In the last few years, Brighton College’s governing body has taken a strategic decision to open 10 to 15 schools around the world in the coming decade. So far, two have opened in the UAE (and have garnered glowing inspection reports), a third opened in Bangkok in September 2016 and now the school has just announced a fourth sister school, in Dubai, to open in 2018.
There are those who ask why. Brighton, thanks to the inspirational stewardship of current headmaster Richard Cairns, has become a premium school brand, linked with stellar academic success in public exams as well as forward-thinking pastoral care for the pupils. It has been named Independent School of the Year, frequently appears in the top 10 schools nationwide for results and is currently top co-ed school in England. Why risk diluting such a formidable brand?
The head’s words to the press on the launch of the Thai sister school perhaps sum it up best. Richard said proceeds from Bangkok would be ploughed back into a bursary and scholarship fund for families who want to send their children to the original Brighton College on the south coast, where fees are around £17,000 a year.
“I am determined to find alternative sources of income so that we can keep school fees down and better support those here in the UK who would benefit from a Brighton education but cannot currently afford one,” explained Richard.
And there’s no danger of these international outposts letting the side down, either. Within six years of opening, Brighton College Abu Dhabi’s roll has reached 1,700 across the 3–18 age range and it shares the honour with sister school Brighton College Al Ain of being Abu Dhabi’s highest-rated school. In 2016 it was the UAE’s top-ranked 3–18 school for GCSE.
Brighton Colleges around the world have at their heart Brighton’s core aims – to instil a love of learning for its own sake, to ingrain the importance of gaining the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in this century whilst focusing upon the importance of curiosity, confidence and kindness. The schools all focus on the nurturing of talents beyond the classroom (with a 21st-century attitude too – which means showing boys that dance is cool and girls that they can play cricket for their country if they work hard enough) and the importance of respect and service to others.
England’s public schools have historically been recognised around the world as bastions of educational excellence, where critical thinking is encouraged, and where children are provided with skills that enable them to access the world’s leading universities. Developing countries seeking to create a world-class domestic workforce, and the advanced economies which attract an expatriate population, are looking to schools such as Brighton to offer children a world-class education in the liberal British tradition.
Brighton’s governors were adamant that the overseas sister schools should be developed to become authentic interpretations of Brighton College in the UK, sharing its aims and values, whilst emulating its stellar academic performance.
Parents the world over want the high standards which Brighton has to offer and which are sometimes missing in the big commercial international school chains that have sprung up in recent years.
The school feels that its original vision for global development is now coming to fruition, and is excited to be pushing forward with an ambitious programme of further international expansion, which will include the world’s global hubs, the emerging economies of south-east Asia and Africa, and new markets for top-class British education across Europe.