Owned and managed by the the country's largest education provider, GEMS Education, GEMS Westminster School Sharjah was established with the expectation that it would emulate its sister school of the same name in Dubai.
The story so far..
GEMS Westminster School Sharjah (WSS) opened on October 2nd 2012. Founding Principal Valerie Thompson (formerly head of GEMS' Al Khaleej National School) announced to parents that she was "ecstatic" the gates were open. Now in its seventh year of operation, Ms. Thompson remains Principal at the school, a clear sign of her enthusiasm and on-going commitment. The GEMS Westminster School Sharjah was set up to emulate the very successful Dubai school of the same name. Its clearly stated Vision is Excellence Through Team Work Success for All. The school is a place where children work hard, achieve and become friends.
Read the official Which School Advisor GEMS Westminster School, Sharjah Questionnaire here.
Staffing of the school appears to be a mix of strongly experienced UK leaders and predominantly Indian teachers, together with a range of other nationalities. This is reflective of the student nationality mix; - no one nationality dominates among the 70 countries represented - and enables the school to offer a UK curriculum at a relatively affordable fee level. With a staff:student ratio of 1:16, students are fortunate that there is likely to be considerably more individual attention than might normally be the case in a moderately priced school.
What about the curriculum?
The GEMS Westminster School, Sharjah follows the internationally recognised UK Curriculum (the National Curriculum for England and Wales) and prepares students to take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level and A Level Examinations of the Universities of Cambridge and London (UK). The first cohort of Grade 11 students sat their AS exams in June 2018 and have now started on their second year of A Level studies with the first cohort due to graduate in June 2019. The school is a full KG- Grade 12 school (based on the Sharjah K-12 system), so the equivalent of FS2 to Year 13.
The school says that benefits for students attending the school include the internationally recognised National Curriculum for England, child-centered programmes, Value-based education, an extensive extra-curricular programme to develop personality and character, dedicated staff, and a friendly and happy atmosphere. Digital Literacy is a core part of the curriculum, which is defined as ‘the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate, and create information using a range of digital technologies’. Students have wide-spread access to ICT from KG to Grade 12.
WSS has a unique “dual pathway” for all its IGCSE candidates. Students are given an option to appear for their IGCSE examinations in either the usual two years or an extended three years, based on their performance, aptitude and career choices. All students commence the programme in Grade 9, but students who study their IGCSE courses over three years would complete the course in Grade 11 and then continue to do their AS subjects in Grade 12.
WSS strongly believes that this flexibility gives students the necessary time to develop their academic abilities to meet the requirements of these public (equivalent to Board) exams and students are able to perform well - irrespective of their starting points.
The schools a relatively broad range of IGCSE subjects including English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Accounting, Economics, Business studies, Combined Sciences, Information technology, Geography, Art and Design, Arabic as Native and Second language, Travel and Tourism, and Food and Nutrition.
In AS/A level, in common with many lower-priced schools educating a largely Asian population, the options are considerably more limited, and include English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Business studies, Accounting, and Information and Communication technology. In line with the aspirations of many students and their families, there is a strong focus on Science and Commerce stream equivalents to Indian curriculum schools.
WSS has a specialist SEND Department which is run by the SEN Coordinator, specialist guidance counsellors and a team of Learning Support Assistants who work with individual students. A specialist programme is provided for Gifted and Talented students called The Bloomers Club, where students work as an observation team, observing student learning in lessons and working to improve it. There are also Gifted and Talented representatives for each section of the school who work with the GEMS Gifted and Talented Network to continue to improve the selection and support of Gifted and Talented students.
The school expects that by the time students leave, they will have several years’ experience of academic, sporting, dramatic, artistic, musical and personal growth to look back on. GEMS Westminster School offers a wide array of options for students to expand their knowledge, with the core curriculum being enhanced by broad offerings in technology, sports, and in the visual and performing arts.
What about academic achievement?
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is delighted that GEMS Westminster School Sharjah is among a very small number of Sharjah schools to publish their IGCSE results. The data provided is for the entire cohort of students (some 157) who took the exams in June 2017, and the data for the 18 students who took the exams after two years in 2018.
The option for students to take the IGCSE programme over three years, means that the balance of of the 2018 cohort will, in fact, sit their exams in 2019. An overall achievement of 72% of exam entries graded A*-C for the 2017 cohort of 157 students is certainly something of which the school can be proud. However, it is clear that those 18 students who sat the exams after the usual two year period were able to achieve at a significantly higher level than the overall cohort by comparison.
Whilst we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com would absolutely support the efforts made by WSS to ensure that all students are provided with the opportunity to participate and succeed in these public exams, arguably, this arrangement does significantly skew the appearance of the results. We hope that WSS will provided the consolidated results for all students who would usually have taken the exams in 2018, in order to be able to see progress between the first and second full cohort of the school.
|No. of students in (i)GCSE level cohort:||118||157|
|% of cohort entered for (i)GCSE exams||15 %||100%|
|No. of exam entries||116||1056|
|% of exam entries graded A*/9-8||14%||11%|
|% of exam entries graded A*-A /9-7||40%||27%|
|% of exam entries graded A*-B /9-6||65%||51%|
|% of exam entries graded A*-C /9-4||86%||72%|
|% of students achieving 5 A*-C/ 9-4 including English and Maths||95%||5%|
|Overall student pass rate A*-C||86%||72%|
|Number of students excluded from the statistics||97 (will sit the exams in June 2019)||None|
What about facilities?
Located in the Muweilah School District, facilities at the school are good but somewhat average for a GEMS school - but perhaps better than fair at the price point. They include an indoor four court sports hall, outdoor football pitch, cricket nets, four outdoor multi-games courts (two at ground level and two on the roof), a multi-purpose sports hall, music, art, science and various other laboratory facilities, ICT and Electronics labs, a library, indoor and outdoor play areas, as well as specialist classrooms for primary and secondary schools.
The Westminster Sharjah school fees are at the highly affordable level for a GEMS school, starting at AED 12,000 for Foundation Stage, moving up to AED 14,000 for Grade 6, and AED 23,000 for Grade 12.
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My daughter attended this school for a year and I couldn't have been more disappointed with the teaching and staff there.
In my experience teachers often marked homework incorrectly. They were often over reliant on projector notes and did not explain to the students what was on the slides. When students did ask questions, teachers were often unhelpful.
The only one redeeming aspect about this school other the fact that it is exceptionally clean is the principal is effective, fair and a very conscientious lady. Ms Valerie is wonderful. Shame, the same cannot be said about her staff.
Where are you shifting your daughter now?
1. have shifted from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in August 2014 & my three children are currently studying in Gems Westminster Sharjah. But the experience with the school has been utterly unsatisfactory. Discipline among the teacher is pathetic with several of teachers missing/ or absent from classes & the students in the class are left at the mercy of sub-teachers with videos running the class.
2. No emphasis is laid on class test before the end of semester exams, classwork is seldom checked by teachers.
3. Co-ordination between the teachers & parents on the minimal level. Only through a phone call on the common board number or end of semester parent-teacher meeting only.
4. The papers in the end of semester tests are checked casually by the teachers. Last semester, on a random basis, I cross-checked the papers already presumably checked by the teachers. A number of errors were found in the teachers' marking, even to the extent certain full questions were unmarked.