United Arab Emirates / Dubai / Al Sufouh / GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai

GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai Q & A

GEMS Wellington International School (WIS), is a mixed-gender UK curriculum school offering the IB Diploma programme in Sixth Form. It is operated by GEMS Education and has been ranked Outstanding for ten of the past eleven years since inspections began, one of a select few to have achieved that level of consistency.
Parents' Rating
1.8 out of 5 based on 46 reviews
At a glance
School type
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Availability 2020/21
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Availability 2021/22
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Annual fee average
AED 68,000
Annual fees
AED 46,000 - 80,000
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jul
Ms. Maryssa O'Connor
GEMS Education
Main teacher nationality
Main student nationality
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Welcome to the GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai 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.

What qualities and characteristics would you say define your school?

In GEMS Wellington International School your child will experience an enabling, inclusive environment that will inspire them to achieve and succeed. Creative and critical thinking, within the context of meaningful real-life learning experiences, is central to experiences in all areas of our curriculum. We equip our children with the skills, attitudes and attributes required to become proactive citizens in an international community; respectful of themselves, each other and the world around them. In addition to academic excellence, our curriculum offers opportunities for students to excel in leadership, sport, creative and performing arts.
As a fully inclusive international school, enabling a first class educational experience for students aged three to eighteen years, ensuring that all students are supported and challenged to achieve success is at the heart of all we provide. We recognise the uniqueness of each child through a programme of learning opportunities that promote challenge and personalised learning at all levels.

How many nationalities are represented in your school?

There are 93 different nationalities represented at GEMS Wellington International School and this is celebrated with the support of our active parental group (WISPA) through events such as International Day, Heritage Week, Diwali, Iftar and our Winter Festival.

Are there high proportions of a particular nationality?

A truly international ethos permeates all aspects of life at GWIS with British and Indian nationals accounting for 40% of the school population and 91 other nationalities attending.

What is the teacher: student ratio in your school?

Our PTR is 12:1.

Does your school have a waiting list?

Yes, we do have waiting lists, as we are a highly sought after school. However, we are able to offer a limited number of places each year. To register, please visit our website www.wellingtoninternationalschool.com.
For further information regarding availability, please email registrar_wis@gemsedu.com

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

With world class facilities including two swimming pools, floodlit pitches, tennis and basketball courts, plus large indoor sports halls and Dance studio, we are able to offer an exciting array of activities and sports for all students. As well as outstanding curriculum provision, the opportunities provided before and after school, with additional clubs and activities ensure all students can access a range of activities. Opportunities to engage in dance and swimming continue to grow with our recently expanded PE and Performing Arts departments.

How does your school promote healthy lifestyles?

We have a wide variety of sports clubs and activities including dance and cricket, swimming, yoga that take place before, during and after school. Sports offered at school include football, tennis, netball, cricket, rugby, swimming, rounders and basketball. Our teams compete in local, regional and national competitions in and around Dubai achieving great success. Healthy lifestyles are promoted through many aspects of the curriculum including PSHE, Science and wellbeing events such as our Health and Fitness week. Our clinic, comprising of a full time doctor and three nurses, promotes healthy practices through workshops, circulars and advice to parents. Our school is very well resourced and all aspects PE/ Sport are supported by high quality teaching and ancillary staff as well as excellent resources in superbly equipped environments.

How do you promote healthy eating?

Cross curriculum links are established in PSHE, PE and science ensuring that students have a clear understanding of healthy eating and making good choices. Our Student Council is very active in contributing to the catering arrangements offered with the school. In addition regular student, staff and parental feedback is promptly actioned. Our Healthy Eating policy assists all stakeholders in ensuring the school vision of ‘Success for all as lifelong learners’ permeate all aspects of student development.

Does the school have cafeteria facilities for the students?

We have two cafes in the school- one for students and one for the parents. Students cafeteria opens from 7am and is used on a daily by students and staff. Healthy and balanced school meals are provided as part of our healthy eating policy to ensure that both students who purchase food at school and those who choose to bring packed lunches are developing the skills required to make healthy choices.

If yes, does it serve hot food?

A range of hot food is offered to students each day. Popular nutritious menu dishes are rotated regularly and are communicated to students and parents each week on our communication app. Vegetarian dishes as well as hot toasted sandwiches, fruits, yoghurts, salads, baked potatoes and paninis are available too.

What would be the amount spent by a student for their lunchtime meal?

A hot plate including rice, vegetables and a meat or fish option costs an average of 15 - 20AED.

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

Year Group Start Finish
FS1 0815 1230
FS2 0815 1420 (Sunday – Wednesday)
1230 (Thursday)
Year 1-6 0745 1435 (Sunday – Wednesday)
1245 (Thursday)
Year 7-13 0740 1445 (Sunday – Wednesday)
1300 (Thursday)

Years 5-13 arriving between 7am and 7.20am have access to the Onyx Café where a light breakfast is available.

Is there a school uniform?

Foundation Stage, Years 1 and 2 students wear a simple top with shorts or skorts.

Years 3-11 wear a blouse or shirt and shorts/ skorts combination which were designed by the students themselves. Threads is the retailer from whom to purchase our uniform.

Business attire as the dress code for our Sixth Form students in Years 12 and 13.

Email: support@threadsme.com

Our “look smart, think smart” ethos is apparent throughout the school with business attire as the dress code for our Sixth Form students.

Please advise on your discipline policy?

A clear and consistent age appropriate behaviour management system is embedded. This is made available to students within their diaries and during induction, parental engagement evenings and in all aspects of day to day life at the school. Form Tutors and Heads of Year work closely with students, and their parents, educating them on the appropriate behaviour conduct expected. The emphasis on positive reinforcement of expected behaviours works effectively in all year groups within our school and our culture of older students operating as positive role models and student leaders is instrumental in creating the wonderful atmosphere that exists here at GWIS; one often commented on by visitors to our school.

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

Our open-door policy, access to information relating to academic and pastoral matters are published on GEMS Connect/My Learning and D6 (our school communicator app) which ensures that parents are fully updated on all aspects of school life. Staff also maintain contact with parents as necessary through direct email.

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

Parents receive five data capture reports, a full written report and three parent consultation events per year.

What is your medium of instruction?


Is Arabic taught as both a first language and second language in your school?

Yes the Arabic department deliver high quality lessons to both native and non-native students. In addition a broad range of ECAs and parental engagement opportunities ensure the learning of the language is engaging, fun and highly celebrated. In our wonderful library, there is a wide range of Arabic texts available for our students to enjoy.

Which other languages are taught?

1. Arabic as a 1st language
2. Arabic as a 2nd language
3. French
4. German
5. Spanish
6. Italian

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

All students’ level of English is supported through a range of programmes from Foundation Stage to aid and assist students in their development. In addition holiday club programs are available to accelerate progress in English. There is significant focus on reading literacy in all subjects and this is effectively supported through Accelerated Reader. Students accessing the programme in the library, show significant progress in the development of their reading skills. Highly differentiated teaching using gap analysis feedback also ensures rapid progress with reading and comprehension support prioritised to assure success for all students; interventions such as Sound Training, a phonics exploration programme further support our students’ development.

Is Islamic Education/Studies for the Arab Muslim students delivered in Arabic for them?

Our Islamic programme for Arabs is delivered through the medium of Arabic. In addition visitors, trips, parental engagement sessions and special events in Arabic ensure links to real life learning are maximised.

Do you have a dedicated prayer room/s for the Muslim students?

Our two prayer rooms based within the school allow students to pray as required.

Does your school measure Value Added data? Please provide details of your current Value Added average scores

As an outstanding school, progress levels are very high. The use of data and assessment to fine-tune and focus teaching is embedded resulting in students making better than expected progress in every key stage. The triad of student, school and parental partnership is instrumental in attaining the outstanding Value Added achieved. Qualifications and assessments such as CAT4 reflect the successes our students gain in their time wih us. All aspects of the CAT4 assessments show high levels of achievement in comparison to their peers elsewhere. We set extremely challenging targets for our students as they prepare for qualifications and the vast majority of them achieve or exceed these; again often outperforming their peers completing the same examinations elsewhere both locally and internationally. The 2017 IB results, Average Point Score of 36 was the highest in the UAE

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

We offer GCSE, IGCSE, BTEC, ASDAN and IB (Diploma, Courses and Career pathways)

A range of external assessments including cognitive assessments, language development tests, Maths, Science and English progress tests provide information to staff and parents regarding student progress and their next steps in learning.

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

In Primary the emphasis is very much on the consolidation of basic skills including reading, comprehension spelling, learning tables and numeracy. As well as consolidating new learning, homework enables parents to support and develop students’ key learning skills such as time management and the ability to prioritise.

In Secondary students receive two pieces of work per week in key stage 3; 3- 4 hours per week in key stage 4 and 6-7 hours per week in key stage 5. Students are also encouraged to complete project based tasks, independent studies and use the My Learning curriculum areas to extend their studies.

How do you support gifted, able and talented students?

Students are identified early through data and pastoral profiling; our talented team of enrichment teachers and specialist teaching assistants provide targeted small group learning opportunities for our gifted and talented children. Intervention occurs both inside and outside of the classroom with IEPs, high levels of communication with parents, a range of personalised pathways and broad curriculum options provided.

Our children have had notable successes at the World Scholar’s Cup and in various debating, mathematics, poetry, writing and reading competitions demonstrating the rich and varied provision available. The GEMs Music Academy and the provision for music within the school ensure our students can excel in their study of music and they are encouraged to complete exams in their choice of instrument. Through the diverse curriculum we ensure our gifted and talented students can succeed in all aspects from the arts to the STEM cluster of subjects. We support their entry to competition such as the ‘Formula 1 in schools’ event; our team was selected to participate in the final round of the competition held in Malaysia 2017.

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

We expect a 100% of our students to go to university unless they are pursuing a very specific career route. In 2017, approximately 60% went to the UK, 25% to the USA and remainder to Canada and Europe. A small number will also attend university in Australia.
In the UK, destinations in 2017 include Kings’ College London, University of St Andrews, Warwick, Durham, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Exeter. Students pursuing very specialist courses are also attending Royal Holloway, University of the Arts London, Royal College of Design, London Met and Brighton. In the US we have students who went to University of Pennsylvania, Ohio and UCLA. In previous years students have attended Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, George Washington and Chicago. In 2017, we have students in Canada at The University of British Colombia, University of Toronto, McGill, Concordia and Ryerson.
Our students receive exceptional guidance when making their applications to university with the support of an expert team, including our Careers Adviser who ensures students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to select, apply and succeed in their chosen pathways and destinations.

Do you have a learning support team in your school?

We have a dedicated team of professionals at GEMS Wellington International School, with a huge range of experience and expertise. Our team of 65 specialists is made up of three SENDCos, an Achievement Centre lead, learning support assistants and learning assistants all ensuring that quality and specialist support is available for our students. Working alongside these we have a visiting occupational therapist and two speech and language therapists and two school counsellors to provide social and emotional support. In addition, IncludeMe, a support group organised by parents for parents, supports the work of the school through liaison with various outside agencies, resource development, parental guidance and information sharing.

At GEMS Wellington International School, we pride ourselves on being a fully inclusive school; as we strive to continuously develop our SEND department to ensure we are meeting the needs of each individual student. We have a large and dedicated team across FS, Primary and Secondary who bring years of experience and expertise along with a passion for learning and teaching.

Early identification of needs, parental support and guidance, a safe and comfortable environment, personalised learning and a huge range of facilities and resources ensure that we can offer a holistic approach to each student.

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?

We offer an outstanding level of SEN support, catering for a wide range of students with a broad variety of needs. Students at GWIS are hugely successful in our fully inclusive setting. We provide a range of specialist areas for sensory, speech and language, movement and occupational therapy alongside specialist learning hubs for more specific interventions, all tailored to both individual and small group needs. A range of therapists work within the school to support students in achieving their goals, as shared with parents in the IEPs on a regular basis. Teachers use the IEPs to specifically inform the highest level of support for each student. What sets our provision apart and has resulted in a rating of outstanding for nine years by KHDA, is the personalised approach offered here at GEMS Wellington International School. In our last report from DSIB inspectors wrote that Support for students with SEND was exemplary. Great care was taken to ensure that all students identified received appropriate support to enable them to progress at the best level they could (DSIB 2016).

Please provide comprehensive details of how well your school did in 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?

5A*- C 98%
5A* - C inc Maths and English 95%

99% of students passed the IB Diploma in 2017 with an average score of 35.5 points well-above the world average, including one student who achieved the maximum of 45 points. 19% of our IB Diploma students in 2017 achieved 40 points and above. Our average point score was 36 compared to the world average of 30%

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

The Achievement Centre team have a breadth of experience in a variety of special educational needs. We have a Dyslexia specialist and an ADHD specialist within our team, and we also have an outside SpLD specialist provider who works with our children on the school site. We work closely with local specialist centres to ensure that our students have access to all the help and support they may need.

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

Whilst we do not employ our own educational psychologists we offer high levels of support by our counsellors and visiting therapists including Kidsfirst Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Many students benefit from receiving their speech and occupational therapy here at school.

Do you have a parents’ group supporting the school?

The parents at GEMS Wellington International School are committed to the concept of Parents as Partners; this makes all aspects of school life here so very special. Our Parents’ Group (WISPA) support community building events, charity and fund raising activities and together with our staff promote the importance of high levels of parental engagement. In addition our IncludeME group provide a support network for all parents in our fully inclusive school. Highlights from our WISPA calendar this year include celebrations for the entire school community for Iftar, Diwali, Winter Fair, International Day and Pink Day. Engagement activities for parents have included staff vs parents’ football, early morning activities sessions and breakfast events to support working parents’ needs.

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

The expertise and energy of all parents is harnessed through a range of channels including regular open forum coffee morning style events and activity sessions in classrooms with parents working alongside their children, as well as assemblies and presentations showcasing progress, effort and achievement. Opportunities to volunteer as reading buddies, school trip assistants and special visitors for theme days and special projects ensure that parents can be involved and are welcomed to school as key contributors and genuine partners in learning.

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

Our local advisory board includes two parents. In addition, a range of open-style events, parent voice opportunities, surveys and our open door policy ensures parents have opportunities to provide feedback and enjoy high levels of engagement and genuinely contribute to school development and success.

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

There is an information morning on the first day of school where the parents have an opportunity to meet the Primary and Secondary Leadership team and our Principal. This is followed by a Meet and Greet with class teachers and tutors and a check in phone call with Senior Leaders to enable parents to offer feedback, seek advice and develop a positive rapport within the school. Parents are also invited to attend informal Parent Engagement meetings and WISPA events at the start of and throughout the year. The induction of new students and their families is a key element in the success of GEMS Wellington International School, we believe that working in partnerships with our parents is a key to our students’ success. Student voice is an important aspect too; all new students are encouraged to share their views and suggestions for areas of improvement within the first month of joining and beyond. This has proved very popular and is assisting with many aspects of school development. Our buddy system and highly effective pastoral and mentoring programme ensures that ongoing induction is effective and all aspects of care and support are prioritised by our staff.

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