The Arbor School, Al Furjan
• Technical stream expertise of owners
• Promise of Tier 1 premium facilities and faculty
• Dedicated Sixth Form
• Early days
• Devil will be in the detail
• Inevitable teething of any school in launch phase
Updated June 2017 – EXCLUSIVE SCHOOLSCOMPARED FIRST LOOK
“It is my great pleasure to write a few words by way of introduction to Arbor.
Arbor shall be an exciting, dynamic and forward thinking school that prepares young people for a rapidly changing world, nurturing a core belief in ecological awareness, responsibility and the importance of sustainability.
Our educational vision shall reflect this core mission – not just through alternative approaches such as project based and experiential learning, but also from lesson to lesson and task to task, concentrating upon providing children with opportunities to plan, collaborate, reflect and make meaningful changes to the world around them.
Arbor shall also benefit from both a scientist and artist in residence, who will inspire the whole school community to think and act differently, facilitating their engagement with environmental projects both locally and globally.
In support, the school shall boast top class facilities, including bespoke biodomes as key learning spaces to engage children in a deeper understanding of their environment.
Arbor will be a fully inclusive school, creating a happy and safe environment whereby students of all abilities can thrive.
We believe in high academic expectations, but also believe that students should be encouraged to fulfill their potential, whatever that may be.
This shall be a core strength of the school, ensuring a personalized learning environment for every child, – and giving all our children the greatest opportunity for both personal growth and academic development.”
Charles Grayhurst. Founding Principal. The Arbor School
The Arbor School, Dubai, is a new Tier 1, premium British curriculum all-through school set to launch in September 2018 as the educational hub of the Al Furjan community. Al Furjan has also attracted the interest of other school groups including being mooted as the home of the second Arcadia School (our review of the founding Arcadia School can be found here). The school is being built within easy reach of both the Sheikh Zayed Road and Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. It is expected the school will also attract families in Discover Gardens – map below.
Fees are anticipated to be premium plus with initial confirmed fees running between DHS 56,000 at FS1 to 76,000 DHS in Year 6. Future years will open in phases. It is likely that the school will announce launch discounts for founding families and we will publish further information shortly.
Architectural design briefs clearly show the three tier main school structure, extensive sports facilities, including competition level football pitch and swimming pool – see below. The school will be the first in Dubai to include within its supporting curriculum an ethical focus around ecological education including sustainability. It will be interesting to see how this ambition is reflected in the eventual school design and the technologies underpinning its build.
The school will be fully inclusive with comprehensive SEND provision, something important to the school’s founder, Abdullah Al Sharhan, best known for his founding of the inclusive Australian College of Kuwait. The College was established in large part to meet the higher education needs of students whom he perceived as being failed by the Kuwaiti education system and offers the spectrum of academic and broader technical educational, the latter including a range of courses across engineering and aerospace.
Mr Al Sharhan wanted to provide all students “a second chance” to secure a College education, and one aligned with the technical demands of industry, particularly in the face of ever higher demands for grades for entrance into existing colleges and universities.
“Often grades do not reflect capabilities. In fact, I was one of those students, as my grade was D or the equivalent. But I went to the United States, it took me five years to graduate, but I graduated. So what if I spent an extra year studying compared to 40 years working? And so I thought, I am sure many of these students have capabilities that have not been tapped.”
Abdullah Al Sharhan, Founder, The Arbor School, Dubai
Underlying this is a recognition that children develop at different speeds – and that no child should be left behind. It is hoped that this technical and vocational expertise will carry across to The Arbor School through BTEC and T Level qualifications as they come on stream.
The school identified to us five areas in which they aim to differentiate Arbor:
- Science and Ecology. This will permeate the entire curriculum, resources, books and activities for children. The Founders share a conviction that Science, and the broader curriculum, should be brought to life to secure academic knowledge in experiments and practice. Programmes are being established for a plethora of integrated field activities including trips to the deserts, mangroves swamps and heritage sites across the UAE.
- Architecture and Facility provision. The building design is GOLD rated in terms of sustainability with grey water recycling amongst the many initiatives. At the heart of the school is the UAE’s first climate and humidity controlled “biodome” in which food will be grown – and consumed in the school canteen.
- Curriculum and Teaching methodology. The curriculum will be driven by Project Based Learning. The school will be the first to have a resident Scientist and a resident Artist to work with the children on eco based projects and explorative learning across the curriculum.
- Inclusion. The inclusive focus stretches from Gifted and Talented children to those with identified needs, for example in Dyslexia. This commitment is not skin deep and includes very significant investment in adaptation, for example, of Oxford Reading Tree resources.
- Child focus and care. Safety and care for children is a priority and the school is investing heavily in pastoral care as well as IT and CCTV systems to ensure that the moment children set out from home to when they leave school each child is looked after as a core priority. The owners see each child’s sense of safety and their appreciation of their own individual value within the school as keystone foundations of being able to prove a world class education in which all children can meet their potential.
One further defining feature of The Arbor School that follows from this is Arbor’s core provision of a dedicated Sixth Form that will ensure that students on leaving the school are properly equipped and supported for leaving school, whether for university or industry. We have covered extensively the importance of dedicated Sixth Forms or equivalents in our Post-16 Guides series. Our 16+ Education Guide can be found here.
Founding principal Charles Grayhurst has been recruited in no small part because of his expertise and commitment to inclusive education, as above so critical to the school’s ethos. Mr Grayhurst brings with him two decade’s experiences in international schools. A Geographer and Physical Education Leeds University scholar, Mr Grayhurst took his Post Graduate teaching qualification at Christchurch College Canterbury and his Masters in Educational Leadership at Bath with a specialisation in international school leadership. His first teaching post was as at Colombo International School, Sri Lanka and upon his return to the UK, Mr. Grayhurst specialised in Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision whilst at Ifield Special School in Kent and later UK roles at both South Luton High School and Hailey Hall School. This cemented his passion for inclusive education and an abiding philosophy reflecting the founder’s that “no child should be left behind.” Subsequent international roles have seen him take a leading role in establishing inclusive schools in both China and Vietnam. He moves to Dubai from his long-standing position as Founding Principal of SIS Penang. Middle East experience to date includes tenure as the Director of Studies at Sherborne Qatar and training with Penta for British School Middle East (BSME) accreditation and school inspections.
What’s stand-out with this school is the potential on offer to leverage the owner’s experience in technical education to ensure that every child has the the broadest choice of technical and academic options, the inclusive ethos that drives the school, the school’s specialisation in environmental technologies and Science- and the commitment that Arbor will have the resources to meet each individual child’s needs, potential and ambition. Arbor will also be the first school in Dubai to have both an Artist and Scientist in residence – and the first to integrate biodomes into the curriculum to bring science practically to life. The thought – and investment – that is going into this school is both considerable and impressive.
It is very early days. However, speaking with the owners, it is hard not to feel truly inspired. This is a school founded in conviction and vocation – and a belief in the value of education and the responsibility that a school carries to ensure that each and every child under its care can meet its potential.
Passion to deliver the extraordinary runs deep.
To deliver on this scale of ambition requires investment. This is reflected in the fees which are premium. However, if it lives up to even half its promise Arbor will be a groundbreaking school for the emirates. We watch with interest.
Private, for profit
Under review 2019-20
YEAR 1: 65,000
YEAR 2: 65,000
YEAR 3: 71,000
YEAR 4: 71,000
YEAR 5: 76,000
YEAR 6: 76,000
YEAR 7: 85,000
YEAR 8: 85,000
YEAR 9: 90,000
YEAR 10: 90,000
YEAR 11: 90,000
YEAR 12: 95,000
YEAR 13: 95,000
National Curriculum of England
(2) A Level
(3) Technical education BTEC/ T Level TBC
(1) Dedicated Sixth Form
NA - New school in build
Al Furjan, Dubai
British (largest nationality)
(1) Chairman and COO: Abdullah Abdul Mohsen Al Sharhan
(2) Holding company: Al Mutatawera Gulf General Trading (MGGT)
(3) Chief Executive Officer: Dr Saad M Al Moari
+971 (0) 4 425 9449