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Brighton College Dubai, Al Barsha South
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Brighton College Dubai, Al Barsha South

by Jon WestleyNovember 14, 2017
Strengths

• Proven experience of delivering independently rated Outstanding schools in the Emirates
• Brand
• Academic results
• Impressive SEND capacity and provision for academic students
• Leadership structure designed to provide clear, separate and targeted educational and whole child provision at key phases
• UK parent controls in place to protect quality
• Founding Headmaster
• Commitment to Arabic language and culture
• Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes from launch
• Commitment to whole child development and the core human values of kindness, public service, compassion and respect for others

Weaknesses

• Significant planning still underway
• Hugely competitive Tier 1 landscape
• Some parents may question the need for any shared facilities (although we are clear that the school is self-contained)
• How Brighton can set itself apart in this sector will lie in the detail and practice ahead
• Lack of formal technical stream options, although the school argues that this is balanced with serious provision for business skills and entrepreneurship that are fully integrated within the curriculum.

Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
55%
In my Top 5
25%
Shortlisted
5%
A possibility
15%
Pass
0%
No way
0%

Updated November 2017 – Brighton College Dubai launch 

Brighton College Dubai launch

It was fitting that the November 2017 launch of Brighton College Dubai was set (albeit unintentionally) to the theme of Mission Impossible that played outside the Armani hotel for the Dubai Fountains. For many schools the scale of ambition set by Brighton College Dubai for its students would be just that. The four commitments for Brighton College Dubai include:

  • Delivery of innovation and entrepreneurship within the curriculum. This follows Brighton College UK initiatives that have seen the awarding of a £10,000 prize for outstanding business ideas from students and the registration of two global patents directly from student entrepreneurship. The revenue from businesses and patents developed by the school’s students are shared with the students and students are given 49% ownership in the companies and products they help create. All children will learn business skills including being able to present effectively to large audiences.
  • All children will learn, not simply through listening, but by being academically challenged and inspired.
  • Brighton College Dubai will be built on the foundations of kindness and respect:

“When our children look to the left or right of them I want them to understand that every person is just as special as they are.

I do not want children in our school who look at others around them and perceive them as less valuable than they are.

If every child feels special then they will be happy – and if they are happy they will succeed.”

Richard Cairns. Headmaster. Brighton College UK.

  • Brighton College will educate children who give back to the world.

“Being private educated at Brighton College Dubai, our children will already have an advantage over most other children in the world. That means they have to give something back.

I would not run a private school if I thought I was just turning out people driven by earning a lot of money.

I would hope that anyone leaving Brighton College schools, if they were in a position of power, would do all they could to act responsibly for others. Otherwise there is absolutely no point in an education. “

Richard Cairns. Headmaster. Brighton College UK.

Many argue that if, as the rumours suggest, Prince George is set to be educated at Brighton College when he comes of age, then it is for the attractiveness of precisely this progressive and holistic set of ambitions – these, as above traversing and embracing business, traditional British values, a love of learning for its own sake not exam results – and, not least, compassion.

Background

Founded in 1845, Brighton College (UK) is a top-tier UK independent secondary day and boarding school offering a British curriculum through to GCSE and A’ Level. The school has a reputation for being forward thinking, even some say radical, within the context of its competing framework of other top, mostly conservative, British public schools. More on this below.

The school was named the UK Independent School of the Year in 2014 in the Independent School Awards and the Sunday Times Independent School of the Year 2012. Its current Head, Richard Cairns was named by Tatler as England’s Headmaster of the Year in 2012. Academically it is top-10 in the UK.

A photograph of Brighton College in the UK - the context and inspiration for the new school in Dubai

Brighton College is adjacent to its own Preparatory school educating children between 8 and 13 and a nearby pre-prep for younger children between 3 and 8. The Brighton College Dubai campus will, combine the ambitions, specialism and ethos of each of the schools by phase in all-through provision but will not offer boarding. However, prospective parents should note that the Brighton Schools in the UAE have a very unique way of protecting the benefits of this structure within an all-through school – again, more on this below.

 

What the Brighton College brand means in practice for Dubai

Children at Brighton College Dubai

Brighton College Dubai will open on a new 40,000 plus square metre, 10-acre campus in September 2018, initially offering classes for children from FS1 and FS2 (Pre-Prep) , through Years 1 – 6 (Preparatory) to Grade 9 (Senior School.)

Full Year 13 all-through provision will be phased to open in subsequent years as the school beds in provision. Prospective parents should note that, in giving permission for the school to open at launch to Grade 9, the KHDA is showing significant and rare confidence in both Brighton School Dubai owners and management.

Brighton College Dubai will be home to a 2000-strong, mixed co-educational boy and girl role and, as with the UK school’s first two Colleges in Abu Dhabi (which opened in 2011) and Al Ain (founded in 2014), be launched with very significant controls in place to ensure the quality of provision and the fundamental ethos guiding the new school. It is worth quoting directly the confirmation SchoolsCompared has received directly from the UK parent:

“The Governors of Brighton College concluded eight years ago that a Brighton College education was something that local and expatriate parents overseas would find appealing and so set about establishing its network of international sister schools.

It established Brighton College International Schools (BCIS) to manage their development and to ensure compliance with Brighton’s school operating standards.

Brighton UK selects the head of each sister school and helps to appoint the initial senior management and academic staff.

BCIS works closely with the Heads and senior teams of each school to ensure that they are able to develop as authentic sister schools of Brighton College in the UK, sharing its ethos and values, and delivering an outstanding education that will enable Brightonians to access the world’s leading universities. 

Ian McIntyre, Director of Schools, Brighton College International Schools.

Both existing schools are rated Very Good or Outstanding by the Abu Dhabi inspectorate. Our review of Brighton College Abu Dhabi can be found here.

It is worth noting that, in 2014, Brighton College Al Ain, a school not without its teething pains, was awarded the highest grade ever achieved by a new school in Abu Dhabi, something that augurs well for the Dubai opening. Brighton College Al Ain was rated as an ADEC Grade A1 Outstanding school for 2016-17, the Abu Dhabi directorate of School’s highest award.

Prospective parents should note too the expertise of Brighton College in opening new schools also now extends to an extraordinary 20-acre all through school, Brighton College Bangkok, which opened to pre-prep phase in September 2016.

Brighton’s motivation in broadening international access is driven by three passions: to enable the College to offer Bursaries for those otherwise unable to afford fees; to accelerate the UK school’s building programme to further enhance facilities for children; and to establish a significant endowment fund for future generations of children.

Whilst not yet published, we would expect Brighton College Dubai to establish a bursary programme on launch, this intrinsically part of the UK school’s ethos and cultural dynamics. We will update parents on this as we learn more.

The curriculum is resolutely British and traditional with children sitting both IGCSE, A’ Level and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

 

Unique features

Prospective parents should note that one of the very unique and special features of Brighton schools in the Emirates, and one designed to replicate the feel, ethos and achievements of the UK parent schools, is their choice to divide each phase schooling with its own Head. This is an expensive investment to make, but what ensures is that each phases school life is designed around the needs of children at their respective ages. In practice this means that each school has three Head of Schools falling under a single guiding Principal.

There are some other really interesting features of the UK school, some of which will not probably travel to the UAE, which are important for prospective parents to be aware of because they go to the heart of the meaningful ways Brighton’s reputation in the UK is designed around each child – and often at odds with the conservatism of some other Tier 1 old British public schools. Examples of these include Brighton’s very different approach in its early years saw a ban on corporal punishment and the idea of true democracy extended from student election of the Head Boy to choice of Captains in school teams – and even sport remained voluntary. This did change later, but arguably that liberal child-centric remains definitive of the school.

Modern examples of this include the decision in 2016 to allow choice for all students, boys and girls, of which uniform to wear that best represents them to respond to gender dysphoria;  and the school’s passionate arguing for co-educational education on the grounds that girls in particular may suffer difficulties forming relationships with boys later as a result of being schooled separately.

Whilst it is difficult to read into existing schools the degree to which UK culture travels, both of Brighton’s existing schools in the UAE are graded Outstanding in their personal development of children and broader student care and welfare.

Parents should arguably not expect mirror images of the UK schools but, rather, successful melding of East and West and seamless integration and appreciation of the cultural context of the UAE and broader Arabic culture, language and history. Both schools are notable in this regard for their outstanding (150 activity-strong) ECA programmes, and Social Studies programmes, both of which go beyond academics in developing the whole child in a broader context.

 

Leadership

“Marco Longmore was without doubt the outstanding Headmaster of his time in the City before joining us at Brighton College Dubai.”

Richard Cairns. Headmaster. Brighton College UK.

A Scot, 47 years-old Marco Longmore studied history and politics at Edinburgh University. His 26-year teaching career started in the early 90s at George Heriot’s School and by 1998 he had risen to become Head of History at Head Masters Conference (HMC) George Watson’s College in Edinburgh. The role provided the foundations for his high profile move to the top-tier HMC Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, London as Deputy Headmaster in 2005.

In 2008 Mr Longmore returned to his beloved Scotland to take up the position of Headmaster at the prestigious Edinburgh College, a role which saw him pioneering the transition of one of the country’s most famous single-sex boy’s schools to a full co-educational educations boys and Girls to age 18. As importantly, the role saw him steering the school away from the excesses which historically defined much of the UK’s public schooling towards a kinder, more liberal view of education and whole child development.

Interestingly, Mr Longmore was recruited as Founding Head of Brighton College Dubai in part on the basis of his being known to, and personally recommended by Richard Cairns, the highly respected and longstanding Head of Brighton College in the UK. There was a real sense that the appointment to Brighton College Dubai had to be more than right – this is an important school for the Group given its profile and parents should take some security from his appointment. Mr Longmore is married with two children.

A photograph of Marco longmore, Founding Headmaster of Brighton College Dubai

Mr Longmore has been outspoken in his genuine commitment to both the British but also local cultural context of his school which he sees as a unique benefit and differentiator for children as they grow to young adults making their way in the world:

“At the core of all that unfolds at Brighton Colleges around the world, you will find one simple ideal… we want the very best for our children.

Brighton College will be the most forward thinking school in the UAE. We will offer a traditional British education – but a forward thinking one.

Our boys and girls will rank in the best in the world. We will deliver academic excellence with the very best teachers who are passionate. We have proven that we can make that vision a reality through our students in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi.

A key focus will be our delivery of Arabic language. Our children will achieve remarkable and outstanding results.

A unique advantage for children who join us at Brighton College Dubai comes with the unmatched benefit of our partner, the Centre for Excellence in Arabic, Language, Culture and the Arts.

The support we will give in the provision of compulsory Arabic elements to our curriculum will be unrivaled.

Life in Dubai, its rich culture, history and place in the world will be explored throughout our curriculum for all children with real commitment – and will be valued.

The “solution”, if that is the right word, for delivering Arabic effectively is focusing on the passion of language and its context – we can use the experience we have garnered from both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain but we will use that in conjunction with all the benefits that will come to our students from the new Centre for Excellence.

But let me be clear, understanding the cultural background to language is critical. The diaspora of our school will be citizens of the world -and it is our mission to ensure that when they leave us they will understand the culture in which they have been educated.”

We will strive to turn out well-educated, respectful and intellectually curious men and women who are ready to step forward in life, taking a full, active and positive role in both the UAE and wider world before them.

My ambition is that our students will walk forward in life with confidence, not arrogance – and, wearing their success lightly, will go forward from our school to graduate from our school to leading universities of the world and beyond to play their part in the communities and world they will be part of.

I believe that in 2018 Brighton College will come to Dubai to found the very best education that can be provided. Our pupils will have a will to do – and a soul to dare. Dare to achieve to be the best they can for themselves – but also to work for the common purpose in Dubai and the UAE – and as citizens of the world.

Marco Longmore. Founding Headmaster. Brighton College Dubai.

 

Facilities and fees

Again, if we look at existing provision within the two current Brighton schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, the promise in Dubai is of Tier 1 outstanding facilities. We can expect too that Brighton College Dubai will have learned from the previous schools some obvious pitfalls. Both existing schools in their development and opening, for example, paid too little attention to the importance of shaded areas for children, and we can expect the new campus to have none of these sorts of teething issues and, probably even beyond this, to actually build on the strengths of what it has learned works in the new school.

Facilities that have been confirmed as being in place to SchoolsCompared.com include a dedicated Learning Resource Centre; iconic back box theatre for performances; sports hall; outdoor pitches; games courts and a swimming pool. We anticipate the pool will be at least 25M and we are awaiting confirmation of this.

Two “big ticket” facilities will be shared with Dwight school an adjacent all-through IB school opening simultaneously with Brighton which we review here – a 600-seat auditorium (for showcasing performances by both schools to larger audiences) and an IAAF standard running track.

Brighton School Dubai has strongly emphasised to us that it is an “entirely stand-alone” school and that these “shared facilities” are more “icing on the cake.” In the majority, prospective parents should understand that the school will leverage its own outstanding blackbox theatre and own internal sports facilities. This is a self-contained Tier one premium school from design to delivery and it would be misleading to look at the school as just one hub of a super-campus.

One factor we would note with regards to the new Dubai school is that it has the space to ratchet-up (outstanding) facility provision still further, particularly compared with the Abu Dubai school which is somewhat constricted by its city centre location. It is worth bearing in mind that we are expecting premium fees for the school, and year-on-year the competition at this end of the market is increasing – and parents’ expectations of what they can expect ever more demanding. Brighton will need to pull some “rabbits out of the hat” if it is to compete – and these will need to be planned now.

As it stands, with fees ranging between 48,500 AED at FS1 and 74,100 AED in Year 13, Brighton is competing in Abu Dhabi at the very top end of the premium fees sector in Abu Dhabi and in its fees above very high performing British schools including the British International School (with fees between 47,900 and 63,000 AED) reviewed here and Al Yasmina (with fees between 41,580 AED and 57,330 AED) reviewed here. Only a limited number of schools, including Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, with fees ranging from 65,000AED to expected 100,000AED at Year 13, reviewed here, are pitching much above this.

Brighton College Dubai is firmly positioning itself in the ultra-premium category of elite school Dubai fees. This should not be surprising given that its British parent is one of the most expensive independents in the UK. Fees will run from 64,000 to 98,000 AED in Year 13 (based on today’s fee levels).

Interestingly Founding Discounts are not uniformly fixed across years. No discount is offered at all for students seeking to enter the school in FS1 and they are marginal in Years 8 and 9. Best value comes to parents seeking entry to the school in FS2  and Year 1 where founding discounts see fee reductions of circa 11,000 DHS. In other years, founding discounts are more modestly set around the 6,000 DHS per annum mark.

 

Our view

Brighton College Dubai is one of those schools that should find its natural fit in Dubai. It is also a school that we believe should give prospective parents some confidence in its being shortlisted. The Abu Dhabi and Al Ain schools are genuinely impressive – and can be visited today to accurately gauge the type of atmosphere and ethos that will play out in Dubai. The Abu Dhabi school was a recipient of our SchoolsCompared.com Top 25 School in the UAE Award in 2017.

However, Brighton College is an academically selective school. It has proven itself in both of its existing schools to be genuinely committed to investment in, and delivery of outstanding provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) – and English as an Additional Language (EAL). However, it is selective too in those children it will accept with special needs – and all children must be sufficiently academic to pass its entrance examinations and testing at the same standard.

Prospective parents of children with academic potential at the least should be looking at Brighton but it may not prove the best fit for less able, or mixed ability children. This explains why currently its schools do not provide for alternative more vocational post-16 curricular including BTEC, although our view is that, particularly as more prestigious T Levels come to replace BTECs, there is, even in academically selective schools, a role for technical education in both ensuring choice and the ability of school’s to best meet the broadest needs of children in the the digital, post-industrial economy.

Whilst it is early days, we have no doubt that Brighton College Dubai will make a strong impact in the UAE’s Tier 1 educational provision – it may set one or two new benchmarks too. We are particularly impressed with the commitment of Brighton College Dubai to invest in entrepreneurship ( certainly the registration of patents by its UK children is exceptionally inspiring) and core human values of empathy, compassion and kindness.

However, pricing in the UAE is already under pressure for ultra-premiums, and competition very intense. For Brighton College Dubai to set itself apart it would probably do well to work out how it can best leverage the more culturally acceptable, but still  radical, progressive differentiators of its UK school to set itself apart from that competition for parents. The commitment to inspiring a deep appreciation of the value of Arabic language and the contribution of Arabic culture to the modern world, a widespread and lamentable weakness of most British schools in the UAE, is certainly an impressive place to start.

Watch this space.

 

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Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review

News: Go
Coming soon: Go

Average Cost Per Year

FS1: 64,000
FS2: 69,500
YEAR 1: 75,500
YEAR 2: 82,500
YEAR 3: 85,500
YEAR 4: 85,500
YEAR 5: 85,500
YEAR 6: 85,500
YEAR 7: 85,500
YEAR 8: 90,000
YEAR 9: 98,000
YEAR 10: 98,000 (from 2019)
YEAR 11: 98,000 (from 2020)
YEAR 12: 98,000 (from 2021)
YEAR 13: 98,000 (from 2022)

Curriculum

National Curriculum for England

Number of A Levels offered

24+

A Levels offered

Art
Drama and Theatre Studies
Music
French
German
Italian
Latin
Mandarin
Spanish
Business Studies
Economics
Geography
Government & Politics
History
Psychology
Biology
Chemistry
Computing
Design & Technology
Mathematics
Further Mathematics
Physics

A Level A* to A

Notes:
(1) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 72% A*B

A Level A* to C

Notes
(1) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 100% A*E

IGCSE A* to C

Notes
(1) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 97%
(2) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 88% A*B

IGCSE A* to A

Notes
(1) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 64%
(2) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 37% A*

Number of I/GCSEs Offered

18

I/GCSEs offered

English Lit
English Language
Arabic
Maths
Biology
Chemistry
Physics
History
Geography
Computing
Design & Technology
Art
Drama
Music
French
Spanish
Mandarin
German

Selective

Yes

Waiting list

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

2000

Teacher to Student Ratio

Notes:
(1) Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi benchmark: 1:10

Largest nationality teachers

British

Teacher turnover

Notes:
(1) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: 25%

Year opened

September 2018

Location

Al Barsha South, Dubai

Student composition

Notes:
(1) Brighton College Abu Dhabi benchmark: British (largest nationality)

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Brighton College International Schools
Bloom Education master lease

Admissions Telephone

+971 (0)2 815 6504 (Brighton College Abu Dhabi)

Web Address

Coming soon

About The Author
Jon Westley

Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

2 Comments
  • Kylin Wang
    March 26, 2017 at 9:40 am

    How can I apply to this school if I am currently a 10th grader in an American-Curriculum-based international school in Beijing? Is there a legitimate way to do that?

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