Primary school at GRDS



GEMS Royal Dubai School offers a world-class education founded on the National Curriculum for England (NCfE) England. The English Curriculum 2014 places emphasis on depth and breadth of learning through a mastery approach learning whilst developing the personal, social, emotional and physical needs of the whole child.

Suzannah Hoskin-promo
Suzannah Hoskin

Vice Principal 


I am especially looking forward to supporting the continual development of a concept approach to the curriculum that focuses on breadth and depth of learning and innovation to support 21st century high performing learners.


Primary Curriculum Overview

By giving individual attention to each student we can identify any particular talent or issue that needs to be addressed to ensure that every child who leaves GEMS Royal Dubai School has achieved their full potential and is ready for the next step on to senior school.

GEMS Royal Dubai School focus on an holistic education that extends beyond the classroom to embrace a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including sports, nature trips, arts and crafts and exploratory excursions that provide a well-rounded experience and development of student potential.

The Learning Wave

The Learning Wave is an integral part of the GEMS Royal Dubai School learning model. It is used by all members of the learning community as a tool for learners to describe their learning process. We believe that this provides learners with a framework to have greater agency and self- efficacy over their learning.



  • Aims

    The school assessment principles aim to give reliable information to parents and pupils which:

    • Allows meaningful tracking of pupils towards end of key stage expectations, including regular and easily understood feedback to parents which is transferable to any school following the Curriculum for England.
    • Produces recordable measures which can demonstrate comparison against expected standards and reflect progress over time.
    • Recognises and gives early support and guidance to those who are falling behind and those who are excelling.
    • Ensures that feedback to pupils contributes to improved learning and is focused on specific and tangible objectives.
    • Demonstrates that the school is keeping up with external best practice and innovation.
  • Quality Assessment

    Pupils should have an understanding of where they are going in their learning and the standards they are aiming for. The expectation therefore is that teachers will share learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria with pupils. Pupils should first know what high quality learning looks like in a particular area. Providing exemplars and scaffolding (verbal and physical) can encourage this dialogue and enable them to respond to the questions:

    • “What are you learning in this lesson?"
    • “How are you learning?”
    • “How will you know you have been successful?” (WAGOLL – What a good one looks like!)

    Lessons are planned with clear learning questions or objectives and expected learning outcomes through clear success criteria with individual abilities of children within the class being considered. Learning questions are similar to learning objectives whereby they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and targeted), displayed daily for each lesson taking place and shared with the pupils at the onset or during the lesson. The learning objective or learning questions are written or typed onto each piece of work. The success criteria, again in the SMART format and created with the children whenever possible, enable students to know what they need to do to achieve the objective set in the lesson and enable them to be successful and this must be accessible for the students throughout the lesson. (e.g. displayed on monitor or use of a rubric). Feedback reflects the learning objective or question using appropriate success criteria identified in the planning.

  • Target Setting

    Specific targets (through 2 simple and learning ladders) are set for all children within the subject areas of English, Mathematics, Science, Arabic and Islamic. These are regularly monitored, reviewed and communicated to children, parents and support teachers where necessary. Targets may also be set for within other areas of the curriculum to enhance learning and aid progression.

  • Summative Assessments

    In line with the assessment expectations of the English curriculum students are assessed at different points throughout their educational journey.

    At the end of Year 1 students participate in a phonic screening check, which aims to ensure that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. Children who have not reached this level will receive extra support to ensure they can improve their decoding skills and will then retake the phonics screening check in Year 2.

    At the end of KS1 (Year 2) students take National tests and teacher assessment in English and Mathematics. At the end of KS2 (Year 6) students take National tests and teacher assessment in English and Mathematics.

    In addition to the mandatory assessments set by the National Curriculum students at GRDS in Year 2 – 6 participate in end of year GL Progress tests in Mathematics and English. Year 3-6 students also sit the Science GL Progress tests at the end of each year. This measures their progress from year to year and their attainment against curriculum expectations. Year 3 – 6 also sit a CAT4 assessment at the beginning of each academic year.

    CAT 4 provides a rounded profile of student ability so you can target support, provide the right level of challenge and make informed decisions about students’ progress. It provides a unique profile of strengths and weaknesses across four batteries:

    Verbal Reasoning – the ability to express ideas and reason through words is essential to subjects with a high language content, and the most obvious skill picked up by traditional assessment.

    Non-verbal Reasoning – problem-solving using pictures and diagrams; skills which are important in a wide range of school subjects, including maths and science-based subjects.

    Spatial Reasoning – the capacity to think and draw conclusions in three dimensions, needed for many STEM subjects, but not easily measured by other datasets.

    Quantitative Reasoning – the ability to use numerical skills to solve problems, applicable well beyond mathematics.” (GL Assessment website)

    As a school we analyze the results of the yearly progress tests with the results of CAT4 to support students reaching their full potential and identify and provide strategies for any barriers to learning and create a learner profile for each students and their specific needs.

    Additional internal assessments are carried out throughout the year to assess progress and attainment in the core areas of learning.

  • Formative Assessments (Day to day)

    Day to assessments made by the class teacher are ongoing and a form an important part of triangulating attainment and progress for individual students. This type of assessment comes in many forms. For example:

    • Questions and answers during class
    • Dialogue between teacher and pupil
    • Marking of pupils’ work
    • Observations
    • Regular short re-cap quizzes
    • Scanning work for pupils’ attainment and development


Learning Ladders

Teachers and parents work in partnership to support your child’s progress using Learning Ladders. It is an online tool we use to track students’ progress against curriculum objectives. At the click of a button, teachers can assess pupil progress against a series of 'I can' statements that represent the skills and knowledge planned in our curriculum.

Students have targets and have access to their learning ladders to see how they are progressing and what they need to focus on next. Learning Ladders data is shared with families within their school reports and we provide parents with access to Learning Ladders at home. “Ladders at Home enables you to view your child's curriculum alongside a bank of teacher written resources which break down the curriculum, helping you to help your child at home.”  This tool is also available in multiple languages to support parents for whom English is an additional language.

A bespoke tool created at GEMS Royal Dubai School is now used across UAE schools to support academic progress in Arabic & Islamic with clear tracking of Ministry of Education curriculum throughout your child’s learning journey.


  • GEMS Royal Dubai School uses the descriptors of Beginning (B) Working Towards (WT), Working Within (WW), Working Above (WA)
  • The curriculum is age-related and is linked directly to the curriculum objectives based on the NCfE
  • Arabic and Islamic lessons follow the MOE objectives, which are also included in the Learning Ladders tool and the same bandings are applied for attainment
  • Learning objectives are set out in the Learning Ladders assessment system used by teaching staff


  • GEMS Royal Dubai School uses the descriptors of Below Expected level, At Expected level, Above Expected Level
  • Progress is calculated cumulatively across the year based on objectives taught. These may be below age related curriculum expectations depending on a student's starting point


Subject Areas

Students at GEMS Royal Dubai School follow an enriched version of the New National Curriculum for England where they may transfer to or from other National Curriculum schools around the world. The school is a COBIS member and support students wanting to transition between the UK and UAE.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the National Curriculum programme?

    The English National Curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools, so children learn the same things. It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject. It is a very structured curriculum that is designed to meet the needs of all students. In England this begins with The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development, and care of children from birth to 5 years old. The next stage is known as the Primary years, and this is split into Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Year 3 – 6). This is followed by Secondary phase and this is split into Key stage 3 (Year 7-Year 9) and Key Stage 4 (Year 10 and 11). During Key Stage 4 students take their GCSE’s and other examinations. Key Stage 5 is a label used to describe the two years of education for students aged 16-18, or at sixth form, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, aligning with previous Key Stages as labelled for the National Curriculum. Academic achievements during this period support applications and opportunities for students to move onto study at a higher education institution.

  • What are the advantages of an English Curriculum education?

    The NCfE is recognised internationally by universities and employers across the world. It is seen as a quality, cohesive and progressive educational framework that prepares young people for a range of courses and opportunities as they become young adults. It supports mastery, depth of learning and critical thinking, promoting skills such as reasoning, analysing and problem solving. The English curriculum can be adapted to suit an international school easily and can be taught cohesively in a variety of settings and contexts, valuing and embracing the heritage and culture of the local context.

  • How can I learn more about NCfE?

    To learn more about the NCfE please visit the Curriculum website or give us a call and book at tour! We are happy to show you around and tell you all about our school.

  • What training do our teachers have?

    All our classroom teachers are United Kingdom (UK) trained and have experience teaching in the United Kingdom. The average number of teaching experience of our teachers is 10 years. The average teacher stays at GEMS Royal Dubai school for 5 years and we have a high proportion of staff who stay well beyond this! Our Principal Mrs. Martin has been at the school since it opened in 2005 and we have teachers and staff that have been here almost as long!

  • What is High Performing Learning?

    At GEMS Royal Dubai School, we are very proud to be one of only 4 schools in the UAE to receive accreditation as a High Performing Learning School. We truly believe that all children can be high performance learners and we strive for all our students to have a performance mindset and reach their potential. It is based around a framework that include 20 generic characteristics that students need to develop to be high performing learners. These are based around, ‘How we think’ (ACPs) and ‘How we behave’ (VAAs) and are embedded across our curriculum.

  • What is a concept approach and how does it support learning?

    The Concept Curriculum within GRDS covers the National Curriculum for England objectives through a modern approach of teaching concepts and real-life links, rather than traditionally focusing on each objective as a separate lesson or through stand-alone topics. This allows learners to use different skills to acquire, apply and transfer knowledge in a wider context.

    The school timetable is very fluid to ensure teacher autonomy when delivering a more personalized, child led curriculum.

    Combined with our Learning Model and ICARE/HPL Learning Dispositions, children can question, wonder, discover, apply and create their personalised learning journey.

    In unison with the UAE Vision of 2021, along with many other countries around the world, our aim is to provide confident and independent learners with the skills and motivation to continue their lifelong learning journey.


  • What enrichment opportunities does your curriculum provide?

    GEMS Royal Dubai School has always offered a range of extra-curricular activities to further develop the children’s interests and to aid them in pursuing their talents. We offer a range of free and paid activities from FS2 to year 6. These include arts and crafts, sports, music, languages, Islamic and technology. The choices given to the children vary at the beginning of each term to give the children the opportunity to pursue different interests. KS1 children usually have 1 club a week and KS2 children have 2.

    Our young sports stars of the future are able to try out for the different sports teams. The trials are held at the beginning of the term. The selected teams are then invited to represent GRDS by playing against other schools.

    ESM are an outside agency who provide paid high-quality sports and enrichment programmes to GRDS. These include soccer academies and robotic engineering clubs. I know that the children who have attended these courses have been thoroughly engaged and they have benefitted from the professional coaching.

    Last year, the school provided over 1000 club and squad places for the children. As a school, we nurture the children’s interests and let them explore their individuality. The students are very proud to represent their school and their house teams.

  • How do you support digital learning?

    In KS1 students are taught what an algorithm is using terminology they will understand. They create a simple chain of instructions and apply them to various situations. To begin with they plan and then walk using a grid system, checking if their plan works and if they need to adapt their instructions to get them to their desired location.  Once the students are confident they move on to using Bluebots. The children create their algorithms, test it, and then debug their instructions to make sure they work. In addition to using the Bluebots the children apply their knowledge of algorithms to create Scratch junior projects.

  •  How do you support innovation?

    We are very proud to have been rated by Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) inspection as having a ‘systematic approach’ to innovation. This is the highest rating achievable and we see innovation in all that we do. Innovation comes into every aspect of our school and is not just about digital learning, although this is an important part of it.

  • How do you support wellbeing at your school?

    “At RDS, student welfare and wellbeing are given the highest priority” (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2019)

    RDS prides itself on the exceptional pastoral care for all students. The Wellbeing values we promote for all of our students are based on the PERMAH model of positive psychology applied to education. Our core values are to promote positive emotions, engagement, strong relationships and connections, accomplishment and awareness of healthy lifestyles.

    We have a dedicated Pastoral Team at RDS who are working with the community to ensure we provide a caring and non-judgmental environment in which all students at RDS can improve their wellbeing and flourish.

    We have lots of opportunities for all of our students to reach out if they need to as well as providing a Wellbeing Education.

    Wellbeing Wednesday  – Weekly focus on different aspects of healthy living and wellbeing including strategies and ideas for less screen time.

    Student Wellbeing Leaders – We have a team of dedicated students who raise awareness of Wellbeing across the school.

    Listening Lounge – Drop in space at break times to share any worries or simply have a chat.

    Assemblies – Weekly themed assemblies for students in Yrs 1-6.

    Wellbeing Room
    – In school, a dedicated break out space to encourage students to take part in a variety of wellbeing activities.

    Student Counsellor – For students who would like 1:1 support.

    – All of our teachers have received Mindfulness CPD

    Yoga – We have a big focus on healthy lifestyles – lead by the PE Department. All students at RDS have the opportunity to take part in Yoga (as do our staff and parents!)

    Wellbeing Awareness Week (Including Happiness Day) – Every year we have a dedicated Wellbeing week in which we can raise awareness and celebrate all of the wonderful things happening at RDS.

    GEMS Jewels of Kindness – We all take part in the GEMS initiative to earn our Jewels by completing acts of kindness for each other.


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