GEMS Head of School Update: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Richard Henry, Head of School October 5, 2018
GEMS Head of School Update: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

As we finish the first quarter of this school year I have asked myself...where did the time go?

It only seemed like yesterday that we welcomed our new teachers to GEMS World Academy in Singapore, yet they actually arrived at the beginning of August.

We all know how rapidly our own lives are moving along and the pace in our school is no different. The end of the quarter is an appropriate time to reflect on what has been recently implemented while also looking ahead to the new initiatives we have planned.

There are so many things happening in our school and I have not captured everything in this article, but please grab a cup of coffee and find a comfortable spot to sit and read through this update.


Connections with other GEMS World Academies (GWAs)

I have been working with the Heads of our sister schools, the GEMS World Academies in DubaiSwitzerland and Chicago, to identify more ways in which we can connect with each other. Areas which have already been proposed for us to connect include the following:

  • Design a hotel room competition - the winning team of students will be flown to Dubai to oversee the building of their own design.
  • Language-based cultural trips (eg French trip to Switzerland in April 2019).
  • GWA Games (Dubai - January 2019).
  • Collaboration in developing Units of Inquiry and Interdisciplinary Units.
  • Entrepreneurial and Innovation challenges between our schools. Eg. The GWA Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank and the GWA Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. 
  • Collaboration opportunities between staff.
  • Service component for supporting the GEMS Dream Schools in Kenya or India.

There will be more information on all the ideas above as we roll out these amazing opportunities for our students.

Authorisation of the IBCP (Career-related Programme)

The fact that we are now the first, and only, school in Singapore to offer all four IB programmes is something we should be very proud of. The connection we have with Savannah College of Art and Design breaks new ground for us and provides our students with a new pathway for success.

Currently, we are investigating additional opportunities for the IB Career-related Programme (IBCP) in the fields of business management, aerospace, hospitality as well as sports science/management. It is essential to connect student learning with real life and the IBCP is uniquely placed to ensure this happens.

Design Centre

The construction of the new design centre is well underway and is due for completion in November. This amazing new facility will have the latest equipment in the field of Design whereby students will be empowered to be their most creative. This will also directly support the IBCP for which we are now authorised as we have linked with the Savannah College of Arts and Design.  

International Schools Assessment (ISAs) Data

This is relevant for Grade 3 to Grade 10 and covers the subject areas of Mathematics, Science and English (reading). An extensive review of last year's ISA results is ongoing. This information is used to inform the teaching faculty when they create action plans so as to further align our programmes.

Parent- Teacher Conferences

A very important element of our school community are the connections between our teachers and parents and the Parent-Teacher conferences are a vitally important time for sharing information and creating relations. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from parents attending these conferences and we appreciate the time given to enable this to take place.

STRETCH (gifted and talented) programme

The educational leadership team have decided to move away from the STRETCH programme as it was implemented last year. We are now focussed on our scholarship students being supported through more natural connections with what is taking place in classes and extra-curricular activities.

School website

You may have noticed that we have launched a new website. After working with a specialised communications agency, we have not only upgraded the design but incorporated more of what is happening in our school.

If you have suggestions as to how elements of the website could be improved then please contact our Head of Communications, Mr Sebastien Barnard.

Social Media

Please keep an eye out for us on FacebookTwitterInstagram or LinkedIn for any activities and events coming from our school. You can look for the hashtags #GEMS_Singapore and/or #GEMSInspire in your feed or follow us @GEMS_Singapore.

Visitors and Security

We have implemented a new Visitor Management System (VMS) and are now ready to roll out a number of newly developed processes for our new security team.

There will be very little change that you will see but the process for visitors should be more streamlined, consistent and secure. Parents will be asked soon about submitting your car’s IU number, if you own a car. More to come on that soon...


International Accreditation

We have begun a discussion with the Council of International Schools (CIS) about the journey towards accreditation.

This process is aligned with the implementation of our Strategic Plan as well as the evaluation of our IB programmes and, in combination, augurs well for the cycle of continual improvement in our school. It is an ongoing process that ensures we establish a quality framework for education.

Parent Portal

Extensive work has been going on behind the scenes to create a login page for parents whereby you can access your children’s information, timetable, attendance records, newsletters and more.

The portal is currently being tested by our PTC Executive members and we hope to launch the Parent Portal early in Quarter 2.

House System

The new House system will commence implementation in Quarter 2.

Our staff have been developing the structures and setting the vision for the House system to work most effectively. Our faculty members who are leading this initiative have created a statement of purpose for the House system.

At GEMS (Singapore), our house system is an inclusive, collaborative and creative community. The house system is designed to strengthen and consolidate our ethos as a whole school, through building team relationships and facilitating opportunities for students to lead and represent their houses in competitive and fun activities.



  • To foster a supportive and welcoming school environment
  • To provide students with relationship building opportunities across the school community
  • To facilitate vertical peer communication and relationship building between students
  • To allow opportunities for students to compete and to represent their house in various competitions
  • To provide further leadership opportunities for the students


  • Students feel that they belong to a community within the school community
  • Everyone is actively involved in developing the GEMS core values
  • Students support each other through their school experience
  • Students and Teachers report more positive communication between the year groups
  • Peer support is acknowledged as an essential element of school life
  • Exciting times are ahead in regard to this initiative.

We are expanding our offering at the Early Years stage of the school to enroll children from the age of two. This will be called Nursery.

After extensive research into the requirements of the local authorities, we have concluded that we are able to open up to two classes, for up to 14 students in each class, for two-year-olds starting from January 2019.

Click here for more information about the Nursery programme.

Operations and new hires

We have realigned the responsibilities within the Operations team so there is clearer delineation.

Sector A - Security and Cleaning staff
Sector B - Bus and Canteen
Sector C - Facilities
Sector D - Procurement

We have two new hires joining the team:

  • Procurement
  • Cashier - working in the soon to be opened stationery shop (the old uniform shop)
October Works

A number of construction projects are scheduled to be completed soon. These include:

  • Wet play area for EY
  • More shade areas for EY
  • Upgrade of Library space
Positions available

We now have two non-teaching positions available to be filled:

  • Education Technology/SY Arts Assistant
  • PY Music and Art Assistant
  • English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher partner

These are listed on our Careers page of the school website.

Customer Service

During the October break, I will be running a workshop for our administration staff, cleaners and security team on customer service. What does this term mean, who are our customers and how can each one of us be more customer focussed?



In closing, I would like to say:

We are establishing these initiatives in education and administration for one single purpose, which is to improve student learning.

Our students are at the heart of everything we do and whenever we discuss potential improvements we always reflect on how they will enhance learning at GEMS World Academy (Singapore).

I would like to thank all our parents for their continued support and I look forward to seeing you after the October break.


Richard Henry | Head of School

Copyright © 2013 - 2018 GEMS Education. All Rights Reserved.
CPE registration number: 200803726H, 19 March 2017 to 18 March 2021
EduTrust certificate number: EDU-2-2082, 27 July 2016 to 26 October 2020
CEEB Code: 687248