A mixed gender GEMS owned Foundation Stage to Year 6 school following the English National Curriculum, GEMS Royal Dubai School takes children from 3 to 11 years of age and, as of May 2016, is Mirdiff's first and currently only KHDA Outstanding-rated school. From small beginnings in 2005, when the school grew slowly in its initial years, Mirdiff's increasing popularity as a residential area, has ensured the GEMS Royal Dubai's development and growing appeal.
GEMS Royal Dubai School has been rated Outstanding for the fourth year running in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated version of the inspection report can be found under the Inspection tab. An update of this review will be completed once the full report has been issued.
The story so far...
GEMS Royal Dubai School is currently home to 1240 students, with 84 teachers, and 109 teaching assistants (a significant increase of over 40 compared with two years ago), giving the school the resources to be able to offer a good level of individual attention. The largest single demographic grouping of student is British, although over 60 nationalities are represented in total, and one in six of the school's pupils is Emirati. This is a highly inclusive school with approximately 10% of students having been identified as Students of Determination with SEND requirements.
GEMS Royal Dubai School follows the English National Curriculum (offering Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1 and 2), and has departments for Art, English/Literacy, Mathematics/Numeracy, Science, French, Arabic and Islamic Studies (from Year 1 onwards), ICT, Geography, History, Library, Social Studies, Music, Technology along with Physical Education (PE) and swimming.
Teachers are largely recruited from the United Kingdom, and the school currently enjoys a relatively low (and good) teacher turnover of 18% in the last academic year (compared with 12% a year ago). The teacher:student ratio is 1:15 - average for this tier of school.
As a GEMS school, the children in Year 6 are guaranteed a place in Year 7 at a number of colleges within the group including GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, GEMS FirstPoint and Bradenton Preparatory School without the need for an Entrance Test. However, none of these schools is currently rated as highly as GEMS Royal Dubai and, in the past, this seems to have affected the turnover of students, who appear to have left early in order to secure their Secondary place elsewhere. In the early 2010's, the school did briefly expand to include Secondary, but insufficient student numbers caused this section's closure.
Whilst it might have been appealing for parents nowadays, the school site is simply too small to accommodate the size of Secondary school needed to be able to offer an all-through option on one site. Given that the number of students on roll has remained stable over the past 3 years, it is perhaps now the case that parents have growing confidence in their Secondary options elsewhere within the GEMS group.
Students identified with SEND seem to have declined sharply. Four years ago, some 27% of GEMS Royal Dubai's pupils were identified as having mild SEND requirements, including learning delay, mild behaviour difficulties, dyslexia and dyscalculia. In 2017-18, it is less than 10%. It is not clear if this is a real decline in numbers, or a question of definition.
GEMS Royal Dubai occupies a building that is traditional in appearance although only a little over 10 years old. Facilities are by no means "old-fashioned" or traditional. They include classrooms are equipped with interactive boards and students have access to PCs, laptops, iPads and iTouchs. All technological applications used at GEMS Royal Dubai school are shared with parents so that students may continue their learning at home.
In addition, children have access to separate Foundation Stage and Primary libraries, a Multi Purpose Hall, Creative Arts taught in separate suites for Music, Drama and Art, a Mac Suite and ICT Suite, a Foundation Stage Creative Learning Zone and a Science Laboratory. Students from Year 2 can enjoy the catering available in the School Canteen, whilst parents are able to meet and relax in the Community Café. Outdoor facilities include basketball, netball and tennis courts, a sports field for soccer and other ball sports, and two swimming pools; one learner pool (0.5m depth) and a 25m six lane pool (1.5m depth).
There had been some grumbling about access to, and parking at the school; however, the school has told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that Arabian Shopping has ample parking, and the pedestrian crossing ensures a safe place to cross.
The school provides a number of after school and extra-curricula activities (including swimming lessons, ballet, karate, music, art, computers, clay modeling, chess, cookery and Indian dancing). Paid activities are provided by outside providers through E-sports and Academy Plus with payment made directly to the outside provider.
What the inspectors say
In the 2017-18 KHDA inspection, which took place in January 2018, GEMS Royal Dubai School was rated Outstanding by the DSIB Inspection team for the second time over the three year period from 2015-16. The reason for this anomaly is that GEMS Royal Dubai was one of the Outstanding rated schools that took part in the KHDA's Abundance mentoring project in 2016-17, and was not, therefore, inspected.
Two years after the initial Outstanding rating, GEMS Royal Dubai has continued to make or maintain improvements in performance across the key indicators for the most part, and in the majority on non-Arabic core subjects, attainment and progress were deemed to be Outstanding. There has been some slippage in Students' Achievement in the Primary section (as distinct from the Foundation Stage), notably in regard to progress in Mathematics (which has dropped from Outstanding to Very Good) and in the Primary section's learning skills (the same downgrade).
Conversely, attainment in Mathematics and English have moved up to Very Good (for English across the school), and progress in Primary Science is now rated Outstanding. Interestingly, key measures for Arabic as a first and second language and for Islamic Studies are rated almost universally Good, the sole exception being progress in Arabic as a first language, which remains Acceptable. This is something of achievement, since many Dubai schools struggle to move their Arabic ratings beyond Acceptable.
Inspectors commented that the strengths of the school lie in the fact that:
Students' personal and social development and their Innovation skills were found to be Outstanding across both phases with inspectors commenting that "A spirit of innovation is a key feature, witnessed in students across both phases and flourishing in science. The exemplary behaviour of students is matched by excellent staff relationships."
The quality of teaching is an evident strength of GEMS Royal Dubai, although stronger in the Foundation stage than in the Primary School. "The quality of teaching is outstanding in the Foundation Stage. It remains very good in the primary phase. The school has a well understood model for what they view to be outstanding teaching, learning and assessment. Teachers’ planning is well-informed by assessment and meets the needs of almost all students." Improving standards in the Primary section will clearly be a focus for the school over the current academic year and beyond.
At the core of the school's success clearly lies the curriculum in terms of its delivery and its adaptation to meet the needs of all students - both rated Outstanding. Inspectors commented that "The highly effective curriculum implementation and adaptation are strong features of the school. The curriculum is well received by students. Opportunities for creativity and innovation are evident in most subjects particularly science. These are enhanced through competitions and extracurricular activities."
Aside from the academic elements, GEMS Royal Dubai is also a caring and inclusive school. The Protection, Care, Guide and Support of students is also rated Outstanding. The support for students with SEND requirements has also been evaluated as Outstanding in this inspection (up from Very Good) and is a significant achievement. Few schools are deemed to provide this level of provision. Inspectors noted that "The inclusion champion and senior management team hold themselves collectively accountable both for the school’s inclusive ethos and the outcomes for students with SEND. Strategic planning and regular reviews result in very effective provision. Highly strategic and collaborative practices accurately identify the needs of students with SEND. The school maintains valuable professional links to refer students for on-going assessment and subsequently adapted support."
Clearly, for any school to operate effectively, the leadership and management of the school are key. Indeed, this was stressed by the head of the KHDA, Dr. Abdulla Al Karam during the announcement of the inspection results for 2017-18. It would seem that many schools could emulate the leadership at GEMS Royal Dubai. The inspection team stated that "Leaders at all levels, including the principal are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for all students. Relationships are excellent and parents value deeply the diligence and care provided by the school. Strategic school-improvement planning and improving teachers’ performance, are given priority. Governors are supportive and ensure compliance with all requirements. The outstanding culture of innovation is attributed to visionary leadership." High praise indeed!
Of course, there are areas in which GEMS Royal Dubai still needs to make improvements. The inspection team identified the need to:
Parents in general have very positive feelings towards the school, with good feedback on the level of friendliness and helpfulness of teachers. The KHDA inspection team commented that "Parental involvement is encouraged, welcomed and documented in school policy. Parents, students and teachers work together with a sense of common purpose to achieve the best possible outcomes. Parents volunteer and workshops are held on curricular matters." 91% of parents who responded to the pre-inspection survey expressed themselves satisfied with the quality of education their child is receiving. However, some concerns were raised in relation to class sizes - an issue that has arisen at other popular GEMS schools where class sizes of 27 in Primary are not unusual.
Based on the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey for GEMS Royal Dubai, 79% of parents are satisfied with the level of academic performance of the school (well above the 63% UAE average). 79% of respondents also said that they would recommend the school to other parents.
School fees are mid to top end of the range - but not out of the ordinary for a British curriculum school from a top tier private education provider. They start at AED 37,554 for FS1 and rise to AED 47,351 per annum for FS2 to Year 6.
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My daughter Areesha studied in this school in FS2 under Mrs. Laura Palmer and teaching assistant Ms. Una. Focus of the school is more on other activities than core learning. At the end of the year she couldn't count from 1 to 20. She didn't learn to read simple two or three letter words. In deed, the whole year was just a waste as she was not given admission in grade 1 in Choueifat DIP Branch. They assessed her twice and found her suitable for KG2 only. So, now she is repeating KG2 thanks to GRDS. I hold GRDS responsible for the waste of my daughter's one year of school.
In addition to what I'm basil said.... she probably learned many more skills which children need at such a young age. The fs stage focuses on developing their love for learning and do an amazing job. I have children that come to me who write pages once in year one. Please remember in fs1 they are only 3-4 years old. If you expect her to be reading at that age then I would have to say you have unrealistic expectations.
Fs2 is equal to kg1 so she is doing good and year one is equal to kg2