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Bridging the World with Values *** that Matter***. Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai Opens in the UAE.
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Background: Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai Opens in the UAE.

One of Britain’s oldest independent schools, the Royal Grammar School Guildford, has celebrated its official opening ceremony in Dubai. The aim? Bringing over 500 years of heritage and innovation to Dubai’s education sector. 

Photograph of the central atrium of RGS Dubai

RGS Dubai has opened exactly 512 years after the founding of the first Royal Grammar School in Guildford in the United Kingdom with a plaque unveiling ceremony in the presence of Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), 

Dr Abdulla Al Karam was joined by Craig Lamshed, Founding Principal RGS Guildford Dubai, Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster RGS Guildford UK, Clare Turnbull, RGS Guildford Dubai’s Head of Prep, Chris Jansen, Chief Executive Officer of Cognita globally and David Baldwin, Managing Director of Cognita Middle East.  

Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said

“The Royal Grammar School Guildford is joining the Dubai education community in a new academic year full of excitement and optimism. The school’s students, teachers and parents will get the best of two worlds – a school with a long history of excellence in education, in a dynamic city that is focused on the future. We welcome RGS to Dubai, and to a school community that has quality and wellbeing at its heart.”



Craig Lamshed, Founding Principal of the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, said: 

“I am delighted that we have reached this momentous occasion of welcoming our first cohort of Guildfordians in Dubai. Staying true to RGS’s ethos and values we will begin our journey of preparing our pupils for challenges of the 21st century by constantly innovating and providing a platform for our pupils to reach their full potential.” 

Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster of the RGS Guildford, UK said: 

It is a great pleasure to welcome RGS Guildford Dubai as the new member of our international family.  As the School opens its doors to young people for the first time today, we are very excited to bring the excellence of an RGS education to Dubai and looking forward to inspiring our young students with the skills and experience they need to become the leaders of the future. 

Gardens and landscaping at RGS Dubai

RGS Guildford Dubai is a Tier 1 British Curriculum school for children and young people aged between  three and eighteen years, located within Majid Al Futtaim’s flagship Dubai community, Tilal Al Ghaf. The school is adjacent to Hessa Street, between Dubai Motor City and Sports City, and resides on a 40,000 square metre campus. Eventually the school will educate up to 2,100 RGS pupils.

The school is part of the prestigious Royal Grammar School Guildford in the UK, which has 500 years’ experience of combining academic excellence with forward-looking approaches to teaching and learning. Partnering with RGS Guildford to manage the day-to-day operations of the school is the leading global schools group Cognita.  RGS Guildford will lead the educational philosophy, school ethos and curriculum, and governance of the school will be conducted by a joint board. 


The SchoolsCompared Interview on the founding of a Tier 1 British School in Dubai:

“It’s our Values that Make us Different.”

“What do you think that RGS in the UK can learn from its new school in Dubai and the innovations you can take back from the emirates the school’s English home.”

Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster. The Royal Grammar School Guildford, UK

“There’s lots.

What I really like in Dubai is the Royal Grammar School Dubai Leadership Programme which has been established for every child.  Why? Because the Leadership Programme in Dubai is embedded within the whole of the curriculum – right from lower down the school to the Sixth Form.

We have to prepare young people for life after school. That means preparing them well  for the future – and being able to take a lead in one or more areas of life and work, on occasions at least, is so important.

The leadership programme is going to be very exciting – and something I am looking to take back with me to the UK school.”

“How does it make you feel to see the incarnation of your famous British school opening here in Dubai?”

Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster. The Royal Grammar School Guildford, UK

“It makes me feel privileged, joyous, emotional – and really humble.

We are looking after young people.

The thing about great schools is that they transform lives.

If we can transform the lives of our founding 250 young people so that they are ready for the future, then we will have done something important, something meaningful.

I am really confident.

This is an RGS school. When you look around you here at RGS Dubai, not just in terms of the environment, but also at the community we are creating, this already has a sense of being an RGS school.

When I first meet my students in the UK I ask them for only three things, kindness, kindness – and kindness. Mr Lamshed, the Principal of RGS Dubai, has already informed me that this fundamental ethic of kindness is being felt by students and families joining the school.

“What are the possibilities for children opening up by an education at RGS Dubai?”

Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster. The Royal Grammar School Guildford, UK

“Limitless. The possibilities for young people at RGS Dubai are limitless.

RGS Dubai is such an inspiring place in which to learn.

And the broader environment of Dubai adds so much to each child’s education. I was speaking with Dr. Abdulla, for example, about Dubai Expo and its focus on innovation and technology.  Dubai is such an exciting and thriving place to learn. The opportunity to open and create RGS in Dubai is such a privilege.

Dr Abdulla and the KHDA have been so helpful in guiding us on our journey to creating this very special school in the UAE.”

“Have you spoken with students in the UK about their Dubai school and how have they responded?”

Dr. Jon Cox, Headmaster. The Royal Grammar School Guildford, UK

“We are preparing RGS children in the UK for a global future. This involves creating an awareness that they will be competing with students not only from the UK, but from across the world, whether that is with students from Vietnam or Brazil or the Middle East. Today, we are living in a truly and inextricably linked global world. They are fully appraised with what we are doing internationally, and they are positive because they see the opportunities that come from taking the best of each RGS school and sharing that between us. We have a number of Dubai alumni – and again this shows the positive links that exist and will grow from our new RGS school in Dubai.”

“What are the most interesting things that you have learned during the building of RGS Dubai – and what are you most proud of?”

Craig Lamshed, Principal, Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai

“Let me start with what I am most proud of, what we are all most proud of.

I am most proud of the staff, our pupils, and our wider community.

What we are doing at RGS Dubai is building a community around our core values which we all share.

Every member of our community, from our facilities staff to our school’s teachers and our pupils – they are all true to our RGS values.

They want to be a part of our school because we offer an education based on character development and rich values.

That is, after all, what makes us different to other schools.

Yes, we have amazing facilities. Yes we have extraordinary academic aspirations.

But it is these core RGS values, opportunity and community that sets us apart.

During the building of RGS Dubai, of course there were many challenges. But these come with building a state-of-the-art school.

Two years in development and, today, history is being made.

We are a school. We have our pupils here. We have our teachers here. Learning is happening at RGS Dubai. Today we have become the RGS community in Dubai. I must thank Dr Abdulla, Chris Jansen, Jon Cox, David Baldwin and the KHDA for the instrumental role they have each played in our opening in the UAE.

This is just the start of the journey …”

“What have you learned above all else from the UK school that you are bringing to Dubai?”

Craig Lamshed, Principal, Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai

“Not only is our home school, RGS in the UK, aspirational with more than 300 children attending Oxbridge in the last decade, but it is a school founded on really genuine relationships, friendly children, rich values – and children and young people who have character.

We are staying true to those values.

In the last couple of days I have received emails from parents whose young people have begun speaking about respect, inclusion and helping others. This is only two days in – and young people are already beginning to demonstrate the core value of RGS both in the UK and Dubai, values that core members of our team, including Claire Turnbuull, and other faculty originally from the UK, have brought with them to Dubai.”


Notes for parents

Read our independent first looks review for parents of RGS Dubai here.

Admissions for the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai are now open. For more information about the school and the admissions process, please visit or email [email protected] 

Read the world exclusive full first interviews with the Principals of both the UK and Dubai RGS schools here.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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