English College Shock Closure of Primary

English College Shock Closure of Primary
By David Westley
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The closure of The English College's primary school, which opened in 2004, has been confirmed in a letter, and an email to parents from its principal, William Johnston. In the email Johnston announced his "deep" regret that the school would be closed.

The closure date of the school's primary section has been set for the final day of this academic year – 30 June 2014.

The decision, made over the section's lack of profitability, will be a shock to a section of parents in the UAE who believe owning a school is a highly profitable venture.

"At the weekend I was summoned to a meeting at our Head Office where I was told that it was the decision of the Board of Governors to close the Primary School," Johnston writes. "The reasons that have been given are purely business – basically the Primary phase of The English College has been making a loss which cannot be sustained.

"The KHDA who controls fees in all Private Schools has refused permission to raise our fees and therefore the board has come to the decision to close.

"I know that this will be a massive shock to everyone. All staff, including myself, will lose their jobs and you will be left desperately searching for an alternative school for your children. Generally, good schools in Dubai are heavily over-subscribed and I know that the task ahead for you will be difficult.

"I argued long and hard at the meeting to prevent the closure but minds had already been made up and would not be changed.

"I feel our only hope now is that a buyer can be found."

The English College's Secondary School remains unaffected by this and Year 6 pupils will transfer there in September.

"I am deeply sorry to have had to break this news, Johnston concludes. "For the remainder of this academic year we will continue to operate in our usual professional manor. If I can help in any way please do not hesitate to contact me."

In the letter to parents, the school said it had only been able to raise its fees twice in nine years, and that it was unable to keep up with salaries and overheads. It's primary school fees are currently 27,280 AED from Years 1 through to 5, jumping to 29,093 AED in year 6. That makes it a good value UAE school following an England and Wales based curriculum, but a long way off being its cheapest.

The school currently has a Good rating from the KHDA. Its Which School Advisor Review notes it is a very liked school amongst parents.

The primary section is currently rated Good for English and Maths, and Outstanding for Science by Dubai's education regulator, the KHDA. It is also ranked Outstanding for Special Education Needs (SEN), a rarity in Dubai.


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