WINDSOR, N.S. — King’s-Edgehill School’s headmaster said he’s not concerned about Gordonstoun syphoning away potential students when it opens a franchise location in Annapolis County in 2020.
Joe Seagram says the new school will help put Nova Scotia on the map for private education.
“I’m actually thrilled; I’m hoping there is competition on the playing field,” Seagram said with a laugh.
“I hope there’s a good, healthy rivalry that develops,” he said.
“The reality is that schools like ours are really good for their communities and my hat goes off to Warden (Timothy) Habinski and his council for taking this courageous leap forward,” he said. “What it could mean for the region is huge.”
Seagram said KES brings in approximately $66 million in economic activity to the region — he’s hoping Gordonstoun will have similar economic spinoffs for Annapolis County.
“It’s all good for the Valley, and it’s all good for us,” he said. “Like vineyards or craft breweries, you can get to a certain concentration and all of a sudden people will start thinking more about it and seeing the benefits (of private education).”
Seagram said with many of the students coming into these schools internationally, that’s outside money that is being injected into the local economy.
“We don’t have to chop down trees, dig up our lands and scar our environment, we can create something that is a benefit to an entire community,” he said.
“There are 10 times more international students at public schools than there are at KES, so syphoning off (international students) probably happens more from the public sector than the private sector,” he said. “We’re looking at 100 great international students to come here, and Gordonstoun is looking at 600, but if the world starts to look more at Nova Scotia for private education or public education through exchange programs, that’s a win-win for everybody.”
Seagram said apart from the staff and teachers Gordonstoun will have to hire, he also predicts that the surrounding communities could also see an influx in businesses and services in the region because of the new franchise.
“For a community that is vibrant in the summer tourism season, with the school, it will provide economic stability year-round,” he added.
KES also has several connections to Gordonstoun already, including through the Royal Family, where Gordonstoun famously educated Prince Philip and Prince Charles.
KES also has the Duke of Edinburgh awards program and the school was given royal assent in 1789 by King George III.
“We’re the oldest independent school of its kind outside of Britain, 230 years old, and Gordonstoun is 84,” Seagram said. “We’ve got a tremendously long history here and have been an economic driver for this community.”
King’s-Edgehill School was originally founded in 1788, intended as a way to educate the loyalists who were fleeing the United States.
KES students have also provided an honour guard for members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles, the school’s commanding officer.
“It’s not called King’s by accident,” he said. “Interestingly enough, we are quite connected to the Royal Family as well.”
KES expanding with their own satellite school
Taking a page from Gordonstoun, King’s-Edgehill is opening up a brand new campus of its own in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Seagram couldn’t provide too many details yet, promising more to come, but did say the project is slated at more than $35 million and would hold over 2,100 students from pre-primary to 12.
They will be the first school to offer Nova Scotia’s pre-primary program outside of the province.
He said the funding is coming from business partnerships in the Emirates.
“If we are going to be truly international schools, like Gordonstoun, we do have to look beyond our own campuses,” he said. “In some respects, it’s a similar idea, although it takes us from a small school in a small town, in a small province. and puts us on the world stage.”
The new school is slated to open in the fall of 2020.
“I’m looking to bridge in our own humble way the east-west gap,” he said. “We want to expose our own students to Arab culture and the faith of Islam. I think that’ll be very healthy for all of us.”