x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Principal sorry for offering reward to 'poach' pupils

A Gems school circular that falsely reported the closure of a neighbouring Taaleem school had to be withdrawn this week.

DUBAI // A school principal has apologised after offering parents a reward if they recommended her school to friends whose children attended another school she believed was closing down.

Parents of the Gems Royal Dubai School were sent a circular on June 9 telling them that Uptown School in Mirdif was closing and that there would be a "considerable reward" for recommending parents affected by the closure.

"Having heard the news that Uptown School in Mirdif will be closing, we would like to give the families of Gems Royal Dubai School the opportunity to be rewarded through the Gems Refer a Friend campaign," read the letter sent out by Sue Vig, Gems' principal.

The letter said parents should recommend Gems to the families and once the child joins they would "receive a considerable reward for the recommendation".

However, Taaleem, the operator of the Uptown school, said it had no plans to close their Mirdif school. But it had informed parents it was closing its secondary campus in Uptown Muhaisnah at the end of the year but that its primary campus - Uptown School - would remain open. The education provider also announced it will build a new Uptown K-12 campus in Mirdif.

The letter caused panic among parents of Uptown, while others questioned the ethics of the Gems Royal approach to attracting pupils.

Gems has since retracted the statement, saying: "May I offer my sincere apologies for this incorrect information and I regret any anxiety caused to anyone associated with Uptown School as a result of this communication."

Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem said: "As far as Taaleem and Uptown School are concerned, their apology and subsequent actions have brought closure to this matter."

Gems refused to comment.