engages well with most parents, students and education consultants. Careful management optimises the use of a limited site and facilities. Investment in human resources contributes to successful outcomes for students". This is a positive reflection of the governance and management of Dubai Gem Private School.
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. In particular, the Secondary and Sixth Form ratings across Student Achievement, their Personal and Social Development and Innovation Skills, and the Curriculum are all rated at this higher level. The Foundation and Primary School sections are rated almost exclusively Good by comparison - clearly the area of focus for the school overall.
Overall students attainment and progress is found to be Good or Very Good across all subjects and age groups aside from Arabic. English progress in the Primary school has fallen to Good from Very Good, but has improved to Very Good in the Secondary School. Whilst Maths and Science are rated Very Good in the Secondary and Sixth Form sections, English is not as solid with attainment in Secondary, and attainment and progress in Sixth Form being rated Good. Dubai Gem’s strong record of developing students academically and socially is noted in the last 4 KHDA inspection reports. Attainment at the end of the Secondary and post-16 phases over the same period was high. In Year 11, students attain very good levels in external IGCSE examinations, although the percentage attaining these levels has declined over the last three years.
The KHDA inspectors noted that students' personal and social development is outstanding. Children and students, across the school, exhibit outstanding attitudes, behaviours and relationships and most are developing their understanding of Islamic values and Emirati culture and heritage to a very good level. Older students identify tolerance and respect as key attributes in society and provide effective role-models for younger students. Most students show a very positive attitude to work, taking decisions about courses to study and projects in which to become involved. They have very good moral attitudes and readily resolve any conflict within their friendship groups.
Students' social responsibility and innovation skills were deemed to be Outstanding in both Secondary and Sixth Form. Inspectors found that students have a strong work ethic and, as they progress through the school, their understanding of environmental issues and involvement in the community increases correspondingly. There is a strong community ethos.
Teaching and assessment, together with the curriculum design and implementation, and its adaptation to meet the needs of different students were found largely to be Good in Foundation and Primary and had improved largely to Very Good in Secondary and Sixth Form. Inspectors found that whilst teachers' strong subject knowledge supports planning in most subjects, teaching in the lower primary phase often lacks pace. However, projects lead to greater independence in the post-16 phase, where questioning is also more challenging. The curriculum in all phases was found to be broad, balanced and age-appropriate with seamless transition between phases. The curriculum in the secondary and post-16 phases prepares students well for examinations and for their next stage.
The protection, care, guidance and support of students was deemed to be Good across the school. Older students 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 has been downgraded to Acceptable from Good, due to a need to better refine the process of identification and to adapt the curriculum accordingly.
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 governors have recently appointed Education Consultants to work with the leadership team to support their improvement efforts.
Evidence of action being taken by the Governors of the school can be seen in widespread changes that have taken place within the Senior Leadership team. In a short time, the leadership team has worked with parents and teachers to determine appropriate strategies to improve school performance. The partnership with parents remains strong and leaders are well-supported by the governing body and school advisory council.
On a very important note, the owners of the school take a positive and direct interest in the operation of the school. The governing body is comprised of members of the owner’s family. One of the governors is in school for three days a week, supporting on-going communication with school leaders. There is also a school advisory council, which is made up of a small group of committed and knowledgeable parents and a representative from the educational community. The governing body is passionate about improving opportunities for its students. There are many examples where it, and the school advisory council, have positively influenced direction and supported improvements.
The school has excellent relationships with its parents; the school engages parents exceptionally well as part of the school family. Most parents are well informed. There are strong social connections, enabling students to have hands-on involvement with local and international initiatives.
One area of concern that will remain a key area of focus for the leadership team is a drop in self-evaluation to Acceptable last year with this rating retained in 2017-18. This change has most likely been driven by the sweeping changes at the Senior Leadership level. This is a vitally important aspect of the management team's responsibility in terms of ensuring that there is a clear understanding of standards being met and where improvement is required.
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. Teaching at the lower end of the school is still in need of improvement. The key improvements recommended by the inspection team are to:
School fees are relatively affordable for a UK curriculum school, but high mid-end for a school serving the Indian community, ranging from AED 17,842 for new students in FS2 to AED 25,725 for current students in Year 13. Fees are approximately AED 3,500 higher for new students joining throughout the school. There are also a wide range of additional Mandatory charges which vary between AED 1,300 and AED 2,800 depending on year group. You can download the PDF of fees here.
The school seems popular amongst its students and teachers. Parents are a little more skeptical, but in general a satisfied bunch. Of the 453 parents who responded to the KHDA pre-inspection survey, 96% said that they were satisfied with the standard of education provided by Dubi Gem Private School. There are the usual grumblings over fees. There is a strong desire expressed for more options for extra-curricular activities. Parents believe the school leadership is strong. Interestingly, whilst some 56% of parents said that they would recommend the school to other parents (compared with a UAE average of 72%), 22% (compared with the average of 15%), said they would not.
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