Exclusive Interview with Matthew Tompkins,

Principal/CEO, GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, Director of Student Employability – GEMS for Life

  • Publish date: Thursday، 30 June 2022
Exclusive Interview with Matthew Tompkins,

As a school principal, what are the priorities that you consider essential to the development of the school environment?

As a Principal, your number one priority is to ensure you are delivering an education that enables young people to be successful throughout their lives.  This includes, but is not limited to, academic, moral and social aspects of children’s development.  In an ever changing world, it is not easy to anticipate the skills and experiences that will help young people to chart their path through adulthood. 

Exclusive Interview with Matthew Tompkins,

What are the important factors that are contributing to GEMS FirstPoint School’s success?

We genuinely care about our students and their progress.  We work together as one big family, dealing with the ups and downs that you people have together, as one cohesive unit.  We have built a level of trust that facilitates and environment where children have the confidence to explore and take educated risks that lead to an improved understanding of themselves.  Our school celebrates the greatness in every child and embraces their areas for improvement.  Where there are new skills and new qualities that are being demanded for students to be successful in their desired industry, it is important for us to provide opportunities for them to learn in these areas.

How do you keep the students and staff at GEMS FirstPoint School motivated?

We have an incredibly talented and highly skilled group of teachers who support every child as an individual.  In addition to this, we have students who are keen to learn and to be the best versions of themselves they can possibly be.  We do a lot of work in the school on employability skills.  We recognize that industry has changed immeasurably over the last 40 years, and that education has struggled to keep pace with this.  Increasingly, employees are looking for skills, qualities and experiences over qualifications, so it is vital that we embrace this as a school.  Through the GEMS For Life programme, GEMS commitment to support all students who have been taught in our school for the rest of their lives, we deliver internships, guest speakers, careers fairs, university fairs and so much more.  Building industry exposure into students’ education is fast becoming an essential element.

What makes GEMS FirstPoint School different from any other school?

The unique elements of our school include many aspects that others aspire to, but few achieve.  We are a family first, we support each other and put the children of our school at the centre of all the decisions we make.  The depth and quality of the relationships we have with industry to enhance students learning and understanding is very strong and adds relevance and understanding to the work we do.  We are also the GEMS Centre of Excellence for Digital Industries, this has led us to work with partners, like Lenovo, who are supporting industry quality development at school age.  We are the first school in the Middle East to introduce BTEC qualifications in both Game Design and Esports.  This provides our students unique access to 2 of the fastest growing industries in the world and sets them apart from others.

What are the daily challenges that you face daily as a principle?

Staying on top of the changing demands of industry is hard.  We are totally committed to doing all we can to ensure our children are successful, so this work is essential in giving them the tools they will need when the venture into the world of work. 

How do you overcome these challenges?

We are very fortunate to have some incredible industry partners who support us to ensure that our students stay up to date and the knowledge and skills remain relevant.  A great example of this is our partnership with Lenovo.  Through the work we do together, Lenovo have supplied the students with the latest hardware, kept them abreast of the latest software developments and ensured that we have access to industry experts to guide and support our curriculum.

What encouraged your partnership with Lenovo and how is it important to your school?

Our partnership with Lenovo came from a commitment from us to do all we can to ensure young people are best prepared to be successful.  Lenovo, for their part, are fully committed to the same agenda and want to ensure that the workforce of tomorrow is properly equipped with the skills and knowledge that will support the students success.  On behalf of our GEMS FirstPoint Family, I want to say a huge thank you to Lenovo for all they are doing to support our ongoing partnership.

Gaming is widely popular between students of different ages, how essential was it to your students to be a part of this ESPORTS Program?

The popularity of gaming continues to grow, as the quality of the games improves.  We used to escape to different worlds and realities through books and reading, this is still the case but now we have the option of gaming as well.  Gaming has become a platform for interacting with your friends, in the same way I plays football down our local park.  There is a temptation to believe that gaming is sitting and looking at a screen but for many, gaming represents so much more than that.  As more and more people use gaming in different ways, so it becomes important for students to understand Esports and its wider place in society.  Our programmes enhance students understanding of this wider context and encourage a skillset that will continue the enhancement of gaming into the future.

How did your collaboration with Lenovo ensure that you get all the specification that you need for the success of this ESPORTS Program?

Lenovo are one of the leaders in the world of gaming.  Partnering with them brings a kudos to the programmes and ensures that our students have access to the latest and best equipment in the market.  Part of the tie up gives them access to the latest hard and software, allowing them to contribute to the development of different products and provide feedback on new models.  It also provides our students with access to industry professionals and the opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

With GEMS FirstPoint School being the first institution in the UAE and wider region to offer international BTEC courses in Esports and Creative Media, what are the factors that you focus on to keep developing these courses and gaming program?

Our focus as a school is to prepare our students to be successful throughout the rest of their lives.  There are many industries that are looking at gamification and how it can enhance their business, our students will be at the forefront of the surge, having skills and qualifications that other will not have access to.  It is programmes like these that will set our students apart from others and maximise their potential to be successful.  These are just a few of a great range of courses available.  These courses allow students to mix their curriculum with more traditional subjects and receive a broad and balanced education, that has relevance in today’s world.

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