Approximately 40 of their school staff have been laid off and there are plans to close the secondary section at the Royal Dubai School in Mirdif, GEMS have confirmed to Gulf News.

GEMS said only 5 teachers out of the 4,000 working in their UAE schools have been affected by the layoffs. Some of the teachers who lost their jobs are from the Wellington school in Dubai.

Richard Forbes, Director, Marketing and Communication at GEMS, said the layoffs are due to slower growth than expected.

"GEMS has not been as affected by the [global] recession as many other companies. There are now more students and more teachers in GEMS schools than we had at the same time last year. We have 3,000 more enrolments than last year. In a few schools however, there has been slower growth than expected. In these cases we are doing what we do every year, and adjust staffing levels," said Forbes.

Fewer opportunities

He added that GEMS could not confirm the actual student numbers before the beginning of the academic year because of the global economic recession, the H1N1 virus and Ramadan.

"Therefore we are now adjusting slightly lower because there are fewer opportunities to redeploy than we would have in previous years.

Regarding the impending closure of the senior school section at Royal Dubai School that follows the British curriculum, Forbes said they had proposed the matter to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) who will take the final decision.

"We have announced to parents that our plan is to talk to the KHDA about closing the secondary school at the Royal Dubai School. No decision has been taken to close the secondary school as it is the KHDA's decision, so all options are open," said Forbes.

A parent who requested anonymity said his son who has started his first term in GCSE Grade 10 would have to readjust his subjects if the secondary school closes.

"I understand the senior school has not grown as expected, due in the main to the loss of parental faith in GEMS following their continual promise of a separate senior school for the last three years not materialising coupled with the lack of students due to the economic downturn.

"Surely this corporation has a moral duty to dig into their pockets and accept what will be a short-term loss, they never complained during the boom years," he said.

Has your child been affected by this? Have you thought of a plan to send your child to a different school? Has GEMS tried to help?