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Unified Calendar For Every School In Abu Dhabi


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#1 wikiki

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:46 AM

Unified calendar for every school in Abu Dhabi

Afshan Ahmed

Last Updated: May 6, 2011

ABU DHABI //Every school in Abu Dhabi has been ordered to adhere to a unified calendar of holidays and term-time from the start of the new academic year in September.

The directive from education officials will particularly affect private international schools teaching curriculums from overseas, where exam dates are set by authorities in other countries.

Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) has told all private schools to comply with a Cabinet decree last month that unifies holidays for schools and universities.

The official school calendar will now comprise three terms: from about September 6 to December 15, from January 8 to March 22, and from April 9 to about June 28.

The most obvious impact will be on Asian-curriculum schools, which currently operate an academic year from April 3 to July 10, September 11 to December 22 and January 8 to late March 2012.

Other international schools are also worried. Bassam Abushakra, regional director of ESOL LLC, which operates the American International School in Abu Dhabi, said they had written to Adec about the difficulties they would face with the new calendar.

"It is not realistic for all schools to start and end at the same time because many require external testing, and the dates for such exams are set by external bodies, out of the control of the schools," he said.

“Adec informed us that they were unable to make changes as the decision was made by the Federal Government.”

Mr Abushakra said previously approved calendars had also been sent out to parents. “Our parents and teachers have already planned their holidays based on a calendar that was recently approved by Adec, and it will be costly to change those plans now.”

Clive Pierrepont, the director of communications for Taaleem, which operates the Raha International School, said they have had an indication that the authority will be flexible.

“Requests to vary from the unification will be considered, if made by schools that need to plan their calendars to take into account such things as the demands and timings of international examinations,” he said.

Some private schools have decided to alter their academic year without protest and have sent out circulars to parents with new dates.

A circular sent out by The British School Al Khubairat notified parents about the changes for the new academic year.

Paul Coackley, the principal, told parents the school had sought to minimise changes. “In essence, the changes are that we are required to take a three-week break at the end of the first term and the break at the end of term two will begin a week earlier.”

Lisa Lundqvist, whose daughter is at a British school in the capital, said if the school year were reduced it would adversely affect pupils.

“Teachers will not be able to finish lessons and it will reflect in students’ performance in tests,” she said. “Also, this will affect the quality that British schools need to maintain.”

Schools in the UAE follow 13 different curriculums, from the official Ministry of Education one to Asian, French, British, German and Filipino. All have historically followed different academic calendars and the move to align them has long been in the works.

In 2009, a decision was made by the Ministries of Education and Higher Education and Scientific Research to unify the start and end dates for all schools.

Public and private schools and universities following the UAE Ministry of Education curriculum were told to start the 2009 academic year on August 30, and start the end-of-year summer breaks on June 13, 2010.

Such attempts to unify the academic calendars are made, officials have said, because they want families with children attending different schools to be able to enjoy their holidays together.

This year’s announcement differs from previous attempts in that it is backed by a UAE Cabinet decree and applies also to private schools following international curriculums.

Authorities in other emirates have not yet asked schools to align their calendars. A representative of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai said the federal decision would be implemented, but not necessarily for private schools this year.

The Ministry of Education has not yet told private schools about any changes.

#2 Lara Croft

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:16 PM

Personally I like the dates proposed although I can understand why external testing and so on can be a problem.

This year my kids' school had 2 weeks for Christmas and then the next break was the week following Easter and that was too long between breaks in my opinion and the Easter break was too late in the year as it was getting too hot outdoors already. Also, I have noticed most holiday camps and so on follow the schedule of the British schools so we have always been out of synch with those. I have a friend who works at one school and her son goes to another school and they are always having problems with the holidays as they are rarely given at the exactly the same time.

#3 luckymama

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 12:16 PM

Thanks- had an inkling this was to happen. Guess that means we'll all now be travelling at the same times and flights may become more difficult to book. :huh:

#4 Luimneach

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 04:24 PM

As a teacher, we had our calendar approved by the Ministry only a couple of months ago and now this? It will send airfares through the roof :mad:

Edited by Shannonlass, 06 May 2011 - 04:25 PM.


#5 aussietania

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 05:46 PM

Yet another ill-conceived, badly thought out "good idea". Sigh.

#6 Contains Mild Peril

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 05:53 PM

The idea itself is sound. It's the execution which could have been better. If they'd given 12 months notice and published the 2012/2013 information, everyone would have had time to plan accordingly.

As for getting flights etc, it's no worse that the majority of the UK having school holidays at the same time of year - it's always chaos at the airport at the start of the holidays there.

#7 Lara Croft

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 07:50 PM

It's not as if everyone would be flying in the same direction presuming that most people go back to their home countries in the summer.

#8 ehe1973

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:51 PM

Yasmina's previously approved calendar had us starting on 11 Sep. My flight back to AD is 6 Sep, which according to the date above, is when we are suposed to be starting school. WHY on earth did they approve the calendars if this was "in the works." Honestly, I would just love a day in the shoes of the governing body here because it would be a day spent in utter ignorant bliss. So frickin irresponsible to approve something they knew wasn't going anywhere.

Where should we send the bills for all the change fees?









#9 Kassia

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 11:17 PM

I've already bought tickets to arrive back in AD on Sept 10th just in time for Sept 11th opening..and I can't change the dates now! :tantrum:

#10 Poppy

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 12:09 AM

It does say from about September 6th which is a Tuesday - unless you've been informed by the school already, it could be any day around that time, I guess??

#11 shell

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 06:27 AM

Gems where staring back on the 12th Sept, and now are returning on the 4th Sept, it wont efect me as i am returning back to Australia to live but i agree that they should of started it from the 2012/2013 school year. Just think how quiet the roads are going to be when schools all break at the same time , it will be spooky quiet

#12 Contains Mild Peril

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 06:42 AM

I'm sure there will be a lot of flexibility on the part of the schools if people have already committed to firm arrangements. I can't see them expelling anyone for missing a few days at the start of a term.

#13 ehe1973

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 08:13 AM

CMP- I agree that the schools will prob be flexible but that creates even more chaos. Schools use that first week of kids not showing up to determine spaces available.... my own child got the seat of a no show at the end of the first week of our first school year here. Now they will have to wait even longer. Plus, I scheduled to come back 5 days early to give the kids a chance to adjust to the time before jumping back into the school year. Even if it's only 1 day of school they are missing, they will be completely shattered for even longer as a result! Yasmina told us last week that the opening day would be affected by, "a day or two." Unfortunately that's not really true as we were starting on a Sunday. Therefore a day or two means the prior Wednesday or Thursday (7th/ 8th). It's just so frustrating that they wouldn't start this for the following school year! I don't actually have a problem with the standardization or the dates proposed~ just the fact that they can arbitrarily implement massive new rules on a whim when they already issued approved calendars!!! Posted Image

Edited by ehe1973, 07 May 2011 - 01:51 PM.


#14 kj

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 08:31 AM

! I don't actually have a problem with the standardization or the dates proposed~ just the fact that they can arbitrarily implement massive new rules on a whim when they already issued approved calendars!!! Posted Image
[/quote]


I agree totally. If they were planning to implement the standard calendar for next academic year then they should NOT have approved different school calendars when they were sent in, as schools have obviously informed parents of the approved holiday dates and people have made travel plans.

And personally I think 3 weeks at the end of term 1 is a long break considering all the public holidays the kids get with Eid/ national day anyway. I think it would be better to add a weeks holiday to one of the other breaks (IMHO).

Edited by kj, 07 May 2011 - 08:33 AM.


#15 Julieanne

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 08:33 AM

I've heard that Christmas day and Easter Sunday will be holidays - not sure if that is just a single day or part of a holiday break

#16 LMP

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 09:37 AM

I'm just generally annoyed by this. Even though our school is set to start on Sept. 6th already for the '11-'12 school year, our school normally starts in mid-August (and was planning to go back to that schedule after Ramadam moves forward a bit more). That aligns better with the U.S. school schedule (most schools there start mid-August as well). It's frustrating to be in the U.S. for holiday but have all the other kids already back in school. I know it's not a huge deal (and probably quite selfish of me) but we'd love to vacation with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and nephews and other friends with kids. Ok, that sounds really petty to say that I'm annoyed because it affects my vacation but it does affect our lives.

I think the test schedule is a very valid concern as well. The IB test schedule is set by an international body and it would put students here at a distinct disadvantage if they are being tested earlier in the school year with less instruction time than other students. I also like schools having different spring breaks - spreads out the load on plane tickets, places like kids' museums, etc.

I can see why all public schools should be on the same holiday schedule but if parents are making the choice to send their kids to private schools, then maybe this is a trade-off that they have to make when making the school decisions. Particularly the Asian school schedules mentioned in the article which is dramatically different. Would there really be families who would send some of their kids to an Asian curriculum school and some to an American or British curriculum school? I think that would be highly unlikely. It seems like this policy would benefit the small number of families with kids in different schools - and most families, that I know of at least, usually just do different schools for 1 year until they can get their kids in the same school.

Oh, I just thought of another reason they might want to implement this. I wonder if some families with more conservative backgrounds send their kids to a more Western private school during the early years and then switch to more conservative single-sex schools when they get older?

#17 Julieanne

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 10:32 AM

Oh, I just thought of another reason they might want to implement this. I wonder if some families with more conservative backgrounds send their kids to a more Western private school during the early years and then switch to more conservative single-sex schools when they get older?


This is the more likely reason LMP !

#18 nina

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 01:24 PM

I heard that the reason for all this was when Sheikh Mohammed wanted to take his grandchildren on holiday and was surprised to find that they all had different holidays. I think this has been done with the very bes of intentions - that families with parents and children in a variety of different educational establishments could have the same holiday - these December and March holiday dates include the higher education institutions too. I agree though, it's a shame that it couldn't have either been introduced earlier or that they waited until the next academic year. I know a lot of teachers at gov schools actually have their own kids in private schools, so I guess this was factored in too. I could never understand anyway why BSAK/Aldar/Bisad couldn't agree amongst themselves to have the same holidays anyway.

#19 LMP

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 01:37 PM

Ok, I'm feeling a little better about the intent behind this if there truly are many families that this affects. I do think traveling as a family is an important thing to do and if non-aligned calendars prevent many families from doing this, I'm probably okay with my tiny, petty gripe with us potentially not being aligned with the U.S. schedule.

....but something tells me this could be a slippery slope if they start trying to get in my private school's business *too* much....




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