Schools are hopeful for a positive turnout on the first day of the new academic term as they prepare to welcome over 1.1 million students back to their campuses on Monday, following a two-month summer vacation.

However, schools are also organising staggered entries throughout the week to ensure that there is time for introductions, school tours, and orientation sessions, supporting new students in adapting to their environment, peers, and academic expectations.

Indian schools are looking forward to commencing their new term, however, they acknowledge that a few schools might experience lower attendance in the initial days.

This is because many individuals may wish to observe the festivities of Onam and Rakshabandhan, both falling on August 29 and 30 respectively, before returning to the UAE.

Ghadeer Abu-Shamat, Superintendent and CEO, Al Khaleej International School, and Vice President - Education, GEMS Education said, “We are optimistic about a strong turnout in the first week of the academic year, and we expect a full attendance of over 2700 students. To ensure a smooth start and promote a conducive learning environment, we have meticulously designed a staggered entry plan, which minimises congestion, streamlines administrative processes, and provides a comfortable settling-in period for everyone involved. This strategy means that new students commence their journey with us on 28 August, allowing them and their parents to experience a dedicated orientation day.”

“Subsequently, on Tuesday 29 August, all other students will join, marking the official beginning of classes. For KG students, they will be divided into groups and start over the course of the week. As of now, we have not received any requests from parents regarding a delayed return to school. However, should such cases arise, we are keen to support families who may encounter difficulties in returning to the UAE due to elevated airfares and travel limitations,” she added.

Back-to-school preparations

Headteachers said preparations for the new academic year have been underway since the first week of August.

Collaborative efforts between educators and support staff over the weekend have focused on addressing logistics and instructional elements, ensuring the preparedness of systems, materials, and resources, right from the start.

Emma Shanahan, Principal at Aspen Heights British School, stressed her excitement. She said, “Staff at are rested, renewed, and ready to embark on an exciting and ambitious academic year. We know that a student's sense of belonging, safety, and happiness is critical in ensuring they thrive academically.”

Over the summer break, many schools saw their teachers participating in various trainings aimed at assisting young adults

She added, “During the summer vacation, many colleagues undertook young adult mental health first aid training, ensuring we are all informed and confident to support our children and young people. We want our students’ school experiences to truly be 'the best days of their lives', and by ensuring our staff are self-assured and well-trained to support them, we are confident that their Aspen school experiences will be full of success and positive memories.”

Highlighting the innovative approaches to school curriculum, Dr Jay Teston, Principal at Nibras International School said, "We are really looking forward to welcoming our community back to school and are excited about this new year. After a year-long discussion with contributions from the entire community, we will be starting this school year with a new Learning Framework.”

Parents must be involved

Principals also highlight parents must engage in regular conversations about their child's expectations and goals for the term and offer their support by creating a conducive study environment at home.

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO - Principal at Credence High School, said, “We are all eagerly waiting to welcome our students on the first day of the second term, after a refreshing summer break. As the new term begins, students should review and organize their study materials from the previous term to refresh their learning. We are sure our students have set clear academic goals, and they have a study schedule to manage their time effectively.

Parents must also continue to have open communication with their children to track their progress and address any challenges that may arise. They should be rest assured that the teachers will continue to give their best, to ensure that every student makes progress.”

Delay in some returns

Meanwhile, as families get ready for the new term not everyone is getting back on the same day. Staggered entries, Indian festivals, and elevated airfares are some of the main reasons why all students may not return on Day 1.

Manal Manzoor’s children will join school a little later as the early start this year led to some initial confusion in booking the return dates.

“I had booked tickets for August 31, assuming the school would reopen on September 1. It was only later that I realised that the school year would start on August 28. I tried rebooking their tickets to an earlier date, but the airfare was just too high,” said Manzoor.

Egyptian expat in Dubai Mariam Kiwan said, “My child who will be going to Year 4 has ‘Hopes and Dreams’ in her school tomorrow which is a ten-minutes interaction with the new class teacher. Students are supposed to go and meet the new homeroom teacher along with their parents. This is a good opportunity for students to share their aspirations and goals with their teachers, meet their new teacher, and set a positive tone for the upcoming academic year. Regular classes for her begin on Tuesday.”

She added, “While we are all excited about the new school year and everything has been bought and is ready, it most importantly means going back to a proper routine. For my daughter, it means a new class and new friends but the only thing that she is unhappy about is waking up early and returning to regular studies. But needless to say, school means being more organised both for the student and the family and we all are looking forward to it.”

Then there are children who will be going to a proper school for the first time. Their parents wait with anticipation for the big day.

One such mother, Surumi, said, “This being Huda’s first time in a big school versus a nursery, preparation has been mostly getting her excited about new friends, and new experiences, while assuring her that we can still keep in touch with her friends from nursery. Shopping for her uniform was especially exciting for her. She’s very excited. I’m worried about how she acclimates to a completely new place; however, the school follows a staggered start, and the shorter hours will definitely help.”

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