Located northwest of Doha city centre, Qatar, Al Markhiya Street thrives with activities and opportunities. Richmond International School Doha, which welcomed its first students on 1 October 2019, decided to open its campus on Al Markhiya Street for a reason – a sheer demand from parents to have access to high value education at an affordable price point. The principal of Richmond International School, Mr Christopher Wragg, says, “Richmond International School Doha was borne of the vision of several families who have lived in Doha for an extended period. After several years of searing for a suitable location, we converted the villa and Majles on Al Markhiya Street. We have added eight new, bespoke classrooms since we opened, and we are considering our options for the future due to demand for seats.” At the end of the first year of operation, the school had less than 80 students; the current role of the school is 380+.
A Creative Curriculum
Richmond International School’s mission is to provide a caring learning environment that empowers children to reach their educational and personal potential whilst nurturing their self-confidence and self-esteem. Educating students for success in a changing world is what they have focused on. The school was opened with the vision of providing a high-value education. Richmond International School obtained Pearson International School status in its second year of operation and delivers their iPrimary curriculum. Pearson’s iPrimary Curriculum has a strong academic component focusing on critical thinking, providing excellent opportunities to be creative in all subjects. Mr Wragg explains, “In English, a component of the course is to create their own items and to present this to the rest of the class (such as sock pets and miniature bicycles). Art has dedicated time every week for every student to allow for creativity, something which other schools have taken away. STEAM is a theme throughout the curriculum, and opportunities are taken to produce creative solutions to problems such as water filtration.”
Pearson’s iPrimary is a complete program in International Primary Schools for English, Mathematics, Science, Computing and Global Citizenship. It comes with a wealth of support with sample schemes of work, exemplified units of work, internally assessed progress tests, externally assessed achievement tests and a comprehensive professional development program. Pearson provides an excellent level of support to make delivery a success, in addition to their training seminars there are a wealth of print and online resources. Mr Wragg shares, “At the end of the schools second year of operation, Year 6 students sat achievement tests and obtained certificates from Pearson. In our third year, a Year 6 student, who had been with us since the school opened, obtained the highest marks in the Middle East on the English and Math achievement tests. We have the same high expectations of this current cohort.”
Richmond does not just focus on academic achievement. The school has extra-curricular activities throughout the week. Additionally, students take part in activities outside the school. “We have several students who represent the various sports clubs in Qatar in national competitions. We have had students actively participate in various competitions in Qatar, such as English essay writing and storytelling, Quran and sports. We look forward to being able to participate in more competitions moving forwards,” says Mr Wragg.
Caring Like A Family
Richmond International School runs like an extended family. Mr Wragg shares, “We always refer to the children in the school as ‘our children’ in the parental sense. Now that the pandemic has passed, we welcome parents into the school office daily as the door is always open. This could be a friendly chat or something more substantive. We are always receptive to parents’ comments.” At Richmond International School, parents are connected to every teacher on Class Dojo as a means of daily communication, sharing successes, and offering support. The school uses platforms like Microsoft Teams to send home learning materials daily. Throughout the academic year, Richmond International School conducts parent-teacher meetings to allow for a more formal discussion about students’ progress and how they can be supported moving forward.
Mr Wragg opines, “At Richmond, we see the individual in the school. Following the baseline assessments at the start of the academic year, teachers can identify the strengths and weaknesses of the students and then tailor their lessons to maximize the progress that students can make.” The maximum class size in the Kindergarten section is 22 and 25 in the primary section. The school has 120+ students in the Kindergarten served by 8 teachers and 6 TAs. The primary section has 260+ students and 22 teachers. Overall, teacher to student ratio is 1:13. “Every teacher employed in the school has a degree appropriate to the subject/students they teach. Time is taken to match teacher qualifications with the classes that we have. Many teachers have B.Ed qualifications in addition to their first degrees. We also encourage them to pursue additional qualifications in the form of higher degrees and certifications from reputable institutions. Many of the staff are already educated to Master’s level,” explains Mr Wragg.
A Fast-Growing Learning Community
Richmond International School was launched a few months before the pandemic hit the world. Despite the challenges brought by COVID, the school has grown due to the popularity it could gain among parents. At the start of the 2021/22 academic year, the school added six classrooms with space for 150 additional students. In March 2022, it relocated the ICT suite and expanded the number of PCs. The school also added an Astro Turf Football pitch for improved PE provision. Besides, kindergarten students have an open atrium in their building that is used as a flexible learning space.
The pandemic has brought many unprecedented challenges to the school education system. Mr Wragg says, “We know that students can be resilient. However, the pandemic has brought a well-needed spotlight onto students’ mental health and led us to reevaluate how we provide support.” During the pandemic, Richmond International School felt a decline in students’ social skills and gross and fine motor functions. The school reacted to this by increasing the amount of PE it offered to allow students to develop in these areas.
Today, Richmond International School is in the process of consolidation. “We are already a Pearson International School and have been since the second year of operation. We are preparing to undergo a mandatory evaluation phase from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. We expect this to occur early in the 2023/24 academic year. Once this has been achieved, we will aim to join one of the international accrediting bodies that align with our goals,” shares Mr Wragg.
Richmond International School has added additional places for the upcoming academic year and is looking forward to maintaining the quality of education they have provided. The school is also looking at improving its provision for the forthcoming year. “We already make great use of Pearson resources and we are going to expand this through the purchase of additional products. We desire to increase the amount of technology used in the school in line with more technology being used in daily life. We would like to extend our provision to IGCSE for 16 years,” Mr Wragg concludes.
For More Info: https://richmonddoha.com/
About Mr Christopher Wragg, Principal
Mr Christopher Wragg has been the principal of Richmond International School since September 2020. Mr Wragg began his academic career with a BA/Hons in Modern and Contemporary European History. He has added to this with his teaching qualification (a PGCE, Edge Hill) and two Master’s degrees in Law( University of Sheffield, University of Law). He is currently in the last few months of his NPQH. Mr Wragg has a wealth of experience in the classroom. He qualified as a teacher in 2008 and has taught in England, Qatar and China. Mr Wragg has taught students from the age of six up to nineteen following the National Curriculum, Canadian Curriculum, American Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate. He has a passion for educational travel and is a lifelong learner. Part of what has fueled him to work around the world has been the opportunity to travel. What attracted him to working at Richmond was its untapped potential. It was a small school, and now under his leadership, it has grown and gone from strength to strength.