Durham School UK was founded in 1414 and re-founded in 1541 by King Henry VIII. Based in the historical northern English City of Durham, the Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation delivers independent, co-educational day and boarding for students from the age of three to eighteen.
The school is one of the top tier of academically-successful schools in the UK, being in the top 3% nationally when it comes to the progress pupils make academically across all schools, and within the top 10% of schools in terms of Value-Added, a measure of achievement based on students' predicted academic outcomes on entry to the school versus their subsequent achievement.
The Dubai school is expected to offer a similar curriculum to the UK school, and have a similar level of ambition for its students, although the option of auditioning for a position in the Cathedral choir (open to Prep school students in Durham) may not be among the options for Dubai students.
Durham School Dubai will be led by Mark Atkins, who has a history of launching and leading another international off-shoot of a well-known UK school in Dubai. With a career in education spanning 35 years, Mr.Atkins was the Founding Headmaster of Foremarke School Dubai (now Repton Al Barsha), prior to moving on to developing new schools in India, China, Malaysia and Europe.
Commenting on the launch of the school, Headmaster of Durham School UK, Kieran McLaughlin, said:
“Following the successful opening of Durham schools in Qatar and Kenya, we are delighted to announce the opening of Durham School Dubai in August 2022.
“With its strategic location, excellent facilities, competitive fee levels, experienced leadership team led by Principal Mark Atkins and an uncompromising dedication to the quality of education, we are confident that Durham School Dubai will quickly establish a strong reputation.”
In common with almost all schools, Durham School Dubai has developed a Vision and Mission for the school as well as a motto - "developing Confidence for life. Respect for all".
However, we at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com were particularly impressed by its Educational Ethos:
"First, we believe that the students are the stars; they are our reason for Durham Dubai and they are at the centre of everything we do and every decision we take. Next, we are a ‘hands on’ kind of school – if a job needs doing, we all contribute: staff, students and parents, no matter what the task or what our role is within the school. Importantly, we are positive, optimistic school. We meet challenges head on and look for solutions in the belief that they can always be found. We look for the best in people. We expect the best from our students and staff and as a result, will be rarely disappointed."
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is particularly impressed by the following statement - one we do not believe we have seen equalled by any school in the UAE.
"At Durham Dubai we are also humble and we accept that we all get things wrong from time to time. We recognise when something has gone wrong, we apologise, we fix it, we learn from it and we move on.
And finally, we are kind, accepting of each other, supportive of one another and appreciative of all that a person has to offer." Evidently, six hundred years of experience has resulted in a school that recognises not only the good that it can do, but also the reality that it will not always be perfect.
Durham School Dubai will open in an existing building, ensuring that the school will be able to go ahead with its plans in August, without risk of construction delays. The building offers contemporary design, and features a dedicated Foundation Stage section, a primary and secondary classroom complex, with specialist science, art and IT labs, an acoustically designed music performance hall, a large auditorium, a multi-purpose sports hall and a 25-meter indoor swimming pool.
Fee details have been released, and are described as "competitive". However, inevitably, given the background, history, performance and reputation, these are certainly at the Premium Plus level.
KHDA approved fees range from AED 54,000 in FS1 to AED 93,000 in Year 9. The school is offering discounted fees for the first two years of operation, with FS fees reduced to AED 42,600 and fees in Year 8 reduced from AED 87,000 to AED 57,000 in 2022. Year 9 fees in 2023 will be reduced from AED 93,000 to AED 66,000.