Westminster to remain open

Westminster to remain open 6 May 2013 The Westminster School, which was threatened with closure last year, will remain open according to education authorities. The school operator Gems Education has withdrawn its application to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to close The Westminster School. The British curriculum school initially applied for closure in August 2012, after it was unable to increase fees above the permissible limits stipulated by KHDA’s fee framework. However, after further reviewing the situation, Gems officials have reversed this decision, ensuring the school’s 5,000 students do not have to seek admission elsewhere. The group announced that there would be no change in the fee structure for the academic year of 2013-14 as well. Also, parents who have paid registration fees for other Gems schools for the next academic year will have their fees refunded if they wish to remain at The Westminster School. “As a regulatory body, our job is to assure quality and accessibility throughout the education system in Dubai,” said Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Compliance Commission at KHDA. “The initial application to close Westminster school was a business decision made by Gems and was processed in line with KHDA regulations. Following a secondary review, the organisation has withdrawn the application to close and the school will stay open.” The Qusais-based school, which attracts 60 per cent of its students from Sharjah and neighbouring emirates, amassed huge support from parents, teachers and pupils keen to keep the school open. According to a statement issued by Gems, the school operators said that they are very pleased to announce that it has decided to keep The Westminster School open. The statement said: “Gems would like to acknowledge the parents and students of the school for understanding and support over the past few months. The passion they have displayed for their school has been extraordinary. In consultation with the KHDA, the Westminster School will continue operations with no change to tuition fees for the academic year 2013/14.” Bushra Ali, a member of the school committee who has been actively campaigning to keep the school open, said that the student and parent community of the school were ecstatic about the news. “We are very happy and overjoyed about the whole thing. The best part is the announcement that there will be no fee hikes,” she said. “Our campaigning definitely had a hand in letting the authorities know that we want to be heard. It is a great thing that the school is staying open especially since the Dubai market for schools are saturated at the moment. Parents would have found it very hard to find new schools for their kids.” dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Taylor Scott International

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