The Royal Grammar School Guildford in Qatar: Helping Children to Reach their Highest Potential

“We want to be a community which is internationally recognised for the quality of learning, where our pupils can excel and develop into caring and confident individuals who are well prepared for the challenges ahead”.

Located in Qatar, The Royal Grammar School Guildford, in Qatar (RGSGQ) is the first international branch of the UK’s prestigious, 500-year-old Royal Grammar School Guildford (RGS), which has retained a worldwide reputation for academic excellence. The School’s facilities are first class and their plans for the future are ambitious, which will see pupils aged 3 to 18 receive an RGS education in Qatar.

The School currently has pupils from over 30 countries and will continue to expand its global endorsement. The School’s multi-cultural education aims to instill a lifelong love of learning and a determination to excel for their multi-national community.

Inception Story

In 2015, the now owner and Chairman of the RGS Guildford in Qatar, Mr Hamad Al Qamra, first approached the Governors of the RGS, UK with his aim to establish a school in Qatar that would offer the highest standard of education, for which the RGS is renowned.

Following months of negotiations, it was agreed that the RGS would open a brand new school, offering a first-class education to boys and girls, in Doha, in September 2016. At the core of the RGS’ mission and values are tradition, innovation and diversity, whilst creating a place where all pupils can learn within a happy environment.

Mr Hamad Al Qamra provided the location and funding for a brand new school building to be constructed on the site of a previous school in Umm Salal Mohammed. Many challenging months of construction works took place, alongside the recruitment of a highly-qualified and experienced team of staff led by the current Head of School, Mr. Alistair Downs. A specific marketing plan was created to promote the School’s reputation to parents in Qatar.

Phase 1 of the RGSGQ for boys and girls Early Years and Primary, enrolled its first pupils in 2016; whilst work continued on Phase 2, the Senior School, for Years 7 and 8, which opened for the 2018/19 academic year. Plans to complete the final Phase of the Senior School are in place for 2019/20.

Throughout initial negotiations it was conditional that the School’s facilities must compliment the high standard of education offered at RGSGQ. This is prevalent with the School’s state-of-the-art resources, spacious classrooms, first-class sports facilities, a swimming pool and fully-equipped playground; and where specialist subjects benefit from a Science lab, IT Suite and Music Technology room.

The determined efforts of all parties concerned which include the Chairman, the Governing Body and the Head of School, serve to maintain and preserve the RGS’s educational expectations of all round excellence.

The Head of School

Bringing a well-established School from the UK to Qatar required hiring a high-calibre individual with a strong sense of commitment, significant experience and specific knowledge of setting up an educational establishment from inception. Mr. Alistair Downs, the Head of School at RGSGQ has a proven track-record of such an assignment.

From the onset, Mr Downs has set a precedent whereby the needs and safety of the pupils are, above all else, the utmost priority. Whilst the Head of School has high expectations from all the pupils attending RGS, his message to staff and parents is that every child must feel safe, respected and happy in order to fully realise his/her potential. The Head of School’s achievements are clearly visible, having created a nurturing environment where the whole school community, pupils, parents and staff all benefit from the support of each other’s efforts.

The Head of School’s continuous collaboration with the UK Governing body and the Chairman, to maintain the ethos and values of the RGS, has achieved a successful transition of a top-class educational establishment in the UK, to adapting and fulfilling the requirements of a newly opened school within the international market: and without compromising the traditional RGS academic standards of excellence.

Academic Programme and Extra-Curricular Activities

The School follows a bespoke British Curriculum, which includes the RGS enhanced Learning Habits. These Learning Habits include the ability to learn with creativity, to work effectively with others, to be reflective and to take responsibility for a pupil’s own learning and organisation.

From this, pupils achieve the outstanding academic progress for which the School is renowned, and equips them with life skills for the challenges they will face beyond life at the RGS. They will have the know-how, the ability, social skills and confidence to achieve their ambitions.

At the RGS, learning extends beyond the classroom. An extended day is available to all pupils. Each term offers a wide range of Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) across the whole school, from Early Years to Key Stage 3. Parents and pupils are encouraged to provide input as to the kind of ECAs they would like the School to offer and currently they include:

Science Club; Mindfulness; Music Technology; Football (Boys & Girls); Creative Writing; Art Club; Gymnastics; Book Club; Cooking; Drama; Sensory Play; Variety Sports; Ukelele, Guitar & Keyboard Club; Maths Club; Sewing Club, Singing, Arabic; French and more.

ECAs are varied throughout the academic year to inspire and motivate pupils’ interest; as are the RGS whole school events which involve parents and pupils participating together in a vibrant setting for International Day, Qatar National Day and the Annual Spring Fair, among others. The RGS aspires to bring families together. With the commitment and dedication of an active Parents’ Association, alongside an army of enthusiastic parent volunteers, regular weekend picnics, monthly coffee mornings and whole school events allow for a strong bond to develop amongst pupils and parents alike.

Whole School Community and Achievements

The RGS offers a diverse range of initiatives to encourage the academic and personal growth of its pupils. Displaying and celebrating pupils’ work is essential for building self-confidence. The weekly Thursday ‘Achievement Assembly’ recognises and praises those pupils who have excelled during the week and demonstrated one or more of the RGS Learning Habits, such as teamwork, independence and reasoning. Superstar Certificates are presented for academic achievement and excellent all round behavior. Trophies are presented to the ‘Class of the Week’ for attendance and punctuality. Good manners and healthy eating are rewarded with an invitation to join the Head of School for lunch at the Top Table. The highly effective rewards system acknowledges and celebrates the achievements and successes of all RGSGQ pupils.

Throughout the year, awareness days and specific topic weeks are held to promote areas of learning; such as Health Week, Book Week, Art Week, Maths Week and more. While regular Parents’ Workshops are offered to encourage an understanding and involvement in their child’s learning and include Early Years Phonics and Early Years Writing Workshops; Parents’ Maths Workshops and a Reading Comprehension Workshop. Each contributing towards the development and collaboration of the whole school community.

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