Posts Tagged ‘Dubai schools’
Like most parents, I’m trying not to skip about the house singing as we look down the barrel of the new school term. Yes, my lovelies, after 10 weeks off, my little angels go back to school tomorrow.
Are you ready? I am!
I don’t mean mentally. I’ve been mentally ready for school for the last four weeks. What I mean is that I’ve done all the necessary back-to-school prep to get the kids off to their classrooms with suitably stuffed pencil cases and spanking new lunch boxes and water bottles, as well as kitted out in school uniform that’s correct, fits and is labelled.
And please, non-parents, don’t underestimate how much effort that takes, from the tedious “trying on” of old uniform (budget at least half a day if you’ve got an uncooperative wriggler) to the sizing of the new uniform, wherein the sizes printed in the clothes bear absolutely no resemblance to the sizes of the actual clothes meaning your child has to struggle in and out of four different PE shirts labelled anything from age 6 to age 14 in a room with an ambient temperature of about 56C (or maybe that’s just our school’s uniform supplier).
And that’s before we negotiate the social minefield that is admitting on Facebook that you’re ironing in the name labels as opposed to sewing them in tiny backstitch. Yeah. Hands up to that one.
We’ve also come up with a tick-box menu for daily packed lunches; we’ve baked “pizza rolls” for the days when sandwiches are just too “meh”; and we’ve pre-made batches of morning pancakes. We’ve shopped for snacks and agreed that, for one fussy eater (I’m looking at you, DS), school lunch is the only way to go (never mind about that camo-print lunch box I lugged back from the States in my handbag!).
It’s fair to say – it really is – that we’re ready for school.
But then I look in the mirror and realise that, in all the prep, I’ve overlooked one thing.
In the rush of sorting out the children – in the excitement of getting them back to school – I’ve overlooked my pedicure.
My toenails are pale. They are unvarnished. They are in their August resting state. They may be neat, but they are as bare as the day I was born. This, in the circles of Dubai school mothers, is social kamikaze. What woman allows herself to be seen within the school grounds without at least two coats of TITO’s London Calling? DH, my love, my sweet… you’re on drop-off duty.
Over the summer, my children’s school has decided that it’ll no longer communicate with us via emails but using this fabulous new “school communicator” tool that we can all download to our computers, tablets and mobile phones. Hurrah!
Indeed, it seems like a great idea. You download it, sign up for information from whatever “channels” are of interest to you (whichever year group, school trips or extra-curricular stuff is relevant) and then receive up-to-date information delivered to you on the spot. Brilliant.
There’s just one catch, as far as I can tell: alerts – i.e. pieces of vital information such as “the school is closed today due to earthquakes / floods / falling masonry” will not be sent automatically. For “alerts”, you have to click on the “Alerts” button (forgive me if I’m wrong, but this is what I understand from the school’s letter to us) – so the onus is on the parents to do that each morning.
Indeed, as the Communicator blurb tells us, we should “get into the habit of switching on your PC before school in the morning (while making a nice cup of coffee for yourself” (and click on banner ads to “support our advertisers”).
Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?
Perhaps because that hour from getting up, bog-eyed at 6am to kicking the children out of the door at 7.10am, is spent making packed lunches, checking PE kits, filling water bottles, cooking breakfasts, coaching tired children through breakfasts, cleaning teeth, helping pack school bags, doing emergency homework, signing reading diaries – oh, and getting dressed myself.
Do you seriously think, at 6am with two knackered children to get out of the door, I’m going to sit at my desk, turn on my computer and enjoy browsing through The Communicator “with a relaxing cup of coffee”, while clicking on ads to support advertisers?
Seriously? What planet do these people live on? (One without small children to get to school by 7.30am, clearly).
I was feeling quite smug yesterday when I realised that I hadn’t got any cash out of the ATM for over a month. Obviously I’ve spent money – I’ve paid bills online, written cheques and used my debit card for the grocery shopping – but what it does mean is that I haven’t been frittering away bits of cash from my purse. You know: A coffee here, a pedicure there; a quick sandwich; something for lunch from Spinneys – nope, none of that has happened.
Which is great.
But then the end-of-term bills started rolling in. Not for next year’s school fees, of course – the bank transferred the bullion for the 2013-14 fees back in January – but for all the “little extras” that go with the end of the school year.
Today alone, I was asked by various school people for a total of AED 981 (£179), which I’m supposed to take to school, in cash, tomorrow, divided into various envelopes to be left at various collection points. Here’s a breakdown:
Class photos: AED 510 (£92.70)
AED130 or AED 255 framed (£23.60 or £46.30) – two children, two framed photos.
Year 3 School trip: AED 125 (£22.70)
Bowling + cinema (I’m not saying anything).
Costume for nursery summer concert: AED 46 (£8.30)
No doubt some piece of lurid nylon to be worn for an hour. If DS is anything like DD, he’ll fall sick and never even wear than damn thing.
Teacher end-of-term gifts – Nursery : AED 150 (£27.20)
For one teacher and two assistants.
Teacher end-of-term gifts – Year 3: AED 100 (£18.18)
For one teacher and half an assistant
Parent rep end-of-term gift – Year 3: AED 50 (£9)
TOTAL: AED 981 (£179)
I wonder what tomorrow will bring…
The KHDA (the UAE’s version of Ofsted, for those unaware) released the results of this year’s school inspections this week and I was delighted to see that my children’s school was not among the 12 that had been rated as “outstanding”.
Yes, I said not.
Obviously, the mums whose children go to the “outstanding” schools were looking a bit smug in Dubai’s coffee shops yesterday, but I personally think we mums should trust our own judgement more than that of the KHDA.
The KHDA ratings are done on a combination of school inspections, which are carried out with the school’s knowledge and hence open to abuse, as well as questionnaires filled out by parents.
Significant weight is given to the teaching of Islamic education and Arabic language; if these aren’t up to the KHDA’s expectations, the weighting of the school slides a little. My children go to a British school, with a British curriculum. That they learn Arabic is a wonderful thing, but it’s hardly the lynchpin of their school careers.
Anyway. When our school sent home the link to the online questionnaire, the headmaster pointed out what a disappointingly low percentage of parents had bothered to fill it out last year and appealed to the parent body to make more of an effort this year.
But, why would I want to fill it out? If I admit that the school’s as good as I think it is, it’ll get an “outstanding” ranking and hence be permitted to put its high fees up even more. The alternative is to lie and say it’s pretty rubbish – if we all did that, it’d get an “unacceptable” rating and wouldn’t attract good teachers.
So, stuck between a rock and a hard place, I didn’t bother doing it. Again.
But here’s the thing: My children run into the classroom each day without looking back; their teachers have all been excellent; the children astound me with the things they’ve been taught each day; they’re both making progress above my expectations; and they miss school in the holidays.
You can’t get more “outstanding” than that, can you?