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Another world-class educational institution will soon join the ranks of British schools in Dubai – Brighton College. During the press launch, Edarabia sat down with Mr. Marco Longmore, Headmaster of Brighton College Dubai where Mr. Longmore shared his visions for the new campus, his philosophy as an educator, and how they shall aspire to deliver academic excellence right here in Dubai.
Q: The college occupies a sprawling 40,000 square-metre “super” campus. Tell us more about the super campus features and facilities at Brighton College Dubai.
Mr. Longmore: Brighton College has a self-contained campus. The state-of-the-art facilities solely dedicated to Brighton will include large, airy classrooms incorporating the latest educational technology; a black box performance space; stunning music and art facilities; a range of outstanding sporting facilities, including a 25m swimming pool, football pitches, tennis, and basketball courts; and modern and attractive learning spaces designed to enhance pupil well-being, together with a Creative Learning Centre to enable teachers to deliver inspirational lessons using the latest educational technology.
In addition, the School has on site access to ‘added value facilities’. These include a spectacular auditorium with high specification sound and lighting rigs for public performance and production, seating over 700. It will have an IAAF-standard running track and additional sport facilities over and above Brighton’s own.
We will also have the Centre for Excellence in Arabic language, culture and arts, which will house teaching rooms, exhibition space as well as public meeting and café areas.
Q: How does Brighton College aim to differ from some of the other established schools in Dubai?
Mr. Longmore: Brighton College is a branch of Brighton College UK. I feel very confident that we can bring in the connection, the expertise, and experience of school life with real authenticity from the UK but also understanding that and adapting to Dubai, because there will be new differences compared to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. But having the strength of two schools, allow us from day one to have cultural context and understanding for our pupils and also for our staff.
We bring in a large number of highly-talented, and perhaps new to the region colleagues who’ll be able to develop their approaches suitable to take the needs of the pupils here in the city. I think that’s a particular strength of Brighton College and the way in which the sister schools work together, very much together.
Q: Dubai being a booming hub of education, attracting and retaining quality teachers has always been a challenge for schools. How would Brighton College tackle that challenge?
Mr. Longmore: One of the key features of professionals at Brighton is the professional development of the staff. The staff have a very rigorous review process and a professional set of targets, which are tied with their own professional learning and that of the schools. I know this from the contacts I’ve had at Brighton and discussions from the other Heads that staff retention is strong because people see one enjoyable working environment and a responsive and caring community where they feel valued and part of.
They also know that staying in Brighton is for their broader career development. There were many who were very happy to stay for a long time and others will be gone. They go on with confidence to the next step of their career.
Q: Can you tell us more about the Centre for Excellence in Arabic language?
Mr. Longmore: The Centre will provide support to the School in a way that it will allow the language to be understood in terms of the cultural context. The school is self-contained in regards to the responsibility we have to deliver Arabic as part of our curriculum for both native and non-native speakers.
My approach is to always draw experience and expertise from others. Thus, the link with the Centre will allow us to have local knowledge and also support, in terms of some of the development we’ll take with the standard curriculum provision, in relevance to our own pupils.
Q: With the uncertainty of unemployment globally, how does Brighton prepare students for jobs of the future that currently do not exist?
Mr. Longmore: My own philosophy is to educate the individual to be open, to be creative, and to enjoy the challenge of adaptability, because that gives the pupils the opportunity to look into their futures.
We can’t even conceive the future career opportunities which will be available to our students, but these opportunities will be there. If they have a good approach to developing themselves; not just in the school education, or even the university, but throughout their lives, then that’s the preparation they will need.
Q: How does Brighton College Dubai aim to strengthen the voice of parents and the local community?
Mr. Longmore: Brighton College UK has century-old traditions of being embedded not just in the community of Brighton but more broadly in the educational landscape and community of leading educational provisions in the UK. Brighton College Dubai will develop involvement in similar fashion in Dubai.
The engagement and discussion with families of the School and with community partners is key to the maintained relevance of the provision in the School across the formal as well as informal curriculum.
I envisage many areas of life in the arts, sport, and culture alongside curricular attainment where Brighton College Dubai staff and pupils will be fully engaged.
Q: What is the provision and capacity for students with SEN?
Mr. Longmore: Brighton College appreciates the uniqueness of every pupil. It is the policy of the School to provide a rich and varied learning environment that allows children to develop their skills and abilities to their full potential.
We have a commitment to outstanding teaching and it is the expectation that teaching strategies are thoughtfully planned to be engaging and exciting for all children. We acknowledge that children learn in many different ways and recognise the need to develop strategies that allow all children to learn in ways that best suit them. To this end, we take into account these different styles of teaching and learning in our planning. Brighton College Dubai will appreciate the uniqueness of each pupil who comes into our care and to support and nurture their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, irrespective of their starting point. Brighton College believes in treating everyone as an individual and welcomes pupils with a range of learning and physical difficulties, provided that they can access the curriculum and cope with movement around the College buildings. Brighton College Dubai is committed to an inclusive approach, ensuring that every pupil, once admitted, regardless of their individual needs, has every opportunity to be truly independent and choose their own path. Through carefully tailored programs of study, advice and support when needed, and the recruitment of expert teachers and senior leaders, Brighton College Dubai will ensure every pupil achieves more than they ever thought possible.
Principles of SEN Provision
We aim to provide a professional and ethical approach to the provision we make for children who are identified as having a Specific Educational Need and/or Disability that ensures:
Q: Are there scholarship opportunities for students at Brighton College Dubai?
Mr. Longmore: Scholarship is an expectation of all pupils at Brighton College Dubai. We anticipate support for particular specialisms and talents over and above our standards provisions. These will vary in response to the area of interest and focus of generation of students, as they progress through the School. Our admission procedures will help us to identify the particular attributes of our pupils as they enter the School.
Q: At the press launch, you mentioned entrepreneurship being part of the curriculum, what can students expect to learn?
Mr. Longmore: Entrepreneurship at Brighton colleges is understood in various ways and of course will be age and stage relevant. However, at its heart is an encouragement for initiative taking and opportunities were pupils will be encouraged to engage with activities outside of the formal curriculum.
In the case of Brighton College UK this has involved pupils engage in product and development that have in a number of cases been frontally patented. All pupils engage in the community in and outside of the School. This creates an environment where there are opportunities that continually evolve in entrepreneurial activities that benefit others as well as developing personal capacity for creativity followed by tangible actions.
A practical example of this is given from Brighton College UK where:
The Sixth Form timetable was restructured in 2010 to provide a tailor-made course in entrepreneurship for all members of the Lower Sixth. The aim is to prepare pupils for more than just entry into university and the professions. It is both theoretical and practical and considers why some businesses fail whilst others succeed and provides information about how to raise capital to start-up businesses. Many successful entrepreneurs come into the College to talk to our Sixth Formers.
Part of the programme is a school-wide entrepreneurship challenge where each House develops a business plan, presents it to an expert panel for consideration and then rolls it out to the whole school, and then three are given the finance to commercialise their product. There are a number of other initiatives, too. An individual ‘Ideas Competition’ for the incoming Lower Sixth is run during the summer holidays, with a chance to win a cash prize. There is also an opportunity for our U5th pupils, and those from local state schools, to attend a separate Enterprise Day, where they come up with an idea, present the concept and have feedback on the presentation. Such a programme will be blended in the vibrant business community of Dubai in the coming years.
Q: The world’s first Minister of Artificial Intelligence was recently appointed in the UAE. What do you think about implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a core subject within the school curriculum?
Mr. Longmore: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a key place in schools of the future and Brighton College Dubai will be ready to respond to that need.
AI offers society a route to progress and development which supports and augments human intelligence. Our goal is to educate pupils to stretch their own boundaries of knowledge and creativity. In doing so, pupils are encouraged to engage with modern technology through creative learning tools; including online platforms and use of robotics and programme coding. Such learning is open to application across the curriculum and our approach is to embed an understanding of how AI can develop alongside a reflective perspective on where limitation could and should be placed on the use of AI applications from a societal and moral perspective.
About Marco Longmore
Marco Longmore brings with him to Dubai over 25 years of teaching experience. Prior to joining Brighton College Dubai as Head Master, he had the privilege of working at four leading HMC Schools in Edinburgh and London, including the Edinburgh Academy where he had been Rector of the school for the past eight and a half years.
Marco Longmore is 47 years old, married to Karen and they have two children. A Scot, Marco read History at Edinburgh before beginning his teaching career in 1991 at George Heriot’s School, becoming Head of History at George Watson’s College in 1998. His next move was south, as Senior Deputy Head at Alleyn’s School in London, before returning to the Scottish capital in 2008 to lead the Academy. During the period of his headship, The Edinburgh Academy has grown to become one of Scotland’s most successful co-educational schools.
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