GEMS Founders School - Al Mizhar in Dubai is among the first schools to introduce GEMS Link Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE-based school group GEMS Education on Monday said it is introducing a new initiative called ‘GEMS Link’ to enhance inclusion provision at school.

Through GEMS Link, students will gain access to a dedicated team of therapists, licensed by Dubai Health Authority, who provide speech and language therapy as well as occupational therapy. All therapies, available to GEMS families at significantly reduced cost, will take place on school premises. The GEMS Link team will work with each child’s team of educators and parents.

The programme has been launched “in response to the need to end stigmas and promote the rights of students with additional needs”, GEMS Education said.

Various therapies

Speech and language therapy supports children and adolescents with their speech, language and communication needs using assessment, observation and “evidence-based” individualised intervention programmes. These programmes may have focused areas on speech sounds, fluency, oral motor skill development, and social communication.

Occupational therapy, meanwhile, develops and enhances a child’s motor, sensory, behavioural, cognitive and social skills. Interventions are “age appropriate and multidisciplinary, the primary goal being to enable children to participate in everyday activities”.

Philip Thompson, Head of Inclusion, GEMS Education, said: “We are committed to providing our students with the right support at the right time. Our new GEMS Link services are designed to give students the specialist support they need to be successful in their learning journey. In providing an on-site multidisciplinary team, delivering holistic embedded assessment, observation and review programmes linked to the curriculum, we aim to ensure students have access to the most effective strategies that prepare them for adulthood.”

GEMS Link will initially be rolled out across four GEMS schools: GEMS Founders School – Dubai, GEMS Founders School – Al Mizhar, GEMS Cambridge International School – Dubai, and GEMS Metropole School – Motor City.

Matthew Burfield, who oversees these four schools in his capacity as Vice President – Education at GEMS Education and Principal/CEO of GEMS Founders School – Dubai, said: “Inclusion has always been incredibly close to my heart as a teacher and a school leader. I have the honour and privilege of leading a large, diverse cluster of seven schools across the UAE, whose leaders all share this same sentiment. This fantastic initiative will bring the services that our most vulnerable children need closer to our schools and in turn our children. This is an incredibly exciting programme that will, I am sure, soon spread to the rest of the schools in Dubai and beyond.”

Nav Iqbal, Principal/CEO, GEMS Metropole School – Motor City, said: “Parents and their children who require access to the services provided through the GEMS Link programme will no longer need to have to drive long distances or pay high fees for such services. It is our duty as an education provider to offer services that benefit and build on our school’s capacity, to enhance its ability to meet the needs of diverse student populations and with greater access and quality for our most vulnerable students.”

Akram Tarik, Principal/CEO of GEMS Founders School – Al Mizhar, said: “The GEMS Link programme will not only benefit our children’s communication and understanding of language, but it will also play a crucial role in developing our children’s readiness for life and their ability to realise their potential. The collaboration between the four GEMS Link schools, our children, their families and the additional education professionals will help us to further develop personalised strategies to meet every child’s individual needs.”