RGS Guildford Dubai: Pre-Opening Campus Tour

The Royal Grammar School Guildford, Dubai will open to students in September 2021. WhichSchoolAdvisor.com took a tour of the brand-new campus with Principal Craig Lamshed, to see what students and parents can expect for the opening of the Dubai campus of one of the UKs oldest and most prestigious schools.
RGS Guildford Dubai: Pre-Opening Campus Tour
By Jenny Mollon
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RGS Guildford Dubai will open in September 2021.  Having toured the campus whilst construction was underway (for a WSA Hard Hat Tour) we were keen to revisit in the final weeks before the classrooms are filled with students!  

The RGS Dubai Campus - The WSA View

Our team entered RGS Guildford Dubai to find a leadership team brimming with enthusiasm and a brand-new school (complete with that oh-so-special, new school smell!) that (two months prior to opening) is already highly polished and equipped with high quality resources, learning spaces, fixtures and fittings. 

Having last visited just a few short months ago (when the school was still very much a building site) we found that work had progressed at a rapid pace, yet without any visible compromises in quality.  In fact, we would go as far to say that nothing seems to have been spared in creating a quality environment.  As the veterans of scores of school tours, this is high praise from the WSA team.

The impressive quality of...well, everything, is obvious from the off at RGS Dubai.  Even the entrance doors glide open incredibly smoothly.  (Smoothly opening doors is not something we often take note of, but here they really are something quite striking!)

One of the stand out features of the school’s design has always been the indoor atrium, now filled with plants and greenery, giving visitors the intended “outdoors...indoors” feel. When we visited the school for our Hard Hat Tour a few months ago, this concept was a little difficult to imagine, but to see it come to life, we now understood how the peace and tranquillity created by the green space will set the tone for the whole school.  A real 'wow' feature for a school in Dubai's desert landscape.  

A view of one of the school's indoor green spaces

We also noted (and very much liked) that the school’s design centres around the RGS rose emblem, neatly connecting this ultra-modern building, in futuristic Dubai, with the 500 year-old original Royal Grammar School in Guildford, England.

It's all too rare to see developments that surpass initial expectations, plans and renders, but the Royal Grammar School Guildford, Dubai has achieved this.  We were told by Head of Prep, Clare Turnbull, that one prospective parent described the school as a building that "feels like it is giving you a hug".  High praise indeed.

As we toured the school, we put several questions to RGS Dubai Principal, Craig Lamshed. Read on to hear his thoughts on the progress of the school...

The RGS rose, at the heart of the school

Mr Lamshed, the campus looks very different from when we visited for the WSA Hard Hat Tour. Can you tell us where you are in terms of building completion?

The building is at 95% completion. In fact, we have handover already, well in advance of the scheduled timeline. Our team are currently offsite and working with the building contractors on snagging and final fit out.

Some of the outdoor play areas

What has changed from the original plans, if anything?

The last phase of the build has included some enhancements to the site, including additional performing arts rooms, an upgrade to the sports hall, the sports pitch and swimming pool.

What about progress in the Tilal Al Ghaf community?

Tilal Al Ghaf has been incredibly popular. I believe they are in to stage 3 of selling the apartments and villas within the community. Eventually, we expect the school to be surrounded by apartments, villas, shopping complexes and a mosque.

The school's main swimming pool.  There will also be a shallow pool for learners

One of the Early Years classrooms

What will access/parking be like for parents from day one?

In terms of parking for parents on site, the entire school site will be complete by September and there will be adequate parking for parents at both ends of the school (the Early Years entrance and Prep entrance).

We’re now in July. What is ready for Term 1 on campus?

The facilities that have been finished include a double size, multi-purpose hall, an eight-lane full size swimming pool, a learners’ pool, a full-size synthetic sports pitch, multiple dance studios, performing arts spaces and peripatetic music spaces. In the Early Years, the entire learning ‘street’ (or ‘The Street’ as we call it) is ready to go.

Throughout, there are indoor and outdoor play areas for both educational play and recreational play. We have all our specialist classrooms furnished and ready including art rooms, science labs and libraries. All in all, the school will be 100% up and running by the time our young people join us in late August.

All of the school's fixtures and fittings are high quality and well thought out

Have all your classroom resources and equipment arrived?

All the classrooms have been fully resourced and 99% of the additional resources needed are already on site. We are expecting the balance to be here in the next couple of weeks.

When will families be able to tour the school?

We are delighted to say we have already had our founding pupils and their families tour the school. They have been coming on tours for the last couple of weeks. We have had very positive feedback from the parents and young people alike – that has been great! We will be inviting new families to see the school over the coming weeks.

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