REVEALED: GEMS' letter to parents on school closure

Future of thousands of Dubai children under threat amid closure of Westminster School

Dear Parents,

The Westminster School, Dubai (TWS) is a school that has served the community faithfully for many years and we have been immensely proud of the schools many accomplishments and achievements during this time.

However, in recent times our ability to invest the resources required to produce the improvements needed, both educationally and in infrastructure, have been severely restricted because of the current fee structure. In order for all our students to reach the levels of academic success that our parents and GEMS expect, continuous investment is required.

Over the past five years, GEMS management, together with the leadership team from The Westminster School, Dubai has worked diligently to try and improve facilities and educational provision at the school.

While both GEMS and the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB)  have noted improvements, the judgement by DSIB on the schools performance remains ‘acceptable’, even after four years of inspections and despite rising examination results. 

At The Westminster School, over the past five years the average fee increase, per annum, has been just 167 dirhams. That equates to around 13 dirhams a month. For two of the past five years there has been no fee increase at all.

We simply cannot offer a high quality education at this level that we see as our duty to provide. Indeed, salary increases during the same period have been at a level higher than any fee awards.

Sadly and with regret, it is therefore our intention to close The Westminster School Dubai with effect from June 2014. KHDA has provided the necessary approvals.

Needless to say it has been a very difficult decision. We have decided to inform you now in order to provide you with as much time as possible to find a new school.

We have shown, over many years that we are deeply committed to our community and we are determined, with your support and engagement, to ensure that your children are given the option of a place in other GEMS schools from 2013 onwards in preparation for the closure in June 2014.

Students from TWS, Dubai will be given priority placement in the following GEMS schools from 2013 onwards. This is subject to meeting normal admissions procedures.

These schools include:

•        The Winchester School, Oud Metha – FS 1 and general secondary school enquiries excluding year 11 but including year 12. * This is subject to KHDA approvals for opening grades 9 – 13.

•        The Westminster school, Sharjah – Kindergarten – Year 9 enquiries.

•        The Winchester school, Jebel Ali – Year 12 enquiries only.

•        The Westminster school, RAK – Primary school enquiries.

•        Cambridge International school – Year 12 enquiries only.

Please view the above attachment for more information on the options available.

As GEMS increases capacity in its network further schools will be identified as destinations for priority placement for TWS students.


Dino Varkey

Group Executive Director

GEMS Education



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Posted by: Karl

December 2014 and GEMS have said they will close a school in UK. Children are in tears!

Posted by: Peter

I'm not sure why there is so much anger about this announcement. It is simply a commercial decision. The school is giving nearly 2 years notice as well as accommodating students on preferential basis elsewhere within their network.

I recall many parents commenting earlier as to how schools here are minting money and if they're not making money, why don't they close etc. Well, when the decision to close does come, this is the reaction? So this is a no win situation for schools then.

On one hand, management is constrained by KHDA (and parents) on fee increases etc, and on the other, cost pressures are slowly dropping the quality of education in these institutes.

Some may disagree, but I believe free market dynamics would work better than to have KHDA dictate what fee increases can or cannot happen. Parents will enroll their kids where they get the right value (net benefit after costs) based on what they aspire for.

Posted by: agnes

The fact that GEM's managements is doing this as a strategy, in the end KHDA final say have made this happen... as they mentioned it was already approved by KHDA??? to which I find it more questionable what brings KHDA to approve such move... knowing that this is not the first time they have done it...its a big question mark...??? yes to be fare it is a business.. but to completely disregard their main purpose which is "to educate" leaves this situation a wrong move for GEMS.

Posted by: jpv

Good strategy!!! close the school which does not bring in too much profit. Refurbish and open a new school with much higher fees on the same premises. who cares about the students!!! The bottom line is profit, right?

Posted by: Joy Fawaz

you're not gonna die if u kept our school which we love and care about
not all parents can afford higher fees payment
I always proudly answer people who ask me which school are you in by sayin " THE WESTMINISTER SCHOOL"
It's MORE than a home for me , its my life , my family , my friends
TWS is running through my veins
Hats-Off For TWS <3

Posted by: A normal guy

People like you lower down the humanity, profit?? Education was always the intention to bring up students that will help the future! and here you are talking about profit. Mr jpv your mind for inability to think and look forward has gone completely to utter ZERO!

Posted by: Baiju

That is quiet a good business strategy....good move....for you ...This is kind of indirectly threatening the parents..."Either you give higher and higher fees..or we will shut down the school" you people are into this business since decades...and sunny group earned all their monies from this business have earned millions and millions...and for sure it is not from thin air...!!! Keep in mind that you are running an educational institute...not a grocery or shut it down whenever you like...Educational Institutions do have more social commitment than a super market....Business apart...!!!!

Posted by: rgk


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