Dubai: Schools reported high student attendance on the first day of the new academic year on Sunday, with some confirming record enrolments for the 2017-18 cycle.
A number of private schools told Gulf News classes were full or near capacity on Sunday as pupils returned after the long summer break, which started on June 23.
Multiple schools run by Taaleem, one of the UAE’s biggest education providers, said student turnout was robust. At its Dubai British School (DBS), student enrolment is now at a record high of 1,152 pupils.
DBS principal Brendon Fulton said on Sunday: “What a pleasure to finally have our students back in the classrooms, playground and corridors today. Other than a few who are late in coming back from their home country, we had an almost perfect register.”
Greenfield Community School, another Taaleem school in Dubai, welcomed 300 new students, the largest number of new students in recent years, said school principal Andy Wood. He described the development as “evidence of the growing reputation of the school”, adding that “lessons started from the first minute [on Sunday] and there is a purposeful energy in every classroom”.
At Abu Dhabi-based Raha International School, also part of Taaleem, classes start on Monday with a record high of more than 2,060 students, including 450 new pupils who attended orientation on Sunday, said school principal Iain Colledge.
GEMS Education, the UAE’s biggest private education group with 46 schools in the country, also reported a healthy student turnout, including over 100 outstanding Emirati students who have been given scholarships through the Mohammad Bin Rashid Distinguished Students Programme.
As a programme partner, GEMS Education welcomed the Emirati students into 10 GEMS schools in Dubai, and will receive another 50 students over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, GEMS Al Barsha National School in Dubai has tripled its student numbers since opening last year. School principal Lesley Isherwood said: “The first day in GEMS Al Barsha National School for Girls and GEMS Al Barsha National School for Boys has been overwhelmingly happy and positive. In crisp new uniforms and with the excitement of the year ahead FS1, FS2 and Y1 — Y9 girls have started in our girls’ school and Y1 — Y9 boys in our brand new boys’ school, located immediately next door.”
In Sharjah, Delhi Private School (DPS) enjoyed full attendance of its 6,000 students, said school principal Vandana Marwaha. She added that New DPS in Sharjah, which opened this year, has 900 pupils on its roll. “Both students and teachers are excited to be back after the long summer break. We were well-prepared to receive them all,” Marwaha said.
Last week, many Indian and Pakistani schools, which started their second term after the summer break, also reported strong student attendance. Their new school year had started in April.
Dubai private school principals welcome back students
Karen Green, The Children’s Garden - Green Community: “The Children's Garden - Green Community is alive again! Our families returned safe and well this morning, very happy that school has started for the year. Our lovely, re-designed nursery classroom opened its doors to children for the first time today and everyone, including parents, played happily in the bright, spacious multi-purpose area. In pre-kindergarten the children had a lovely time re-discovering our open air sand pit and bicycle area, enjoying being reunited with their friends. Our KG1 and KG2 children were delighted to see all their familiar teachers again and have quickly settled into their new classes. Art and music lessons have already begun and swimming is anticipated eagerly for later this week. How many adventures will we have together this year?"
Stephen Sharples, GEMS FirstPoint School: “It was a proud moment to see all of our students return to school. It was wonderful to see the children rush through the doors as the new school year began, to see such a thirst for learning and an atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm permeating through the school. We have seen all students and staff settle back to school so quickly and great relationships between students and staff have already begun. Our welcome-back activities have included assemblies, GEMS Music Academy performances, treasure hunts around the school, meet-the-teacher sessions and setting attendance and punctuality expectations using our unique bears Punch and Dance. Our unique approach to encouraging good school attendance meant that the vast majority of students were on time and in class on the first day.”
Helen Black, The Children’s Garden-Barsha: “We have had a fabulous start to our school year, we have welcomed many new and returning families after the long summer break. It was heartwarming to welcome all their smiling faces this morning and to see the wonder as they explored the new pirate ship in the playground! An amazingly calm and happy start to the new school year!”
Lesley Isherwood, GEMS Al Barsha National School: “The children have met their teachers, toured the school and engaged in activities to get to know each other. In each school, our students enjoyed a whole school assembly where the Principal/CEO and SLT welcomed them to the start of the new year and shared with them the expectations for the year ahead. The students also enjoyed input led by the Islamic Studies staff team to learn more about the importance of Eid Al Adha. To support this further, all parents were welcomed to school with a small gift of dates to enjoy. At the start of school we have also been sharing our vision and core values so that these becomes embedded quickly across the two schools.”
Sharon Storrie, Dubai British Foundation: “DBF was delighted to welcome new and returning students and parents today, and to see the school come alive with children's energy and enthusiasm. The past few weeks have been productive but a school can never really be a school until our most important people are with us. We are very much looking forward to a positive and industrious year ahead.”
Andy Wood, Greenfield Community School: “September 10 marks the 10th anniversary of the school, so we have a great deal to celebrate… Parents have given very positive feedback about the warm welcome to the school and the well-organised new student orientation sessions."