DUBAI // Along with the 2,300-odd pupils beginning their term at GEMS Wellington International School yesterday, there was a new face in the staffroom: that of the school's new principal, Keith Miller.
Mr Miller, a teacher for 28 years mostly in London secondary schools, has worked as an advisor for GEMS since last year, helping its schools prepare for inspections.
"To be give the opportunity to run a school, which has some of the best exam results not just in the UAE but anywhere in the world is hugely exciting," he said. "I have a wonderful support team with me and the pupils are all eager to learn."
The school has 2,354 pupils, aged from three to 18, and from 94 countries. And Mr Miller's goal is for all of them to pass all their exams. "I've met and spoken to the parents of pupils last week and told them my aim is to get to a 100 per cent pass rate.
"We had 92 per cent of our pupils get five A*s at GCSE. That compares with 52 per cent in the UK.
"But exam results are only one aspect of the education process and I want to develop this idea of kindness among the pupils in a way that helps them to develop as good global citizens," he said.
He intends to continue the school's non-selection policy, and is looking at exploring ways to let pupils bring in their own tablet computers as part of the teaching process.
"It's great to see all my friends again after the summer break," says Emily Brooks, a 14-year-old Australian. "Everyone tends to go their separate ways during summer."
Maclain O'Meara, 13, from Ireland, looked forward to a hard year ahead. "I'll be sitting my GCSEs at the end of this year so it's going to be a lot of hard work."
For Josh Vitzthum, 14, from Germany, it was the first day at a new school and he already felt at home.
"This is my third school in Dubai and Wellington is an amazing place," he said.
"It's the biggest school I have been to and I'm really looking forward to the learning and also taking part in extra curricular activities."