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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 27 February 2021

Gems Education to merge Wellington campuses for next academic year

Wellington Primary School in Al Bada’a in Dubai will close and its pupils will join the larger Wellington Academy in Al Khail

 Gems Wellington Academy Al Khail will have places for 2,500 pupils after the merger. Antonie Robertson / The National
 Gems Wellington Academy Al Khail will have places for 2,500 pupils after the merger. Antonie Robertson / The National

Gems Education will merge two of its schools in Dubai in September, creating one large campus for pupils.

The country’s largest private-school operator will move pupils from Wellington Primary, in Al Bada’a, near Jumeirah 1, to Wellington Academy Al Khail. The primary school will close this summer.

The move will create one of the largest British-curriculum schools in Dubai by intake, with a capacity of almost 2,500 pupils.

Wellington Academy, which is rated “very good” by inspectors, already teaches children aged four to 11.

The academy has high fees, charging Dh54,000 per year from Year 6 and Dh86,000 in Years 12 and 13.

Gems said it had already held meetings with parents and was showing them the new facilities.

“This move is in response to parental feedback indicating an overwhelming desire for Gems Wellington Primary School to extend its education through to senior-age children,” a spokesman said.

“The unification will enable students to make a continuous journey through primary and secondary education, while also benefiting from Gems Wellington Academy – Al Khail’s exceptional facilities.

“It will also enable us to considerably expand the activities available to the children in our care both during the normal school day and in terms of extra-curricular options and opportunities.

“Parents and staff have already been informed of this decision, and we will provide every assistance to members of both school communities to ensure the upcoming transition is smooth and seamless.”

Last year chief executive Dino Varkey said the pandemic would have major implications for many private schools.

He said pay cuts and job losses in aviation and oil and gas would have an impact on pupil numbers.

“The families that choose our schools, and many schools across the nation, are those employed by these sectors,” he told Arabian Business in July.

“And if we look at the market sentiments for these sectors, it is projecting a decline, and subsequently a contraction in student enrolments.

“In Dubai specifically, pre-Covid-19, the sector was continuously growing but now the demand and supply gap is becoming more acute. I see consolidations and mergers of schools and, in some cases, inevitable closures.”

Last year, the group closed Heritage Indian School citing the “extremely difficult” impact of the pandemic and put plans for another school, Founders Al Waha, on hold

Before the pandemic, Gems consolidated several of its schools, including Nations Academy and American Academy in 2017, two Indian schools in Sharjah, in 2019, and its two National Schools, which were single-sex, last year.

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Updated: February 7, 2021 03:51 PM

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