GEMS International School: Providing an Exceptional Quality Education

“We develop lifelong learners who engage in meaningful learning experiences that build compassion, resilience and understanding of their role in the community”

Selecting the most appropriate site for a school is an important consideration for the school community. The location, size, and shape of a school site can materially affect the educational program and opportunities for students. GEMS International School (GIS) is one such school which is beautifully located in the up and coming area of Dubai Hills.

The school is accredited by the International Baccalaureate (IB) to deliver the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme and the IB Diploma Programme.

Inception Story

Founded in 2013 in response to a greater need that existed in Dubai to serve families who were seeking a high quality International Baccalaureate education, yet at an affordable price point. GEMS undertook the project to build a purpose built facility with a capacity of 3,100 with this aim in mind.

With 1,400 students at present, in the coming years, as the school continues to grow, it will be the largest IB world school in the region. It is international in name and international in nature. It currently serves a population of almost 90 different nationalities with no one group being dominant. The staff are equally spread out, coming from 30 different countries.

The school’s mission is to provide an exceptional quality education to an international community. They define exceptional, not just in terms of academics but in support of developing the whole child.

Guidance Worth in Gold 

Glen Radojkovich is the Head of School/CEO and is currently serving his second year at GIS. This is his first role in the Middle East having previously founded and led schools in South Korea and Singapore, after 11 years at Pinehurst in his native New Zealand. Since his arrival to GIS, through the support of the leadership and teaching faculty, the school has grown from strength to strength.

As a father of three children I am very aware of the challenges and concerns students and parents face during the different stages of the schooling years. As such, I recognize the importance of the partnership between home and school and am committed to ensuring this partnership is nurtured.

I believe strongly, that in the right environment, where students are respected and encouraged, they are capable of extraordinary achievements. I look forward to celebrating such achievements at GIS as our students develop as young leaders, engaging in academics, creativity, action and service opportunities throughout the rest of the school year- says Glen Radojkovich.

A Door to Student Success

Students in GIS are prepared to be successful and thrive in the modern, international world. The school focuses on developing the whole child, encouraging characteristics such as self-confidence, self-awareness, resilience and empathy. In line with the IB philosophy, there is a direct focus on developing internationally-minded, global citizens through the IB learner profile attributes. GIS sets out to appeal to local and international families. They cater for and encourage students from all backgrounds to learn together, build relationships and communities and work together in teams in order to achieve their best at all times. They promote a ‘culture of kindness’ through which they develop students’ propensity to be ‘inwardly strong and outwardly looking’.

The school also prepares its students for success in the modern world. Statistics shows that students who have studied in IB programmes have a greater chance of not just gaining access to university but being successful in completing their chosen courses. GIS employs high-performing teaching teams; these teams are focused on success as they develop students’ confidence, resilience and ability to be successful as well as developing their thirst and aptitude for learning.

Gateway to a Plethora of Opportunities

Catering to so many nationalities and cultures make annual celebrations and events at GIS truly rich and diverse. International mindedness as defined by GIS is “recognizing and being open-minded to our similarities and differences while understanding how our experiences and exposure to different cultures impact our personal perceptions of the world.” This is fostered in many different ways at the school, through the curriculum, the learner profile and service opportunities to name but a few, but also in their ability to celebrate and recognize different events throughout the year such as; Eid, Ramadan, Breast Cancer Awareness, Mo-vember Men’s Health Issues, Diwali, The Prophet’s Birthday, National Day, Christmas, International Day, alongside sporting events including swim galas, athletics, and primary and secondary sports days.

A new and unique initiative that involves all students and teachers, with opportunities for parents to be involved is MyHealth. The program includes a personalized fitness plan where students are set targets to maintain or improve their fitness components, based on students’ individual performances in standardized fitness tests and an encouragement to join numerous activities throughout the year. The main goal at GIS is to support all community members with their overall health and well-being, bringing the community closer together and ensuring the school is the happiest and healthiest place to be.

Rainbow of Offering

GIS seamlessly fuses the GEMS core values with the IB learner profile attributes to promote and foster a lust for life-long learning. There is a rigorous academic K-12 program articulated within the IB framework to ensure the fundamentals of education are rooted in a strong understanding of disciplines such as mathematics, science, languages, digital technology and physical wellbeing and performance, as well as the development of the creative and innovative mind through subjects such as the music, visual art and drama.

More important than any one program or initiative taken at the school, is the process in how students are given agency in their own learning. The power of inquiry, an approach used across the school, allows students to engage in a meaningful and authentic way with what they are learning, often giving them the power of choice to examine areas of interest from both a local and global perspective. A change or shift in how students are assessed is also having a strong impact in how students succeed. Each child has the ability to set their own targets in collaboration with the teachers. These are shared and articulated to parents also.

GIS is committed to empowering students and ensuring student voice and agency play a role in the day to day running of the school. Leadership opportunities exist for students in many facets, whether it be leading a group in class, representing their ‘house’ in their respective grade levels or serving on one of the whole school student committees such as academics, service, sport or social. Through opportunities and engagements as these, they demonstrate the value they place on student involvement in all areas of school life.

Words of trust

I think that GIS is a very unique school. What makes GIS so special is that they improve every year. GIS gives several opportunities to students in presenting and socializing. I remember when I started school and I didn’t even want to speak in front of the class and now in 2018, I look forward to when the class is presenting! One thing that makes GIS different to other schools is that the atmosphere of entering our school feels so welcome. Whenever I walk into the school, I always get a wide smile on my face. Our school is good at showing what the students want and letting the students have a voice, this includes student council and house captain. The teachers understand the students and that makes us students feel comfortable in the classrooms.

-Nima Klintell, Grade 7, Sweden.

When I came to GIS in January 2015, the school was so small, but the feeling and connection between the teachers and the students were amazing and although the school has grown enormously since then, the connections and relationships between the students and staff have stayed the same. This close relationship really leads to amazing ideas by the students and helps everyone develop to be themselves. An example being the Smiles4Zayed project set up by one of the Grade 8 students. The amazing personal attention and a listening ear in the senior leadership team gives us, as students an opportunity to develop ourselves and the community that surrounds us.

-Tim Oude Kotte, Grade 11, The Netherlands

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