x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

'We can offer that difference'

Pupil appreciates teachers who explain - and explain again

DUBAI // Helene High gathers her Year 1 group in a circle and passes around a teddy bear.

"Who wants to tell me what makes Mr Bear a Brightonian?" the teacher asks her class at Brighton College Abu Dhabi.

Amy, sitting close to Ms High, grabs the bear and blurts, "He shares his things." Ethan joins in with, "He wears his uniform and helps others".

Ken Grocott, the new headmaster of the college, said it was the need to instil those values and strong education in children that brought Brighton College to Abu Dhabi last year.

"We saw a market for high quality education," he said.

"There are many schools here but we can offer that little bit of a difference."

In 2009, the 167-year-old college, registered as a charity in the UK, joined Bloom Education to set up campuses abroad. The international campuses are licensed to the college but run privately and operated by investors in each country.

Abu Dhabi is the first overseas campus, managed by a UK board of governors and Bloom representatives, who steer the operating costs and resource decisions.

The school had about 600 pupils when it opened last year, and expects enrolments to increase by 300 when it opens Year 10 this year.

Children are offered classes in dance, drama and languages as part of their academic and extra-curricular routine. Lessons are taught by specialists and experienced teachers hired from the UK, New Zealand, China and South Africa.

Waiting near the school's swimming pool for her classmates to complete an underwater art assignment, Ayah Al-Dargazelli, 14, said her parents had wanted a school with a strong British background when they moved from Britain last December.

"The school has a very good reputation back home," she said. "My parents thought it would be best."

She finds everyone friendly. "I prefer it here because teachers actually take the time to explain, and then explain again."

Mr Grocott understands the challenges ahead of him. "Any new campus has the initial challenge to establish a right to be there," he said. "We arrived with our college reputation but we know we have a long way to catch up to the experience of some of really good local schools."

aahmed@thenational.ae