Promise of lower fees by Pakistan group

20th June 2008 at 01:00
One of the world's biggest private school groups, founded in Pakistan, wants to expand by running at least a dozen schools in the UK
One of the world's biggest private school groups, founded in Pakistan, wants to expand by running at least a dozen schools in the UK.

The City School has more than 150 schools in Pakistan and also operates in Bangladesh, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

John Proctor, head of its school in Dubai, said the group hoped to open at least 12 schools in the UK, which would be open to pupils of all backgrounds and would not be faith-based.

It will offer lower fees than those traditionally found in the independent sector to attract parents who would not normally think of sending their children to elite public schools.

This approach will place it in competition with at least two other chains: Cognita, led by Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools, and the Dubai-based Global Education Management Systems (Gems).

The City School has grown rapidly over the past 20 years and now educates more than 50,000 children. Its biggest school in Karachi has 2,500 pupils.

"Our experience in Pakistan is that we can expand exponentially and we can do so in other countries," Mr Proctor said. "We are a very energetic group. Once we have one successful school in the UK, I'm sure we will develop more."

The group already follows an English curriculum, so has the background to deliver high quality education, he said.

"We have outstanding results in examinations. We would insist on that and expect the same kind of enthusiasm from pupils that we have in our other schools."

The group is profit-making, but Mr Proctor said it was not only interested in UK schools to make money. It would be equally interested in acquiring and running schools with charitable status. "We want to contribute, as much as make profit," he said.

There will also be the possibility that teachers and pupils will be able to transfer between schools and countries, he said.

When Gems started operating in the UK, it said it wanted to run 200 schools. But so far it has only acquired 12 and has admitted that 200 is a very long-term goal.

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