Wesgreen International School is a Cambridge Curriculum school that runs from KG1 through to Grade 12. In July 2017, Wesgreen was acquired by the GEMS Education Group, one of the most well-known and well-regarded education providers in the Middle East.
Wesgreen International School was founded in 1991, and in the years since it has grown to become one of the most popular schools in Sharjah. Located in the Muweilah Commercial district, Wesgreen aspires to be “the UAE's premier school of choice, by inspiring our students to reach their potential, academically, socially, physically and morally”. As the school Vision succinctly puts it:
“Inspiring excellence, empowering global minds.”
Beyond promising just excellence in education, Wesgreen has a strong commitment to promoting internationalism, thereby creating opportunities for intellectual and personal growth in a linguistically diverse and inclusive environment. Core values at the school include excellence, respect, responsibility, humility, integrity, and strength of character and identity. In particular, there is an emphasis on establishing an atmosphere of drive, determination, and dedication, to allow students to conquer uncertainty.
At the helm of this endeavour is Headmaster Jonathan Dey, who explains that “Wesgreen International School strongly supports the values, traditions and culture of the UAE. We want our students to respect and be sensitive to all, regardless of different religious beliefs and stations in life. We promote respect and tolerance in all aspects of school life”. The Wesgreen student body boasts over 75 different nationalities (a jump from 60 just a few years ago), and staff representing 37 countries.
It is this commitment to diversity and equality that made Wesgreen an ideal candidate to join the GEMS family of schools in 2017. The GEMS Education Group has 44 schools in UAE and Qatar, educating over 119,000 students, as well as schools in KSA, Egypt, Europe, Africa, India, and North America. No matter the location, all GEMS schools are united in one unwavering mission: “to put a quality education within the reach of every learner no matter where they are”.
In addition to an excellent quality of education, all GEMS schools encourage students of every age to develop a social conscience and become an active member of the global community. Wesgreen benefits from the GEMS’ Local Advisory Board, which will “understand and uphold the school’s and GEMS vision and values; monitor, advise and support the school on matters of strategy and policy; help monitor the school’s standards and performance; and support the school and the Principal and seek to provide wise counsel”.
Wesgreen is divided into four separate sections and operates a hybrid FS1 to Grade 12 (Year 13) structure. Classes are co-educational until the end of Grade 4. Starting in Grade 5, students move to either the Boys’ or Girls’ Secondary schools.
Wesgreen is a Cambridge accredited school, which employs both the Cambridge Primary and Cambridge Secondary curriculums. Wesgreen chose the Cambridge curriculum because it “celebrates cultural awareness and paves the road to a diverse community of determined citizens, allowing our students to enhance their skills in a respectful and inclusive atmosphere”.
As of January 2021, Wesgreen has launched its Foundation Stage 1 for students from 3 years of age, which will allow the school to set standards for learning and development early on and give Wesgreen students the same opportunity offered in the rest of the UAE and internationally. The curriculum at this stage will “promote academic excellence benchmarked internationally; foster trans-disciplinary 21st-century competencies, and nurture national identity and values aligned to The UAE National Goals”. As FS1 at Wesgreen has only just opened, we can look forward to seeing how their Early Years’ curriculum develops and what kind of reception it gets from the community.
Moving onto the Primary school, Wesgreen offers a curriculum that is based on a combination of the National Curriculum for England, the Cambridge Primary Programme, and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This model provides “an outstanding academic foundation supplemented by a rich extra-curricular programme that focuses on developing the whole child (the cognitive/intellectual, the creative, the social-emotional, and the physical) so they are safe, supported, healthy, engaged and challenged”. It also allows teachers to employ differentiated teaching and learning activities, challenging and stretching more able students while providing scaffolded support to those who need it.
Students take English, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Art, ICT, Music, and Physical Education (PE). Students also take the required subjects from the Ministry of Education (MOE), which include Arabic, Islamic Studies (for Muslim students), Social Studies, and Moral Education. As the Head of Primary Abigail Alexis-Olubuyide explains, this broad and varied curriculum builds “self-efficacy, confidence, persistence, kindness, respect and empathy”.
The Cambridge Primary Programme prepares students for a smooth transition to the Cambridge Secondary Programme, where students continue to study a broad range of subjects which include Humanities, Art, ICT, Mathematics, Science, English Language, PE, Moral Education, Arabic, and Islamic Studies (for Muslim students). Arabic for Non-Arabs is compulsory until Grade 9. Then, from Grades 9 to 13, Wesgreen students follow the CIE syllabus for the Cambridge IGCSE, AS-, and A-Level examinations.
The IGCSE programme is delivered over two years, across Grades 9 and 10. Wesgreen currently offers 19 IGCSE subjects: Art; Accounting; Business; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; English Language; Economics; Environmental Management; French; Geography; History; ICT; IGCSE PE; Literature; Mathematics; Physics; PE; and Sociology.
Finally, students who successfully pass their IGCSEs start studying for the Cambridge AS-Levels in Grade 11. Unusually, Wesgreen actually offers the AS- and A-Levels over the course of three years, rather than the usual two – students take the AS-Levels during Grades 11 and 12, and then Wesgreen offers an extra year of schooling, Grade 13, in which students can take A-Levels if desired.
Current subject options for AS-Levels at Wesgreen include Art; Accounting; Business; Biology; Chemistry; English Language; Economics; Environmental Management; Geography; History; ICT; Literature in English; Mathematics (M1, P1, and S1); Physics; PE; and Sociology. Should students wish to take A-Levels, they have a choice of subjects from a list of Art, Accounting, Business, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, ICT, Mathematics, Physics, and Sociology.
Aside from day-to-day classes, Wesgreen also offers a wide range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, to ensure that students can develop beyond just the academic. Wesgreen offers a range of after-school activities, as well as offering a popular Summer Camp, but also takes care to make sure that students who can’t take part in after-school clubs are catered for as well. To do this, Wesgreen builds an extra-curricular activity into the school day which they call ‘Fun Activities’:
“During this lesson, children are allowed to pick an activity that they will do each week. Activities include: computing, yoga, Irish dancing, just dance, puzzles, hair braiding, knitting, football, dodge ball and many more. These lessons are ran [sic] by our specialists and classroom teachers.”
After-school extra-curricular activities for Primary students include gymnastics, dodgeball, swimming, football club, and fun games. The range of options then broadens as students move into the Secondary school, with Wesgreen offering badminton, volleyball, football, athletics club, dodgeball, gymnastics, swimming, Little League (football, cricket, and basketball), cricket, basketball, fun games, choir, and computing. All of these activities take place on site, although the school website also mentions that scuba diving and horse-riding courses are offered.
For students with athletic talent, Wesgreen has a number of school teams available, all in the Under 10s, Under 12s, Under 14s, and Under 16s categories: football teams; basketball teams; athletics teams; swimming teams; netball teams; and cross-country teams. Students who take part in these teams can potentially be nominated for the Wesgreen Sports Awards, which celebrate categories like Outstanding Performer, Team of the Year, and Sports Personality of the Year.
One thing that makes Wesgreen stand out from other schools in terms of extra-curricular activities is its offering of clubs run by older students from the Secondary school. This gives students the chance to own, promote, and run a club that interests them, added responsibility which “allows them to plan and deliver sessions, organize activities for their peers and show great leadership skills”. Current clubs run by Secondary students include journalism, drama, STEAM, environmental, digital, debates & TEDx, sports, Model United Nations, and Helpers Society.
As with any school that’s invested in developing its students in a holistic manner, Wesgreen also provides plenty of opportunities for students to pursue leadership roles and add to their CVs ahead of university. The Student Council, for example, is a body of elected student representatives, made up of a Head boy, Head girl, Assistant Head boy, Assistant Head girl, Senior Prefects, Prefects, House Captains, Assistant House Captains, and Eco-Warriors.
It begins as early as Grade 3, where teachers recommend students for positions of responsibilities, based on their leadership qualities and their possession of attributes which could make a positive impact on the school community. All candidates are interviewed by the Head of School and Head of Year, and the school then enhances these students’ leadership skills through workshops and key development days during the course of the academic year.
Another great opportunity for Wesgreen students to develop their leadership and confidence is the Peer Mentor Programme, which aims to ensure that students who are new or who struggle socially or academically are not left out or fall behind their peers. This programme provides older students with the opportunity to offer support and guidance to a younger student, and offers younger students the reassurance that they will have someone looking out for them and helping them to fit in at the school.
It certainly seems that there is something for everyone at Wesgreen, and that no student will go unsupported or uninvolved. As is popular in most schools, Wesgreen has a House System, where each student is sorted into a Sports House upon arrival; the Wesgreen houses are Leopards, Falcons, Vipers, and Scorpions. Again, students have the opportunity to take on leadership roles with the positions of House Captain and Vice-House Captain. And beyond just sports, Wesgreen offers a variety of other events, competitions, and opportunities, such as the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) International Award, Model United Nations, the STEAM Fair, the Student Business Leadership Forum, and the annual Sports Day.
Wesgreen is an inclusive school which welcomes students with Special Education Needs (SEN) and disabilities (which the school refers to as students of determination), students who are gifted/talented, and students who are English Language Learners. Wesgreen has a number of teams in place to ensure that all students, regardless of capability, will be supported and able to thrive. For example, there is a dedicated English as an Additional Language (EAL) Support Department, which is made up of five staff members for Primary and two for Secondary. This department offers extra help to students through its Phonics Booster Programs, small group pull-out lessons, and in-class support with the EAL teachers:
“Students are identified upon admission, as well as through the school's referral process, and follow-up assessments are carried out to determine student's level of English proficiency. Support plans are then developed based on the students’ profiles.”
As a school, Wesgreen believes that “every student has the potential to reach their goals; some just require an additional step to do this successfully”. To this end, Wesgreen is committed to providing all students with a sense of belonging, safety, competency, a relevant curriculum, and a sense of autonomy in a shared learning environment with similar-aged peers. Students are not refused admission based on SEN, and the school gives sibling priority for admission to students who experience SEN or disabilities.
“We embrace the experience of inclusion where diversity is made visible as a strength, respectful relationships are continually enhanced, and all students fully participate in learning through accommodations and teaching strategies tailored to meet the diverse range of learners reflected in broader society.”
Wesgreen promotes this by ensuring that students and families have a central voice, that school staff undergo continuous professional learning, and that monitoring and evaluation happen at all levels in order to continually develop an inclusive culture, inclusive policies, and inclusive everyday practices. At the heart of this effort is the school’s Inclusion Team, which is made up of five members: Head of Student Support and Early Years Counsellor; Secondary Girls SENCO; Secondary Boys SENCO; Arabic SENCO; and a Speech Therapist.
In addition to the Inclusion Team, Wesgreen also provides a Counselling Team, which is made up of two counsellors in the Primary school and two counsellors in the Secondary school (one for Boys and one for Girls). These counsellors work with parents, students, and teachers to provide individual, group, and curricula-based intervention strategies that focus on problem-solving, emotional support, and holistic wellness.
“We believe each student's journey is unique and we strive to take a student-centred approach when conducting character education lessons, as well as group and individual counselling services in the hopes of promoting and inspiring a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.”
The Primary counselling team focus on helping student development and promoting social, emotional, and educational success in young learners. To achieve this, the team offers individual and group counselling sessions for students, works with parents and school staff individually as needed, and offers workshops and training sessions.
The Secondary counselling team, however, differs in that it offers two unique types of counselling opportunities for all students. Firstly, student counselling in either small groups or individual sessions is available to help develop academic success and provide emotional or social support. Secondly, the team offers career counselling, career guidance, and the Career Guidance Supportive Network, which is made up of a number of programmes students can access such as My Path to Uni, Unifrog, and GEMS UniConnect. These counsellors are specially-trained and can provide students with guidance on university options, applications, studying abroad, and scholarships.
Unlike many schools in Sharjah, Wesgreen makes its exam results available to the public, something that WhichSchoolAdvisor.com heartily applauds. And it seems they have good reason to, with some stellar results coming out from the 2020 exam cohort. It should, however, be noted that these results are achieved potentially over the course of three years of study, rather than the usual two.
In the 2020 IGCSEs, 31% of all exam entries were awarded A*. 54% of all grades awarded were A* – A and 75% of all grades awarded were A* – B. With a total of 91% of all grades being awarded A* – C and 48% of students achieved 5A* – C (including English and Mathematics), this set of results shows high achievement across the board.
In terms of the 2020 AS-Level results, performance looked to be similarly strong. 38% of all exam entries were awarded A, 62% of all grades awarded were A – B, and 82% of all grades awarded were A – C. Even with some results coming in below a C, 95% of the grades achieving A – D shows a minimal failure rate for students.
Finally, the 2020 A-Level results show students achieving highly at a challenging extra course, with 14% of all exam entries awarded A*. 33% of all grades awarded were A* – A, 57% of all grades awarded were A* – B, 76% of all grades awarded were A* – C, and 94% of all grades awarded were A* – D.
Wesgreen students who successfully finish their schooling are able to use their A-Level qualifications to go on to a wide range of universities internationally. The school website offers a list of recent graduates and where they have attended university, with many of them heading overseas, and allows them to stay connected through the GEMS Alumni Network.
Aside from exam results, Wesgreen has also achieved academically in terms of awards. Students from Wesgreen have recently been involved in both the Model United Nations Awards and the Sheikha Fatima Awards.
Unlike schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah schools have not participated in regulatory inspections on a regular basis; while there were a few instances of inspections being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, schools did not generally publish the outcomes. With the initiation of SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority), the intention is that schools will be inspected using the common framework already in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, SPEA has decided to seek a collaborative approach with the schools for this process, and although we understand that initial inspections did take place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, results of these inspections have not been published.
As a result of the pandemic, Sharjah schools have participated in Distance Learning Evaluations (DLE), implemented by the Ministry of Education throughout the UAE (these results have been published). In its most recent Distance Learning Review Report (2020), Wesgreen’s implementation of distance learning was rated as Developed.
Inspectors commended the students’ regular access to learning and their enthusiastic participation. The report noted that students experienced a range of different learning approaches in online lessons and were maintaining their learning momentum, as a result of teachers developing activities which encouraged students to use resources available at home. It also noted that teachers were sharing expectations and setting goals, as well as assessing learning and tracking progress in lessons and through submissions.
In terms of the wider school, the evaluation noted that the school “reviews its short-term plans to respond to students’ needs and evolving developments” and that it “identifies the resources required to operationalize its long-term plans in various scenarios”. Finally, the report praised the way Wesgreen was supporting teachers and students with training and technological resources.
However, while there were many positives in the evaluation, inspectors also suggested a number of areas for the school to develop further and improve upon.
Firstly, inspectors advised that the school offer more support to both students and parents in terms of safeguarding and wellbeing, so that they were better informed of policies and procedures, would know how to stay safe online, and would know what to do if they felt unsafe online at any time. Secondly, the report suggested modifications to the curriculum, “to meet students’ needs of flexibility in submissions and involvement in non-academic opportunities”. These modifications would allow for more interactions between students with their peers and friends, both inside and outside of lessons, as well as providing a better balance of screen-time, other learning activities, and breaks. Finally, the report suggested that the school work to enhance communication with parents, “to help them engage with school programs and activities and understand their children’s progress”. A part of this would be providing further support around parental networks, to allow parents to participate in school initiatives.
If you would like to read the full inspection report – which we strongly advise you to do in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings – you will find it here.
The Wesgreen campus is divided into four separate sections: an Early Years building, a Primary School, and two Secondary buildings, one for Boys and one for Girls. The entire campus has excellent, very modern facilities, including state-of-the-art computer labs, fully-equipped science labs, and multi-media halls for student debates, performances, and presentations. In terms of sports facilities, Wesgreen boasts well-equipped gymnasiums on all four campuses, as well as large fields for football and cricket, multipurpose courts for volleyball and tennis, and a swimming pool in the Primary Section. Other facilities include a well-stocked art room, a uniform outlet, a school canteen, and a clinic for each campus staffed by two nurses and two full-time doctors.
The particular points of pride, however, are the Wesgreen libraries: the school has both a junior library for Primary students and a senior library for Secondary students. Both libraries are fully resourced with multimedia sections, as well as extra reading rooms. Secondary students also have access to the e-Library, which allows students to use curriculum-related digital media under professional guidance. And perhaps the most unique feature is the school’s ‘Open Access System’, which enables students to access any book freely, at any time.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a high number of reviews for Wesgreen, and the feedback from the 87 responders paints a very positive picture.
In terms of the school environment, it seems as though Wesgreen students are really made to feel at home. 74% of parent reviews reported that their child felt either a ‘tremendous’ sense of belonging, or at least ‘quite a bit’ of belonging at the school. And 76% noted that their child enjoyed going to school, either ‘tremendously’ or ‘quite a bit’. 87% reported that Wesgreen had improved their child’s confidence, anywhere from ‘a moderate amount’ to ‘a great deal’, and 100% of responders felt that the school had helped their child to develop presentation skills, allowing them to engage with and speak in a variety of situations.
In terms of parent satisfaction with the school, responses were similarly in favour of Wesgreen’s approach. The majority of reviewers (58%) agreed at least partially that the fees they were paying were good value for money, given the education provided by the school. 51% of reviewers reported being satisfied with the child’s academic performance; 40% were partially satisfied, and only 9% reported being unsatisfied. The majority (38%) said that they felt ‘quite confident’ in the school’s ability to meet their child’s specific learning needs, and 88% of reviewers felt either satisfied (52%) or at least partially satisfied (36%) with the level of feedback offered by the school.
There were a few areas where reviews seemed more mixed. For example, in terms of both inclusivity in sports and with regard to bullying, reviews were split; some felt that sports teams were very selective while others felt they weren’t selective at all, just as some were very concerned about bullying and others were not concerned at all. In both instances, the majority of opinions ended up somewhere in the middle, not leaning towards overwhelmingly negative or positive. And yet, 92% of reviewers reported feeling satisfied (65%) or partially satisfied (27%) with the disciplinary policy at the school, so any bad experiences in these areas may have been isolated incidences, or quickly resolved afterwards.
Ultimately, key indicators suggest that Wesgreen parents are overall quite happy with their child’s school experience. For example, 59% of reviewers had not thought about moving their child from the school (and it’s important to remember that with so many new schools opening in Sharjah and now on offer, students don’t necessarily leave a school because parents are unhappy with it). And while 71% of reviewers did feel that they needed to offer additional tutoring to their child to supplement school learning, 70% would recommend Wesgreen to another parent. All in all, expectations at Wesgreen seem high, and students have to be willing to put in the work, but those who do will be justly rewarded.
If you are a parent, teacher, or senior student at Wesgreen, please share your experience with other potential members of your school community by taking part in our survey.
Fees at Wesgreen are higher than you will find at many other schools in Sharjah, starting at AED 19,000 for Pre-KG/FS1 and coming in at AED 47,465 for Grade 12/Year 13 (and Grade 13, if this option is taken). Book fees must also be added to this, which range from AED 990 in early years to AED 2,200 for IGCSEs; book charges for AS- and A-Levels vary depending on subject selection. Uniform and transportation fees are also not included in tuition (bus fees will vary depending on whether your child needs transport from Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, or Umm-Al-Quwain).
Fees are paid in three instalments, with book fees being paid alongside the first instalment. For new admissions, a fee of AED 500 is due upon acceptance of the offer letter and confirmation of enrolment; this fee is non-refundable/non-transferable, but can be adjusted against the first term tuition fee once the student has joined the school.
As a GEMS school, Wesgreen does offer a number of discount options for parents. For example, the 4th child of any family is entitled to a 25% discount on tuition fees, while the 5th child onward is entitled to a 50% discount. The GEMS Rewards system, which parents can sign up to, also offers different ways to save on tuition.
In terms of admission requirements, Wesgreen usually asks students to take an entrance exam. However, because of the current Covid-19 situation, no exams are being conducted at this time, to minimise health and safety risks. Students’ admissions are instead decided based on the latest report from their previous school. Students will also need to demonstrate the potential of a grade-appropriate level of English Language proficiency in order to be accepted at Wesgreen. If you are interested in finding out more, Wesgreen is still running open days and tours for prospective parents and students – information can be found on the school website.
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