United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Dubai Silicon Oasis / GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis

GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis Review

GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) has just received its fourth KHDA report, and has moved up one rating to Very Good. This, we believe, is something to shout about. Few schools have achieved a rating which puts it tantalisingly close to the top-tier Outstanding grade, and in relatively quick time too.
GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis
First Published: Saturday 8 June, 2013
Updated: Wednesday 22 November, 2017

GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) has just received its fourth KHDA report, and has moved up one rating to Very Good. This, we believe, is something to shout about. Few schools have achieved a rating which puts it tantalisingly close to the top-tier Outstanding grade, and in relatively quick time too.

First Published: Saturday 8 June, 2013
Updated: Wednesday 22 November, 2017

The Story so Far

GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis is a GEMS Education school, which has over the years clearly developed the skills and expertise to deliver quality schools highly tailored to a specific target market.

Certainly Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis seems to be in something of a hurry to be established. It opened in September 2011 with approximately 1,000 students, and more than doubled in size after that first year to 2930 students, taking students from ages three to 17. It currently has over 4,000 students and teaches to Year 13.

What the Inspectors Say 2016/2017


Overall, this is a school on the cusp of Outstanding. As GEMS Wellington Academy, students' attainment and progress is high and "students' personal and social development is exceptional." Even with over 4,000 students, there is a community feel and focus on an inclusive and innovative ethos. 

This is a school driven by strong leadership where leaders "set a clear vision and direction for the school’s work. Leadership is widely devolved, promotes high standards, and focuses on raising students' performance. Sophisticated self-evaluation enables the leadership and the well-informed governors to identify and target the right areas for action in their improvement planning." 

Secondary and Post-16 does need to focus on student attainment and progress because even though they are ranked from Acceptable to Outstanding, there has been a drop in English attainment and progress in the Secondary and Attainment in Science in Post-16.  Post-16 maths is only Acceptable in attainment and Good in progress. As the report notes, "Improve students' attainment in post-16 mathematics by ensuring that all teachers have access to relevant IB professional development and demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills to
support students.

What the Inspectors Say 2015/206

That the school has achieved a Very Good grade against the backdrop of such heady growth makes its current rating even more impressive.

The 4000 plus students also make this one of the very largest UK/IBDP schools in the country. Some 96 nationalities are represented within that student body, with the largest single demographic from the UK, and then European countries. Just 2% of the student population is Emirati, but just over 10% have been identified with some form of Special Educational Need or Disability (SEND). Provision for students with SEND is said to be excellent and SEND students feel very well supported.

There are some 298 teachers in total and all are said to have appropriate teaching qualifications - and clearly use them well. Most outcomes for students are either very good or outstanding according to the school's latest report, with teaching and students' learning skills also very good or outstanding quality.

The curriculum is said to be rich and focused on individual students' needs. Wellington Academy DSO follows the National Curriculum for England from Foundation Stage to Sixth Form. Students in Key Stage 4 will follow GCSE Examination Courses and students in the Sixth Form will prepare for IB Diploma and IB Career-related Certificate.

Interestingly a strength of the school is the positive attitude of students and the part they had played in forming a cohesive learning community. Given the newness of the school this is not something you would have expected to take place so quickly.

Areas for focus are primarily Arabic and Islamic Studies - areas singled out in reports for most private schools in the UAE.

What do Parents Say? 

Which School Advisor has received good feedback from parents in the Which School Advisor School Survey, although only six out of 10 parents with children at the school would currently recommend the school. There is stronger satisfaction over academic performance.

Feedback to the education regulator notes some concerns from the school's educators that recent rapid growth has put some strain on resources.

What about Facilities? 

Facilities at Wellington DSO are pretty impressive as you would probably expect of large purpose built facilities by GEMS. These include:

  • Good sized teaching areas with Interactive Whiteboards in every classroom; a 25m 6 lane metre pool, with diving platforms and a learner pool
  • Full Sized Sports Field (Astroturf)
  • Large multi-purpose indoor sports hall, with retractable auditorium seating and staging for large Academy events
  • Indoor Foundation Stage Play Area
  • Outdoor multi-purpose courts; Outdoor Foundation Stage Play Area
  • Visual Arts Suite including Art Rooms and Viewing Gallery
  • Science Labs and an ICT Suite
  • a Parent's Cafe
  • a Student Cafeteria
  • Performing Arts Suite, including Music Practice Rooms, Dance Studio & Drama Studio
  • a Library; a Media Suite, including Editing Rooms, Recording Studio & Mac Suite; a Junior Sports Hall

GEMS in general does not disappoint in terms of the facilities it provides its students, and it has not wasted the opportunity of the purpose built school to invest in future proofing its DSO offering.

The school claims to offer over 90 Extra Curricular Activities where students can participate with both recreational and competitive objectives, including; Rugby, Basketball, Athletics, Science, Maths, Book Club, Choir, Strategy Games, Arabic, Debating, Cricket, Ball Skills and Band. Fixtures are played in a number of sports between other schools in Dubai. The school currently has inter-school squads in Football, Rugby, Netball, Swimming and Athletics.

Admissions to Wellington Academy, DSO requires students (from Years 5 - 13) to sit an age related placement test "to ensure that he / she is prepared for the high quality education on offer". For all applications, the child's latest school report is used instead of an interview. For applications from overseas, Wellington DSO will contact the child's existing school to courier placement tests. Note: an offer of a place is not solely based on entrance test.

And Fees? 

Fees for Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis fall in the middle with other premium GEMS Education schools, ranging from 36,540 AED to 82,511 AED per annum in year 12.

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2 Archived Comments
unhappy parent
Archived 30th Oct 2016, 08:11

Too much emphasis on the school as a business rather than our children's education in my opinion.

Happy Mum
Archived 15th Sep 2014, 15:38

I have to say I am quite pleased with the school so far. My kids have only joined this year and perhaps it's early days yet, but from what we have seen the school is intent on fulfilling all the promises offered. The kids and teachers have made them feel welcome enough to at least not miss their old school and that is a big relief!
I can safely say I have faith in their ability to deliver.