Following three years of preparations and planning, Durham has become the first independent school in the north east to open a sister school overseas.
The beginning of the month saw the official opening of Durham School for Girls Doha (DSGD), with places for more than 500 pupils – from Foundation Stage One to Year 7 – in the Qatari capital.
The girls’ first day in their new school found them completing a Harry Potter-style ‘sorting hat’ session to determine which of the five school houses – Camel, Arabian Horse, Gazelle, Falcon, or Oryx – they would join.
DSGD will teach a UK curriculum, while its pastoral care promises to “help the girls and young women develop moral strength and emotional resilience, to act with responsibility, humility and kindness, and to be ready to make a positive contribution to society”.
Indeed, the parent school has been involved from start to finish in devising the new institution, from academic shape to architecture, staff selection to development of the school programme.
There will also be an overlap of governance, with Durham School headmaster, Kieran McLaughlin, sitting as a governor, and Nick Millen, director of international operations, becoming chair of governors.
“The opening of the school was truly amazing,” said Millen.“There was a real buzz all around the place as children and their parents were coming in and it was incredibly rewarding to immediately see what a wonderful part the school will be playing in their lives.
“I had a combined sense of pride that Durham School had opened in Doha, and confidence in the contribution that this new school will make to the educational landscape in Qatar.”