Almost as soon as we meet principal Patrick Lee Browne, he puts the record straight, Kent College is not a ‘franchise,’ nor is it simply a ‘borrowed’ brand name, he sees the school as a ‘genuine UK transplant,’ or in his own words, “as if the DNA of Kent College Canterbury has been transplanted to Dubai.”
But, just what makes this so? Well, for a start Browne himself has been working with the Methodist school group in the UK for the past seven years, so he knows the pedagogy and ethos intimately.
In addition, several Kent College teachers have been involved in the Dubai set-up in an advisory capacity. In fact, even the schools’ timetables, both here and in the UK will be synchronized to allow for Kent’s students to work together online, regardless of ‘which’ Kent College they actually attend.
Out on the site, it’s immediately obvious, just how expansive the 53,000 square metre campus actually is. The architects, BroadwayMalyan wisely chose to situate the buildings in an L-shape along two sides of the perimeter, leaving the majority of the plot for the planned gardens and extensive sports fields.
Like most of the current crop of new premium schools, construction is being entirely completed in a single phase, meaning when the students arrive in September, not only will there be little evidence of the recent construction, but parents can look forward to uninterrupted service from day one.
Total capacity at Kent is to be 2,120 students, broken down this will be: 200 in Foundation, 960 students in the junior school and the same (960) in the secondary. However, for this September, Browne says he is hoping for around 750.
From September, Kent will offer Foundation right through to year 12, however, Grades 11 and 13 will commence the following September.
The school’s layout is unusual in the sense it has all three stages and buildings situated closely together, with no barriers between them. From a child’s viewpoint, progression through the school will be seen by moving in ascending building size with Foundation being single storey, the Junior school two storeys and the Secondary three.
Kent’s planned completion date is towards the end of June, however the Foundation building is currently well ahead of schedule and expected be completed sometime in April.
Inside the Foundation block, it’s easy to get a sense of how the school will ‘feel.’ Modern, yet cozy, the building’s flowing and curvaceous design belies the extremely spacious classrooms, play areas and walkways.
Even without fixtures and fittings, it’s easy to see just BroadwayMalyan’s thoughtful touches, including the shaded outdoor play areas, numerous break-out areas and the long low windows designed quite obviously with Kent’s future mini-occupants in mind.
Throughout the school, the build has a strong environmental emphasis; insulation against the heat is provided by the newest fire retardant cladding installed on both the exterior of the buildings and one metre below the entire floor surface area. On the roof extensive solar paneling will help supply electricity to the school, while all windows are hi-spec double glazing and AC water run-off is to be channeled out to the gardens.
Kent College is located on the edge of Nad Al Sheba, in the corner created where the Al Ain road meets Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. The campus is part of the newly constructed 1,500 villa Mohammed Bin Rashid City housing complex, earmarked for Emirates Airlines.
In fact, Tim Clark, president and CEO of Emirates Airlines is named by Kent College Canterbury’s website as one of their most prestigious alumni.
Kent College Dubai is funded and developed by local Emirati Company MHK. MHK’s managing director, Shoaib Khoory, was previously employed by Emirates Airlines and was part of the Emirates launch team together with Tim Clarke in 1985. He retired from Emirates to join MHK, some time ago.
The MHK website notes that the company has signed a Joint Venture agreement with Meydan Group for building schools in Meydan, as the first school, Kent College Dubai hopes to attract students from the UAE, GCC and all over the world.
While the location offers easy access from Silicon Oasis, The Villa, The Ranches, Meydan and others, it’s really this ready-made community within walking distance from the school (there are 50 families already in residence, with "significantly" more expected by the end of 2016), that will no doubt fuel the success of the school.
Walking on the site it is clear Kent isn’t just premium but a ‘premium-plus’ offering for 2016. With a built up area of 32,000 metres, it offers a staggering 22 square metre per person with a 20 student cap for each of the large, airy and glassed classrooms.
And it's not just the building, Kent’s fees are also nearing the 'premium plus' range, from Dhs 54,000 for Reception up to Dhs 98,000 for Year 13.
The school boasts a 458 seater auditorium with Kent monogrammed seating throughout, beginner and competition swimming pools, both of which are climate controlled, two spacious dining halls, and classrooms with top of the range fixtures as standard, including Promethean white boards.
In the mid-term (3 to 5 years) Kent says they plan to offer boarding facilities and possibly even equestrian activities and facilities linked to Meydan.
Sports will of course be quintessentially English and focus primarily on hockey, cricket and rugby. Further extracurricular activities will be built into the school day, most of which Browne says will carry no additional costs.
Please email me the prospects of the new Kent college here in Dubai and the fees structures I would like to come for a visit
You will need to contact the school directly - www.kentcollege.ae. You will find full information about the school and how to arrange a visit.