Matthew James Lecuyer
Principal and CEO
Here at GEMS Winchester School Dubai, we are one big family. A family that looks out for each other. In my overall experience since taking charge of the school, we have seen many initiatives focusing on student outcomes, parental engagement and staff wellbeing.
From an academic point of view, we have added Year-12, our first GCSE results are good; we have transformed the Early Years Foundation Stage, finding innovative ways to acquire learning space where children can learn through play. Reading corners have been introduced, Bring Your Own Device from Y1-12 as well as curriculum adaptations that have seen many DSIB rankings increase this year, including English, Arabic, Curriculum adaptation and learning skills. The WSD 7C’s curriculum looks at 7 competencies from our youngest children till the oldest including creative thinking, collaboration and critical reflection. Enquiring minds have never been stronger. This is reinforced with a new marking and feedback policy where Primary students are marked against PGB criteria (Praise, Growth, Boomerangs – Pink, Green, Blue) where Boomerang involves student reflection bouncing back to the teacher. In Secondary SID helps us show Success, Identification and Development areas to work on. Further academic areas have been the introduction of Learning Ambassadors where children can give feedback live to the class teacher on how the lesson is going and the learning that is taking place, whilst student leadership at the school has been at its highest point. Innovation and digital learning have seen us take control of a Harvard initiative called Project Zero, looking at innovation in Maths.
We are NEASC certified.
Through observations, monitoring and using triad strategies to help teachers identify the learning that is happening in class, this has really helped staff to focus on to what is happening for students. This has had a dramatic effect seeing a positive increase in observational ratings shift with Teaching & Learning. Coaching and mentoring programs are in place and a new middle leadership strand has helped support, monitor and moderate learning for all.
The charity has been at the heart of all we do also. We have coupled with parents and the outside community to put on events such as a WSD Fair, Speech Choir, Spring Extravaganza and more. This culminated in us raising a large sum for our chosen charity.
On the same thread of parental engagement, we have an Arabic Parent Group, and Inclusion Support Team and a Parents of Winchester (POW) body that meet regularly to discuss ways to improve and support the students in our care. Parental workshops on Arabic, Islamic culture, core subjects as well as areas such as Autism, ELL and supporting behaviour at home have been introduced and well attended.
Taking staff wellbeing and the wellbeing of all, has had a positive effect on the school, combined with extremely positive results from parent and staff surveys. With events to support wellbeing such as, meditations, sports days, celebrations, dancing and singing, staff feel happy and supported. Staff feel they can easily speak with me or any member of the team and know they will be listened to.
We are midway through an amazing transformation here at WSD and I am passionate about my school, the students, parents and staff and feel I have a purpose and need to serve and drive this community for the betterment of learning and care. We are on a journey together and one where we navigate together. It is an honour just to be nominated for doing my job, I am a humble servant to the school, students and parents.