GEMS Wellington International School, a mixed-gender private school owned and run by GEMS Education, has been ranked Outstanding for the past nine years, one of a select few to have achieved that level of consistency. The school was the first large, out of town development by GEMS and has served as the model for several other schools bearing the Wellington name, including GEMS Wellington Academies Dubai Silicon Oasis and Al Khail, which mirror the UK curriculum/post-16 IB framework.
GEMS Wellington International School has been rated Outstanding for the tenth 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...
Wellington International School (WIS) takes children from 3 years (FS1) to 18 years of age (Year 13). The 2,680 plus students - an increase of approximately 100 over the last two years - come from over 80 nationalities with the biggest grouping from India, with some 76 (around 3%) being Emirati and 374 students being identified as Students of Determination, with SEND requirements. Students follow the English National Curriculum to I/GCSE at 16, and have the option of the IB Diploma Programme, the IB Courses Programme or the IB Careers Programme post-16.
Students are taught by 213 full-time teachers. Teachers are predominantly British and almost all have relevant teaching qualifications. Of these teachers, 22 percent were new in 2017, a similar turnover to 2014-15, and down from a 29 per cent turnover in the year prior to this. Dubai international schools' average staff turnover annually is around 20-22%, and most schools aim to minimise the turnover due to the disruption of having to bring on large numbers of new teachers at the start of the academic year. Teachers at WIS are supported by 92 teaching assistants, an increase of around 30% compared with 2015-16. The student to teacher ratio is currently at approximately 13:1, with classroom sizes between 25 and 27. This has remained fairly constant at the school.
The school's current principal, Ruth Burke, was formerly head teacher at JESS Jumeirah - another Outstanding school. Her predecessor, Keith Miller, moved to GEMS Wellington Academy in Al Khail. Since coming on board in 2015, Mrs Burke has proved adept at bringing order into a bustling, happy environment - and has made the corridors her own. GEMS and WIS staff and students will no doubt be disappointed at Mrs. Burke's decision to move on to Deira International School in September 2018. Her successor has not yet been named.
WIS follows the English National Curriculum from Foundation Stage to Year 11. At the end of the secondary phase, students are entered for IGCSE and GCSE. In the post-16 phase, students follow the increasingly sought-after International Baccalaureate Diploma programme.
WIS is located just off the Sheikh Zayed Road across from Al Barsha 1 and Mall of the Emirates. The school stands on a large site and has extensive outdoor space and sports facilities. Resources and facilities at WIS are as you would expect for a “premium” GEMS school – impressive. There is an indoor, air-conditioned swimming pool, soccer fields, a state-of-the-art gym, three science laboratories, a library, and four computer laboratories with over 120 computers. Recent additions have included a Sixth Form study area and common room. The building features a central atrium with cafeteria on the lower-ground floor and a very impressive auditorium on the Ground floor. The school has some features which were quite unique on opening, including its radio station and recording facilities.
You can find out more details by reading our visit Experience.
GEMS schools used to publicly post their academic achievements (a big tick as far as WSA is concerned) on their Websites. However, GEMS Education as a group no longer does this - a shame and very much a step backwards as far as we are concerned. However, there appears to be a change of policy at individual school level and we, at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, are very pleased to see this.
For GCSE results in 2017, the school did particularly well with 50% of students achieving A* to A grades this year and 98%, 5 A*-C grades. This compares with 39% and 90% respectively for the same results in 2016. Students achieving 5 A*-C including English and Maths have improved from 82% to 95% in the last academic year. Clearly, something is going very right from an academic perspective at WIS.
Students have the option of 3 variants at post-16. These include the IB Diploma Programme where students take six subjects and complete, in addition, an Extended Essay, CAS (Community, Action and Service) and Theory of Knowledge. The IB Courses Programme enables students take a bespoke approach to the IB, selecting courses of their choice rather than all of the requirements of the Diploma Programme. Usually students will take a maximum of 4 subjects. The IB Careers Programme is a programme for students who are interested in a specific career path which is generally more practical and/or vocational in nature. They take a Level 3 BTEC programme along with two IB Courses.
WIS only issues results for the IB Diploma Programme. In 2018, IB Diploma results were published after the school had closed for the Summer break, and as a result, a statement came from GEMS at a corporate level. We hope that more detailed information will be forthcoming from the school directly, but current information is that the average score WIS students achieved was 34 points this year. This compares with a slightly lower global average of 29.78 (down from 29.9 in 2017) and a UAE average of 31.41. WIS and GEMS Dubai American Academy achieved the highest overall average among the six GEMS schools offering the Diploma programme. The top scoring student at WIS scored 44 points - one away from the perfect score of 45.
In 2017, 84 students sat for the IB Diploma and all passed. This compares with 63 students in the prior year. The average point score in 2017 (out of 45) was 35.5 - the same result as one year earlier - and claimed by WIS as the highest point score among all IB schools in Dubai. The highest individual score by a students in 2017 was 44, whilst it was 45 in 2016. Impressively, over 92% of students achieved 30+ points, 57% achieved 35+ and 19% achieved 40+ points. While there is no fast rule, 34 is generally considered the benchmark for acceptance into the traditional 'Redbrick' UK universities. Tier one universities (such as Oxford) look for 38 or above. Full details of the results can be found here.
Many schools do not like the focus parents give to academic results, because doing so fails to recognise the value addition a school provides. Clearly a selective school taking on more academic students, will ultimately post better academic results. Wellington International School is not selective, but an inclusive, mixed ability school and in common with similar schools such as JESS Arabian Ranches, is confirming that a non-selective approach does not prevent these schools and their students from performing very well.
What the inspectors say
WIS was one of the Outstanding and Very Good rated schools that was not inspected in 2016-17 due to their participation in the KHDA's Abundance mentoring project. Therefore, all they retained their Outstanding rating during 2016-17, the most recent inspection, which took place in February 2018, is the first for two years. Again, WIS retained its Outstanding rating following this latest inspection.
Overall, the school clearly performs at a very high standard. There has been some slight slippage in the Primary section in respect of Student achievement - notably in Maths and Science, which have been downgraded to Very Good from Outstanding, and Arabic core subjects remain predominantly Acceptable. However, Students' Learning Skills remain Outstanding across the board. In fact, with the sole exception of Teaching for Effective Learning and Assessment in the Primary section (presumably in line with the downgrade for Maths and Science), every other key indicator except one is Outstanding. This is for the School's self-evaluation and improvement planning, which has been downgraded to Very Good, due to improvements to address the Primary Maths and Science attainment not yet having had as positive an impact as anticipated.
The provision and outcomes for Students with Special Educational Needs is also rated Outstanding - one of a small number of schools to achieve this rating. Students are supported by a SEND team of teachers and teaching assistants. More information on this may be found in our Q and A with the school. (Note: GEMS has ramped up its SEN provision across its schools in recent years with WIS having been one of the pioneers with its Achievement Centre. Parents should note, however, the individual attention students receive may come at an additional cost).
The KHDA report lauds the strengths of WIS as a school that :
Of course, there are improvements to be made, and they are as expected. WIS should:
We can but assume that Mrs. Burke will be doing her utmost, together with her team, to ensure that any downward movement in individual ratings will be addressed and dealt with for her successor.
With this quality of KHDA Inspection report, in combination with its academic results, it is hardly surprising that WIS remains one of the most popular (and over-subscribed) schools in the city. A relatively small number of parents responded to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey, but those who did expressed themselves satisfied with the quality of education provided by the school.
Interestingly, the parents who completed the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey were less impressed. Chief complaints seem to be in relation to fees, where over half felt that fees did not represent Good value for money given the quality of the school offering and 60% said they had considered moving their child to another school. Only 45% were satisfied with the academic performance of the school (compared with a UAE average of 63%), although a further 41% were partially satisfied. Whilst 45% of parents said they would recommend the school (compared with a UAE average of 72%), 32% said they would not. Whether these results are from a particularly disaffected group of parents, we cannot say. However, we would certainly recommend any parents considering WIS for their child/ren, to visit the school for themselves and determine if it is the right school for them.
Fees at WIS are inevitably at the Premium end: Tuition starts at AED 43,050 for FS1, rising quickly to AED 54,224 from FS2 to Year 6, and AED 74,764 in Year 7. Fees for Year 13 students are AED 93,658 per annum. There is a non-refundable registration fee of AED 500 is due at the time of application. When an offer of a place in the school is made, an admission fee of AED 10,000 is required to secure the place. This admission fee is non-refundable and adjustable against the first term's fees.
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I found the comments very useful for the parents and the children. I have three kids, 5,9 and 10 years. I am bringing my family in June 2016. Can anyone advise me how and when to apply for the vacancies in the school. My interest is to bring them in GWI. Is it possible for the three kids?
Wellington International is a very popular school and you would need to apply as soon as possible for places via their school website. They will only be able to offer if they have families leaving, so we would strongly advise that you also apply to other schools offering the UK curriculum. GEMS has numerous schools in Dubai - www.gemseducation.com and if you check the Whichschooladvisor Dubai Primary Schools from the Home Page, you will also find out about the many other school options. Newer schools tend to be in a better position to cater to families with siblings as they are expanding and can usually have greater flexibility on places.
Hi, my son is 4yrs 6 month old and is moving from India to Dubai. he has finished his KG1 & we are looking to admit him in KG1 mid semister. Is there a vacancy in your prestigous school or any sister school of GEMS in the proximity of Media City. I am looking for IB or UK.
i want enroll my 2 kids. kg1-gead1.this year.is it posible???
they was at universal american shool.
I want to enroll my 2 kids (6 and 10) in yr 2 and 6 next year. GEMS Wellington, Sufouh is my preference. However, as places are booked up, GEMS refer to their Al Khada site instead. What is the relationship, is it as good?
GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail is a sister school to Wellington International that opened in September 2013. As such it is relatively new, but has strong ambitions academically. We understand that the current Head of Wellington International will take over at Wellington Academy-Al Khail in September, so there is clear evidence that GEMS wants it to be as successful as its older sister. You can read our review via the following link:
"The 2376 students (from over 80 nationalities with the biggest groupings from India, Pakistan and the U.S.)"
Interesting that the largest group isn't students from the UK, but also the third largest group are from the US? Wow.
The only problem i have this school is the tution fees. Is there any discount?
Hi John, this is a very established and popular school, so highly unlikely. Early bird discounts are increasingly being used to entice students to new schools - often by the same education providers, often with first class facilities - but without the bedding in time for policies and procedures...
Appreciate feedback on following..
Does this school enroll international student whose parents are not resident of UAE? How is the facility.. any feedback?
Does it have boarding facility for 11 & 12 grade students?
Hi Milan. No boarding facilities (a relatively new concept in the UAE).
I want to enroll/take admission for my two kids in Gems Welington International school for yr 8 & yr12. They are currently following the IGCSE EDXCEL pattern in Colombo.
How should i go about it and is it possible to get admission from 2nd Term i.e. from 1st Jan'15?
Hi Ashish, kindly contact the school to discuss this with them. Contact details may be found at the top of the review.
I would like my 4 years old son and 3 years old start in September 2014 the school in Gems Wellington International School. What do I need to do to it?
Hi, you need to contact the school in the first instance and submit the correct forms. You will find a link and the telephone number to the school at the top of the review.
Please let me know...Is it possible to get admission in grade 12 , for a student pursuing full IB diploma from another school, in the start of or middle of the session for graduation yr 2015 ?
which language in your school is the medium of instruction followed?
Hi Priya - English...
Hi, I have a son who will be in year 10 next year. Are there after school activities and trips at GEMS Wellington School, or is it only academically focused?