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 based syllabus, while Dwight provides its IB counterpart. The two premium schools share a host of equally premium facilities.
The story so far...
Work began on both Dwight School and Brighton College in Dubai in June 2017, with the two premium schools being built adjacent to each other, and sharing some of the 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.
The final handover to school staff was meant to happen July 2018, however finished closer to September 2018 - late, but still on time.
Announced as part of a "super campus" (when did Dubai ever announce anything understated) 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 (which will be some time, and perhaps longer than initially projected given reported admissions numbers...). Brighton College Dubai stands adjacent to is the equally prestigious Dwight School, New York. The campus will also include, when finished, a Centre of Excellence for Arabic Language, Culture and the Arts.
The three primary components together take up to 89,000 sqm which are located in what Bloom Education, owners and developers of both schools, has described as "the heart of Dubai". WhichSchoolAdvisor.com would probably disagree with at least this statement. Even though "the heart of Dubai" is akin to the Bermuda Triangle (no one quite knows where it is), most residents would not claim it to be Al Barsha South yet - a very much up and coming area we are sure, but the very definition of peripheral.
Marco Longmore, Founding Principal of Brighton College Dubai took up his role in January 2018. Longmore is a 48-year-old father-of-two and studied history at Edinburgh University before beginning his teaching career in 1991 at George Heriot’s School. He became head of history at George Watson’s College in the Scottish capital in 1998.
After leading the school for the lead up to its opening and through the first academic year, Mr. Longmore stepped down in a surprise decision in late 2019. Clearly, the decision was a concern for owners, Bloom Holdings, but one that was addressed swiftly through the appointment, initially on an interim basis, of Simon Crane, 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 latterly 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 rating of Outstanding in 2018-19, from the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge. 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.
History, academic pedigree, but not the extreme liberalism. Brighton College 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 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, and without that strongly progressive philosophy implemented in extremis as it is in the UK, the claim clearly lacks some of its original bite.
In terms of 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
Brighton College is also a proven UAE school - Brighton College Abu Dhabi is a WhichSchoolAdvisor.com 'Top School', and was rated Outstanding by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge's (ADEK) inspection team in the 2018-19 inspection round. Its sister school in Al Ain was rated Outstanding two years ago, ahead of its Abu Dhabi sister school.
Brighton College Dubai will eventually offer a Foundation to Year 13 British curriculum.
Both Brighton and IB-based Dwight benefit from the 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."
Not very. Yes, Brighton College Dubai has been built in effectively the same plot as Dwight School but this seems to have been more about build cost efficiency than a shared approach in any way to actual school operations. There are also shared facilities, so there will clearly be the need for coordination.
Shared facilities include a 600 seat auditorium that will be used for large events, as well as a running track.
The school is slowly filling its space, even with smaller initial numbers than hoped. Given Dubai's current economic climate, and the competition within this space, this is perhaps unsurprising. That does not mean the initial roll call will not have been something of a disappointment however, and a state of affairs the very capable Bloom team will be working hard to turn around.
Ultra Premium. Brighton College Dubai has KHDA approved fees between AED 64,000 and AED 107,000 for Sixth Form pupils. This is considerably more than the AED 74,000 top fee charged for Brighton College Abu Dhabi.
That said, fees have fallen further in 2019-2020 to between AED 53,500 and AED 88,200.
In May 2019, Brighton College announced it will be offering scholarships for current pupils and prospective candidates in time for the 2019-20 academic year. A select number of scholarships were available to pupils from Year 7 to Year 10.
For the 2020-21 academic year, discounts on the approved KHDA fees will be available.
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