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Kent College Dubai, Meydan City, Nad Al Sheba
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Review

Kent College Dubai, Meydan City, Nad Al Sheba

by February 13, 2016
Strengths

• High cache brand
• Genuine UK independent port to Dubai – "not a franchise"
• Stellar backing of Meydan and Mir Hashem Khoory LLC (MHK)
• Potential for seamless transition between UK and Dubai campuses
• ISI "Excellent" school foundations across the board
• Strong leadership grounded in the Methodist tradition underpinning Kent culture
• Tier 1 facilities

Weaknesses

• Premium plus fees – hugely competitive market in which schools need to be more than exceptional
• Inevitably something of an unknown quantity and parents will need to balance risk and opportunities of a new school in the balance
• Fees significantly increase in later years
• Advertised sibling discounts are not as generous as other schools
• No current bursary or scholarship provision

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
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Academic
A
A
Value
A-
A
ExtraCurricula
A
A+
Languages
B+
A
Sports
A
A+
Arts & Drama
A
A+
Teaching
A
A+
Communications
A
A+
Warmth
A+
A+
Differentiation
A-
A
SEND Provision
B+
A
Scl Community
A
A-
Scl Facilities
A
A-
Opportunities

• All the makings of genuinely important new school for the Emirate with a very distinct cultural offering strengthened by impressive, ground-up, dual stream IB Diploma and A Level Post 16 provision

A
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10%
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3%

Updated March 2017

Kent College Dubai is the second campus of Kent College, Canterbury, United Kingdom. The school is insistent that it is neither a franchise, nor a school run simply under a brand – Kent College is the “real deal”. The school is managed in partnership with the UK as a second campus and the aim is that, to all intents and purposes, children attending the Dubai campus should experience the Canterbury experience – and changing between schools, when and if required, should be relatively seamless.

Culturally the UK context provides for a caring Christian family community based on a Methodist school foundation “with religious education a strong feature of the curriculum, whilst welcoming members of other faiths, and none, in a spirit of openness and tolerance.”  The school’s motto is “Lux tua via mea”: which means “Your light is my way” and the school has 13 sister schools all connected by their Methodist foundations.

The school is known colloquially as “KC” and notable alumni of the UK school include the Conservative MP John Redwood; The (Labour) Deputy Speaker, Natascha Engel; composer, Raymond Yiu; Anthony Scrivener QC; Simon Dingemans, CFO at GlaxoSmithKline [GSK]; and Tim Clark, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Airlines.

In the UK, the Junior School, whilst providing for a natural slipstream to the larger Senior School, is geographically separate and sited some one mile away. The Junior school was founded much later, in 1946; Kent College itself, as a Senior School, has a history stretching back to 1885. All parts of the school will be within striking distance on the Dubai campus – an advantage over its UK sibling.

Kent College, both within its Junior and Senior Schools, achieves an ISI “Outstanding” rating in every category of inspection. This is the second highest award given by the ISI after the extremely rarely awarded “Exceptional” and inspection areas include governance, leadership, academic achievements, extra-curricular provision, pastoral care, teaching, learning and personal development and facility provision. Make no mistake, Kent College is an exceptional school by any standards.

There are structural differences, however.

First, in scale. The Dubai campus will educate over three times the number of children. In the UK, the whole school, Junior and Senior combined, educates just 700 children. In Dubai the eventual capacity is 2120.

The contrast becomes even more stark at Foundation Stage/Junior levels where in the UK the school educates only 170 children – in Dubai it will be more than six times larger with up to 1100 pupils.

Whether these dynamics will allow Kent to port its character easily is not by any means a certainty, notwithstanding a commitment to limit class sizes to 20 pupils.

Second, in Dubai, the relatively modest 13-acre (53,000 square metre) site contrasts with its UK sister’s 80 acres for the Senior School including the Moat Estate farm to which the children have access. In Dubai, however, a strong emphasis will be placed on the outstanding equestrian infrastructure afforded within Meydan City which provides some balance. Different also does not inevitably mean worse, and Meydan, in particular, offers in its Equestrian links a real positive over the UK school.

Interestingly the UK school site brands the Dubai campus with almost equal weight to its home grown school on its front page and there is a real sense that the bridge between both schools could be greater than many of the school’s UK-UAE peers.

Facilities pretty much deliver on the original promise to be top tier to match the ultra-premium fee structure. They needed to be as Kent has launched into one of the most competitive premium school environments anywhere in the world, notwithstanding the shortage of places. Thus far facilities include dedicated EYFS provision promising “calm, beauty and inspiration”; separate dedicated Junior (aged 5 – 7 years, spread over two floors) and Senior Schools (aged 8-18) mirroring the UK structure; cricket and hockey pitches; a swimming pool; athletics track; netball and basketball courts; “beautiful” KS1 play areas; dance studios; large, comfortable and fabulously equipped 458-seat theatre/auditorium (on our visit Broadway musicals including Mama Mia were being rehearsed); food and nutrition labs; arts studio, music rooms; drama studios; Science Laboratories (Chemistry, Physics, General Science); Music Technology Labs; Design Technology workshops; Food Technology Labs; Health Suite; Fitness Rooms; and separate junior and senior libraries. The Dining Rooms have yet to be commissioned (PH7 will provide the catering in both the ground floor and 1st floor dining spaces when they come on stream).

The Sports Hall is large and contains bleacher seating as well as a dividing curtain.  In total the area is marked out for 8 badminton courts, 3 Basketball courts and an additional court to accommodate Hockey, Handball or Football.  Swimming is to be provided by M&S Sports, who will offer Football too.  The Pool is 25M.  Kent has already enjoyed some success in inter-school leagues and competitions. External fields cover a large area of the campus, and include a 2G Astroturf Hockey Court, a 4G Astroturf Rugby Pitch and Football pitch.  The school is keen to develop Hockey (which is often not continued at Secondary, arguably because DASSA (the sport’s regulatory body in UAE) have hitherto focused on Primary school Leagues ( JESS, Kings, Kent).  Kent are keen to develop Hockey at a more senior level if they can and have attracted Youth and Adult Hockey Academies with the indoor and outdoor hockey facilities they offer.  Similarly they are keen to develop Basketball and may well be the only School in Dubai able to offer facilities for a Basketball Tournament rather than the existing League game options.

As of March 2017, the new Secondary School building has opened and now homes Year 7 – 12. Our visit to the school coincided with the children moving themselves to their new classrooms –  quite literally transferring their own desks, chairs and books. The deliberate decision to give the children a sense of ownership in moving themselves is telling of the old school approach that echoes the pioneering spirit and culture of the founding school.

.A stand-out feature of the school stems from its being structured to offer fully dual-stream International Baccalaureate/A’ Level post-16 provision in due course. We have strongly argued that schools exclusively offering the IB Diploma can place too significant academic demands on children and the initial launch of the school to provide A Levels is we think a good one. The IB Diploma will eventually compliment this provision for the very brightest, polymath, linguistically talented children. Eventually too, we would like to see all schools, including Kent, offer a technical stream so that every child can have an education best matched to their skills. The new British T Level would be an interesting addition to the Kent curriculum when it launches in 2020. It will be interesting to see whether the school picks up the challenge.

The school’s Founding Principal, Patrick Lee-Browne, was recruited from Rydal Penrhos – one of Wales top independents and a sister Methodist school with Kent. Instrumental in early-stage planning of the new Kent Dubai campus, he was an obvious fit and brings with him a reputation for getting things done. Mr Lee-Browne led the school after the Rydal and Penhros school’s merger, no small feat; is wedded to the cultural Methodist whole-child culture underpinning Kent; and his training as a solicitor gives him an eye for detail seen as critical in the launch and development of the new school.

Bottom line.

We think that Kent College Dubai has the makings of an absolutely exceptional school, but parents should manage expectations. Kent College Dubai will have its own culture and unique “way” and not simply replicate a mythical slice of “little England.” Nor should the school, or parents, want that. It is structurally a very different school, in a very different part of the world.

This said the very close relationship between campuses in Canterbury and Meydan, which is a transparently genuine one and heavily built into the DNA of the school’s founding, will afford students a tremendous opportunity to be educated under the Kent umbrella and, in years to come, join a body of very impressive alumni that traverse every corner of the world.

It is also a school gradually evolving into its buildings. Currently it has an extraordinary intimacy that comes with its relatively small founding role. There is a real, palpable sense that children and faculty are working together to create the school.

The underpinning of the UK school too, for whichschooladvisor, should afford prospective parents significant confidence in applying to the school in its early journey, notwithstanding that they should expect the inevitable teething issues of any new school. That brings with it exactly the pioneering spirit, and opportunity to shape the school, that later generations of children will not enjoy to such an extent.

We left the school after our visit with a sense that an already rich and vibrant school so early in its life has the makings of a very special one for the Emirates in the years to come. This is a school with a definite “wow!” factor – not simply because of the facilities, as exciting as they are, but, much more importantly, because of the dynamic and inspirational working together of the school, its faculty and the children they serve. Highly recommended.

Registration for Kent College, Dubai is now open with a full provision for all grades to Year 12. Fees range from 54,000 AED at FS Phases up to 98,000 AED for Year 13.

Prospective parents should note that, as a school in phased launch, scoring is predictive based on whichschooladvisor independent data, feedback from stakeholders, comparative data on  advertised provision against sector benchmarks, published school data and launch inspections where conducted by phase.

Go to the NEWS STORY on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Go to the ISI JUNIOR SCHOOL INSPECTION Go to the ISI SENIOR SCHOOL INSPECTION
Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review

Forthcoming September 2016

Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 54,000
FS2: 54,000
YEAR 1: 58,000
YEAR 2: 69,000
YEAR 3: 69,000
YEAR 4: 74,000
YEAR 5: 74,000
YEAR 6: 80,000
YEAR 7: 80,000
YEAR 8: 86,000
YEAR 9: 86,000
YEAR 10: 92,000
YEAR 11: 92,000
YEAR 12: 98,000
YEAR 13: 98,000

Curriculum

National Curriculum of England

External Exam Boards

Cambridge
Edexcel
OCR
AQA

(Kent College Dubai will introduce the IB in the Sixth form as and when pupil numbers allow.)

Number of A Levels offered

19

A Levels offered

Arabic
Art
Biology
Business Studies
Chemistry
Design & Technology: Product Design
Drama
English Literature
French
Geography
History
Islamic Studies
Mathematics
Music
PE
Physics
Spanish
Critical Thinking
Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
PHSE (non-examined)

A Level A* to C

77% A*B (Kent College UK)

IGCSE A* to C

76% A*B (Kent College UK)

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

23

I/GCSEs offered

English (Language and Literature) (Core)
Mathematics (Core)
Biology (Core)
Chemistry(Core)
Physics (Core)
Islamic Studies (non-examined)
PHSE (non-examined)
Arabic
Art
Business Studies
Design & Technology
Drama
French
Geography
History
Music
Physical Education
Spanish

Selective

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

2200 capacity
Current role: 319 (March 2017)
Notes:
(1) EYFS - 63
(2) JS - 169
(3) SS - 87

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:20
(Maximum class size 20)

Largest nationality teachers

British

Year opened

2016-17

Location

Meydan City, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai

Gender

Mixed co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Meydan / Mir Hashem Khoory (MHK)
(Independently managed by Kent College, UK (non-franchise)

Admissions Telephone

+971 (4) 343 0987

Web Address
About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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Academic
Value
ExtraCurricula
Languages
Sports
Arts & Drama
Teaching
Communications
Warmth
Differentiation
SEND Provision
Scl Community
Scl Facilities