Abu Dhabi Cranleigh hosts families in the capital

More than 700 people, including 300 children, met with Cranleigh officials ahead of welcoming its first class next school year.
The first students of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi met with staff and their future classmates on Saadiyat Island during the prestigious school's first major event. Ravindranath K / The National
The first students of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi met with staff and their future classmates on Saadiyat Island during the prestigious school's first major event. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // A top British school is opening a new campus on Saadiyat Island.

The Cranleigh School yesterday welcomed more than 700 people, including 300 children who will wear its uniforms when the academic year starts in September.

At the event hosted by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) at Manarat Al Saadiyat, the children and their parents were able to mingle and learn about the school.

“The aim of the event is to focus on the families that are coming to Cranleigh, rather than doing an outreach event to try and draw more people,” said Brendan Law, Cranleigh’s headmaster and TDIC’s director of education.

Eight hundred children have registered with the school, but Mr Law expects that not more than 700 of them will start in September.

“Although we have a capacity of 1,600, we want to start small but really well. Every class will have no more than 18 children and our focus is on the individual child to give them an exceptional education,” he said.

Sarah Al Assad, a Palestinian mother of a three-year-old boy, hopes the school will discipline her son. “I read about the school in England and British schools are known for their strong curriculum and discipline,” she said.

“My son is very difficult because he’s the first child in the family, so I hope this will discipline him. I want something different for him.”

She said the school’s flexibility attracted her attention. “I’ve seen other schools and the way they act with parents,” she said.

“Here they allow parents to interact more with children.

“During the assessment, I participated with my son and they had their own way of separating children from their parents.

“They’re also flexible with hours so, although it’s until 2:30pm, they take into consideration that he is an ‘early bird’ and he can leave earlier if he is tired.”

Silvio Wanderley’s six-year-old daughter is among nine of her friends who will be switching to Cranleigh from Repton School.

“Repton is nice but they don’t have outside playing areas or outdoor sports activities,” he said.

Having moved to Abu Dhabi six months ago after spending eight years in Singapore, the Portuguese-Brazilian said finding a school from abroad was tough.

“We started researching our options last year,” he said. “We have friends moving from Gems too and they live near the airport, but driving half an hour every day is worth it.

“We found that although Cranleigh is very traditional, it has a very modern curriculum.”

Joseph Fournier, from the United States, enrolled his six-year-old son from the American Community School.

“It’s obviously a new school here, but it’s an old school in the UK and it has a very good reputation,” he said.

Mr Fournier is also considering the boarding-school option, which should be available in 2017.

Nesreen Hayri, from Sudan, is moving her eight-year-old daughter from Al Mushrif School in the hopes of having more diversity.

“Al Mushrif is a good school but there’s no diversity at all,” she said. “About 85 per cent of the students are from one nationality and I want my daughter to be more exposed to different nationalities.

“They also don’t have transport and finish at 2pm, while at Cranleigh, it ends at 4.30pm so her father and I can finish our work easily before picking her up.”

Spanning seven hectares, Cranleigh will be the first school to offer boarding in the emirate, with courses in fine arts, performing arts, music, sports and cultural activities.

It will increase its teaching staff from 100 to a maximum of 130, and annual fees range from Dh65,000 to Dh80,000.

cmalek@thenational.ae

Published: May 3, 2014 04:00 AM

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