After an extensive international search for the finest educators around the world, the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai is delighted to announce the senior leadership team of the Prep School who will be at the helm of delivering the school’s 500-year heritage and forward-thinking approach to teaching and learning when it opens its Dubai campus in September 2021.
The senior leadership team in Dubai will be responsible for emulating the tremendous success and proven track record of the parent-school, Royal Grammar School Guildford, one of the most prestigious independent British Curriculum schools in the UK. The Royal Grammar School Guildford is consistently ranked as one of the leading schools in the UK at both A-Level and GCSE according to the national league tables, and over the past 10 years, more than 325 graduates have gone on to attend top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Former pupils, known as ‘Old Guildfordians’, also include a number of Olympic and sporting personalities, a former Prime Minister, and many notable names in politics and the arts.
The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai’s senior leadership team includes three teachers who have a wealth of experience from teaching at the parent school in the UK and include; Assistant Head, Upper KS2, Mr Joe Creal, Head of Inclusion, Mrs Laura Evans and Director of Sport, Mr James Bennett.
Assistant Head, Upper KS2 – Mr Joe Creal, an old Guildfordian, said how excited he is to be part of the founding team in Dubai. He commented: “The values and ethos of the Royal Grammar School Guildford are very close to my heart as it is where I was educated and what helped form me as a young man. After working at other outstanding schools, I have loved ‘coming home’ and working at the school that I believe in for the past four years as Head of Science, Form Teacher and Housemaster at the Preparatory School in the UK. Bringing the excellence of RGS Guildford to Dubai will be an exciting challenge and an honour.”
Whilst teaching at the Royal Grammar School Guildford Prep School, Mr Creal completed his Masters in educational leadership, taught mathematics to Years 5 and 6 and coached games afternoons. Prior to re-joining his alma mater, he taught in Cranleigh Abu Dhabi and a co-ed prep school in Surrey. Mr Creal is very much looking forward to bringing the spirit of the Royal Grammar School Guildford in the UK, a school that he loves and knows so well, over to Dubai.
Head of Inclusion, Mrs Laura Evans, is a proud custodian of the Royal Grammar School Guildford’s values and learning habits after heading up the Learning Support and EAL Departments at the prep school in Guildford for the past 11 years. Through a Masters in Special and Inclusive Education that focused on Special Educational Needs, Mrs Evans brings a wealth of experience in child support with her to her new role as Head of Inclusion at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai. Mrs Evans has taught in both Secondary and Primary sectors, and her extensive experience includes her most recent role at Royal Grammar School Guildford as Head of Learning Support and New Pupil Assessment Co-ordinator. Mrs Evans will join the team in April to assist with the new pupil assessments.
Director of Sport, Mr James Bennett, brings with him more than 15 years of experience in sports teaching at prestigious preparatory schools in the UK. Mr Bennett trained to be a teacher whilst at the Royal Grammar School Guildford and worked his way up through the ranks to become Director of Sport, as well as House Master and Tutor. Following his role at the home school, Mr Bennett moved on to one of the largest Prep Schools in the UK to lead the boys’ games department, where he took on the role of Acting Director of Sport in his final year. He has taught sports to a wide variety of age groups and specialises in recognising the specific needs of each pupil, both on the sporting field and in life. Mr Bennett has extensive coaching experience in cricket, football, swimming, athletics, gymnastics and climbing. He is looking forward to helping the pupils at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai achieve their sporting goals and help them develop a love of physical activity.
Head of Early Years, Mrs Angela Sutherland, has sixteen years of school leadership experience across the primary age range from roles in both the UK and the Middle East. Her vast experience working in Early Years has given Mrs Sutherland a deep understanding of how children learn, particularly in the acquisition of language, phonics, reading and the arts. In her role as Head of Early Years at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, Mrs Sutherland plans to cultivate an environment of care, warmth and strong relationships between the pupils and their families. Mrs Sutherland joins the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai from a school in the UAE, which has consistently been rated outstanding for the past five years for its Early Years Department.
Assistant Head of KS1, Mrs Beckie Bennett, has more than 10 years of primary, early years and sports teaching experience and will join the Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai’s senior leadership team in September. After spending the last three years as a Deputy Head, Mrs Bennett is highly experienced in adapting to teaching a variety of cultures and nationalities. She has spearheaded forward-thinking learning programmes for children across the UK in subjects such as English as a Foreign Language, as well as Special Educational Needs programmes.
Assistant Head, Lower KS2, Mr Imran Akhtar, has 13 years of teaching experience from both UK based schools and outstanding rated schools in the UAE. Mr Akhtar has previously taught at Kings Al Barsha where he was a Year Group Leader, before returning to the UK where he was a member of the Senior Leadership Team and Curriculum and Phase Leader in a Leeds based Primary School.
Head of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Mrs Sajida Al Bashir, brings 24 years of Arabic, Islamic and Social Studies teaching experience from schools across the Middle East with her to her role at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai. Mrs Bashir’s depth of knowledge in this sector covers a variety of curriculum boards that include British, American and IB schools. She is an experienced Head of Department, holds a Masters in Education, and regularly contributes to conferences and national debates about curriculum developments.
Responsible for recruiting the founding senior leadership team is Head of Prep, Clare Turnbull, who served as the Head of Prep at Royal Grammar School Guildford for 13 years. She commented: “I am delighted to have found candidates to form the senior leadership team here in Dubai that possess a wealth of teaching experience, talent and a deep understanding of the values, ethos and learning habits that are so vital to the Royal Grammar School Guildford. We have the best possible team to build the foundation of the school, and we can’t wait to welcome pupils in September.”
Founding Principal of Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, Mr Craig Lamshed, who brings over 25 years of education and senior leadership experience to the UAE in his new role, commented on the appointments saying: “After three months of searching the globe for the leading teaching talent we have assembled an outstanding founding senior leadership team who we are truly confident will harness their impeccable skills and extensive experience to set up and establish the Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai, and go on to grow the school as a leader in the Middle East.”
The new school that will accommodate and support up to 2,100 pupils is located within Majid Al Futtaim’s flagship Dubai community, Tilal Al Ghaf, adjacent to Hessa Street, between Dubai Motor City and Sports City. It sits on an impressive 40,000m2 campus and will officially open its doors in September 2021 (subject to KHDA approval and completion of construction at the RGS campus in Tilal Al Ghaf). The light and dynamic building includes a 25-metre competition standard swimming pool and state-of-the-art classrooms and labs that will support science, art, languages, music and more.