A INDEPENDENT school in Durham has become the first in the region to open a sister school overseas.

Durham School for Girls Doha (DSGD), has opened, welcoming more than 500 pupils who will be the first to benefit from Durham School education in Qatar.

Following three years of preparations and planning, girls from Foundation Stage One to Year 7 excitedly enjoyed their first day at their new school.

It was complete with a fun Harry Potter-style Sorting Hat session in which they all found out which of the five School Houses (Camel, Arabian Horse, Gazelle, Falcon and Oryx) they would belong to.

There will also be an overlap of governance with Durham School headmaster, Kieran McLaughlin sitting as a governor and Nick Millen, director of international operations as chair of governors.

Mr Millen said: “The opening of the school was truly amazing. There was a real buzz all around the place as children and their parents were coming in and it was incredibly rewarding to immediately see what a wonderful part the School will be playing in their lives.

“I had a combined sense of pride that Durham School had opened in Doha and confidence in the contribution that this new school will make to the educational landscape in Qatar.”

He continued: “We’re very much looking at this in terms of being one school, in two places while not undermining the sense of identity that the Doha school has itself.

“The relationship is based on a shared intent between Durham School and the investors in Doha to provide the best possible education to meet Qatar’s ambition for its young women and prepare them for life in the 21st Century while supporting them to maintain their national identity and culture.”

Located in a residential area in the Al Messila region of the city, DSGD is a single-gender school and campus, giving the girls and young women the freedoms to conduct their learning and daily life in an all-female environment.

Founding principal Vanessa Whay said: “After a lot of work and preparation in the run up to the opening of DSGD, I was delighted with the opening day."

Durham School headmaster, Kieran McLaughlin, added: “There’s a real sense of achievement and it’s good to know that a Durham School education will now reach girls and young women in Doha."