WhichSchoolAdvisor.com applauds Law for his determination in creating Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, a school that offers that best of a UK independent school education suited to its Abu Dhabi context.
Cranleigh achieved ADEC band A status in its first inspection after only 128 days in operation.
In addition, to the expected academic and sporting focus, Law has driven a series of impressive Art and Performing Arts programmes in the school. This has afforded students at Cranleigh the broadest range of opportunities to learn from and perform with top class artists across all genres.
This is further supported by the determination that the school should be part of, and add to, the cultural scene in Abu Dhabi as a whole and the Saadiyat Manarat area in particular.
How long have you worked in the UAE?
Since April 2011 (5 years 8 months).
What made you choose the education sector?
As an active member of a church community from an early age, I was involved in leading Kid’s Church and our Youth Group from my teenage years. I discovered I had a natural ability to teach and inspire youngsters and knew by sixteen that education was for me.
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the industry in the UAE?
Recruitment and retention of high quality teachers will, for the foreseeable future, be the biggest challenge for schools here in the UAE, and indeed worldwide. At Cranleigh, we buck the trend with 90% retention rates and huge fields of applicants, but I know, that across the sector it is more difficult.
What are the key milestones in your career so far?
I have been blessed to be selected to work in top quality schools throughout my career. I began my career in South Africa at Grey High School, where I cut my teeth in the English classroom, much sport, as well as being School Counsellor.
After two years in Sweden teaching the President of SAAB’s children, I went on to Bedford School in the UK, where in addition to English and much co-curricular involvement, I was given wonderful opportunities very early on, as the youngest ever Housemaster.
Senior leadership opportunities quickly followed through Senior Housemaster and Acting Registrar roles, before I was appointed as Headmaster of a wonderful Prep School, Westbourne House. The school grew by 33% in my eight years there and achieved record results in academics and scholarships.
In 2010, I was delighted to be appointed as Founding Headmaster of Brighton College Abu Dhabi, which gave me my first taste of the UAE education sector. It was a great opportunity to establish my first school from scratch, and I learned a great deal from the experience. My appointment to lead the Cranleigh Abu Dhabi project as both Director of Education for TDIC and as Founding Headmaster was a dream opportunity which I have relished ever since.
What do you think is your greatest achievement, in education, to date - and why?
That’s easy: Cranleigh Abu Dhabi!
The school has enjoyed extraordinary growth and development in just two short years and I marvel at how much our team has accomplished. From a record pupil number start, on a glorious campus in the hands of an outstanding staff team, we achieved ADEC Band A status after just 128 operational days.
Since then the pupils have flourished within the rich diet of opportunities, such as: 100% A* grades in our first GCSE cohort who sat maths and MFL a year early; significant cultural programmes, such as 88 pupils devising an opera from scratch in five days and performing it on the National Theatre stage as part of the UAE 45th National Day celebrations, under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; outstanding success in Change the World Model United Nations and World Scholar’s Cup, including one of our pupils having the highest score of the 2016 Tournament of Champions competition at Yale University.
Innovation is at the forefront too, with three of our boys aged 12 to 14 making the final five in the Genes in Space competition which may see their experiment to produce antibiotics in space taken to the International Space Station in 2017.
And the best part: all this success happens within a warmhearted, happy, thriving community, which aspires to great heights but always in the spirit of collaboration, tolerance and support for one another.
Name three things which get you up and motivate you each day?
My faith in God
The Cranleigh community
What would you still like to achieve in your professional life?
I would like to play a meaningful role in the realisation of the educational goals laid out in The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. I would like to know that my time in the UAE made a difference to the future of schools in the region; that my passion for innovation in teaching and learning can and will positively contribute to the future of this country which is set to play such a significant role on the world stage in the years ahead.
What is your advice for others hoping to emulate your success?
Put people first in all that you do. I started my career with 'people before paper' as my mantra: it has never let me down.
Take care of your team and they will look after you.
Also, remember that most people can achieve more than they expect so empower them; take the lid off learning and watch staff and students grow and thrive.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of working in education?
The children: I make sure I get out as often as possible to be among them. There is no better tonic in the world than time spent with children.