Two prestigious new British schools will open in Qatar this September, expanding British-curriculum education options for children here.
King’s College Doha, an off-shoot of King’s College Taunton in the UK’s south-west, and the Royal Grammar School (RGS) Guildford-Qatar, whose UK base is in Surrey, near London, have been allocated existing school buildings by the Ministry of Education that are currently being refurbished.
The two new schools are opening as part of Qatar’s Outstanding Schools Program, an initiative that has previously led to the opening of Sherborne Qatar and the International School of London-Doha.
King’s College will be located just off E-Ring Road near the old airport, while RGS Guildford-Qatar will be situated in Umm Salal Mohammed near IKEA.
RGS Guildford-Qatar will open initially to boys and girls ages three to seven years old (pre-school to year 2) in September, with the rest of the primary school slated to open in 2017.
King’s College, meanwhile, will open a co-educational primary school for children from ages three to eight years old (pre-school to year 4) initially.
However, it is also taking applications for children in years 5 and 6, with the possibility that it will open up further years in September if there is enough interest.
The school plans to have a full primary school operating by September 2017.
Although both schools are focusing on primary education to start with, both plan to open secondary schools in Qatar in the near future.
RGS Guildford’s Bob Ukaih told Doha News that his school aims to open two separate, single-sex secondary schools – one for girls and one for boys – in Doha by September 2018.
“It will be two separate schools in two buildings close together, and they will do extra curricular activities together and share facilities. Our view is that we are experts at single sex education in the UK, and we want to give people who live in Doha the chance to benefit from that.”
King’s College, meanwhile, plans to open two secondary schools – one co-educational facility, and one for girls only – with a capacity of around 1,500 places in each school. It is also aiming for an opening date of September 2018.
Justin Chippendale, Head of King’s College’s preparatory (primary) school in the UK, told Doha News that the school was also in the process of opening a branch in India, and that its move to Doha was part of a plan to build its global reach:
“We know that children these days are growing up in a global village, and we want our children to see the world. We already have connections in Hong Kong, and with new schools coming in India and in the Middle East, we can offer potential students all of these choices.”
King’s College Taunton is opening the schools in India and Qatar in partnership with Edureach, a company that specializes in opening and running international schools on behalf of British private schools.
Both new schools have had their fees set by Qatar’s Ministry of Education, and cost QR15,400 per term, or QR46,200 per year.
This puts them at the higher end of British curriculum school fees in Qatar – popular British school Doha College, for example, costs upwards of QR11,966 a term – but on a par with fellow Outstanding Schools Initiative school Sherborne, which charges upwards of QR15,141 per term for primary school.
Both schools will be academically selective. King’s College has just opened its admissions, and places can be applied for via the school’s website here.
RGS Guildford Qatar meanwhile has told Doha News that it expects to begin taking applications for places toward the end of this month, and that it will be sending a team from the UK school to Doha in April to carry out assessments.
The new schools are opening admissions just as the main application window for places in most existing British curriculum schools for the 2016-2017 year has closed.
This is good news for those who have recently moved to Qatar or are planning to do so in the next few months, as applicants in this position would usually be faced with long waiting lists.
Despite recent layoffs due to the knock-on effect of low oil prices, demand for school places in Qatar remains high, with many popular schools receiving far more applications than they have places.
A report published last October estimated that the country could face a shortage of some 19,000 spaces by 2022.
Real estate services firm Colliers International stated however that it believed there were enough British curriculum schools in Qatar to meet demand, pointing instead to a shortage of spaces in Indian, Syrian and Egyptian schools.
It did however state that demand for secondary school spaces in particular would increase in Qatar over the next decade.