Very Good rated GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi carries the name of its sister school in Dubai, but that – at least externally – is where the similarities end.
The story so far...
Until 2022, GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi (GWA Abu Dhabi) was one of the smaller GEMS schools, but its relocation in Autumn 2022 to a new campus on Al Reem Island is now providing it with the scope and facilities to grow into a full EYFS to Year 13 school. Until its relocation, the school had offered solely a KG to Grade 5 education following the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.
However, following the move, and unlike the Dubai school of the same name, GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi no longer offers solely the International Baccalaureate Programmes, but with its expansion to a Secondary school, also offers IB Middle Years Programme, and now offers this in combination with the English National Curriculum.
The first phase of the new development allows the school to expand from under 600 students on its old campus to 1,128 initially at the new site. Capacity eventually will rise to 1,866 students. As a first step to enlargement, GWA Abu Dhabi opened the newly renamed Year 7 (equivalent to Grade 6) from September 2022, with further year groups to be added year by year up to Year 13/Grade 12.
By introducing the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP), GEMS World Academy – Abu Dhabi will eventually offer the IB continuum of international education, becoming an IB World School and one of only two IB through schools in the emirate - the other is the long established Raha International School which has also expanded is and is now operating across two sites.
Leading the school as it begins its expansion in terms of grades and facilities is Mr. Kelvin Hornsby who took over the role of Principal and CEO ahead of the relocation of the school.
The school's detailed Vision, Mission and Values has been set out by Mr. Hornsby who was previously Principal at GEMS' Cambridge International School Abu Dhabi.
We support and realise our philosophy through:
By February 2023, after a full term at the new campus, GWA Abu Dhabi had just over 600 students from over 70 different and highly diverse countries from every continent of the globe. Whilst no one nationality dominates, the highest numbers of students are Indian, UAE, United States, Jordanian, Canadian, Russian Federation and South Korean nationals.
Although no detailed information is provided about teacher nationalities, as one of GEMS' premium tier schools, we would expect that the vast majority of teachers would be native English speakers with both UK National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate experience.
What about the curriculum?
With the change of school location, facilities and leadership, so too has come a change in orientation to the curriculum.
According to the school "Our curriculum is built on a strong foundation that combines the rigour of the British syllabus and the inquiry-based approach of the International Baccalaureate". The curriculum is said to be "bespoke, truly unique and aspirational curriculum for all learners – one that combines the best of the Early Years Framework (EYFS) and National Curriculum for England (NCfE), underpinning our overarching framework of the International Baccalaureate, leading seamlessly into the Middle Years Programme (MYP)."
The International Baccalaureate curriculum is often viewed as a framework and an approach to learning rather than a specification of content, at least until the final two year Diploma Programme. The combination with the English National Curriculum ensures that the content (the syllabus) element is also clearly defined by subject.
Through a mixture of interdisciplinary and conceptual-based learning as well as standalone teaching, subjects or teaching areas that are or will be offered as students progress through the school include: English/Language, Maths, Science and Socials, Digital Learning, Computing, History, Geography, Design Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, Physical Education, UAE Social, Moral and Cultural Studies, Personal, Social and Health Education, Student Wellbeing, Arabic and Islamic, French, Entrepreneurship/Enterprise and Environment.
Students are also encouraged to participate in a diverse programme of extra-curricular activities, giving them the opportunity to enrich their school experience within a safe and supportive environment. After-school activities which are usually teacher-led and free of charge include Sports (complete with competitions with other schools), Board games, Arts and crafts, Cooking, and Music (complete with a final performance off-campus). Paid activities through partner ESM include Tennis, Capoeira, Karate, Rugby, and Football.
What about facilities?
The phase one development will occupy a total of 28,890 sqm with a built-up area of 15,275 sqm.
Specialist facilities include State- of-the art network technology including a secure wireless network, Science labs for Chemistry, Physics and Biology, an Innovation studio (Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality), Arabic and Islamic education learning spaces, Music rooms, Practice studios, and Art rooms.
General facilities include Activity rooms, an Extensive library, a Canteen and dining area, Prayer rooms, Parent café Lounge, a Book shop, and Uniform shop.
Sports and play facilities include a Six-court multipurpose hall with audio-visual equipment and a permanent stage, a Football pitch, a 25-metre, six-lane swimming pool,Learner pool, Indoor play areas and Outdoor play areas.
What the inspectors say
The 2018 ADEK inspection found that GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi had continued to make Very good progress across a number of areas. Of the six key performance standards against which the school was assessed, it was rated Very Good in five, and Outstanding in respect of the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of its students.
Inspectors noted that the school has made very good progress in addressing all of the recommendations of the previous inspection. Improvements have been sustained through strong direction from the senior leadership team and high quality continuing professional development for all staff. Teachers were found to have implemented a wide range of approaches to assessment and use assessment information effectively to plan students’ next steps in learning, and to identify what the school needs to do to improve achievement further.
Most teachers showed considerable skill in checking students’understanding and progress in lessons. They use a range of techniques to involve students effectively in assessing their achievement of lesson objectives and personal learning targets.Students who are exceptionally gifted and talented (G&T) are identified and their curriculum is being developed to ensure it builds consistently on their knowledge and skills.
The school has made considerable progress in improving students’ learning in subjects taught in Arabic and achievement in these subjects is now good. Teachers have adopted the highly successful approaches employed in the teaching of English and are continuing to develop their skills.
Key strengths of the school were identified as:
Areas for improvement were deemed to be the requirement to:
If you would like to read the full ADEK inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do - it can be found here. The school was due for its next inspection during the 2019-20 academic year, but as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, all inspections were delayed.
WhichSchoolAdvisor has had very limited feedback to our Parent Survey. The small number of parents who have participated have been largely positive, with parents saying that their children enjoy going to school and that the overall academic performance of the school is fully satisfactory. Communication with parents is clearly as strength and almost all parents would recommend the school to other parents.
As is so often the case, parents are less happy with the value for money they feel they receive for the level of fees that they pay, with only 20% fully agreeing that they represent value for money, although 70% believe that they partially do so.
If you are parent, teacher or older student at GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi and would like to share your opinions and experience with readers who are interested in the school, please do so by completing our survey here.
Fees currently range from between AED 54,000 per year for FS1 students, rising to AED 66,000 per year for Year 8 and rising to AED 72,000 for Years 11 to 13 - premium fees, but it is quite evident - given the curriculum, new campus facilities and ADEK inspection rating - what you are paying for.
GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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