Welcome Message from the Principal

Welcome to GEMS Royal Dubai School

Dear RDS Community,

I am thrilled and privileged to be joining the GEMS Royal Dubai School family in August 2021 as the school’s new Principal, and to have the opportunity to build on the wonderful work done by Vicky Martin and her team. 

RDS is an Outstanding-rated premium school and I very much look forward to meeting and listening to members of the RDS community about what works well and how we can bring further enhancements to this amazing school with the central purpose of ensuring the children in our care are receiving the very best education and experiences that can be offered.

I gained my B.Ed (Hons) at Lancaster University with a specialism in primary school education. I have now been leading and teaching in quality schools for over 30 years and have had the pleasure to live and work in the UK, Kuwait, Malaysia, Syria, Oman, Czech Republic and Egypt. I have been a Head of School / Principal since 2002 and have over the years gained extensive experience in improving and leading schools through British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspections as well as CIS and IB accreditation. 

I was Head of Primary at Prague British International School from 2006-2018, leading the school from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ and growing the student population from 500 to over 1,200. In 2018, I took up the position of Principal of The New Cairo British International School, Egypt, an IB World School of 700 students aged 3-18. It is also a CIS- and BSO-accredited school, a COBIS training Centre for the Middle East, and the school was crowned International School of the Year 2020 for its pastoral initiative.

While working fulltime, I acquired an MA in Applied Leadership and Management from University of London, and gained the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). 

I am a trained Independent Schools Team Inspector and travel to schools around the world to assess if they meet the necessary standards for British Schools Overseas Accreditation. Formally, I have been an elected member of the COBIS Board for 10 years and chaired the student events committee for many years, founding the COBIS Games in 2012.

On a personal note, for the last 22 years, I have been happily married to Aimee Bentinck van Schoonheten, who is a Dutch national, and together we have three wonderful children who are now all studying and working in The Netherlands. We also have two dogs called Bailey and Guinness. Aimee, as well as our dogs, will accompany me to Dubai in August. We look forward to building our new home in Dubai and I have no doubts that our children will be frequent visitors given the wonderful appeal of the city.

I am a great believer in building excellent teams and working together with the entire community to bring out the very best in everyone. I aim to ensure RDS is the best school in the region and a school where people want to be. I want to see every child happy and excited when coming to school and talking with passion about their wonderfully engaging and challenging experiences at RDS. I also want to see parents feeling confident and happy with the choice they have made to send their child to RDS, and safe in the knowledge that their children will be given every opportunity to flourish and become responsible citizens for the future.

I also want to make staff happy, and ensure they have all they need to be professionally and personally prepared for providing outstanding, passionate teaching that caters for every single child’s needs. 

I like to visit classrooms on a regular basis to see how the children are learning and to discuss with them their progress. My door will always be open for anyone who wishes to talk about anything related to their children. It really is a great honour to come and lead RDS into its next chapter and I very much look forward to meeting each and every one of you soon. 

Inspirational Quotes

When asked for an inspirational educational quote, I simply could not choose between favourites from Steve Irwin (1962-2006) the Australian wild life expert, and British educationist Sir Ken Robinson (1950-2020). 

I am therefore going to choose both quotes and ask you a question … which quote most inspires you?

“I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.” Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin talks about the importance of passion and being excited. For me, children learn best when they have passionate teachers who make learning exciting for their students.   

“For most of us, the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail. It’s just the opposite: we aim too low and succeed.” Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson’s quote is important to me as we all sometimes make the mistake of taking the easy route as a way to avoid failure. We should all be prepared to take calculated risks and challenge ourselves if we are going to grow and develop further.

Which quote inspires you the most?


With kindest regards,

John Bagust

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