Brighton College

Brighton College

Staff Reflections

Miss Sarah Wood – Teacher of Year One

Moving to Al Ain was never going to be an easy task. Leaving my family and friends behind was going to be extremely difficult, but as my philosophy goes: life is like a book, every page you turn leads to a new chapter and in each new chapter you find a new adventure. The adventure certainly has lived up to expectations!

When applying for a job at Brighton College Al Ain, I was excited by the prospect of living abroad, travelling to foreign lands and teaching in a whole new culture. I remember when I was given the news: I had got the job of Year 1 teacher at one of the most prestigious family of schools in the world. I couldn’t quite believe it. I was ecstatic, and at the same time awfully nervous! After the fear of, ‘will I be good enough?’ had finally subdued, I set off to tell my family and friends of the exciting journey I was about to take. This was when the reality hit home. I was actually moving thousands of miles away from the people I cared about the most. Nevertheless, the friendly support of the College HR Department made the move that much easier as I was provided me with free accommodation and gave me an allowance for furnishings.

Before I knew it I was boarding a plane and suddenly landed in a vast amount of sand. Living in Al Ain is peaceful and the people of the Garden City make you feel extremely welcome. What’s more, the friendly people at Brighton College provided all new staff with an insightful induction to life in the UAE. All my worries were relieved and I have since met some fantastic friends. 

I have had the opportunity to travel to Thailand, Sri Lanka, Oman, Brazil and Peru, all through working in a tax-free environment. Living and working in the Middle East provides a fantastic opportunity to travel the world. Not only that, but just an hour’s drive away and you can be by the beach in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, standing in the tallest building in the world and shopping in some of the plushest malls you will ever set foot in. An average weekend involves sitting by the pool, or paddle boarding in front of the Burj Al Arab.

The College holds very high expectations of both its staff and pupils; however, being surrounded by some of the most ambitious and motivated members of staff really does give you a sense of aspiration towards becoming a better and more reflective teacher. Brighton College wants the best for you, not only as a teacher but as a professional, whilst the College Leadership Team does its upmost to support your future career development. In turn, I feel highly valued as a professional and supported along the way.

What seemed at the time to be a challenging decision has turned out to be one of the best that I have ever made.

Mr Jason Graham - Teacher of Modern Foreign Languages

I have to be honest, deciding to take a young family to live and work in the UAE was derided by some.   Our story was simply a need for a lifestyle overhaul and a professional adventure.  Besides, the years following the financial turmoil of 2008 and the impact on the British teaching profession have been well documented. A simple pros and cons analysis revealed significant professional, cultural and financial gains from making the move.  We saw the real benefits and just needed to be brave. It felt like the great leap forward.

We decided upon the UAE as our preferred destination as we had contacts in the Emirates who had spoken favourably of the area. Besides, having lived in Brighton for twenty years and having known of the reputation of Brighton College UK, it felt as if destiny were taking our hand as we passed forward our applications to Brighton College Al Ain.

We were particularly impressed with the flexibility of the interviewing process and got a real sense of the College’s family orientation. The Leadership Team showed great empathy, having young families of their own, and were able to offer the knowledge and support that we would need with our move.

Following our success at interview, we were put into contact with a teaching family at the College and were able to have answered candidly the myriad of questions that we had in our minds. Moreover, the Human Resources department showed great knowledge and efficiency and walked us through the process of preparing documents for emigration. At every stage, we felt supported and there was always somebody on Skype to direct us when needed.

Our first sight of the College last August was captivating; sitting near the foot of the tallest mountain in the country, the hot sun was reflecting off the tarmac of the approach road upon which the gentle Arabian wind blew snake-like shapes with the sand from the desert plain. It was a picture-perfect moment.

The College itself cannot fail to impress, boasting facilities that are second to none. Aesthetically, it is the most eye-catching educational establishment we have seen over our time in teaching. One can only imagine how inspiring this must feel for pupils at the College.

And what of the pupils as they are known at Brighton College? Having come from state education in the UK, this would be our first foray into the private sector and we had our preconceptions. Firstly, pupils are hugely able compared with their UK counterparts; I have Year 5 pupils performing at the same level as Year 7 pupils back home. Secondly, there is a purposeful informality to relationships underpinned by a deep sense of mutual respect. Thirdly, pupils benefit greatly from a rich and varied extra-curricular programme and by virtue of the global perspective one can only get through being around so many different nationalities. My three-year-old is thrilled every day going to College and has come on in leaps and bounds.  We have unquestionable confidence in the ability of the Brighton College and its staff to deliver a world class education to our most important assets.

Staff here are so much more than work colleagues; we fill the void, as best we can, that family and friends might have filled back home. We are our own social network and one another’s practical support. It is our belief that lifelong friendships will be forged here. Professionally, the College has recruited exceptionally well and we see real expertise in the classroom supported by a vision of excellence. As a staff, we work hard, are massively collegiate and rejoice and celebrate our successes. We look happy in the workplace and we look forward to our working day.

As I write in mid-November with the warm winter sun on my face, I reflect on the benefits of living in the tranquillity and verdure of the city of Al Ain. Family is central to the Emirati way of life and it shows in the welcome they extend and the grace that defines them.  We feel safer here than we ever did back home. Furthermore, health care is exceptional and the city offers a wide range of retail opportunities and culinary delights. We live in a home we could only dream of in the UK with a live-in maid - we do not engage with a single household chore and are free to focus on our family and work. We have significant disposable income and the draw of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, little more than an hour along the desert highway, to put our earnings to memorable use.

Barely three months since our arrival, we feel truly settled and are very happy with our new life. The great leap forward may prove to be the defining moment for our careers and our young family.