Just past its first decade, GEMS Wellington Primary School (WPS) is a well liked, established primary school based in Satwa, taking pupils from 3 to 11 years of age (FS1 to Year 6). The school is home to around 1100 children, coming from over 70 nationalities. No one country of origin dominates, but the largest single demographic is Indian. The school is rated Very Good by the Dubai regulator, the KHDA, and Outstanding across all measures in its British Schools Overseas report.
The Story so Far
GEMS Wellington Primary School opened in 2008 and follows the National Curriculum of England and Wales. The student body is currently looked after by 84 teachers - the majority of whom are British, and by a further 49 teaching assistants. All teachers are said to have appropriate teaching qualifications, giving the school a teacher to student ratio of 1:13. This is around the average for a school of this category and price-point. Teacher turnover, at 25%, is just over the average for Dubai, although the school would no doubt wish to see this at a lower level. Approximately 5% of students are Emirati and just over 10% are Students of Determination with SEND requirements.
What about the curriculum?
WPS follows the Early Years Foundation Stage in FS1 and FS2, and the English National Curriculum from Years 1 to 6. Students have access to a range of other GEMS UK curriculum schools for their transition to Secondary, with GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail or GEMS Wellington Academy Dubai Silicon Oasis probably the most convenient and with likely provision of places. GEMS' other two UK curriculum schools - Jumeirah College (JC, which is geographically the closest) and GEMS Wellington International School (WIS) - both give priority to other GEMS Primary schools - notably Jumeirah Primary School for JC and WIS own in-house primary section.
Based in the heart of Satwa and close to the Sheikh Zayed Road and Downtown Dubai, GEMS Wellington Primary School is located on an urban site, and as a result, does not have quite as much outdoor space as some newer (further out of town) schools. Previously a private girls' school, GEMS has extensively renovated and expanded it, adding class rooms, specialist teaching rooms and labs, an additional wing on one side, and enlarged outdoor play and sports areas. The Foundation section of the school is located separately to one side, with its own playground and outdoor facilities.
Indeed, facilities at the school are very good - of the standard that GEMS has for its premium range of schools. Spacious classrooms are light and well resourced including ICT resources, which are readily available and well integrated within each classroom. In addition to ICT resources dispersed throughout the school, two ICT suites, featuring workstations for students, multi-media projectors and smart boards, as well as 60 iPads, a Green Screen and Mac Books are also provided.
A well-stocked library has an extensive range of books, materials and resources. The library features reading corners, study areas, spaces for groups of students and PC workstations, which are readily available for children to access information on-line or from CDs and DVDs. Four music rooms house instruments, including percussion, orchestral instruments, keyboards and a variety of others. Two Art rooms are the centre of all creative enterprise in the school. The main Art room is a large well-equipped work area where students work with clay, thermo cole, and other materials. Science labs are also available for students' use.
Outdoor and sports facilities include a very large multi-purpose hall, two Swimming Pools (heated), and Astro Turf playing areas. The KHDA inspection teams have found both the facilities and the school environment to be in excellent condition, well-maintained, safe and clean.
GEMS Wellington Primary offers an abundance of extra curricular activities. Children from Years 1 – 6 (6 – 11 years old), can take part in up to two school activities per week, with activities run after 2:30 pm. Options include Music, Choir, Literacy Story Time, Cricket, Board Games, Arabic Writing, Swimming, Football, Basketball, ICT Aerobics, Dancing, Tennis Arts & Craft, Drama, Project Work, Tajweed "and many more".
What the Inspectors Say
The 2018-19 KHDA Report places GEMS Wellington Primary at Very Good, the fourth year in a row that the school has received this distinction after 8 years at Good. The inspection took place in November 2018, under the leadership of the school's then new Principal.
Inspectors identified the strengths of GEMS Wellington Primary School as:
Inspectors noted that "students' attainment is at least good in almost all subjects". This belies that fact that attainment in English, Mathematics and Science is rated Very Good almost across the board. The exception is for attainment in English in the Foundation Stage, where "attainment in phonics, reading and writing in FS is not as well-developed."
Primary Science attainment was also upgraded to Very Good. For the core Arabic subjects, whilst attainment is now Good across five of the six performance measures, with only Arabic as a first language attainment found to be Acceptable., The rating for students' learning skills in the Foundation Stage is Outstanding, whilst it remains Very Good in Primary.
In terms of Students personal and social development and their innovation skills, the Inspection team found that "behaviour is exemplary and attendance rates are high. In the primary phase, students' understanding of the culture and heritage of the UAE is outstanding. This is not as well developed in the FS. Students' understanding of environmental issues is a strength of the school." Personal Development was found to be Outstanding across the school.
Teaching and Assessment - at the core of any school - were found to be Very Good, both in terms of their effectiveness and assessment processes. However, whilst Science teachers were found to be effective facilitators of learning, this strength of teaching was also evident in other subjects but was found to be inconsistent.
In addition, the other key area of Curriculum design and implementation, and its adaptation to support individual students, was found to be "imaginative and has now developed so that it now motivates students in all subjects. This is an improvement in Arabic as both for first and additional language speakers, as previously students did not always find lessons interesting." Perhaps unsurprisingly, the curriculum was rated Outstanding across the school, whilst its adaptation was rated Very Good.
The protection, care, guidance and support for students were also rated highly by the inspectors. Each measure was found to be Outstanding. In particular, comments from the Inspection team noted that "health and safety procedures are designed and implemented to ensure that students are safe at all times. Barriers to effective learning for students of determination are swiftly identified and support planned. Students in Year 6 are well guided towards their next stage of education".
The inspection ratings for Leadership and management remained unchanged at Very Good in terms of the effectiveness of the Senior team, their evaluation of the school's strengths and weaknesses and improvement planning, and Governance. The relationships between the school, parents and the local community, together with the management, staffing, facilities and resources of the school, were both rated Outstanding.
With a change of Principal, the inspectors noted that "Inclusion is at the centre of the school's vision. The newly structured leadership team has had a strong impact on raising attainment in several subject areas. Self-evaluation processes are firmly in place but have not been wholly successful in ensuring consistently outstanding teaching".
In order to make that step up, the KHDA has highlighted the main areas for improvement. GEMS Wellington Primary School needs to:
The Inspection team has given very clear direction in terms of the actions required in order to raise standards to the next level. Realistically, the improvement in teaching will be the one to have the maximum impact on all students across all subjects and will inevitably be the main focus for the management team at GEMS Wellington Primary School. In Outstanding schools, it is the core performance standards of Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum that invariably have the most impact of Student Achievement.
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly advise that you do so - you will find it here.
What do parents say?
The school itself is extremely proud of its relationship with parents - and notes its Outstanding rating in this regard in its KHDA report. In the KHDA's own pre-inspection survey of parents, of the 301 responses, 97% said that they were satisfied with the quality of education at the school. Parents who responded to the survey had very positive views. Almost all are satisfied with the quality of education and believe that teachers provide their children with skills needed to be successful learners. Most parents are happy with methods of communication and confirm that their views are listened to and acted upon.
In the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com School Survey, GEMS Wellington Primary comes highly recommended by parents. There is almost uniform satisfaction over academic attainment, but slightly lower satisfaction with the level of feedback to parents and with school discipline. 100% of respondents would recommend the school to other parents, despite the fact that over 20% do not feel that the fees represent value for money.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at GEMS Wellington Primary School, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our School Survey.
What about Fees?
Fees at GEMS Wellington Primary are at the higher end of the spectrum, beginning at AED 43,388 for Foundation, rising immediately to AED 54,691 from FS2 to Year 6.
The school has a waiting list, but encourages parents to meet its registrations and admissions team. There is an application fee of AED 500, a registration fee of 10% of the annual fees on offer of a place, and a re-registration fee for existing students of 10% to guarantee a place for the following academic year.
Fees are paid termly.
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