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The World Academy - King Abdullah Economic City - Review July 2016

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I worked at The World Academy, a GEMS managed school, for 2 years.  I was a foreign hire teacher and found the job through an agency.

The students at The World Academy are great. For the most part, they are hardworking and amazing. There are very few discipline problems. They work hard, and they are very respectful to teachers and administrators.

The facilities are excellent.  The classrooms are beautiful, and all have a smart board.  The place is kept spotless and the science and technology departments have fantastic facilities. The owners forgot to build an auditorium and therefore most events are in a small room upstairs called the Black Box or in the cafeteria.  

The city is reasonably safe and is charming. It is right on the Red Sea and is quite lovely.  It is very quiet.

The administrators will lie to you to get you to work at the school.  Do not believe anything they tell you over Skype. Only believe what is in your contract as they will inform you that a verbal promise is not the same as a written promise.  That said, they don’t even live up to their written contracts and will break any part of it if it benefits them.

Emaar, the owners, is a massive company that is building the city and they have a stake in the success of the school, but they do not know how to run a school and the people they appoint are clueless regarding education.  They do not hire educators to run the school but people from other fields like engineers.  Needless to say, none of these people make sound decisions about the education that occur at TWA.

Staff morale is extremely low.  Out of 18 international hires, 16 left this year.  Many reasons for this, but newly appointed administrators will bully, intimidate and threaten teachers.  One administrator even threatened the life of 2 teachers and kept her job.  It is the old boys network except they have women in charge of some areas.  But, only Saudi’s can hold high up jobs, and they stick up for each other no matter what!

Payments are often late and not made on time.  Teachers and administrators are required to put in reimbursement receipts for everything they spend that is approved in advance using their money and often this process takes months or years to get the reimbursement.  Needless to say, this is insanity.  Many teachers and administrators leave with the school owing them money, and they are never reimbursed.  There is no reason to even purchase something for your room or the school and expect reimbursement.  

Current administrators have just changed the curriculum from an American curriculum to the Cambridge International Curriculum and insist that the school is an American curriculum school. The current administrators are not educators and will not treat staff in a professional way.  This year, the principal quit.  This year the vice principal was fired. This year nearly every veteran teacher resigned and left the school.   The new head of the school, said she wanted to "mold" teachers into her image. She then said that those who did not bend to her will would be fired instantly.

At the end of the current year, the final salary was given right at the end of the year, and no one knew in advance their amount.  They had to sign a waiver that they would not ask for more money. If they did not sign, they would be stuck in the country for an additional month or two while finance “looks into the matter.”  While most teachers said their amount was wrong, no one wanted to stay longer and signed. That is what the company expected and thus took thousands of dollars of what was expected away from teachers.  The company is entirely untrustworthy.

I could go into the hundreds of issues we had at the school this past school year. But, I will just end by saying: The World Academy is the absolute worst place on earth to work. You will be lied to and cheated out of money.  Your safety will be threatened  by administrators, and there is nothing you can do. To bring a family into this environment is insane. To come to the school as a single person, is equally insane.  The World Academy is one school to avoid.  RUN, do not walk, away from this place. 

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Having worked at the school for 2 years myself, I can say that the above review is very consistent with many people's feelings on the school.  However, I never feared for my life.  I felt very safe in the school and the city.  I know others did not and I don't discount their feelings.  It was just not my own experience. 

I also felt that Mr. Will and Mr. Ken did a great job with the school and tried to move it forward.  However, both of them are now gone.  I don't know what the future holds for the school at this point.

I also agree that the students at TWA are great. 

I hope the school starts moving in the right direction. 

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