Login | Register
Email Twitter Facebook YouTube Google+ 2013 Survey
WSA Good School

GEMS World Academy, Abu Dhabi

Winner of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com’s Happiest School in the UAE video competition.

GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi carries the name of its sister school in Dubai, but that – at least externally – is where the similarities stop.

Taken over by GEMS five years ago, this city centre based school on Abu Dhabi Island is very much more traditional in appearance and feel. It is one of the smallest GEMS and Abu Dhabi schools, currently offering the IB curriculum from KG1 to Grade 5 only, to 485 students of 61 different nationalities. There are no plans (or opportunity) to expand on the current site, but children graduating from GWA AD have automatic entry to GEMS American Academy, although as this school is located in the Raha area, the practicalities involved in this are probably more difficult.

The last inspection by ADEC was in May 2014, so the school is due a new visit. However the school will be looking to improve on an already good rating – an A3 rating to be specific. No school is rated A1 (Excellent) in the capital, and a highly select few are rated A2 (Very Good). The school says it is selective, and admissions tests are given for Grade 1 onwards.

Because it is a – relatively – new school, the majority of pupils are in the early stages of the school. At the time of the last inspection 220 children were in KG, and the remaining students spanning grades 1 to 5. Students come from across the world, but the biggest groups are those from the US, Canada and the UAE.

The school is set back from a busy road and is striking with its white walls and blocks of brightly coloured shading around the exterior. It is a two storey building, set around a large central quadrangle which acts as an outdoor playground and multi-sports centre. With an average of 4 classes per grade and class sizes of between 20 (in KG) and 22 in other grades, the school feels homely and does not overwhelm in the way that many larger more modern schools do.

Pupils entering at KG are said to make good progress at the school, both academically, and in terms of personal development. Teaching overall is said to be good as can be seen in the school’s Latest measurement of academic progress (MAP) report, as found on its web site. By Grade 3 the school outperforms its US based peers across Language, Reading and Maths,


Classrooms are set on two sides of the quadrangle, with the Indoor Sports Hall and central shared block (including Library, IT and specialist teaching rooms on the first floor) at one end and the administration block and further sports areas at the other end. There is a quiet corner play area that surrounds the KG classrooms and gives them a smaller space away from the main playground area. All classrooms are light, bright and well decorated with students’ work and well equipped for the task at hand.

Specialist Music, Art and Arabic rooms with appropriate staff are also incorporated within the teaching blocks. Specialist PE and Music and Movement staff work with children on physical activity. The library, which incorporates books in a range of languages, but with a particular focus on English and Arabic, regularly plays host to local authors who come into the school to share their books with the children. There is also a focus on Digital Citizenship and coding is included within the IT curriculum.

There is a canteen for staff and students and there is a very strong healthy eating policy throughout the school. Birthdays are only celebrated once per month and only healthy snacks and desserts are available in the canteen. Parents are expected to adhere to the school’s policy in this respect in terms of food sent into school.

The school has a strong focus on English Language Learner and SEN support with 2 members of staff working in each field. The school follows an immersive approach to ELL in KG with additional support being offered only if required from grade 1. 90% of teaching staff at the school are either from the US or Canada and are all PYP trained.

Families tend to come from the Reem, Saadiyat and downtown area of Abu Dhabi Island and are of a wide range of nationalities with a predominance of mainly US, Canadian and European citizens.

Although the facilities at GEMS World Academy Abu Dhabi may not be as impressive as some of the newer schools within the parent group, this does not seem to impact the learning opportunities within the school and if families are seeking a smaller, perhaps more traditional and homely environment for their Elementary age children, this school is definitely one to seek out.

Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been almost universally positive, with parents liking the scale of the school, the attention given to their children, and the overall ambiance and warmth of the school.

Fees currently range from between 39900 AED per year for KG 1 students, rising to 58400 AED per year for Grads 1 through to 5.





If you are the owner of the school and note any factual inaccuracies, or would like to update any information, please do not hesitate to contact us at editor@edu2021.com.


Update on June 7, 2016 | Reviewed by David on July 28, 2012


Leave A Reply
  1. Lucia says
    June 23, 2015, 8:38 pm

    Our little GEMS really is a gem between schools in Abu Dhabi. It provides a safe and happy place for our little ones to start their journey of good quality education. We have a wonderful and very active parents community that does so much for our children and school throughout the year. Our always smiling Principle, his great office team and all amazing teachers are very friendly and approachable which to a parent makes a big difference when it comes to getting feedback, asking questions, dealing with issues or just having a small pet talk on the field.
    I would highly recommend it to anyone and would not change for any other school.

  2. Pat says
    June 15, 2014, 9:56 am

    I have both my son and daughter at GWA Abu Dhabi and honestly, cannot praise the school enough! My son has been there for 2 years. At the end of last year (KG2-4) he was behaving really strangely and was having problems with me leaving him in the mornings. The school tried everything to accommodate him, held numerous meetings with us, supported us by suggesting multiple methods of dealing with his behaviour, and were really patient. Mr Jay, the school principal, is a real professional who cares about the students and shows that. I’m surprised he even remembers the names of so many children! The teachers I encountered are real professionals with experience and have a lot to offer in terms of educating our children to be good citizens and human beings, which I believe is a priority over any high academic achievement, which I believe the school is also providing. The atmosphere is nurturing and positive, supportive and encouraging. The ONLY negative comment I have to add is the cost involved. The fees are really high and it is with great sadness that I will have to move the kids to another school after the 2014/2015 academic year. If you can afford it, it’s really an exemplary school, one which I would have loved to attend if I were a child myself!

    • Patricia says
      February 14, 2016, 8:46 am

      It is now 2016, I still have my son and daughter at GWA and still feel the same about the school. Shame that our lovely principal Mr. Jay is leaving us. Amazing place!


Share YOUR experience... Have your say here...