GEMS Winchester School Fujairah opened in September 2016 and is one of a small number of schools in the city to offer the National Curriculum for England for children from KG1 - to Grade 12.
The story so far...
GEMS Winchester School Fujairah (WSF) may itself be relatively new (having opened in September 2016) but it is headed by an experienced Principal, David Wade, who was recruited to the UAE by GEMS Education after successful leadership roles in the UK, Malaysia and Singapore. Mr. Wade has led schools with both Primary and Secondary sections for 18 years and consider himself a ‘whole-school’ educator.
Mr. Wade leads a Senior Leadership Team of predominantly British educators who provide WSF with a combined 150+ years’ of experience in education. A comprehensive professional development programme is embedded across the school ensuring the highest standards of teaching and learning.
The school's vision is "to deliver a high quality education for the diverse and wider community of Fujairah by offering an affordable GEMS school with an international programme reflecting key attributes of the National Curriculum for England. Our vision is to nurture lifelong learners in an enabling, caring and inclusive environment so that they become confident, independent and progressive world citizens."
The school states that its mission is that “WSF will establish a child-centered learning environment that will allow all students to reach their full potential. Our mission is to become the school of choice in Fujairah, meeting the needs and aspirations of all of our learners and families.”
The school has approximately 2,000 students from 48 nationalities studying in WSF with UAE nationals making up 81% of the total strength.
What about the curriculum?
Winchester offers the UK National Curriculum, in common with other Winchester schools within the GEMS group. The school lays particular emphasis on the fact that it is one of a small number of private schools in Fujairah to offer the globally recognised UK curriculum.
The UK curriculum is taught in an international context where the UAE Ministry of Education syllabus is incorporated into the curriculum structure. In addition to the development of specific skills and competencies, the curriculum emphasises enquiry, creativity, analytical evaluation and other skills needed to meet the challenges of future employment markets.
The KG of school introduces young learners of 4 and 5 years old to school-life. Students develop their motor skills, foundation-level numeracy and literacy skills, and self-esteem through play-based learning activities in a safe and exciting environment. Students are introduced to English, Mathematics and Science through activities that include the teaching of Shapes, Colours, Letters, Numbers and Seasons.
In the Primary School, children in Grades 1 to 5 (aged 6 to 11 years) continue to develop their skills and competencies. They are introduced to subjects that will lay the foundation for learning as they move up through the school. Teachers aim to ensure that learning is exciting and the learning atmosphere is stimulating. Core Subjects include English, Mathematics, Science, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Humanities (History and Geography), UAE Social Studies, Arabic A (for Arabic speakers) and Arabic B (for non-Arabic speakers), Islamic Studies (for Muslim students) or Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) (for non-Muslim students), Music, Physical Education (PE) and Art.
Students in Upper Primary begin to rationalise and think independently. The curriculum sets challenging targets and its methodical implementation encourages each student to pursue individual targets and goals. Older students are ready for creative and accelerated learning; they become aware of the need to set daily goals and have long-term objectives.
As students progress through Secondary School in Grades 6 to 10, WSF covers the National Curriculum for England augmented with Arabic, Islamic Education and Social Studies as required by the Ministry of Education. Subjects include Arabic, Islamic, English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Music, Art, Humanities (History and Geography), Information Technology, Business Studies and Physical Education. The school also aims to recognise cultural diversity and utilise the UAE’s distinctive geography and rich history as a resource for learning through the UAE Social Studies programme.
The school also offers a range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities providing students with the opportunity to develop their skills in new and interesting fields, in addition to giving them the chance to learn through real-life experience.
The school aims to support all-round student development; focusing on both individual and team-based sports activities develops students' abilities to work to reach common goals, dedication, how to lead and camaraderie.
In September 2021, it was announced that GEMS Winchester School Fujairah had been awarded the Advocate Partner Award from GL Education, to become the first school in the UAE and one of only two schools in the world outside the UK to achieve this educational award.
GL Education provides an essential service to schools in the UAE, providing the base system to allow for the effective testing and tracking of student progress and attainment.
The Advocate Partner Award recognises GEMS WSF’s expert use of GL assessments through embedding this data into classroom practice and across the leadership team.
Students sit the Cambridge International Examination Board and Edexcel Examination Board IGCSE examinations followed by AS and A Level pre-university qualifications in Grades 11 and 12. The first set of A Level students will complete their examinations in 2022.
Students at GEMS WSF completed IGCSEs for the first time in 2020 - although students actually did not sit any examinations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, and were instead awarded Centre Assessed Grades whereby results were awarded based on teacher assessments.
79% of examinations entered for by GEMS WSF students were awarded A*-C at IGCSE, which was above the average for British students in the UK. This was an impressive achievement given that English is not the first language of 99% of students at WSF. Of particular note is that 58% of all exams awarded to GEMS WSF students were awarded the highest grades of A* or A, an excellent achievement for the first cohort. The class of 2020 will be the first GEMS WSF students to complete A Levels in 2022.
The school also published details of its IGCSE examination results from the August 2021 session, where again students did not take examinations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. A small cohort of 24 students were entered for 144 examinations. These students achieved 36% of exam awards at A*, 57 per cent of awards at A* or A, which was 27 per cent above the UK national average, 70% of awards at A*-B and 84% of awards at A*-C (which was also the overall pass rate). This achievement ranked the school tied for third among the 20 GEMS British curriculum schools in the UAE.
A return to full examinations in 2022 is likely to show that there has been considerable grade inflation across all exam boards and subjects as Centre Assessed Grades (assessment by teachers) were inevitably more generous in light of the circumstances.
What about facilities?
The campus is located in a new building in the centre of Fujairah and offers the facilities that would be expected for a modern school at this price point. These include: classrooms equipped with modern equipment and connected with high-speed internet, a multi-purpose auditorium, specialist Science laboratories, computer rooms, a medical centre, two dining halls, an indoor sports hall, indoor specialist KG play areas, plentiful outdoor shaded sports and play areas, a multipurpose all-weather sports field, two state-of-the-art Innovation Labs, a Parent Café, and a school store which sells uniform, textbooks, workbooks and stationery.
WSF was inspected by the Ministry of Education inspection team in 2018 (less than two years after opening) and achieved an Acceptable rating - the minimum rating that schools are expected to achieve. The schools states that it has ambitious plans to achieve a Good rating (the next highest rating) at its next inspection.
Unfortunately, unlike ADEK in Abu Dhabi and the KHDA in Dubai, the Ministry of Education in the Northern Emirates does not publish the inspection reports, though some schools choose to share them directly with parents.
Again, as with exam results, we would emphasise that the inspection rating should never be taken out of context - the priorities of the Inspection teams may well not be those of parents - but we do believe that parents should be aware of those areas for improvement identified by the inspection teams.
What's the buzz?
The school prides itself on open and effective communication and this appears to have been well-received in the Fujairah community, with.parent feedback about the school positive and parents commenting on "very cooperative staff."
If you are a parent, student or teacher at GEMS Winchester School Fujairah, please share your opinions with other potential members of your community by our completing our survey here.
What about the fees?
Fees for GEMS Winchester School Fujairah fall into the affordable fee range, starting at AED 23,100 for KG1 rising to AED 36,383 for Grade 12. Fees can be paid in ten monthly installments. These are not inclusive of MOE approved Book Fees which start at AED 700 for KG1 and rise to AED 1,600 for Grade 12. Discounts are offered for the third (10%), fourth (25%) and any subsequent children (50%) registering from the same family.
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