United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Barsha South / GEMS Founders School Al Barsha

GEMS Founders School Al Barsha Q & A

Originally to be part of the GEMS Winchester brand, the decision to create a completely new brand has certainly worked for the GEMS Founders school - if a measure of a new school's success is the number of students joining it. On this measure alone, Founders has been without doubt one of the most successful schools to have opened in Dubai, reaching 5,500 students from over 100 countries in its fifth year of operation.
Parents' Rating
3.6 out of 5 based on 223 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
AED 29,000
Annual fees
AED 22,455 - 33,683
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Teacher turnover help
Matthew Burfield
GEMS Education
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
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Welcome to the GEMS Founders School Al Barsha official Q and A page. Here we ask the questions, and the school answers directly. It is its chance to have its say on specific areas you have told us you want to know about. If you think there are additional questions we should be asking you may contact us here.

If you have to highlight three strengths of your school, what would they be?

Best value for money
School culture and vision
Educational outcomes

What is the single biggest challenge your school is currently addressing?

Meeting the demand for places

Does your school have a waiting list? In which years?

Yes, limited availability in FS1, Year 8 and Year 10. Kindly contact our admission team via [email protected] for more information.

What are qualities and characteristics that define your school and its students?

Quality, affordable British Education with a clear focus on building character and supporting the UAE’s 2021 National Agenda for Education.

How many nationalities are represented in your school? How international would you say your school is?


Are there high proportions of a particular nationality?

Not really, we have a real mix, very representative of Dubai.

What is the teacher: student ratio in your school?

Class sizes range from 25 - 27 in Foundation Stage and 30 - 31 in Primary and Secondary.

Please describe your approach to teacher recruitment in terms of the balance of staff you seek in terms of nationalities and in terms of years of experience/ qualifications you look for. Please also provide details of how you use teaching assistants.

50% of our staff come with a UK qualification. 50% come with other internationally recognised teaching qualifications.

Does your school measure Value Added data? Please provide details of how you measure, and current Value Added benchmark scores.

CAT4 indicators of potential are used for all external examinations and end of Key Stage attainment.

If external examinations and assessments are part of your curriculum, which ones do you offer?

GEMS Founders School is proud to offer a range of International AS / A Level subjects and IGCSE subjects accredited by Oxford International AQA Examinations and Pearson/Edexcel.

Please provide details of how well your school did in its previous external exams for students at 16 and at 18 years of age? Please provide sufficient detail to allow parents to have a view on how academic your school is?

In August 2020 we celebrated our first set of IGCSE results, with an incredible 86% of candidate achieving 5 IGCSE/GCSE passes including English and Mathematics. Particular success was seen amongst the core subjects, with 99% of learners achieving a grade 9-4 in English, 94% in Mathematics, 89% in Science and 100% in both Arabic as a First and Foreign Language. We achieved a school average value added score of 1.3 grades, which highlights the impact that GFS has on learner outcomes. We are incredibly proud of our first set of A level results, which saw 100% of learners in English Literature achieve an A*-B grade and 80% achieved an A*-B in Psychology. IGCSE/GCSE Results 2020

Subject/Exam Board/A-C or 9-4 %

Arabic First Lang/Cambridge/100%
Arabic Foreign Lang/Cambridge/100%
English Language/Oxford AQA/99%
English Second Language/Oxford AQA/100%
English Literature/Oxford AQA/99%
Mathematics/Oxford AQA/94%
Biology/Oxford AQA/88%
Chemistry/Oxford AQA/92%
Physics/Oxford AQA/88%
Combined Science/Oxford AQA/88%
Art and Design/AQA/100%
Computer Science/AQA/92%
Global Perspectives/Cambridge/100%
Physical Education/Oxford AQA/87%

A-Level Results 2020

Subject/Exam Board/A*-C %
Art and Design/AQA/100%
Biology/Oxford AQA/80%
Chemistry/Oxford AQA/60%
Computer Science/AQA/100%
English/Oxford AQA/100%
Global Perspectives/Cambridge/88%
IPQ/Oxford AQA/100%
Mathematics/Oxford AQA/74%
Physics/Oxford AQA/67%
Psychology/Oxford AQA/100%

What percentage of your sixth form that take exams at 18 go to university, and where, in general, do they go?

Over the past two years, 89% of GFS students that have taken external examinations (entered for CAG/TAG) have gone on to university. 11% of students have taken gap/preparation years. In general, GFS students go to universities in the following countries:

• England
• United States of America
• The Netherlands
• Canada

Over the past two years, students have been accepted into:

• University College London
• King’s College London
• London School of Economics
• University of Cincinnati
• University of Amsterdam
• University of Manchester
• Yonsei University
• The University of California- Davis
• De La Salle University Dasmariñas
• Wilfrid Laurier University
• Canadian University Dubai
• New York University Abu Dhabi
• Nottingham Trent University
• Heriot Watt University Dubai
• St Georges University Northumbria
• Western University Canada
• University of Alberta Canada
• University of Guelph Ontario
• Aga Khan University Pakistan
• Thomson Rivers University Canada
• University of Latvia

Describe your school's approach to education and teaching?

Our holistic approach to education develops well-rounded individuals through our personal, social and moral approaches; as well as fostering academic excellence and lifelong employability skills.

Do you develop independent learning through homework and, if so, what are your recommendations regarding this, particularly time spent on homework?

Home learning instead of Homework to ensure our students enjoy quality time at home and develop independence.

Physical education and sport is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. How does your school ensure children engage in physical activity?

Students enjoy Physical Education as part of the weekly lessons, in line with the National Curriculum for England. In addition we will an extensive Enrichment Programme that allows students to participate in a wider range of physical activities and sporting activities. Students at GFS participate in inter-school competitions and in local events e.g DASSA . An after school sports programme is provided by our teachers and outside specialists.

How does your school promote healthy lifestyles?

GEMS Founders School participates in local campaigns that promote healthy lifestyles and our medical and pastoral teams will carefully monitor the health and well-being of our students.

How do you promote healthy eating?

Healthy eating, as part of a healthy lifestyle, is priority for growing children. At GFS we believe there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ food, just that there can often be better, healthier choices and that some food items are ‘treats’ that should be eaten less often. In choosing our school caterer we were very clear that the provision should include healthier choices that our students would still enjoy. Snacks that students bring from home will be monitored and workshops are planned for parents to encourage them to provide food and drinks that will sustain their children through the day.

Does the school have cafeteria facilities for the students? How does it promote a balanced diet?

Slices (catering company) work with our academic team and our students, to provide a variety of both popular and healthy options. The nutritional value of the meals is carefully monitored and promotional material in the canteen encourages healthy choices.

What is the approximate average cost of a lunchtime meal?

Approximately 15 AED

What is the starting and finishing time of your school day?

The school day will begin at 7.30 a.m. The Foundation Stage students will leave school at 12.15 p.m. while the last lesson for the rest of the school finishes at 2.20 p.m. Most after-school activities will finish by 3.45 p.m.

Is there a school uniform?

Yes, please see: http://www.threadsme.com/

Please advise on your discipline policy?

The school has a "Mindful Behaviour' policy of positive reinforcement, encouraging respectful and appropriate behaviour at all times. A reward scheme through our House System awards achievement points is fully implemented. Children are given an opportunities to immediately stop any anti-social behaviour and are encouraged to make a better choice. There is zero-tolerance of bullying of any description, including cyber-bullying.

How do you feedback progress and attainment to students and parents?

Through working with their teachers, students will know their targets for the year and regularly have opportunities to review their progress towards these targets. Teachers regularly communicate to parents through several channels. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher should they have any concerns and can then set up individual meetings. Regular reporting and parent-teacher conferences are in place.

How often is the more formal feedback such as reports and parent/teacher meetings?

Parents will have the opportunity to meet their child’s teacher in person, during terms one and two. During term three, parents will be given a written report of their child’s progress and achievements during the year. Three progress checks are performed and meetings arranged where teachers have any concerns.

Which languages are taught at your school - please detail any as a first as well as second language?

French is taught within the curriculum from Year 4 and is offered at IGCSE and A level. Spanish is offered from Year 8 to IGCSE.

Do you offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language?

GFS has an EAL programme as part of our inclusion provision. EAL teachers will support individuals in class and in small groups as appropriate to the needs of English language learners.

Do you offer a dedicated prayer room/s for students? For which faiths?

Yes. Prayer rooms are available in 2 locations for our Muslim students and colleagues.

How do you support gifted, able and talented students?

When gifts or talents are identified they are celebrated and encouraged, whether in or out of school. Advanced learning plans for our highest achievers ensure they are supported and challenged to meet their full potential.

Do you have a learning support team in your school?


Not all schools are staffed or resourced to offer learning support to those children with either moderate or significant learning needs. To what level can you offer support for those with learning differences?

Students are identified on entry, or once in the school, to ascertain any barriers to learning. This includes our more able students who may require greater challenge in the classroom. The school has specialist teachers and classrooms through its Flourish programme to support Tier 2 and Tier 3 students with identified learning needs. On admission, if a student presents with more complex needs then they will be referred to Small Steps which is a specialist Centre within our school.

Does your school have particular expertise in dealing with a specific learning need such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, aspergers syndrome and so forth?

The school has been recognised by the Dyslexia Foundation as 100% of teachers successfully undertook their training. The school also was the first school in the Middle East to be awarded the Optimus Award for Special Education (SENDIA). Through our association with Small Steps, the school is able to offer additional behaviour and speech and language therapies.

Does your school have an educational psychologist or access to one to assess and support those youngsters with more challenging learning and emotional needs?

The school utilises an application to monitor so that all teachers can monitor student wellbeing and has 2 counselors to assist students with their emotional and learning challenges

Do you have a parents’ group supporting the school?

Yes, the GEMS Founders Parents' Association plays a very active part in supporting the school. (GFPA)

Are there opportunities for parents to support the learning, activities and events within the school or on trips other than through the parent group?

We encourage parents to join the GFPA but welcome parents into school as much as possible to support with events.

Is there an opportunity for parental representation on your school Board of Governors?

Yes, GFS Local Advisory Board which currently has 3 parents, including the Chair of governors who has 3 children currently attending.

Do you offer specific activities, events or information sessions for those parents new to the school and/or area?

All parents who are new to our school and a regular set of activities has already been enacted which have given parents an opportunity to Meet the Principal on two separate evenings and two evenings to meet the Executive Leadership Team have also already occurred. More are in place to assist the new parents and answer all the questions they may have about GFS.

This school is in a Best School by parents ranking

GEMS Founders School Al Barsha is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:

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