The hallowed history of King’s College, UK, can be traced back as far as 1522, making this illustrious institution nearly 500 years old. An international, co-educational school set in the South-West of England, King’s College, UK, prides itself on being “an outstanding school with a busy and purposeful community”.
In a rousing ceremony befitting its time-honoured tradition and glory, on Sunday noon, King’s College, Doha, a sister school of the famous King’s College in England, rang in its official opening celebration in the presence of Sheikh Mansoor bin Jassim Thani al-Thani, Chairman of the School; Ajay Sharma, the British Ambassador to Qatar; alongside representatives from Qatar’s Ministry of Education. Representing King’s from the UK were Linda Nash, Chairperson, and Justin Chippendale, Headmaster.
It was in September 2016 that this British international school for children aged 3 to 11 years old, opened in Al Thumama in Doha, reflecting the close collaboration with King’s College in England and offering “the very best of British independent primary education within a Qatari context.” Currently, King’s College, Doha provides a traditional British Education to almost 250 children aged 3 to 11 with phase two set to expand the school all the way up to age 18.
The opening celebration took off in the sprawling, packed central atrium of the school that carries the air and acoustics of an impressive amphitheatre. Flagging off the proceedings was a soaring rendition of A Salam Alayakum voiced by a sea of children to the warm, welcoming rhythms of piano. This was followed by speeches from Nicholas Gunn, Headmaster of the school, Sharma, and Sheikh Mansoor bin Jassim Thani al-Thani, interspersed with a variety of engaging performances by children — The Power of the Dream by David Foster, made famous by the voice of Celine Dion; We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney; and an Arabic presentation on Our Environment by children in Years 1 to 4.
In his speech, Chippendale, among other things, talked about the importance of sharing ideas and skills with others so as to leverage what we are really good at, and in turn, improve what we aren’t so good at. This was followed by a choir performance of When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin, a rendition of the Rudyard Kipling poem If by children in Years 3 and 4, the whole school collectively singing the Bruno Mars chartbuster Count on Me, and a Thank You note by members of Years 3 and 4.
Soon after the opening ceremony came to a close, Gunn told Community how King’s College, Doha, sets itself apart from other top schools in Qatar. “I think we offer a higher range of specialist teachers. We have specialist teaching right from pre-school. So for our youngest children, we have Arabic, Physical Education, sport, and music, right the way up. When the children get to Year 5, all of their subjects are taught by specialist teachers while the other schools traditionally have a class teacher. Also, I think we offer a very traditional British education. We offer very strong British values, which means we are very strict on uniform, conduct, discipline, and all the children are expected to open doors for teachers and say Good Morning; we uphold traditional, independent school values. But then we do that in an international context, as we are very aware of being in Qatar. So we are a very traditional school, whereas perhaps some of the other British schools in Doha are maybe a bit more international. We are a British school in an international context.”
Designed by award-winning architects, the school blends some of the finest early years and primary school facilities in Qatar with top quality teaching and an all-inclusive approach, we are told. Little wonder then that the Ministry of Education (MoE) has recognised King’s College as an “Outstanding School.”
Sheikh Mansoor bin Jassim Thani al-Thani, sponsor and Chairman of King’s College, Doha, said, “In line with my country’s 2030 vision, it is with great pride that we formally celebrate the opening of King’s College, Doha today. The school offers first-class teaching that caters for the needs of each child, blending the power of tradition and culture with innovation and enquiry. We offer an environment that encourages all children to be understanding and tolerant of others, whilst developing the self-confidence to be a creative and responsible member of society.”
Ajay Sharma, the British Ambassador to Qatar, said, “A British education is seen as among one of the best in the world and I am delighted to be able to support King’s College’s development here in Doha. Their track record in education speaks for itself. I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Education, Sheikh Mansoor Jassim al-Thani and King’s College on their partnership and look forward to watching them develop as a leader of education in the region.”
Gunn said “Having only recently begun our educational journey in Doha, we are delighted with the progress made thus far and we are grateful for the support and interest we have received from both the local, British and international communities. We are a warm and happy school that provides an inspirational experience that prepares children for the next stages of their lives. Our curriculum places great emphasis on developing well-rounded, globally minded and confident children. We foster an inspiring and caring environment, where every child is encouraged to fulfil their potential, whether in academia, music, sport, or the creative arts.”
Chippendale said, “It has been an exciting and hugely rewarding experience to develop such a strong and effective partnership here in Doha. For 137 years, King’s College has been nurturing young people on its beautiful campus in the South-West of England and we look forward to King’s College, Doha building on this reputation and developing a compelling history in its own right.”
The school’s daily programme of activities, based on the King’s enhanced British curriculum, is delivered by highly-qualified, British-trained, teachers and highly skilled teachers of Arabic and Islamic studies. Children at King’s are offered a wide range of co-curricular activities, including music, sport, art, design, drama, English language learning, technology and communications forming an integral part of a fulfilling and extended school day. Specialist subject teachers rather than general form teachers provide enhanced subject teaching from as early as Pre-School and uniquely in Qatar, for all subjects from Year 5.
The School currently boasts 1 qualified teacher for every 8 children due the emphasis on specialist teachers delivering lessons throughout the school. Whilst it is usual for schools to hold back specialists such as Science and Art, at King’s both are taught as early as Year 1.
Moreover, King’s is committed to a curriculum that focuses on Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Art and Maths (STEAM). Whilst many modern schools have started to follow a STEM curriculum, King’s is pushing further ahead adapting this to offer its own specialist led and locally relevant version — STEAM. Uniquely at King’s, Entrepreneurship (the “E”), drives at the heart of the creative spirit seen in so many local and international families.
Among a range of amenities and offerings, the school has an excellent array of specialist teaching spaces including Science Labs, an Art and Design centre, Music and Drama classrooms as well as a dedicated Arabic and Islamic Studies centre. ICT plays a key role throughout, with Wi-Fi available in all internal areas and a Mac Computer Lab allowing for a wide range of computing coding and digital design and editing.
The extensive sports facilities include an indoor hall, and a new outdoor games area for football, tennis, basketball and netball. A 25m pool with learner area is currently under construction.For more details, you can check out the school’s website — www.kingscollegedoha.com
LEADING LIGHTS: From left, Justin Chippendale, Headmaster, King’s College, UK; Nicholas Gunn, Headmaster, King’s College, Doha; Sheikh Mansoor bin Jassim Thani al-Thani, Chairman of the School; and Ajay Sharma, the British Ambassador to Qatar.