Compass International School, Al Khor, Qatar
Headteacher Robert Graves talks to TIC about learning and teaching at Compass International School, Al Khor
Compass International School is currently the only independent international school in Al Khor and is just 35 miles from Doha. Here Headteacher Robert Graves talks about the school and what makes it so special for children and staff:
“Our mission statement for Compass Al Khor is ‘Outstanding Academic Achievement through Learning’ and all together, as a school community, we work towards this goal every single day. The school has just celebrated its first anniversary and, being a new school, this provides many possibilities for creating exactly the right sort of learning environment. We have a Head of Learning who focuses all her attention on the curriculum and the learning to ensure that our effort and commitment to being a learning-focused school is constant.
Our aim is to be the best school in Doha and we’re working really hard to achieve that reputation. Already we are seeing the impact of this. As well as meeting the needs of the families living in Al Khor, we are starting to get children who are traveling in from Doha because of our growing reputation.
We have a dynamic student demographic. Most of our 335 children are here because of the Ras Laffan oil fields. Some are seasoned expatriates who have been on the oil and gas circuit for a while, but many are new to expatriate life and several have never been abroad before. We have children here from India, Qatar and other Arab countries, South East Asia and Europe. Only 5% of our children speak English as their first language but they are all thirsty for learning and very compliant which means that we can be creative with our learning. We want all of our children to be in a learning community where they can thrive.
We have 26 teachers from 15 different countries including Britain, New Zealand, America and German. We also have four EASL (English as a Second Language) teachers in our classrooms who are all from within the Al Khor community. We are an NQT training centre.
New recruits to Compass Al Khor need to be fully qualified and have good teaching experience but, just as important is to have the right personality. To continue to build our learning-focused community, we want teachers who can work together with others, who want to prove themselves as part of a team, who are energy-givers rather than drainers, who are willing to work hard to support the whole school; these are by far the most important qualities that we’re looking for. If you have a genuine passion for learning and schooling, and for being part of a school community, then we want to hear from you.
Even though we are a new and relatively small school, our employment packages compare well to all international schools in Doha. There is teacher accommodation right here in Al Khor and also in Doha for those who want to have the big city attractions accessible, but there are some great facilities in Al Khor including an excellent shopping mall. And remember salaries in Qatar are tax free!
Learning at Compass Al Khor
Compass International School, Al Khor is part of the World Class Learning Group (WCL) and benefits from the support of Fieldwork Education which is also part of WCL. This includes delivery of Fieldwork Education’s curriculum; the International Primary Curriculum, it’s Looking for Learning process which helps to ensure that learning is happening in classrooms every lesson every day, and also from its rigorous and sustained professional development support which all our teachers and leaders benefit from.
There is massive potential for the school. We are currently the only independent international school in Al Khor. The area is developing rapidly. It’s exciting to be a part of Al Khor at this time; it’s a close knit community and a growing second city for Qatar. There is a lot of work in place to support the community as it expands including some excellent community outreach projects. The school plays a big role in these.
It is important that as the area develops, we maintain our high standards of teaching and learning so that we become the school of choice for the area. With this in mind we are working hard to grow at a manageable pace. This September we will be introducing our first Year 7 class and, for the time being, will remain an all-through school with all students, from Kindergarten to Secondary, on one site.
Living and working in Qatar
Many people ask me about the lifestyle in Qatar. I love it, and so does Sarah, my wife. It’s a very progressive Middle Eastern country and easy to be an expat here. It is quite bureaucratic, but a country that is developing at a healthy pace and working hard to not be too conservative. There is of course the sand, the wind and busy traffic but that’s part of living in Qatar and the quality of life here is very good. On a Thursday night (which is the end of the working week), you’ll see all sorts of people; Qataris, Indians, Westerners all sitting out on the Corniche enjoying life. It’s a great place to be.”
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