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Parent's Review of Gems American Academy in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Nov 11, 2013

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What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)

Gems American Academy

In what town or city is this school located?

Abu Dhabi

How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)

American Curriculum

What grade levels are represented at this school?


How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)

Parent transportation

How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?

The facilities are top notch, but under utilized, Poorly stocked library.

What has this school done to help your child transition from the curriculum in your home country into the curriculum in your new country? Are there programs to prepare your child for repatriation?

No. There are no transition programs nor repatriation programs of which I am aware.

How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?

There is a parent teacher organization, called GAAPA, which is fantastic. They organize social functions all year long. They work tirelessly at creating a strong sense of community at GAA for our children.

What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?

I would be be very wary of enrolling your child here. The nuclear management of this school is non-existent. The communication from the administration to the parents and teachers and staff is abhorrent. There are no AP courses, and GAA has yet to qualify for IB status, because it is not yet up to IB standards. At the primary level, classes are over-loaded and teachers are unsupported. They are not able to split children by ability so higher-achievers sit bored all day long. It is my understanding some teachers are better able than others to stimulate these children, like anywhere. There are also no science labs to speak of, which is an utter travesty. The facilities are top notch, but the kids rarely utilize GAA's most prized features: planetarium, music tech lab, et al. There is no real technology curriculum yet in place, though parents have been told they are working on it. They do not teach the most basic skill of typing to their students. In the tour, they promised iPads in the classrooms, but that has yet to happen. In fact, kids as young as primary are allowed to bring their own devices. There Wi-Fi in the school is not filtered in anyway. Kids can access social media all day long, and they do. Other schools block sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Kik--not GAA, It's a free for all. Parents are expected to pay for school supplies, field trips, team uniforms, a rather insufficient lunch, et al. In short, nothing is free at GAA despite it having one of the highest tuitions in Abu Dhabi. I will say that the teachers are all fantastic, that is why we stay. There is hope for GEMS American Academy, but it will take some major institutional changes for it to function as well as even the most under-funded American public school. I would like people unfamiliar with the actual American curriculum to know that what GAA offers is nothing remotely like an American curriculum.

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