5 questions with: Elmarie VenterAugust 11, 2017, 7:50 am GMT
Elmarie Venter, senior vice president for enrolments and corporate relations, GEMS Education
How do you select students during the admissions process?
At GEMS, our selection is based on a holistic review, so we are looking at the personality of our students, and we look at the academic performance. We first evaluate if students are age appropriate for the year, and if this is in line with KHDA guidelines. We also check whether parents are familiar with the curriculum they have selected. In the early primary school applications, we do a play-based assessment. In middle schools assessments look at reading, writing and mathematics. We also review reports of the previous academic year.
Are there other factors that affect whether a student receives a placement offer?
Some schools might have an extensive waiting list. We follow priority placement the faculty of the school will get a place first, siblings of existing students, students of other GEMS schools, and GEMS also has corporate agreements with large companies. We also look at whether the child has any special education needs. GEMS is non-selective, but if we know we are not able to give the student the sufficient support, we will recommend a school that might be able to cater to that need a little bit more.
Have you noticed any recent trends?
The high number that we have recruited this year is great for the region because it shows that people are still coming to the UAE and they can rely on the education that's available. The number of young families looking for places has increased. Corporate HR have taken more interest in securing places for their employees. So they ask us to secure places for their new employees ahead of their arrival. In the last two years there has been an increase in the number of premium schools that have come into the market. For us as parents, it is very positive because it means that we have a wider variety of choices available, whereas before we had to stay on long waiting lists.
How can schools market themselves effectively to attract the right audience?
The best way to market any school is to deliver what you've promised. Parents select us based on our team that's promoting the school and what it offers. Our biggest ambassadors and marketing tool are our parents. We have strong parent ambassador groups amongst our schools; these parents go out, they speak, they're at our events. Word of mouth is the most important tool. When developing and distributing information on your schools, you need to focus on student achievement.
Which year groups have the most demand?
Over the last three years, the foundation stage section FS1 and FS2 and then Year 7 have seen the most demand. There isn't one curriculum that is more in demand than the others. Our Indian curriculum schools have very high enrolments though. The number of students that we have recruited this year is higher than the last two years. This September, we welcomed over 16,000 new students.
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