When GEMS Cambridge International Private School Sharjah opened in September 2019, its principal was determined to establish an environment that offered the best standards for both students and parents.
“When we started the school, we sat together and we thought, what is the best for our parents and our students? So many schools do weekly newsletters, emails and social media but what can we do that is different and unique?” says Albie Huyser, Principal and CEO.
“We started with the open-door policy. Every Tuesday, all our parents are welcome to join us after school, go into the classes and look at what the teachers and students have been doing during the week. They have that one-to-one time to discuss the children’s progress and also share and celebrate all of the good things that have happened in the class.”
The school’s policy of a holistic approach to teaching as well as fostering a close relationship between parents and staff is already paying dividends.
“I am really very happy with the progress of my child and all of the teachers and the staff help when we need them,” says parent Shaymaa Mohamed Attia Daif. “At the beginning of the year, there was too much homework and it was very difficult for us because it was the first year for my child in GEMS. When we went to the management, they listened to us, improved the homework and they made it suitable for my child.”
Mostafa Mohamed Makhlouf Mohamed is equally pleased with the school’s open-door policy. “Every Tuesday we have the ability to go and meet the teachers directly and raise any concern or discuss any progress. Secondly, we have an application called ClassDojo, where we can see pictures of what your kid’s doing and you can communicate with the teacher directly on that.”
Kindergarten teacher Hannah Mcallistar agrees that the close relationship between staff and parents is an important aspect of the school’s success. “At this school the relationship between parents and teachers is very open and very honest. We have a positive relationship with our parents and in order to achieve this, we have continuous contact with them.
“I think, speaking for teachers at this school, everyone is very invested in ensuring that the children in their class are happy learners and to do that, we need to have a whole and holistic view of the child. The only way to achieve that is to be working with the parents in a partnership.”
We believe that every child is special and every child should be loved and cared for and therefore we adapt our teaching.
This openness extends to the school’s collaboration with Sharjah’s WeTel TV. The school have created an on-site TV studio and parents are able to tune in and review their children’s broadcasting skills on Etisalat channel 336. The initiative allows pupils to improve their communication skills and offers them the type of practical experience they can use later in the workplace.
GEMS has decades of experience of providing pupils the skills they need to succeed but Albie Huyser believes that teaching should transcend simply following a curriculum. “We believe that not only teaching the national curriculum for England is enough for making sure that the child is ready for the world out there. We believe that every child is special and every child should be loved and cared for and therefore we adapt our teaching – not just to teach the schemes of work and the expectations of the curriculum but also to have that approach where each child feels special.”