It’s a rare thing for a GEMS school to be ranked anything other than Good or Outstanding, but that dubious distinction goes to GEMS Winchester School, a K-9 school located in Oud Metha, Dubai.

The reason could largely be due to its rapid expansion: The school opened in 2011 with around 500 students. Within three academic years that figure has jumped to a rather incredible 3,277, including students joining Years 7 and 8 in 2012/13, and grade 9 in 2013/14. Almost one third of the school population is in the Foundation Stage, where there are 37 classes. Currently there are only 96 students in Grade 9.

At the same time, 106 new teachers have joined the school.

The school follows the National Curriculum for England and Wales.

To have teething pains in the face of such uncompromising growth is perhaps unsurprising, but then it will also have been a conscious decision of GEMS to grow so quickly. As a result, the list of “to dos” is significantly bigger than its list of boxes ticked…

In its 2012/13report the KHDA noted the need to accelerate student progress and raise attainment in all key subjects. This is largely still in progress. Across the core subjects of English, maths and science, the school is rated acceptable only, save for science in secondary where it is rated unsatisfactory.

Perhaps the biggest worry of 2012/13 was the recommendation to “improve teachers’ spoken and written English so they can communicate effectively with their students”. For a UK curriculum school that’s an unusual comment to say the least. This recommendation is not made in its latest report, however almost as worrying is the comment that some teachers “have a poor concept of educational concepts”. Oh dear…

The KHDA does have some positive things to say about Winchester. Key strengths include the improvements in a number of significant areas at Foundation Stage; the improvements in health and safety throughout the school; the inclusive nature of provision for those with a special educational need; and the good support offered by parents.

The school has an Unsatisfactory rating for Arabic as a first and as an additional language in terms of attainment and progress. Schools are expected to have a minimum grade of Good.

Unusually the school’s web site does not detail its facilities or extra-curricular activities, but on the very limited feedback WSA has received these are said to be satisfactory, but not up to the level of other GEMS schools.

Fees for GEMS Winchester are very much at the low end for a GEMS Education school, ranging from 9540 AED to 15,104 AED per annum for tuition. Full details below.