One of the most read reviews on our sister site, SchoolsCompared.com, and now something of an evergreen read here at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, Kent College Dubai is steadily establishing itself as a school to watch.
The increasing interest in Kent College was driven by the promise of the arrival of a 130-year-old, highly respected and successful English boarding school into the very brand conscious Dubai. The UK school achieves an ‘Independent Schools Inspectorate’ “Outstanding” rating in every category of inspection. Dubai parents are clearly expecting similar quality in the UAE: A heady 80% of those visiting the review on SchoolsCompared.com placed it at the very top of their shortlist.
What does the school feel like when you walk in? Click here for the Kent College Dubai 'Experience'.
"While some schools in the UAE carry the names of famous UK schools, the links between the two may not go much further. But we are not just a franchise of Kent College Canterbury – we are effectively a second campus, with close collaborative management between Dubai and the UK." Principal, Anthony Cashin
That there is a growing awareness of Kent College is, we believe, a reflection of the growing reputation for quality and parental satisfaction, despite this not being a school prospective parents will stumble across or discover via expensive marketing campaigns. For whatever reason, there has been very limited promotional activity. Awareness has been built instead though via word of mouth and the offering of a significant corporate discount (15%) to a wide range of employers.
Editorially, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has been doing its bit to raise awareness to what we believe should be an important new option for parents. You can read our interview with newly installed Principal, Anthony Cashin as well as our Hard Hat Tour of its build up here.
The school opened in 2016, and for the families of the 880 children enrolled, Kent College Dubai is no longer on a shortlist, but a day to day reality. Those children represent almost half of an eventual capacity of 2120. Class sizes are capped at 20 throughout the school, although on occasion this may be expanded to 22 to allow for new enrolments, before a new teacher hire and classroom opening becomes viable.
The school now has the happy buzz of a busy school and this is reflected in the burgeoning competitive sports programme, with teams across the age groups representing the school in football, rugby, basketball and more. The school has also seen individual children achieve considerable success in more niche sports such as Girls Boxing and Fencing.
Currently Kent College Dubai offers A Levels but has already signified its intent to be dual curricula, and also offer the BTEC Nationals programme. "We will initially offer A-levels in the Sixth form, but as soon as possible we intend to offer the alternative of the careers based BTEC programme as well."
We think this is an inspired move, allowing pupils greater choice and flexibility, while allowing those with a focus on either the Arts or Sciences to play to their strengths via A Levels.
The school is also clearly intending to offer a balance between the arts and sciences. "Music, Art, Drama and Technology all have a central place in the academic and wider curriculum and we expect our pupils to get fully involved in performing, creating and innovating."Anthony Cashin
For prospective parents what this ultimately means is that, as long as the school delivers on these early promises, your children's development should not be interrupted either by a curriculum that does not suit, or by a paucity in subjects offered.
Currently the offering of subjects is respectable, although not quite best in class. GCSEs offered are English, Maths, Science, Arabic, Art, Design Technology, Drama, Geography, History, Islamic Studies, Music, Spanish, and PE. At A Level students can choose four subjects from: Arabic, Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Design & Technology, Drama, English Literature, French, Further Maths, Geography, History, Islamic Studies, Maths, Music, PE, Physics, Psychology and Spanish.
As noted, the promise of Kent College Dubai is that as well as being a UK curricula school, it will also be a "British" school in terms of culture and context. This is a Kent College "in its DNA", with the self-imposed litmus test being that transitioning between the two "should be seamless".
Kent College in the UK is a small school with a capacity of just over 700. It is to a degree defined by its medieval surroundings – and by that we mean Canterbury, one of England's most impressive ancient cities.
Kent College Dubai too will be defined, in part, by its surroundings - it is just that these could not be more different.
In place of the bucolic heart of Chaucer's England, the new Kent College lives in Dubai, in the heart of the Islamic world, within state of the art new buildings and quite possibly the world's first 22nd century city.
This fact is not papered over in the school's vision, which includes amongst its aims and values "to encourage pupils to respect and appreciate the heritage and culture of the UAE, which underpin and influence contemporary life in Dubai".
Pupils are already highly international, coming from "a great range of countries" - 71 in total according to information supplied by Kent College to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. Despite being a considerably larger school than it's Canterbury counterpart, teacher to student ratios will be broadly similar. Kent College Dubai currently employs a significant 75 teachers (predominantly recruited from the UK, Ireland and UAE).
Facilities are as you would expect – top tier. A walk through is provided here, but noteworthy is the state of the art 458 seater auditorium, its outdoor & indoor sports facilities including sports hall, six lane swimming pool and training pool, and its specialised hockey astro pitches. As increasingly standard in top tier UAE schools classrooms are equipped with Promethean smartboards. From Year 3 upwards children carry around state of the art equipment, each being issued with a Chromebook (purchased by parents, via the school).
A key to Kent College Dubai however is a hope that its facilities will not be limited to its immediate grounds. The owner of the school is Meydan MHK Education LLC FZ, part of the Mir Hashem Khoory Group of companies, and according to its web site, Kent College Dubai is meant to be part of a larger US$ 70-80 million initiative to build "Nurseries & Kindergartens, a Primary and Secondary British School (K-12), a British Boarding School, and a Finishing School for Girls" in to the Meydan project. The overall goal is to take advantage of the uniqueness of the areas facilities to offer Horse riding, Show jumping, Endurance...
How successful the owner is in making this happen for Kent Dubai will go a long way in answering how the UAE school will be able to absorb the DNA of a sister school that sits on an 80 acre site (for the Senior School) and includes the Moat Estate farm.
The school already has a reasonably developed set of extra curricular activites, including sewing, papercraft, a multitude of sports, puzzle games, board games, maths club, reading club, fitness, dance, singing, mindfulness colouring, music, arabic stories, film club, pinata, yoga, construction, tumble tots, animation making, 3D design, chess, photography, drama, and an entrepreneur club.
Their is also a extensive 'external' extra curricular activity provider, Just Play, who offer a broad range of (paid) sporting activities including martial arts, gymnastics and football. Rugby is provided by Mike Phillips, ex Welsh National and British & Irish Lions team player, under the banner of his academy, The Mike Phillips Academy.
The school will no doubt benefit in terms of future growth from its location in Nad Al Sheba 3, next to a 1500 villa development built by Meydan for Emirates Airlines. Keen to point out that they are not just a school for the immediate area however, Kent College has bus services from Arabian Ranches, Jumeirah and Dubai Silicon Oasis, with more planned concurrent with parent demand.
What does the school feel like when you walk in? Get the Kent College Dubai 'Experience' .
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