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600 Years of British Education, Now in Kenya

In May, there was an exciting first at Durham Kenya’s beautiful Thigiri Location – a street party, taking inspiration from current events and the school’s own origins. To celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, teachers at Durham lined the school’s 50 metre drive with tables, overlayed with Union Jack bunting, so that students could enjoy a fun street party in the sun. Children had spent the week leading up to the party learning about different forms of government and how different nations are led, and showed up in style to their party with handmade crowns and artwork. While learning at Durham Kenya is often tied to world events, helping students become globally minded even from a young age, the coronation had particular significance at this Nairobi school, which has a 600-year legacy stretching back to Durham School in the United Kingdom.

Founded in 1414, Durham School has built an enduring reputation for educational excellence in the intervening centuries. The Durham International Schools journey began in 2019, with the opening of Durham School for Girls in Doha, Qatar, before expanding to Nairobi with the opening of Durham Kenya in 2021. A year later, Durham Dubai opened to great success as well. While all of the Durham sister schools maintain their distinct local identities, the commitment to excellence, inherited from Durham School UK, is a unifying factor.

“Our origins in the UK add to our identity, making us a unique – and proudly Kenyan – school,” said Headteacher Sue Small. “We are inspired by our Nairobi home, and the high value placed on education in Kenya. At the same time, we benefit from the history and traditions of one of the oldest schools in the UK, and insights from passionate educators across three continents.”

Since opening, Durham Kenya has maintained strong ties with the UK, from a British curriculum to cooperation with teachers at Durham School to visits from notable British figures – including former British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott CMG OBE. Visiting ahead of Durham Kenya’s opening, and again a year later to meet with students, High Commissioner Marriott was able to see the ambitions and development of Durham Kenya.

“It is wonderful to see the education links between Kenya and the UK grow stronger together with the new Durham International School opening in Nairobi,” High Commissioner Marriott said at the time. “Durham Kenya is the first British school to open in East Africa, and I am confident of the quality education and opportunities available for Kenyan students.” Durham Kenya, a member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and the Kenya Association of International Schools (KAIS), has created its own unique identity while benefitting from its connections with Durham School UK and the wider Durham International Schools family. Teachers regularly communicate with colleagues in the UK – as well as Qatar and Dubai – to ensure that students at all schools benefit from the latest educational developments and the creativity, insights and ideas of educators across the group. Durham Kenya has been thrilled to welcome key figures from the Durham International Schools board, as well as educators from Durham School UK, including Headmaster
Kieran McLaughlin.

“Durham’s approach to learning is built around the development of inquisitive, analytical, passionate minds, educated in a dynamic and interactive environment,” said Headmaster McLaughlin. “Durham School Kenya shares the same values, standards and overall ethos that have imbued our way of life here at Durham School UK.”

At Durham Kenya, Durham School, and all Durham International School locations, one constant is the very special approach to education. Students strive for academic excellence, alongside rich and varied co-curricular programmes, to give them a rounded education and spark a love of lifelong learning. The core values of Moral integrity, Ambition, Responsibility and Kindness, are the MARK of a Durham education, and underpin all learning. Children leave Durham ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of an ever-changing world, with ‘Confidence for Life!’

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