x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

British School principal set to quit

Paul Coackley, who joined the British School Al Khubairat in 2005, will retire from his position in September 2013.

ABU DHABI // The principal of the British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) is quitting the job at the end of the next school year.

The announcement that Paul Coackley, who joined the school in 2005, will step down in September 2013 was made in an email sent to parents yesterday by the board of governors.

During his time at the school, which opened in 1968, Mr Coackley has been commended for his "remarkable" leadership, Julie Richards, the chair of the board of governors, said in the email.

"During the past seven years, Paul has worked tirelessly with commitment, enthusiasm and dedication. We look forward to continuing to work with him during the next 15 months to ensure that his final year at BSAK is equally successful."

Since his arrival, the school has expanded its services, accepting 220 sixth-form pupils last year - more than quadruple the number in its early years. Mr Coackley was also praised for improving physical education and his role in a new primary school building, which is expected to open this autumn.

"The impending opening of the new primary building has involved considerable planning and Paul has worked closely on this ... to ensure that delivery of the project is on time [and] within budget. It will provide the school with a first-class facility for many years to come," the email said. "Financially, Paul is leaving the school in a strong and sustainable position and well prepared for the future," .

After watching the school "grow and develop", the decision to leave was difficult, said Mr Coackley, but one his entire family came to after much deliberation.

"My time here continues to be among the most professionally rewarding parts of my career," he said. "BSAK is a fantastic school and I am very grateful for the opportunities it has presented to me and my family. I am also very grateful for the tremendous support I receive from the board, parents, staff and students. However, as a family, we wish to return nearer home to support relatives and also to seek new challenges."

The Welsh expatriate has not made any definitive plans. "I am exploring a number of options. After 30 years in education, I may even take a little time out," he said.

No decision has been made about his replacement but parents needn't fear, said Ross Barfoot, whose four children are at BSAK.

"The school seem to be very good at recruiting good people ... so I have no worry that they'll be able to find as good a replacement," said the corporate lawyer. "I thought the email was very well set out. It explained the reasons for him wanting to move on. He has also given a year's notice which I think is very good for the school, and will be useful for the handover."