Brighton College made its Dubai debut in September 2018, as part of a super campus with the Dwight School of New York. The school offers a UK curriculum based syllabus, while Dwight provides its IB counterpart. The two premium schools share a host of equally premium facilities.
Brighton College Dubai (BCD) opened in September 2018 and is co-located with sister school Dwight School with the two premium schools being built adjacent to each other, and sharing some of the facilities. Brighton College Dubai will eventually offer a Foundation to Year 13 British curriculum and follows the UK public school internal organisation of Pre-Prep (Foundation Stage), Prep School (Years 1-6) and Senior School (Years 7 to 13).
Although a relatively new school, entering its fourth year of operation, Brighton College Dubai has clearly established itself as a favourite with parents who are clearly impressed by the school's leadership, teachers, culture and overall quality. Happiness is an noun used frequently by parents, teachers and students.
Comments to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com include:
"Very strong leadership with clear focus and ambition."
"The older than average age of the teachers compared to other UAE schools. This means more experience, and many are parents themselves, with children at the school. So much more empathy, part of a community. It’s a very happy place!"
"It’s small and has a homely, personal and welcoming feeling. The school has a culture of kindness and this resonates throughout everyone in the school."
"Amazing teaching; Safe happy school"
It is not only parents who have positive comments to offer. We have also received feedback from teachers:
"Brighton is a happy school. I find the relationship between leadership and parents amazing, it is very rare, they involve parents in almost everything. They also listen, the school offers activities. So far I have had a great experience at Brighton College Dubai."
"What a community feel there is in the school. I hadn't realised that it would be such hard work building up a new school in Dubai but that it would be such a rewarding experience. Everyone is in this together and it is truly a team goal to ensure that the school is successful and that the pupils are happy and make great progress. I enjoy coming to work every day."
"Personally, I am very impressed with Brighton. It has changed the way I study for the better and made me feel comfortable in participating in class because all students are very close."
Owned by Abu Dhabi-based Bloom Education in the UAE, Brighton College Dubai is the third school to carry the highly-regarded UK public school name, having followed Brighton College Abu Dhabi and Brighton College Al Ain - both schools rated Outstanding by ADEK - the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge. Bloom also owns the Mindchamps Nursery. Internationally, there are colleges in the UK (the original school), Bangkok and Singapore.
Brighton College UK is one of the most academically successful co-educational schools in the UK, and is also one of its most progressive, including a gender neutral commitment to uniforms. While the former is very much a promise, the latter just does not fit the UAE's cultural norms.
That relativism is clearly something Brighton College Dubai is comfortable with: It is the same story with other Brighton branded schools around the world. What remains true across its network is the commitment to bring out the individual and his or her true strengths from each Brighton student. Many schools claim to do this of course, but without that strongly progressive philosophy implemented in extremis as it is in the UK, the claim clearly lacks some of its original bite.
BCD says its community is underpinned by a profound belief in the values of curiosity, confidence and kindness. The College strives "to create a family-orientated, respectful and vibrant community, for all of our pupils, which will impart or provide:
• A love of learning for its own sake.
• A foundation of knowledge and body of skills with which to understand and question the world we live in and to prepare them, through an innovative approach to education, for the world which they will inhabit in the future.
• An awareness and appreciation of the spiritual dimension in our lives.
• An enthusiasm for the world beyond the classroom – in particular, sport, music and the performing arts.
• A respect for difference in others and a recognition that the efforts and achievements of every individual in our community are valued equally."
In short, Brighton College Dubai strives to turn out well-educated, respectful and intellectually curious men and women who are ready to step forward in life taking a full, active and positive role in the UAE and the wider world.
The College has not released student or staff numbers to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, suggesting that it is some way off a full school - not a surprise given the environment over the past three years. It has informed us that students come from 37 different nationalities with the highest proportion being British (at 48%) followed by Emirati and American students. A teacher:student ratio of 1:9 is very much on the low side (suggesting average class sizes of 18 - low even for Premium schools in the city).
Following the appointment of Marco Longmore as the Founding Principal in January 2018, a surprise decision to leave BCD in late 2019 was responded to rapidly by Bloom Holdings with the appointment of Simon Crane, then Head of the Senior School of Brighton College Abu Dhabi.
In February 2020, the Board announced that Mr. Crane had been appointed on a permanent basis as Head Master for Brighton College Dubai. In addition to bringing a focus on kindness within the school community and commitment to academic rigour, Mr. Crane is also responsible for ensuring a balanced portfolio of co-curricular pursuits which fully embody the ethos of Brighton College.
As a Brighton College parent as well, Mr Crane is said to fully understand the impact an authentic Brighton College education can have on students. He was instrumental in guiding Abu Dhabi students to achieve exceptional academic results, with 40% of its A level grades in June 2019, being A* and A. Mr Crane was also instrumental in Brighton College Abu Dhabi achieving the ADEK rating of Outstanding in 2018-19. There will, no doubt, be similar expectations of Brighton College Dubai when it participates in its first KHDA inspection, due in the 2020-21 academic year.
Brighton College Dubai follows its own Brighton College curriculum based on the English National Curriculum in the pre-Prep, Prep and Senior sections, incorporating the International Primary Curriculum (an internationally adapted version of the Key Stage One and Two curricula for the ENC) in the Prep stage. Senior school students will study International GCSE and A-levels.
The International Primary Curriculum supports a cross-curricular approach, "links to out-of-school experiences and to other daily activities, helping children appreciate the role that these aspects of learning play in their everyday lives. It is a comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum, with a clear process of learning and specific learning goals for every subject. It also develops international mindedness and encourages personal learning. Pupils interests are sparked due to the relevance of the units, the enquiry approach and the skills that they learn."
The Brighton College curriculum aims to inspire lifelong learning and is said to combine the best of both a traditional and innovative education. Innovation in teaching and learning based on sound pedagogy and educational philosophical reasoning is a goal so that teaching and learning can be a platform for well purposed change but not just for change’s sake.
The College aims to achieve this goal through:
➢ providing a versatile environment appropriately furnished to support a blended learning approach to teaching and learning styles,
➢ research supported curriculum programmes that involve pupils in understanding their own learning preferences,
➢ staff depth of knowledge about the individual that allows maximum support and motivation to learn.
➢ high expectations of both the teacher and the learner related to their approach and attitude to learning to ensure that they can be their best selves.
➢ opportunities for an enquiry-based approach to open up children’s curiosity, interest and learning through the exploration of ideas.
➢ promoting open mindedness where pupils are given the possibility of seeing that their ideas have value, and that others have different ideas that have value too.
➢ developing adaptable learners who realise that they do not always have to be right but are able to problem solve and find alternative solutions.
➢ promoting critical thinking which encourages pupils through purposeful questioning to make reasoned judgements that are well thought through and logical.
➢ encouraging confidence without arrogance through developing and celebrating success and learning through positive experiences.
➢ developing international mindedness which promotes a sense of the pupil’s own nationality and culture whilst at the same time developing a profound respect understanding for other nationalities and cultures.
➢ a constant questioning of, reflecting on and modifying of our own practice.
In addition to the traditional subjects offered, students start to learn Arabic from FS1, offering both Arabic A and Arabic B. From FS1 to Year 5, all students study Arabic and French, and in Years 6 and 7, add Spanish to the other two languages. Students in Years 8 to 10 choose between Spanish or French and Arabic.
There is also a broad focus on Creative and expressive arts which are given ample time in Years 7 to 9 to allow students to develop their appreciation of these subjects, which can in turn improve and develop creativity, thinking skills and independence when transferred into the traditional academic subjects.
Humanities are taught through Brighton’s innovative 'Story of Our Land' course in Years 7 and 8, which uses the framework of UAE history to explore historical, geographical and philosophical themes over the two years before splitting to focus on more core skills in preparation for GCSE. Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies form an integral part of the curriculum in the Senior School.
The Year 10 and 11 curriculum aims to prepare students for the greater challenges of studying A-levels in the Sixth Form. Most students do nine GCSEs and most will study the core subjects of English literature and English language, Mathematics and the three Sciences. In addition, students choose four further optional subjects from a wide range of humanities, languages, creative, practical and expressive subjects.
In the Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13), which will open in September 2021, most students will take three or four A-levels over the two years, usually dropping the fourth subject for Year 13.
A key member of teaching staff who will be crucial in leading the Sixth form at Brighton College Dubai is the newly appointed Founding Head of Sixth Form, Joe Hall. Previously Head of Sixth Form at Brighton College Al Ain, Mr. Hall's appointment is a reflection of his extensive knowledge and experience in establishing a highly successful and outstanding rated Sixth form in the UAE, as well as living and breathing the Brighton College ethos.
Commenting on his new role as Head of Sixth Form at Brighton College Dubai, Mr. Hall, said: “To be at the helm of launching Brighton College Dubai’s highly anticipated Sixth form is very exciting and our mission is to emulate the outstanding success that its sister schools in both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain have achieved. My expertise lies in setting up and establishing sixth forms and building an environment that cultivates kindness, as well as helping pupils flourish and go on to achieve their best. I am very much looking forward to nurturing Brighton College Dubai’s Sixth form pupils so they can reach their full potential and go on to studying at leading universities around the world. I also want to make sure they have all the skills and character required not just to survive, but to thrive in the mid 21st century world.”
The College ensures that there is a holistic approach to all aspects of students' education, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles through an active ‘sports for all’ PE curriculum which enables all students from FS1 to Year 9 to have one PE and one swimming lesson per week. The College's philosophy for Sport is based on participation and enjoyment, believing that students are more likely to achieve their potential whether as an elite performer aspiring to represent their country, or as an individual who just wants to play for their school if they are involved and happy.
Healthy bodies are promoted through regular topics related to healthy eating and healthy bodies, a healthy menu from the school meal providers, talks from the nurse, focus on handwashing and cleaning teeth.
In a further step towards supporting all round mental and physical health, in April 2021, the College announced, in response to the global conversation about COVID 19-induced mental health issues, that it will cultivate a positive narrative around mental health by introducing mental health and wellbeing studies in to the curriculum when it launches its Sixth form this September.
Based on the PERMA Model, a scientific theory of happiness, all Sixth form students will study the Brighton Charter which has been built into the curriculum to teach students about character development in areas such as leadership and resilience. It will also teach transferable skills such as public speaking, presentation skills, problem solving, interview techniques and information and media literacy. Students will learn about positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments, and how to apply these to their lives.
Mr. Wells, who will be responsible for the implementation of the mental wellness curriculum, commented: “As part of the Brighton Charter we will develop mental health awareness, mental health first aid and a positive psychology amongst pupils. A huge part of my role will be supporting Brighton College sixth form pupils beyond the curriculum and academic studies, and supporting them with character development and how to adapt and be prepared for a post-COVID world. We need to prepare our pupils, now more than ever, to be able to stand out in a world where more and more of us will in essence become freelancers as employment patterns change due to the pandemic. Transferable skills, communication skills and confidence have never been more important to learn alongside a core curriculum.”
An addition to the core curriculum, a range of co-curricular activities are offered which encourage active games, sports disciplines and training and mindfulness. football, rugby, netball, cricket, swimming, tennis, dance and gymnastics among others.
Brighton College Dubai is committed to an inclusive approach, ensuring that every student, regardless of their individual learning profile, has every opportunity to be truly independent and choose their own path. All students are supported through carefully tailored programmes of study, advice and support when needed.
They are supported by the Inclusive Education Action Team with experience and qualifications in diagnostic assessment, mentoring, Masters of SEN, CELTA, TEFL and leadership. The team comprises of a Head of Inclusion, SENCO, EAL Teacher and two Learning Support Assistants. The College works closely with The Developing Child Centre in Dubai.
The College says it welcomes students from a wide range of backgrounds, some of whom speak English as an additional language. Teachers therefore consider the needs of pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL) when they plan their lessons. There is a particular focus at the College in developing literacy across the curriculum. High quality speaking, listening, reading and writing opportunities are integrated within lessons and extra-curricular activities, where appropriate
Students who are more able are challenged regularly with extension activities in the classroom. They can be nominated for ‘The Sheikh Zayed Group’ which provides special inspirational classes and a mentor for each student. There are also critical thinking, creative thinking and problem solving Co-curricular activities as well as examination preparation activities through which students can extend themselves.
The College told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that in Prep as a new school, it currently does not have value added data as it is only in its second year. By the end of this academic year, it will have a clear progress measure from the GL exams that all students will sit, together with an internal progress measure from BCD's own internal systems.
In August 2021, Brighton College Dubai announced its first set of I/GCSE results for its cohort of nine students who were entered for a total of 75 examinations. In common with all UAE students, no examinations were sat due to the Covid 19 pandemic, and the results were, therefore, based on teacher assessed grades. 55% of all entries were awarded an impressive Grade 9-8 (A*), with 29% awarded Grade 9, 69% Grade 9 - 7 (A*-A), 81% Grade 9-6 (A* - B), and 99% Grade 9 - 4 (A*-C). The entire cohort achieved Grade 9 to 8 in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Physical Education and 100% Grade 9s achieved in Art. .
Brighton College is one of several schools who monitor and publish their 'value added' results which is a comparison of the actual grades achieved against predicted grades arrived at through benchmark tests taken by students on entry to the college. With a positive score of 1.92, this means that students achieved, on average, nearly two grades above the original predicted grades.
Highest achieving students celebrating top level grades included Head Girl, Madeleine Cranitch, was awarded nine Grade 9s/A*, Ross Bannerman, who achieved six Grade 9s/A*s, and two Grade 8s/As, Alice Farrow with four Grade 9s/A*s and three Grade 8s/As and Emirati student Lora Atatreh, who achieved six Grade 9-8/As, two Grade 7s/Bs, and one Grade 6.
In terms of external examination results, for reference, 79.84% of Brighton College UK grades were A* to A in 2017 at A' Level. Dubai College, the UAE's most academically successful school in terms of examination results, scored 66.8% A* to A.
“Brighton College is the UK’s top co-educational school, renowned for combining academic excellence with a wealth of extra-curricular opportunities, all underpinned by a deep commitment to the individual needs and enthusiasms of each boy or girl.” Richard Cairns, Principal, Brighton College UK
According to BCD, Outstanding academic results are a recurring factor of a Brighton College education. In the UK, Brighton College, over the last five years, its students have achieved results that place it in the top 1% of all schools in England.
In the UAE, Brighton College Abu Dhabi says it has "established itself as one of the leading 3-18 British Curriculum schools in the Middle East, achieving the best A-level results in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi" though this has been disputed by the British School Al Khubeirat.
Announced as part of a "super campus", Brighton College Dubai forms one half of a 4,000 strong student community - when it and the school it shares a space with reach capacity. Brighton College Dubai stands adjacent to is the equally prestigious Dwight School Dubai which was opened at the same time as BCD and both schools share some facilities.
The campus is planned to include a Centre of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and the Arts, an institution "dedicated to the development of intra-cultural exchange, facilitate both teacher and student development, as well as promote a deeper understanding of the rich Arabic history and traditions." Parents have expressed some frustration at the failure to complete some of the promised facilities.
The combined development was given a value of more than $75m (AED275m) according to media reports, with the campuses built across a 10-acre site, with two Ground plus 3 floor buildings spread across 89,000 square metres of space. Shared facilities include a 600 seat auditorium that will be used for large events, as well as a running track.
Facilities include large, airy classrooms, incorporating the latest educational technology and including a Creative Learning Centre to enable teachers to deliver inspirational lessons using the latest educational technology. Features also include what the school describes as "Stunning music and art facilities." In addition, spacious purpose-built playgrounds and outdoor learning environments which include innovative resources and equipment are provided.
Sports facilities include a large and fully equipped sports hall, a 25m swimming pool and shallow practice pool, football pitches and hard courts, tennis courts, full size 400m athletics track and a full-size rugby pitch. Brighton College Dubai also has a fully fitted out Fitness Suite inside the college,open to students and parents.
There is obviously limited direct external feedback about Brighton College Dubai at the current time, given that the school has only just commenced its fourth academic year and as yet no KHDA inspection has taken place - the first is due in 2021-22.
However, a significant 112 responses have been received from BCD parents to the WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Parent Survey, with the College achieving an overall score of 4.4/5. This is an approval rating of 88%!
A massive 75% of students have a tremendous sense of belonging to the College whilst 72% enjoy going to school a tremendous amount. Interestingly, 55% of children attending the school had moved to Brighton College Dubai from another school in the UAE and a huge 86% of respondents were totally satisfied with the academic performance of the school. Despite this, 20% of parents felt additional external tuition would be required for their child - a symptom of parental ambition rather than any failing on the part of the College, we suspect. 60% of parents were confident that BCD could meet the specific learning needs of their child (compared with a UAE average of 33%). An overwhelming 89% of parents would recommend the school to other parents.
Brighton College Dubai has further grounds to be happy with the feedback from parents to the survey. Communication and disciplinary policy and implementation were also highly rated - both over 80% satisfaction. Even one of the most contentious issues - that of whether school fees represent value for money - received positive feedback and were totally felt to do so by 60% of respondents, whilst a further 32% partially agreed. Given that the fees are among the highest in the city, BCD is evidently delivering the quality that parents expected. Only 8% of respondents disagreed.
If you are a parent, teacher or student at Brighton College Dubai, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey here.
The College does organise a Friends of Brighton volunteer group of parents who aim to assist the College in a variety of ways. Regular meetings allow the Friends of Brighton and senior College staff to discuss and plan future events and initiatives. As a Friend of Brighton, parent work closely with College staff to enhance its community profile and fundraising activities.
Parents are also said to be an important part of the partnership with the College. They are regularly informed about their child’s learning and EdTalks and workshops related to subject topics are organised by a range of speakers. Parent Reps for each class that meet regularly to talk with the school leadership team.
There has been considerable debate and discussion over the past several years about the financial sustainability of premium priced schools in the UAE, and the arrival of schools with a heritage in their home country that may or may not transfer successfully to the UAE. Certainly, the majority of new school openings in recent years have been more towards the more affordable range.
Bloom Education's decision to open not one but two Premium priced schools in Dubai was brave, and one that had to be made on the fundamental understanding that the school would be able to deliver the quality of education that parents paying such fees must demand. Of course, the fact that Brighton College Abu Dhabi and Al Ain had already established such strong reputations was clearly a major benefit, but Brighton College Dubai still needed to prove its worth. Based on the feedback so far, we would say that it has more than done so.
Ultra Premium. Brighton College Dubai has KHDA approved fees between AED 64,000 for FS1 and AED 107,000 for Sixth Form pupils.
That said, fees have been reduced to between AED 53,500 for FS1 and AED 88,200 for 2020-21. The school is currently open to Year 11, and will open fully to Year 13 in 2022-23. Year 11 fees are AED 85,500. A one-time non-refundable/non-transferable application fee of AED 525 inclusive of VAT is payable at the time of application.
Tuition Fees do not include individual use laptops/tablets/computers, uniform, food services, transport, examination fees or extra-curricular activities outside school hours.
The College offers families with two or more children a sibling discount. This is 5% for the second child and third child, 10% for the fourth child, 15% for the fifth child and subsequent children.
Brighton College Dubai is a Best of school, a ranking determined by parent surveys on the site. It can be found in the following Best of rankings:
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