ABU DHABI // Pupils at all schools will study longer into the summer next year after the academic year was extended by five days.
Abu Dhabi Education Council has issued a circular asking schools to increase the number of school days from 175 to 180 in the next academic year.
The extra week will be tacked on to the end of the year so that the last day for pupils will now be July 5, instead of the originally announced June 28. School ends on June 22 this year.
Teachers and administrators will also have a week for professional development until July 12.
“The revised calendar is much better in terms of an overall balance across the three terms,” said Peter Carpenter, director of education for Aldar Academies, which operates seven private schools across the emirate.
“We like our students to be in school as much as they can be.”
Until the new private school calendars are approved by the authority, most parents will still find the earlier finish date of June 28 on schools’ websites.
Private schools across Abu Dhabi are in the process of resubmitting their revised calendars for Adec approval.
“More teaching days is good news from my point of view,” said Brendan Law, headmaster of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.
“The 180 days requirement for private schools is in effect, as I understand it, so schools have been required to resubmit their calendars.”
But some school officials expressed confusion about whether the circular, issued in Arabic, applied to private schools.
At least one private school said it was not changing its dates because its calendar for next year had previously been approved by the education regulator.
Note: Private schools are granted a one-week floater week that allows them some flexibility in planning their academic calendars. This week is subject to approval by Adec.
The Ministry of Education and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, which oversee public and private schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, have not yet announced changes to the school calendars.
The Abu Dhabi authority confirmed the new calendar but did not reply to any other queries.
The new calendar also extended the winter break for public school pupils from three to four weeks, starting on Sunday, December 17, this year and ending Sunday, January 14, 2018.
Government schoolteachers and administrators will return to school on January 7 to take part in professional development.
Mansour Al Marzouqi, vice principal of a government school in Al Ain, said the longer winter break was welcomed, because it would give pupils and their families a chance to rest or travel. He said the authority did not explain why the winter break was lengthened.
“In my opinion, what Adec decides is beneficial because they have considered all the dimensions,” said Mr Al Marzouqi.
But one education consultant questioned the wisdom of closing schools during the coolest months of the year.
“Students don’t need rest,” said Judith Finnemore of Focal Point Management Consultancy. “They already have a shorter year than western countries, especially when sports days and days of practice for events are factored in.
“One might consider that this is the coolest part of the year, hence more suitable for learning.”
The dates for the winter break for private school pupils remain unchanged, beginning December 17 and ending January 7.