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.
The story so far..
Established in 1509 and one of the most academically successful all-boys schools in the UK, the Dubai branch of the Royal Grammar School (RGS) Guildford is set for launch as a co-educational school in the city in August/September 2021. The school will be known as Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai, 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. With a capacity of 2,100, this is no small undertaking.
Cognita is one of the world's largest education groups with 75 schools in nine countries. RGS Guildford in the UK is not part of the Cognita stable of schools, but a truly 'independent school', bought by the parents and staff of the school in the 1970s. However, clearly, RGS Guildford has taken note of the potential difficulty in relying on local partners only, and is ensuring that it is working together with a truly international school group.
Although the new school will be the first school in the Middle East to be associated with Cognita, it will be the second Royal Grammar School Guildford in the region. The Royal Grammar School Guildford in Qatar was established in 2016.
RGS Guildford in Dubai will be built on a new development, Tilal Al Ghaf, located behind Dubai Sports City and Jumeirah Golf Estates and close to the DAMAC Akoya development. 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.
What about the curriculum?
Like RGS Guildford in the United Kingdom, the Dubai school will follow the British curriculum from three years to 18 years of age. 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).
What about academic achievement?
As one of the most academically successful schools in the UK, expectations of RGSG 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 8 – 9 (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.
However, RGSG 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.
RGS Guildford is also said to be extremely proud of its record of getting students into top universities. In the last ten years 343 offers have been achieved at either Oxford or Cambridge.
What about the leadership?
A key to the school's success will be how well Cognita, and the RGS Guildford teams are 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 senior executives from Cognita, parent representatives and community representative (non-parent).
According to the job specification released on Times Educational Supplement, the principal will need to "create and lead a branch of one of the most respected and successful schools in the UK, in a unique partnership with an outstanding global schools group..."
He or she "will be expected to develop his or her own particular vision for the school, while ensuring that it reflects the priorities of the KHDA (for example, promoting children’s wellbeing and the acceptance of diversity, embracing creativity and innovation) and adheres to the same fundamental values and ethos of RGS in Guildford, United Kingdom."
As the leader, the Principal's 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. Interviews are currently taking place."
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. Working in tandem with Cognita, which has such close connections with the RGS and which mirrors this philosophy and passion, makes this project all the more exciting."
Celebrating the involvement of Cognita in the venture, Simon Camby, Group Education Director of Cognita, said "Collaboration, community and innovation are just some of the many principles that unite the RGS and Cognita. This common perspective is the foundation for success as the RGS expands internationally – and is a beacon for what the very best of British independent education has to offer."
The Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai will formally launch in Q1 2020, after its principal has been recruited. That will leave a maximum of 20 months to the actual opening of the school, when the hard work will really begin.
Further information in relation to facilities and fees will be provided as information is released.
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