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Case Study:
GEMS FirstPoint School

Matthew Burfield’s Cluster of GEMS Schools is renowned for nurturing well-rounded students, preparing them for success in an ever-changing global landscape. The Cluster includes GEMS Founders School Dubai, GEMS Founders School Al Mizhar, GEMS FirstPoint School, GEMS Metropole School Motor City, GEMS Metropole School Al Waha, and GEMS Wesgreen International School.

With a focus on providing exceptional opportunities for students, our Cluster of Schools also prioritise the continuous growth and development of its staff. Recognising the importance of equipping educators with the tools and knowledge needed to excel, Matthew Burfield’s Cluster of Schools partnered with The National College to elevate its professional development initiatives.

Isabel Olley, Cluster Professional Development Lead and Deputy Head of Primary at GEMS FirstPoint School, joined us to discuss how The National College has supported all staff to pursue their own areas of interest and develop their skills across a range of topics.

Joining The National College

The decision for Matthew Burfield’s Cluster of GEMS Schools to partner with The National College was driven by our platform's extensive array of content and the reputation of our webinars and courses, further cemented by the familiarity of senior leaders with the platform.

 Isabel said: “The main reason for choosing The National College was the wide range of content available and the quality of the webinars and courses to support staff development and growth.”

 “Many of our senior leaders had previously used the platform and were very aware of the high level of expertise available,” she continued.

A seamless transition for GEMS

Onboarding sessions, facilitated by The National College, equipped staff with the necessary skills to navigate the platform effectively. This support ensured a seamless transition and maximised engagement with our training and resources.

Isabel added: “The onboarding sessions definitely supported a smooth transition; the team at The National College were very supportive and showed us how to navigate the platform effectively.”

Our platform’s diverse range of award-winning content proved invaluable, offering support not only to teachers but also to non-teaching staff and leaders across the schools.

“We found that the content available on the platform supported our teachers, but also our non-educators and leaders across our schools,” she continued.

She said: “Our teaching assistants have been completing a series of different courses which align with our school priorities as well as their career goals. It really suits all roles and responsibilities.

The feedback on our platform so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with staff appreciating the specificity of the content to their roles. The flexibility of the platform enabled staff to engage in training at their convenience, aligning with their schedules and preferences.

 “We’ve had really positive feedback from staff that have engaged with the training, they can select CPD which is very specific to their roles and relevant to their career growth and development,” Isabel shared.

Role-specific training with a personalised approach

Staff members were encouraged to pursue training aligned with their individual interests and professional goals, with a particular emphasis on addressing school priorities. This personalised approach allowed all staff to undertake webinars and courses tailored to the school's needs, enhancing their contribution to student development.

Isabel said: “Staff are completing some training which suits their own interests, and some which follow their performance management goals as well.”

“Another positive that we have found is the ability to share different webinars and courses with our parents. For Internet Safety Day, we were able to share lots of resources with the wider school community to help them keep safe online,” she continued.

She commented: “We’re embedding the training and resources into all communication with our parents, such as newsletters and in our parental engagements and workshops.”

State-of-the-art professional development platform

To track progress, school professional development leads oversee the monitoring of training engagement and completion. This data-driven approach facilitates targeted follow-up and support for all staff members.

Isabel said: “The school professional development leads from across our schools oversee the watch lists and user groups and share those reports across the Cluster. We have been testing different groups, for example, assigning various courses for INSET days that align with key priorities and targeting staff within different years and departments within the school.

“It’s very useful to be able to track who has logged on, how long it has taken staff to complete a certain course and follow up with these members of staff to see how they have been able to implement their training,” she explained.

Isabel added: “We love to celebrate the success of our teachers across the group as well. It’s been great to share certificates and show that staff have taken the opportunity to explore and develop their areas of interest.”

“I believe that the best part of the platform is the accessibility for all staff and the wide variety of training and resources that are available not just for our teaching staff, but for our Non-Educator staff too,” she said."