Wesgreen International School is a Cambridge Curriculum school that runs from FS1 through to Year 13. 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. In 2017, in a significant move for the original owners, Wesgreen was purchased by the UAE's largest school group, GEMS Education. 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.
Despite a reasonably large number of respondents to our School Survey, specific feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been somewhat limited. Two recent comments indicate opinion from a minority of the 85 respondents who have participated in our survey.
"It has become more organized. It does not tolerate bullying. All the study materials are one click away. The school has encouraged kids to use different assigned applications that have improved their skills tremendously. The school listens to parents requests and is very cooperative. The only thing that bothers me is the number of students in each class:. 32 is a huge number !"
In May 2022, owners, GEMS Education, announced that former Principal Jonathan Dey would be leaving the school. His successor was named as James McDonald as the Principal/CEO. Mr. McDonald has extensive experience both in the UK and internationally, of raising standards across both primary and secondary sections.
Prior to joining GEMS, Mr. McDonald served three years as Principal of Maadi British International School (MBIS) in Cairo, Egypt, where he secured an ‘Outstanding’ judgement in all areas, following the school’s British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection. MBIS is the only school in Egypt to have been awarded the highest grading in every area of the BSO inspection.
Since 2017, Mr.McDonald has held the position of Vice Chairman, Director and Executive Committee Board member of Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO), where he is responsible for leading the Association’s development plan, establishing its terms of reference, and lobbying the UK Government on behalf of AoBSO members.
The current Wesgreen student body of 3,358 boasts over 75 different nationalities (a jump from 60 just a few years ago), and the 222 teachers and 50 teaching assistants represent a wide range of 37 countries, with the largest proportion from the UK and the second largest from India. Just under a third of the student body (1,033) are from Emirati families. There are also 176 students who have been identified with Special Educational Needs.
This commitment to diversity and equality made Wesgreen an ideal candidate to join the GEMS family of schools in 2017. GEMS Education has around 40 schools in the UAE and Qatar, educating over 119,000 students.
Wesgreen benefits from the GEMS’ Local Advisory Board, which commits to “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. The Early Years Campus accommodates students from FS1 and Year1. Primary School is comprised of Year 2 to 6, with Year 7 - 13 Boys and Girls based in the segregated Secondary Campuses. The Boys' and Girls' Secondary Schools cater for Year 7 to Year 13.
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 launched its Foundation Stage 1 (pre-KG equivalent) for students from 3 years of age, which allows the school to set standards for learning and development early on and gives Wesgreen students the same opportunity provided in the rest of the UAE and internationally.
The curriculum at this stage “promotes academic excellence benchmarked internationally; foster trans-disciplinary 21st-century competencies, and nurture national identity and values aligned to The UAE National Goals”.
In 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 in Years 7 to 9, 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 Year 10. Then, from Years 10 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 Years 10 and 11. 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.
Students are admitted to the two year post-16 in Year 12 for AS Level followed by A Level in Year 13. A variety of subjects is offered including Art and Design, Applied ICT, Mathematics, English Language/ Literature, three Sciences, three Business subjects and four Humanities for the desired combination.
The Sixth form programme features a range of newer updated courses, including engineering, technology, and gaming, enabling students to pursue their passions and expand their knowledge in these exciting fields, while preparing them to excel in a long list of potential related careers.
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 Year 4, 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 has made its exam results available to the public, something that WhichSchoolAdvisor.com heartily applauds.
In 2022, when students sat their exams for the first time since the pandemic, a cohort of 27 students were entered for a total of 67 examinations. 12% of exam entries were awarded A*, 30% achieved A*-A and 52% were awarded A*-B. Wesgreen did not reveal the grades awarded for the remaining 48% of entries. IGCSE and AS level results were not published.
In 2021, with exams again being cancelled as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, Wesgreen published its A Level and IGCSE results.
At A Level, a cohort of 37 students were entered for a total of 97 examinations. 39.2% of entries achieved the highest A* grade, whilst 53.6% of entries were awarded A*-A and 72.2% of entries achieved A*-B grades. The school did not reveal the A*-C or A*-E awards which would have potentially added up to 100% of entries (assuming that all were passes).
At IGCSE 246 students were entered for 1,760 examinations - one of the largest IGCSE cohorts in the UAE. 37.0% of all entries were awarded A*, whilst 57.1% achieved A*-A, 72.1%% A*-B and 84.4% A*-C. A total of 196 students (close to 80% of the entire student cohort) achieved a minimum of 5 IGCSE passes including Maths and English.
Some stellar results were achieved by 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 and as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, students did not sit their examinations, instead being awarded grades by the teachers and school leaders as part of a Centre Assessed Grading process that took into account internal assessments and predicted grades.
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.
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, 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.
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 first round of inspections have now been published in May 2023.
The inspection report for Wesgreen reveals that it had previously been awarded an Acceptable rating (the minimum required) in the unpublished 2017-18 SPEA inspection. In 2022-23, Wesgreen was awarded a Good rating.
As is so often the case with inspection outcomes, the single word rating of Good in no way tells the story in terms of how far Wesgreen International School has come in terms over the past 5 years. The improvement in the school's performance was supported by 98 improved ratings. No other UAE school has so far achieved this level of improvement.
In their summary of the overall performance of the school, the inspection team noted:
"The school’s overall effectiveness is Good. This is an improvement since the previous inspection in 2018 where the overall effectiveness grade was Acceptable. Senior leadership in the school is good and the focus on the strategic plans involving all stakeholders has resulted in improved achievement in English, mathematics, science, and all Arabic medium subjects, across all phases. Teachers’ strategies are effective in meeting the needs of students, and the external examination results for IGCSE, AS and A Level subjects range from good to outstanding. Most students move on to university. Students enjoy taking responsibility for their own learning and have positive and responsible attitudes. They live safe and healthy lifestyles. The school has very good facilities and provides a very safe, hygienic, and secure environment which effectively supports students’ learning".
The key areas of strength of Wesgreen International School were defined as:
The key performance standards of Student Achievement, Teaching and Assessment, the Curriculum and Leadership and Management were awarded Good ratings. Students' personal and social development and their innovation skills, and the Protection, Care, Guidance and Support of students were awarded the higher Very Good rating.
In terms of areas for improvement, the inspection team recommended that Wesgreen should:
These recommendations were further distilled into detailed strategic recommendations and next steps which can be found within the inspection report.
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 and the recommendations for improvement – 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.
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.
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.
In June 2023, the school also announced additional investment in specialist Sixth Form student facilities, STEM Laboratories and a Forest School.
A new dedicated sixth form area is part of the expansion project, designed to provide a stimulating and supportive learning environment that empowers students to excel academically and personally.
As part of its growth plan, WGP is also introducing cutting-edge labs that will unleash the power of STEM education for all members of the school community. These advanced labs will provide an immersive and dynamic learning environment equipped with state-of-the-art technology and resources. Students will actively participate in coding, robotics, and scientific experimentation, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills.
And a further enhancement includes a new forest school that will promote sustainability and environmental awareness, cultivating in students a deep appreciation for the planet and allowing students to immerse themselves in hands-on experiential learning. They will have the opportunity to explore, connect, and thrive in a natural outdoor setting, all the while developing vital life skills, resilience, and a love for the environment.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has received a relatively high number of parent surveys for Wesgreen, and the feedback from the 86 respondents paints a broadly positive picture.
In terms of the school environment, it seems as though Wesgreen students are really made to feel at home. 74% of parent 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’. 86% reported that Wesgreen had improved their child’s confidence, anywhere from ‘a moderate amount’ to ‘a great deal’, and 75% of respondents felt that the school had helped their child to develop presentation skills, allowing them to engage with and speak in a variety of situations.
Overall levels of satisfaction were somewhat mixed. Whilst most feedback was not entirely negative (in terms of expressions of dissatisfaction), may parents were only partially satisfied on a range of criteria.
52% of respondents reported being satisfied with the child’s academic performance; 38% were partially satisfied, although 10% reported being unsatisfied. The majority (80%) said that they felt ‘somewhat, quite or extremely confident’ in the school’s ability to meet their child’s specific learning needs, and 87% of respondents felt either completely satisfied (52%) or at least partially satisfied (35%) with the level of feedback offered by the school.
A significant cause for a lack of full satisfaction appears to lie with the contentious issue of school fees. Only 21% of respondents feel that this offer full value for money (against a UAE average of 51%. 56% agree that they represent partial value for money, whilst 23% (almost a quarter), believe that fees do not represent value for money.
Despite this apparent lack of satisfaction to some degree, whilst 42% of parents have considered moving their child to another school, they have not actually done so. And while 60% of respondents feel that they need to offer additional tutoring to their child to supplement school learning, 69% would fully recommend Wesgreen to another parent. All in all, parents seem to have high expectations of Wesgreen which do not appear to be fully satisfied, but parents still want their children to remain.
Given that the number of responses from Wesgreen parents is still relatively low and to ensure a more representative sample, if you are a parent, teacher, or senior student at Wesgreen, please share your opinions and 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 Year 14, 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 1,000 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. 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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