Prestigious English private school to open new branch in Emirates

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Daniel Bardsley DUBAI // One of Britain's most prestigious private schools has announced that its branch in Dubai will open next year. Oundle School's UAE offshoot will retain the "ethos" of its parent establishment in England's Northamptonshire, but will not be a carbon copy, the school said. Oundle School is the second well-known English private school to set up in the UAE, after Repton School, which opened in Dubai last year. Another English school, Dulwich College, is considering opening a similar branch.

Unlike Repton, Oundle will not have a boarding school here. "It's looking to open in Sept 2009 and it will eventually be an age four to 18, all-the-way-through school," said Philip Couzens,Oundle's director of educational development. "It's not the case that it would be right to replicate Oundle, but [the new school] will reflect the ethos of the school back in the UK." Oundle School in England opened in 1556 and is open to male and female pupils. While some have talked of an education "gold rush" of foreign institutions moving to the UAE, Mr Couzens said Oundle was not part of it.

"It's certainly not in our case. It doesn't seem like a rush because we've been working on this for well over four years," he said. "We're doing it because it's something we feel is worth doing. We feel we have something back home that we're proud of and we think works, and we want to share that." The school in Dubai will be owned by UAE-based partners. Oundle is to be paid a fee that Mr Couzens said would "cover costs".

The school will have a British curriculum, including A-levels. It may also offer the International Baccalaureate, which is becoming increasingly popular internationally. Details on the school's opening and its planned enrolment are expected after Ramadan. * The National