GEMS Wesgreen International School breaks new ground with Sharjah’s first forest school and farm

14 November 2023
  • British curriculum school’s new facility aims to inspire students’ love of nature
  • Farm offers immersive nature-based learning that goes beyond the classroom
  • Variety of birds and array of farm animals gives students hands-on experience

GEMS Wesgreen International School – Sharjah (WGP) has launched the emirate’s first forest school and school farm, promoting sustainability, wellbeing, and environmental stewardship.

The forest school and farm have been designed as an immersive, interactive, and experience-rich outdoor classroom, offering students a unique, hands-on nature-based learning experience that fosters a connection with the environment.

Students experience a holistic and cross-curricular learning approach that integrates subjects and skills including language, science, maths, and creativity.

Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: “We are delighted to launch the forest school and farm in Sharjah at Wesgreen; two fantastic new facilities for the school. It is the first initiative of its kind in the emirate and embodies the commitment to sustainability and practical, hands-on learning about our climate and wildlife that both GEMS Education and this school have long embraced.

We hope that our students are inspired by their experiences of the animals and the forest school and gain a deeper understanding as part of their all-round education of our amazing planet and the importance of preserving it for the generations that will follow us. My message to the Wesgreen community and beyond is: experience, learn, and enjoy to the full.

The school farm features a variety of animals, ranging from goats and rabbits to tortoises, pigeons, hens, and exotic birds including cockatiels, finches, and peacocks. This living environment fosters in students an awareness of animals’ needs while also instilling responsibility and shaping a strong sense of environmental consciousness. Additionally, the forest activities further enhance the students’ commitment to sustainable practices like organic farming, composting, recycling, and waste reduction.

James McDonald, Principal/CEO of GEMS Wesgreen International School – Sharjah, said: “The entire GEMS Wesgreen community is excited to see the forest and farm come to life. This promises to be an inspiring and enriching place for students, offering not only an opportunity to learn about the environment but also to become active stewards of our planet.”

Addressing the young eco-ambassadors at his school, McDonald added: “Your hands hold the key to the future of our planet – a future waiting to be forged with courage, determination, and, above all, compassion. Every action, every seed planted, and every animal cared for contributes to the greater harmony of the environment.

“Seize the opportunities before you with the same spirit you bring to the farm – with curiosity, dedication, and a commitment to leaving this world better than you found it. Your actions, no matter how small, have the potential to create ripples of positive change in the world.”

Ahmed Saad, a Year 10 student at WGP, said: “It’s amazing to have a forest and a farm at school. Learning about animals and plants outside of textbooks is way better. The interactive experiences make everything more interesting. It’s not just classroom stuff; it’s real-life learning.”

Recognised as one of the most improved schools in the UAE, GEMS Wesgreen has demonstrated outstanding progress in 98 parameters according to Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA).

This improvement reflects the school’s commitment to delivering a comprehensive and innovative learning experience, nurturing academic excellence, character development, and community building. With a dedicated focus on 21st-century skills, the school aims to empower students not only as lifelong learners but also as responsible global citizens.

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