The Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai is set to open in September 2021. It is the second school in the Middle East to be established in partnership with the 510 year old UK school - the other opened in Qatar in 2016. The Royal Grammar School Guildford UK is one of the most academically successful in the country.
Established in 1509 and one of the most academically successful all-boys schools, RGS Guildford (RGS) is consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the UK at both A Level and GCSE, achieved by 'combining a foundation of heritage with a forward-thinking approach to teaching and learning'.
According RGS, 'this spirit of innovation has kept the school at the forefront of education'and will ensure that the Dubai branch will be a Beacon of Excellence for British Education and one of the finest international schools in the world.'
The Dubai branch will launch in the city as a co-educational school for boys and girls aged 3 to 18 years in August/September 2021.
The school will be known as Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai (RGSGD), and is being brought to the UAE via a partnership between Royal Grammar School Guildford and one of the world's largest school groups, Cognita. It will initially open its Early Years and Prep school sections.
RGS Guildford in the UK is a truly 'independent school', bought by the parents and staff of the school in the 1970s. The new Dubai school will be the second Royal Grammar School Guildford in the region. The Royal Grammar School Guildford in Qatar was established in 2016. The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai will share the same ethos and academic rigour of its parent school in the UK and its expansion to the UAE marks a key milestone in the school’s 500-year history. .
RGS Guildford Dubai is being built on a new development, Tilal Al Ghaf, located between Dubai Sports City and Dubai Motor City. It will be part of a major new development by the Majid Al Futtaim group, owner of Mall of the Emirates, Vox Cinemas, Little Explorers and Magic Planet.
Like RGS Guildford in the United Kingdom, the Dubai school will follow the British curriculum from three years to 18 years of age.
Announcing the formal launch of the school in November 2020, Headmaster of RGS Guildford in the UK, Dr. Jon Cox, commented:“Dubai is a global city which is renowned for its diversity and dynamic mindset – qualities which have inspired RGS Guildford for hundreds of years. To prepare our pupils for the challenges of the 21st century, we must lead by example: staying true to our values, collaborating with others, innovating and striving always to be the very best we can be. RGS Guildford Dubai is a central part of allowing us to realise this vision.” He added: “Investing in the very best teachers, consistently and across the entire school, is a top priority for RGS Guildford Dubai, to ensure that our pupils achieve top-level results, and to build a culture and community that holds our children at its heart.”
For primary years, which will be the focus of the school on launch, the curriculum will be based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Throughout the school, standardised assessments from GL will be used, in line with the UAE National Agenda. In Year 11 (aged 16) students will be examined at GCSE and then, in their final two years of school, against a broad range of A Level courses and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).
Although a focus of the school will inevitably be on academic achievement, Dr. Cox says that RGS Dubai will mirror the original school which is 'forward-looking with a big heart of which academia is just one part of a richer experience. A particular strength of the school is its mentoring programme, whereby older students are responsible for supporting younger students in the school.
As one of the most academically successful schools in the UK, expectations of RGS Guilford in Dubai will inevitably be high. The UK school certainly has every right to be proud of its reputation.
The Dubai school will have much to do if it is to emulate the academic successes and positioning of the UK school. In 2019 at GCSE, 50% of all student grades were grade 9 and 75% of grades were grade 9 – 8 (the equivalent of the old A* grade) - which would put it in the top 3 schools in the emirates. At A' Level, 35% of all the results were at A*, significantly ahead of any school in the country. In the UK itself, RGS Guildford came 41st.
RGS Guildford is also said to be extremely proud of its record of getting students into top universities. In the last ten years 325 offers have been achieved at either Oxford or Cambridge. RGS Guildford’s alumni have gone on to successful careers in all areas from business to sports, the creative arts and politics.
However, RGS is not the first UK independent school to arrive in the UAE with a strong academic record in the home country. Schools such as Brighton College and Cranleigh (with established branches in Abu Dhabi), and Kent College, North London Collegiate School and Repton in Dubai were also established in coordination with their highly rated Alma Maters in the UK, but are probably not yet in a position to boast similar results, in part because of their young age.
According to Dr. Cox, RGSG has prepared thousands of young people for life and wants to do the same for young people in Dubai. Oversight of the Dubai branch will be the responsibility of Dr. Cox and the Governors of the UK school.
A key to the school's success will be how well the RGS Guildford team is able to export the culture and character of the UK school to the United Arab Emirates. To this end the governing body of the School will include representatives from RGS Guildford in the UK, as well as parent representatives and a community representative (non-parent).
The Dubai school will be led by Founding Principal Mr. Craig Lamshed, who brings over 25 years of education and senior leadership experience to the UAE, including as a Principal in Dubai and covering the British, UAE, International Baccalaureate, Australian and American curricula.
Mr. Lamshed has been a brand leader for Cambridge Schools in Dubai, a member of the Global Education Review and is accredited as a British Schools Overseas reviewer. He brings to RGS Guildford Dubai proven experience of founding a secondary school in the UAE, wide-ranging educational leadership, including in Dubai, and a passion for excellence.
His role will be to work with experienced colleagues and partners, and with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, to "establish and then lead an innovative and outward looking school of the highest quality, and to do so with energy, pride and integrity."
Mr. Lamshed said: “I cannot wait to welcome pupils and parents through RGS Guildford Dubai doors in 2021 to what will be a fantastic school and an amazing educational experience for our community. We have a genuine interest in our pupil relationships as we believe this is what promotes happiness and wellbeing in school. RGS Guildford Dubai’s stellar curriculum is entwined with the school’s core values and will provide a platform for pupils to reach their full potential, irrespective of their passion.”
Mr Lamshed will be supported on the opening of Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai by Mrs Clare Turnbull, Head of Prep who joins from the parent school in the UK, where she served as Head of Prep for 13 years.
In February 2021, further key leadership positions were announced and will include three teachers with experience from teaching at the parent school in the UK. These are Assistant Head, Upper KS2, Mr Joe Creal; Head of Inclusion, Mrs Laura Evans, and Director of Sport, Mr James Bennett.
Mr Joe Creal, an old Guildfordian, and former teacher at the school, completed his Masters in educational leadership, taught mathematics to Years 5 and 6 and coached games afternoons. Prior to re-joining RGS, he taught in Cranleigh Abu Dhabi and a co-ed prep school in Surrey.
Mrs Laura Evans, has led the Learning Support and EAL Departments at the prep school in Guildford for the past 11 years. Through a Masters in Special and Inclusive Education that focused on Special Educational Needs, Mrs Evans brings a wealth of experience in child support with her to her new role as Head of Inclusion at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai. Mrs Evans will join the team in April 2021 to assist with the new pupil assessments.
Director of Sport, Mr James Bennett has over 15 years of experience in sports. Following his role at RGS, Mr Bennett moved on to one of the largest Prep Schools in the UK, to lead the boys’ games department where he took on the role of Acting Director of Sport in his final year. He has taught sports to a wide variety of age groups and specialises in recognising the specific needs of each pupil, both on the sporting field and in life. Mr Bennett has extensive coaching experience in cricket, football, swimming, athletics, gymnastics and climbing.
In addition, Mrs Angela Sutherland has been appointed Head of Early Years. Mrs. Sutherland has sixteen years of school leadership experience across the primary age range from roles in both the UK and the Middle East. Her vast experience working in Early Years has given Mrs Sutherland a deep understanding of how children learn, particularly in the acquisition of language, phonics, reading and the arts. Mrs Sutherland joins the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai from a school in the UAE, which has consistently been rated outstanding for the past five years for its Early Years Department.
Mrs Beckie Bennett, newly appointed Assistant Head of KS1, has more than 10 years of primary, early years and sports teaching experience and will join the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai’s senior leadership team in September.
The Assistant Head, Lower KS2, has been named as Mr Imran Akhtar, who has 13 years of teaching experience from both UK based schools and outstanding rated schools in the UAE. Mr Akhtar has previously taught at Kings Al Barsha where he was a Year Group Leader, before returning to the UK to a Leeds based Primary School.
Finally, Head of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Mrs Sajida Al Bashir, brings 24 years of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies teaching experience from schools across the Middle East to her role at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai. She is an experienced Head of Department, holds a Masters in Education, and regularly contributes to conferences and national debates about curriculum developments.
The new school will be located within Majid Al Futtaim’s flagship Dubai community, Tilal Al Ghaf, adjacent to Hessa Street, between Dubai Motor City and Sports City.
Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Communities, Mr. Hawazen Esber, said “Tilal Al Ghaf is located in one of Dubai’s fastest growing freehold residential areas, popular with international families and designed around the integrated principles of place-making and people. The decision by the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai to be part of Tilal Al Ghaf is a significant endorsement for this exciting community and we’re working closely with the educational team as construction of the flagship international school progresses. We are proud to welcome the school to Dubai, establishing new benchmarks in quality education.”
On completion, the school will sit on an impressive 40,000 square metres, and will be able to accommodate 2,100 pupils. The light and dynamic building will include a 25-metre competition standard swimming pool and state-of-the-art classrooms and labs that will support science, art, languages, music and more.
Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster of RGS Guildford said "We firmly and passionately believe that RGS Guildford Dubai will be one of the very finest international schools, which will allow us to share our expertise in a global city renowned for its diversity of dynamic mindset."
It's unusual for us at WhichSchoolAdvisor.com to include a parent recommendation from another school, but in this case, we felt it relevant in respect of the relationship between RGS Dubai and Cognita with whom the school is being launched.
Stamford American School in Hong Kong is a relatively new Cognita school and we were impressed by feedback from a parent there :
"The school is very focused on student happiness and self-confidence. It is technologically advanced which makes it more efficient, and easier for parents who want to be more included in their child's learning & progress. (Especially helpful during Covid.) Being a new school (3 years old) the administration & staff are very focused on improvements and delivering on the vision & promises of the school."
We hope, and expect, this will be reflective of the support Cognita offers to RGS Dubai and the experience of parents joining this new entrant to the Dubai market.
Admissions for the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai is now open. For further information please contact email@example.com.
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