Background. World Exclusive. Royal Grammar School Guildford UK and Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, go “Head to Head”.
As an experiment, as we approach the launch of one of the biggest Tier 1, global brand, school launches in the UAE over the last 10 years, Johnathan Westley, Editor of SchoolsCompared.com, independently interviewed
- Dr. Jon Cox, Principal of Royal Grammar School Guildford in the UK; and,
- Craig Lamshed, the Founding Principal of Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai.
With the Royal Grammar School Guildford’s some 7 plus hours and 3,500 miles apart, neither the Principal of the home school in the UK, or the Founding Principal in Dubai, were made aware of the experiment in advance.
The aim? To help build an independent picture of the schools and, just perhaps, shine a light on what UAE parents can expect when the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai opens in September 2021.
There is no question that the Principal of a school plays an absolutely instrumental role in defining how a school will perform for children, its values and culture.
However, we also know that the Royal Grammar Schools, in the UK and Dubai, are very intricately linked – this is a serious, high-integrity, values-rich partnership. The promise, for parents in Dubai, is that the educational philosophy and experience of students at both schools will share common ground.
We have deliberately asked a broad range of questions to try and capture the spirit of both Principals – and just perhaps the magic that will come from the partnership between the schools.
The result? You decide…
Dr. Jon Cox, Principal, Royal Grammar School Guildford UK and Craig Lamshed, Founding Principal, Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, answer questions from the editor….
“My Biology and Music teachers were wonderful; enthusiastic, knowledgeable and great fun.
They both changed the course of my life by their passion.
A school can only be outstanding if it has exceptional teachers.”
“A favourite memory of mine is my time playing trumpet with the Senior School Band and Jazz Ensemble. Being a member of the music programme was an amazing experience. I recall that we were fortunate enough to perform in Melbourne Town Hall, which was a big deal coming from the country. Being fully involved in the “whole school experience” made my time at school very rewarding.
Another is dress up day at Primary School, I may have been 8 or 9 at the time. I went dressed as a barber’s pole and my brother and his friends went dressed as a box of humbugs, all 4 of them in one giant box. I remember the fun we had as a family making our costumes leading up to the event.”
“Providing the best education possible for every pupil irrespective of circumstances.
A supportive community.
A sense of belonging.
Engendering a love of learning.
Providing wonderful opportunities.”
- A culture of positive relationships between parents, staff and all stakeholders geared towards meeting the social and academic needs of each pupil.
- Pupils’ happiness and experience.
- Providing excellence in a diverse range of areas and pupil interests.
- Providing the opportunity “for” and “love of” learning.
- A drive to continuously improve at delivering an exceptional parent and pupil experience.
“Caring for your students in every respect, academic, extra-curricular, well-being etc. so that they are fully prepared for the future.”
“Whole child education” means more than outstanding academic progress and attainment; it is about taking a genuine interest in pupils, their talents and their interest and then maximising every opportunity to develop these through rich and diverse experiences both within and outside the classroom and school. It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that the level of the experience that pupils receive is outstanding. Through being true to our values, hiring excellent staff, providing amazing facilities and partnerships, I firmly believe Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai will succeed in this area.
Another part of the school’s “whole child education” is maintaining our pupil’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing through the character development and pastoral care systems which have been designed to support every pupil; this will be supported through outstanding partnerships with our parents.”
“Teaching young people requires energy, enthusiasm and inspiration whether boys or girls. Boys like competition and are, perhaps, more willing to take risks, which we can use in our teaching at RGS Guildford. To be honest, I don’t see too much difference in the teaching of boys to girls.”
“Teaching should be such that we get the very best out of every child, irrespective of their gender. At Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, we pride ourselves on treating every child as an individual and working with them and their learning styles, to bring out the best.”
“Absolutely agree – I read out the chess results alongside the rugby results at assembly. Every activity has huge benefits for students and allows them to find their place in a school. It is not all about the 1st XI or 1st”
“RGS is known for its sporting excellence and we plan to emulate this success in Dubai through providing a rich and diverse range of sporting experiences; this is very much dependant on each child and includes individual and team sports. Like the home school we will also offer a broad range of ECA’s that will cater to pupils and their passions.”
“All young people need to be aware that things in this world need fixing and that many issues have been ignored or downplayed for many years.
They are, after all, the ones who are going to fix the problems.
Our job as a school is to help them see the bigger picture so that they are not focused on one issue to the detriment of their wider education.”
“It is important that pupils are aware of themselves and the role they have in their own community as well as the international community. One of the goals of any outstanding education programme should be to make the world a better place and this is an integral part of our character education curriculum.”
“They are all important but I would suggest that Emotional Intelligence is an essential skill in the world of the future.
One needs to be able to relate to others if you are to demonstrate your academic acumen.
That said, intelligence and creativity in terms of problem solving are often linked and that is equally important.”
“I don’t believe there is a rank order. Through our focus on Quality Teaching, our Leaning Habits and Character Development program we will enable pupils to be reflective in different situations, so that they may effectively utilise their skills for the very best outcome.”
“False – achievement academically is not about passing exams and possessing a certificate full of A*s.
It is about being able to think critically, learn independently, work as a team, demonstrate resilience and be creative of thought.
Every young person can be trained in these skills.”
“What is “outstanding” for one child may not be for another, it is not about comparison; it is about working with every child to enhance their talents, and abilities, in order to develop them as a person, while providing the best opportunities for success.”
SchoolsCompared: If you were a parent, what are the top 3 most difficult questions you would ask a school to find out if it was right for your child? What are the answers that should make parents run a mile?
“How will you look after the well-being of my child?
What is the culture of the School?
What are you trying to achieve for your students?
Any school which doesn’t have a very clear answer to these question should raise alarm bells.”
“Is the vision of the school shared between pupils, teaching staff and senior leaders?
How can the school evidence individualised learning?
Is the breadth and richness of the curriculum such that it enriches your child/children?
I would advise parents to run a mile if the answers to the above questions do not ring true to their individual child.”
“A teacher must demonstrate passion, inspiration, engagement, enthusiasm and care.”
- Their ability to develop excellent relationships with their pupils
- An unwavering belief in their pupils
- An undying commitment to providing an “outstanding” education
- Always striving to be better
- That they demonstrate exceptional curriculum knowledge, pedagogy and empathy
“Breadth of options at Sixth Form is very important as every pupil has different skills and wishes.
We deliberately try to keep all options open regarding the less popular subjects such as Electronics and Greek as these have their own academic worth.
We [only] write the Sixth Form timetable once option choices are in to try to accommodate every students’ choice.”
“The breadth of subjects is extremely important to pupils when it comes to facilitating future pathways.
I do not believe any one subject is more important than another, and as such it is important to offer as great a breadth of subjects as possible.”
“We will have something akin to GCSEs but not in their current format.
It is important to provide opportunities for pupils to demonstrate their academic progress.
I would, however, like to see a paper either written or online which tests general academic ability, rather than testing memory.”
“How long is a piece of string?
The GSCE qualifications have stood the test of time as a golden standard in education and are internationally recognised; however, education is changing rapidly, and it is possible that any one system as we know it today will be different in 10 years’ time.
Through the experience of the RGS we are confident that we can refine our education provision, irrespective of what the future brings, to remain gold standard.”
SchoolsCompared: If you were deciding the future of British education and could make three radical changes to help all schools deliver an outstanding education for the 21st century, what would they be and why?
“Post A Level applications to university.
A more tailored education for every student.
Less emphasis on league tables and passing exams.”
“It is hard to improve on what is already highly considered the gold standard of education.
Outstanding schools like RGS are adaptive to the pupils that they have, that is they refine and adapt the curriculum, programmes and experience to maximise the opportunities and learning for the pupils in their care.
I would want all schools to take a genuine interest in their pupils, to personalise their approach and to support pupil character development; the same way we will at RGS Guildford Dubai.”
“We encourage independence of thought, the ability to think critically, self-motivation, the love of learning for its own sake, inclusivity and resilience.
These are at the heart of everything we do, they are not just words written as part of a marketing brochure.”
“500 years of pioneering heritage, knowledge and practice of what makes great education and how to maximise the learning experience for each pupil through: exceptional teaching, a curriculum that maintains a balance between ‘what’ is to be learnt and ‘how’ it is learnt, as well as a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities. This excellence has been refined and honed over many years and lessons learned to ensure that the quality is there in everything that we do.
Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai is truly a sister school of RGS Guildford UK; we share our values, our learning habits, our language. Our Head of Prep Clare Turnbull joins us from RGS Guildford where she was a member of the senior leadership team for 16 years, 13 of which she was Head of the Lanesborough, the Preparatory School of RGS Guildford. Clare is joined by several members of the senior leadership team who have experience of the Royal Grammar School Guilford. In addition, the Headmaster of RGS Guilford, Dr John Cox will be the Chair of Governors of RGS Dubai.
Our pupil/teacher ratio supports personalised learning for all pupils in our care with a maximum class size of 20 in EYFS and 22 in subsequent years. This is about more than just ratio – it is about a commitment to each and every pupil: that our staff will know them, look in detail at their individual journey and support them in their progress.
Character development through the Riyada curriculum and our Learning Habits – we encourage our pupils to understand themselves, to understand how they learn, how to acquire the tool kit that allows them, as young people, to have the skills to thrive in an ever-changing world. This then, in turn, allows our young people to understand and not be daunted by some of the significant challenges in the world. It allows them to understand how they can make a positive impact and become global thinkers.
Dubai’s newest state of the art campus providing cutting edge labs, light-filled learning spaces and amazing opportunities for Sports, Music and Arts!”
“All curricula are good in their own way but the British education system is seen as the gold standard throughout the world and it is something of which we should be very proud.”
“Each curriculum has its place within the world of education today; each fits the needs of a certain group of pupils. The British curriculum has long been considered the gold standard of education, it is broad and individualised at the same time. Throughout, our highly trained team use the English National Curriculum as the basis for planning and assessment. We balance the richness of this curriculum with activities and topics that are led by the interests of our pupils. Young children connect learning through exploration, and our enquiry-based approach allows conceptual development to be encouraged through a multi subject and sensory approach. This allows the pupils to go far beyond the acquisition of knowledge and to develop the skills of critical thinking, creativity, risk taking, perseverance and teamwork through their investigations. From the beginning we encourage our pupils to develop the ability to be organised, to reflect, to self-evaluate and so to refine their work and approach, thus making great progress.”
“An international education is about partnership, engagement in different cultures, sharing ideas across international borders and establishing a family of schools sharing the same vision and ethos.
Our young students will increasingly be competing for jobs in a global marketplace.
We need to give them the experience of global engagement and what better time to do it than when they are at school.”
“An international education is one in which pupils develop an understanding and appreciation of what they are learning, how they learn, and how they think and relate in comparison to others in the international context.
This is even more important as cultures and regions across the world become more interconnected through regional hubs such as Dubai and the increased use of technology.”
“True to a certain extent, although I have seen examples of an exceptional education in schools in some of the least affluent areas of the UK.
Higher fees, however, enable schools to attract the most inspirational staff and wonderful facilities – and opportunities are all part of providing the best all-round education.”
“Schools should endeavour to maximise the learning for all pupils given the resources that they have at hand, one of these will be the financial resources available due to school fees.”
SchoolsCompared: Is Value Add an important measure of how well a school is really achieving for students beyond the bells and whistles? Can you measure added value accurately across schools for the whole child education beyond academics? How?
“Value added is very important because it provides a school with the data it needs to confirm its educational provision or to seek ways to improve.
In the same way, data about emotional development and well-being (AS Tracking, for instance) provides information so that a school can be comfortable that it is identifying those pupils who need support.”
“Value Add is very important, this is fundamental to an excellent education. Parents need to know that the school is responsible for their children improving/developing and what this looks like across a range of different domains, including academic, pupil wellbeing and pupil engagement. Improvement is just as important as attainment!”
“You can’t change a student’s personality so don’t try.
Real confidence comes from excellent teaching and pastoral support.
It also comes from being comfortable in one’s own shoes and not having to conform to some stereotype. This innate confidence is so much more healthy than a skin-deep swagger.”
“Every child’s confidence can be developed; this is a not a have/have not scenario. It is important for schools to find opportunities across the whole school that support pupils develop their confidence. This is a key part of our Riyada curriculum – building strong self-awareness in every pupil so that they can be confident, make good choices, lead themselves and then others.”
“Humble – every time.
It’s what I love about the boys who leave RGS Guildford.
They are right at the top of the academic pile and they have that innate self-belief, but they go out into the world exhibiting great humility. They don’t think the world owes them a living just because of the school they attended.”
“Through our character education programme, RGS Guildford Dubai pupils develop confidence while being humble, this is a much better combination.”
“I would hope that our students would be fully prepared with all the skills they need for the future, and looking forward to their lives after leaving RGS.”
“To have provided them with the very best educational experience, knowledge, skills and network that will support them to successfully transition to the next stage of their lives.”
The SchoolsCompared.com independent review for parents of the Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai can be found here.
A review of the Royal Grammar School Guildford in the UK, by our sister site Which SchoolAdvisor.com, can be found here.
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