Major new School Launch Sees Historic British Heavyweight Durham School Confirm Opening in Dubai August 2022. Exclusive.

Schools Compared – 23 March 2022

One of Great Britain’s most prestigious and historic independent schools, Durham School, is to open in Dubai this August – bringing an alumni that stretches from the “genius” of Political Strategist Dominic Cummings, the man many see as the mastermind of Brexit, to Granville Sharpe, the 19th century anti-slavery campaigner and founder of Sierra Leone; Noel Hodgson, the First World War poet who lost his life on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916; and Geoff Parling, current England second row forward and British Lion.

On that note, the British founding school is also something of a giant in Sport, with a breadth of offer including the fifth oldest Rugby Club and third oldest Boat and Rowing Club in the world (dating from 1847).

The home UK school was founded more than 600 years ago in 1414, before being given the royal seal of approval with the awarding of royal foundation status by King Henry VIII in 1541. Parents can expect of Durham School Dubai something with all the cache of its founding home school, combined with the premium Tier 1 modernity of a 32 million square metre development in downtown Dubai Investments Park replete with state-of-the-art world-class contemporary design and facilities ranging from a dedicated English National Curriculum Foundation Stage, both primary and secondary classroom complexes, specialist Science, Art and IT labs, an acoustically designed music performance hall, Performing Arts and Lecture auditorium, multi-purpose sports hall and 25-metre indoor swimming pool.

Durham School Dubai will launch initially to Grade 8, with Grade 9 opening in August 2023 and subsequent years opening in phased launch to all-through eventual provision of GCSE and a choice between gold standard A Levels and BTEC technical qualifications at Sixth Form.

The shaded roofing structure at Durham School Dubai, designed to provide an inspirational and cooling structure for the Early Learning atrium Play Area for younger children.

The third of Durham Schools launched internationally (after the opening of Durham International School, Nairobi in January 2021 and Durham School for Girls, Doha in September 2019), the 1700 capacity, co-educational British school will directly serve the catchment areas of Arabian Ranches, Damac Hills, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Jumeirah Village Circle, the Green Community, Motor City and Dubai Sports City – but the pull of the heavyweight school is expected to attract parents from across Dubai and further afield.

Durham School Dubai Fees

Fees for a major British school name, after traditional Founding Discounts, are moderate with exceptional value in later years admissions amounting to around a third of KHDA approved fees.

Year Age Key Stage


Discounted Fees


Discounted Fees

FS 1 3-4 EYFS 42,600 42,600 54,000
FS 2 4-5 EYFS 42,600 42,600 54,000
Year 1 5-6 KS 1 45,600 45,600 69,000
Year 2 6-7 KS 1 45,600 45,600 69,000
Year 3 7-8 KS 2 51,000 51,000 75,000
Year 4 8-9 KS 2 51,000 51,000 75,000
Year 5 9-10 KS 2 51,000 51,000 75,000
Year 6 10-11 KS 2 51,000 51,000 75,000
Year 7 11-12 KS 3 57,000 57,000 87,000
Year 8 12-13 KS 3 57,000 57,000 87,000
Year 9* 13-14 KS 4 66,000 93,000

School Leadership

Leadership is considered and serious in the shape of Mark Atkins, who today has been confirmed as the Founding Principal of Durham School Dubai.

Mark Atkins, Photographed at the launch of Durham School Dubai in March 2022

Mr Atkins brings to Durham School Dubai more than three decade’s experience worldwide across schools in the Middle East, India, China, Malaysia and Europe. Mr Atkins is best known in Dubai as the founding Headmaster of Repton Junior School Dubai, the first premium UK brand boarding school in the Middle East where he was architect of both the curriculum and assessment, and his board membership of Evolvence as Head of Academics and Education across Repton Dubai, Repton Abu Dhabi and Foremarke Dubai. Mr Atkins also brings with him senior strategic experience as the Chief Operating Officer of Repton International Schools, advising the Board of the founding school, Repton in the UK, on its international development strategy.

Mark Atkins, Founding Principal, Durham School Dubai positions the school very much in the context of the heritage of its founding British school’s values and commitment to developing each child as a unique, individual talent:

“At Durham School Dubai, it is our responsibility to develop successful, well-rounded, responsible and socially competent young people who will thrive in, and contribute to, the global community of the 21st century.

In pursuit of this aim, we are mindful that every child is an individual – and that every educational journey is different.

Every child is unique; they have their likes, dislikes, talents and personality.

By getting to really know your child, we help them to develop the skills, self-esteem and confidence necessary for future success – and thus produce thoughtful, happy, kind and well-rounded young men and women, ready and prepared to make their mark on the world.”

Durham School in the UK – Motives and Ambition for Dubai Students

Kieran McLaughlin, Headmaster of Durham School in the United Kingdom, told SchoolsCompared:

“Following the successful opening of Durham schools in Qatar and Kenya, we are delighted to announce the opening of Durham School Dubai in August 2022.

With its strategic location, excellent facilities, competitive fee levels, experienced leadership team led by Principal Mark Atkins – and an uncompromising dedication to the quality of education, we are confident that Durham School Dubai will quickly establish a strong reputation.

When each and every young man and woman leaves a Durham School we ensure they do so with moral integrity, ambition, responsibility – and kindness.

Applications and Contact Information

Initial information is available by email at and the official Durham School Dubai web site here.

The SchoolsCompared View – Durham School Dubai

The launch of Durham School Dubai is another chapter in the ongoing story of Tier 1, globally recognisable British independent school brands choosing Dubai. The winners in this are parents: increasing choice across a broad range of very high quality schools means competition for places – and the driving up of standards for children. Durham School Dubai follows on from the landmark launch of Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai in 2021, itself following in the footsteps of major British names finding their satellite homes in Dubai including Repton, Kent, NLCS and Brighton.

Stand-out in the school’s mission is to provide deep investment in the whole child across Sport and the Arts – and we find it creditable that, for example, in Sport, the focus is on inclusion for all children, not just the most elite and accomplished.

It’s early days, but stand-out, experienced leadership in the shape of Mark Atkins is strongly suggestive of serious ambition here.

Read our full review of Durham School Dubai coming soon on – watch this space.