Admissions Guidelines and Overview

A brief overview of the admissions guidelines and requirements

A Brief Introduction
GEMS World Academy-Dubai is a co-educational international school providing world-class programs and facilities to a culturally diverse student community aged 2 to 18 years old. GWA-Dubai is an International Baccalaureate World School offering the continuum of IB programs: the Primary Years Program (PYP) in the elementary school and the Middle Years Program (MYP) and Diploma Program (DP) in the secondary school.

Grade Level Placement

GWA-Dubai places students in age-appropriate grade levels in accordance with the Ministry of Education/KHDA regulations. The IB programs allow for a great degree of academic differentiation and therefore we do not accelerate children into higher grades and only rarely retain children in a lower year group.

Families are encouraged to use the country comparison chart below to ensure that they are applying to the correct grade level, taking into account the differences that exist in the naming of “grades” around the world. (As an example, Year 2 in England is equivalent to Grade 1 at GWA-Dubai although both programs are for 6 year olds that turn 7 during the school year). If there are questions about the correct grade-level placement, please contact the Registration Team.

Age as of September 1 GWA-Dubai North America England Australia/ NZ South Africa
"Grade" "Grade" "Year" "Year" "Year"
2 years old (not potty trained) Nursery -- -- -- --
3 years old (potty trained) Pre-K/ Nursery -- FS1 (Nursery) -- --
4 years old (potty trained) Kg1 PreK FS2 (Reception) Kg --
5 years old Kg2 Kg 1 Prep Reception
6 years old 1 1 2 1 1
7 years old 2 2 3 2 2
8 years old 3 3 4 3 3
9 years old 4 4 5 4 4
10 years old 5 5 6 5 5
11 years old 6 6 7 6 6
12 years old 7 7 8 7 7
13 years old 8 8 9 8 8
14 years old 9 9 10 9 9
15 years old 10 10 11 10 10
16 years old 11 11 12 11 11
17 years old 12 12 13 12 12

*As per the directive from the federal government of the UAE, we have implemented a December 31st cut-off date for Nursery – Grade 1 applicants. Any applicant whose date of birth falls between 1st September and 31st December will be assessed for entry into the higher grade. Students must demonstrate developmental, emotional and academic readiness in their assessment in order to be considered for the higher grade. If our admissions team concludes that a student isn’t ready, we will only consider them for entry into the lower grade based on the 1st September cut-off.

*Grade 12 students are generally not admitted as it is the second year of the two-year IB Diploma Programme. Students transferring from an IB Diploma Programme may be eligible for enrolment depending on academic level and subjects taken in their first year of the Diploma Programme.

Class Size and Teacher to Student Ratio

The current class sizes and teacher to student ratio are as follows, however they are subject to review depending on the requirements of the school:

  • PreK – 16 students, one teacher, one teaching assistant
  • Kg 1 – 18 students, one teacher, one teaching assistant
  • Kg 2 – 20 students, one teacher, one teaching assistant
  • Grade 1-5 – 24 students, one teacher, one teaching assistant
  • Grade 6-10 – 25 students, one teacher (teaching assistant support dependent on the subject area)
  • Grade 11-12 – 17 students, one teacher (teaching assistant support dependent on the subject area)

Arabic Language Requirements

All students from Grade 1-9 are required to learn Arabic as per the UAE Ministry of Education by-laws. Classes are differentiated for native and non-native speakers and the programs incorporate the Ministry of Education syllabus within the curriculum. GWA-Dubai believes that an early start in Arabic is beneficial and therefore begins its Arabic instruction a year early in Kg2.

As an additional requirement, students who are registered with a passport from one of the Arab countries listed below are required by law to attend Arabic A for native speakers until the end of Grade 12. Students who are not fluent in Arabic and are from an identified Arabic country may take Arabic B after KHDA approval.

UAE Egypt
Saudi Arabia Kuwait
Qatar Syria
Bahrain Iraq
Yemen Oman
Mauritania Libya
Lebanon Palestine
Jordan Tunisia
Algeria Morocco
Sudan Somalia
Djibouti Union of the Comoros

Islamic Education Requirement

In accordance with the UAE Ministry of Education by-laws, students who are Muslim (as identified on their passport or during the admissions process via the “religion” option) must take Islamic Education until the end of Grade 12. Students may take Islamic A (in Arabic) or Islamic B (in English) based on their passport nationality. The Islamic A and B courses incorporate the Ministry of Education syllabus for Islamic Education within the curriculum.

K.H.D.A. Guidelines on Islamic Education:

  • ISLAMIC A: Arab passport Muslim students (Those who are registered in the school/KHDA under an Arab passport and as Muslims)
  • ISLAMIC B: Non-Arab passport Muslim students (Those who are registered in the school/KHDA under any other nationality and are Muslims)

Please note that although we aim to minimize the scheduling impact that the additional Islamic Education requirements have on students, lessons in other subject areas may be affected.

To view our full Admissions Policy please click here.


More To Explore

Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.