The GEMS Learning Trust is sponsored by our members, introduced below. We are also affiliated to GEMS Education. GEMS Education has provided high-quality, international education to over 142,000 children from 150 countries, for over 50 years.

GEMS Education dates back to 1959, when the company can trace its roots to a single school in Dubai, delivering education where there was no state provision. Today, the GEMS group owns and operates 46 schools, 30 of which are in the UAE, and five of which are based in the UK.

In addition, GEMS provides education services to 68 private and government schools worldwide. GEMS currently has more than 11,000 staff from more than 80 countries, teaching over 142,000 pupils from 150 nationalities. GEMS is the official education partner of UNESCO and works strategically with governments around the world. GEMS’s pupils have been accepted into the best universities across the UK and the world: 567 universities across 37 countries.


Our members


Jay Varkey, a member of the well known Varkey Family, has expertise in Business Development, with a focus in the GCC region. He is currently Group Executive Director and Board Member for GEMS Global. Having achieved his MA (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh, he began his Business Development role on a global basis with GEMS Education. This allowed him to develop professional and beneficial relationships with clients and partners both globally and regionally.  His knowledge and background in social infrastructure, especially in the education sector, leaves him well placed to support the GEMS Learning Trust on a voluntary basis.


Rebecca Plaskitt is Director of Education supporting GEMS schools in the UK and across Europe to achieve the highest standards of academic excellence.

Prior to taking up her current position, Rebecca lived and worked in the UAE in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, setting up a brand new 3-18 British Curriculum school in Abu Dhabi with an initial NOR of 1300 students. The school was a huge success and within three years of opening grew to 3200 students gaining a Band A rating from ADEC at the beginning of our third year of operation.

Rebecca was a Principal/Head Teacher in the UK for five years before making the decision to move into International Education in 2011 and has experience of the British Curriculum from EYFS to A Level and the International Baccalaureate DP.  She has also worked as a Local Leader in Education (LLE) and as a Professional Partner for the National College in the UK.


Amar Purohit is currently a Business Unit Actuary for Travelers Syndicate Management Ltd, London, responsible for managing the quarterly reserving process, all pricing work, corporate and Lloyds planning for ASR business unit, and all underwriter requests. He devised a new strategy for the Kidnap & Ransom planning line, and carried out analysis for reserving, planning and pricing exercises for Airlines, Products, War, Space and Aviation PA. He sits on many internal committees including the Business Enhancement Group and the Charity and Community Committee to name but two. Amar is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and is actively involved in project co-ordination for Connect India, an Insight India programme for 15-17 year olds and Sewa Day.

DR HARRY ZIMAN, Chair, Member and Director

Dr Harry Ziman is a National Leader of Governance and a Director of the Independent Academies Association. He has chaired numerous governing bodies and is a recognised system leader. His services are much in demand to lead Interim Executive Boards of schools in both primary and secondary phases, and he is a regular speaker on the subject of governance at the Academies Show.  During his tenure as chair of Kelsall Primary School, the school was judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted; and throughout his governance, the school formed the first Teaching School Alliance. Dr Ziman has also chaired Interim Executive Boards at West Bank and Upton Heath C of E Primary Schools; both of which improved so rapidly, that Ofsted judged them as Good schools, post requiring Special Measures. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Harry also has a successful consulting business.


Formerly Chief Executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust, Barbara initiated a programme of development across one of the largest and most successful providers of independent education in the UK- with over 4,500 staff, raising standards of attainment, establishing high quality professional development and leadership programmes, introducing an international dimension and establishing the first independent sector led, state-funded Academies.

Barbara worked with Lord Dearing and government on reviews of the National Curriculum, and a Ministerial commission to improve the quality and range of vocational qualifications. Her post included a wider remit to oversee all cross curricular themes, and equal opportunities, for both of which she had responsibility across the age ranges of 5-19. Barbara has also been Assistant Director of Education for a London Borough, and led on a major transformation programme to raise educational standards and quality of leadership for the 3-19 age range.

Barbara has been an External Adviser to one of the Public Examination Boards, a Sponsor representative on the SSAT’s Advisory Group, and a school Governor. She is a member of the Guild of Educators, a Trustee of the New Schools Network, and sits on the Steering Group for the national Academy Excellence Awards, as well as the Board of Directors for a London Theatre. She is International Patron and advises on Governance for a couple of the larger Academy Sponsor Groups. Barbara currently serves on a newly established Enquiry Panel into Education in London. Barbara is an independent member of the GEMS Learning Trust.