New policy sparks confusion over school start dates in Qatar

Back to school

Avolore / Flickr.com

The introduction of a unified summer holiday for all schools in Qatar is apparently causing significant confusion amongst parents of children in private schools.

The uncertainty was sparked by a memo circulated by the Supreme Education Council (SEC) this week, stating that the school year would begin on Sept. 10.

The information was a reminder of the policy that the SEC set last November – that all of Qatar’s public and private schools would break from June 26 to Sept. 9.

The council previously explained that the decision was made following complaints from parents about coordinating family vacations across varying school calendars.

Different schedules

Despite the ruling, many schools in the private sector continue to set their own schedules, in part to match the norm in their countries of origin, which fit in with curriculum requirements and national examination periods.

Some, however, have fudged the start date of classes after receiving this week’s reminder of the new policy.

International school ACS, for example, has pushed back the first day of school, but will continue with planned induction sessions on Sept. 8. Parents were notified about the change last week.

Sherborne Qatar has also pushed back its start date two days. In a note to parents, the British school said:

Following a directive from the Supreme Education Council, we are required to amend the arrangements for the start of the Autumn Term and cannot now begin until Tuesday 10th September.We apologise for both the late notice and the inconvenience, but the circumstances are beyond our control.

Other British schools, however, said they don’t plan to change their Sept. 8 start dates. Speaking to Doha News, Doha College, Park House and DBS confirmed that they intend to hold student induction days early next week as planned.

If changes must be made, advanced notice would be appreciated, Rachel, a mother of a child at Doha College, told Doha News:

“I have no problem with the children going back later, but parents need more notice than this, as plans need to be made for child care etc, especially if parents work.”

Some schools still appear to be sorting out their plans. The Peninsula quotes an official at an Indian school that had originally planned to start on Sept. 8 as saying that they will have to decide what to do “very soon” if the SEC “insists on the new date.”

Meanwhile, some students are already reporting to school. The American School of Doha (ASD), for example, began its academic year last week. Furthermore, Qatar’s Filipino schools operate an entirely different schedule, with the academic year beginning in June.

On Twitter, the SEC said it has not yet ruled out setting the schedule for other breaks, meaning further changes to the school year could be in the cards.

Have you been affected by any last-minute changes? Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Avolore

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