From classroom to boardroom: GEMS students make their voices heard with new Student-CEO Consultation Panel

Student Voice’ has taken its place firmly at the top of the agenda following our launch of a series of Student-CEO Consultation Panels designed to involve pupils in their schools’ decision-making processes. The panels give Group CEO Dino Varkey the opportunity to discuss recommendations and suggested new initiatives for the running of GEMS schools with representatives of our 122,000+ student body.

As a starting point, the panels have compiled a new student survey due to be launched in May 2022, examining student sentiment in our UAE-based schools, as well as students’ ideas for potential improvements.

The six student panels staged in 2021 also examined the topics of ‘Preparing for the Future’, ‘Personalised Learning’, and ‘Wellbeing’ – which, along with ‘Student Voice’, have consistently been shown to be areas of most interest by GEMS’ biannual parent survey.

Nourhan Ibrahim, a Grade 11 student at GEMS International School – Al Khail who took part in one of the most recent sessions, commented: “The panel was truly an enjoyable and enriching experience. Throughout the session, it was evident that Mr Varkey was keen on amplifying student voice.

“I was especially grateful for his personal advice on reaching our fullest potential and his attentiveness to our input, opinions and proposed solutions. The meeting’s warm environment stimulated honest, thought-provoking conversations that allowed me to consider a new set of perspectives and connect with like-minded students.”

The Student-CEO Consultation Panels, comprising eight students each from all age groups, were the brainchild of GEMS Vice President – Education, and Superintendent/CEO of Al Khaleej International School (AKIS), Ghadeer Abu-Shamat.

Student representatives put forward their views on what changes they want to see at school.

Ghadeer Abu-Shamat said: “These students are our leaders of the future; they have very valid and constructive opinions on the education they receive from their schools. Many of their initiatives have been adopted at AKIS, and we wanted to expand this outlet for student opinion to the very top of our organisation at GEMS. Our Group CEO, Dino Varkey, has been an enthusiastic advocate and supporter of this from the very start, and the panels have been a fascinating exchange of views and ideas for the future.”

Dino Varkey said: “Chairing the panels and hearing our students’ opinions and ideas amplified via this initiative is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of my role at GEMS. We are already exploring a number of ideas and initiatives courtesy of the student panels, and the new upcoming student survey will directly reflect their ideas in its format, content and timing. We are looking forward to hearing from more representatives in future panels to ensure we remain closely in tune with the voice of our students.”