Suri's Superschool Comes to London; Last Week Katie Holmes Enrolled Her Daughter at the Newly Opened Avenues in New York -- and a UK Branch Is in the Pipeline. Jasmine Gardner Reports on an Education Revolution for the Rich
Byline: Jasmine Gardner
CALLING all moneyed mothers-tobe -- if you are still fretting over which top private school is right for your unborn child, then stop. For you, 2016 may hold the answer.
That is if you fancy enrolling your little one in a school that promises to dispatch only bilingual or trilingual children; an institution that will insist on each student becoming a master of at least one specialist subject; that plans to send your children to spend terms in Sao Paulo, Mumbai and Beijing; that will set your offspring up with a global network of contacts -- the children of high-flying parents, just like you. The price: approximately [pounds sterling]25,000 per year.
This is the proposal for the London campus of Avenues -- The World School, to be located, hints its CEO Chris Whittle, "south of Hyde Park" (which to any Londoner clearly means Kensington or Knightsbridge), set for completion in four years.
This is not a fantasy. The model for the school opened in Manhattan last Monday, welcoming through its doors six-year-old Suri Cruise, the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, as well as the children, Whittle says, of New York's entrepreneurs, technology brains, bankers and creatives. The idea, says Whittle, is that, "We think children over the next century will need to be prepared for what are likely to be very international lives."
But he also plans to turn a profit. The fees are just shy of $40,000 ([pounds sterling]24,600), which Whittle says is in line with 15 leading private day schools in New York. Avenues London may cost "a little bit less than that".
The school starts children off in its "early learning centre" at age three in an "immersive language programme" that sees them taking half of all lessons for the next seven years in either Mandarin or Spanish, and dictates that over their time at the school they will gain a "mastery" in one chosen specialism, because "wellrounded is no longer a guaranteed route to entry at the best colleges and universities", states the brochure.
They will also study a "world course" for the full 15 years, "a course that merges geography, history, political science, economics ... to ground our children in the histories and cultures of the world", developed by a team from Harvard.
What was once a groceries warehouse on 10th and 25th Street in Manhattan is now a 10-floor super-school for three to 18-year-olds -- with breakout areas for older students to use for self-study, a fully-equipped gym and 10th-floor basketball court, cafes, an outdoor balcony overlooking the New York High Line and rooftop play areas.
It has the technological infrastructure, says Whittle, "to run about 5,000 mobile devices simultaneously... Apple tells us we are the first school in the world to do what they call 'one plus one', which is starting at grade five [age 11] we give every child a laptop and an iPad, which they can take home," he adds, although all children from kindergarten level will have access to those devices in the classroom.
Over the next four years three almostidentical schools will be set up, with Avenues Beijing planned for 2014, Sao Paulo for 2015 and London for 2016, eventually to become "one school with 20 campuses in the great cities of the world", says Whittle. …