Abu Dhabi: Parents in the capital are concerned about shifting their children from a British to an international school since they risk losing an academic year in the process.

Parents consider the English 'Years' versus the American 'Grades' system a loophole in the educational system. For example, a student aged 8-9 would be placed in 'Year 4' in a British school, whereas in an international school he/she would be placed in Grade 3, thus repeating a year.

When Shirley moved from South Africa, her two children were transferred from a British school to an international one. The school wanted to push the children one grade down.

However, after taking an entrance exam, it was apparent that neither student should be placed a year below their original year.

"Schools should consider the child's age and not their own year or grading systems. In any given class there could be a three year age gap between the students and I find that rather bizarre. My daughter, who is in Grade 5 has children aged 9 to 11 in her class, that's a concern for us parents. Even though my own children were lucky enough to be fitted in their original grades I am concerned about other families," she told Gulf News.

Dr Robert Thompson, Head of External Relations and Special Projects at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) told Gulf News that the ADEC currently reviewing the regulatory framework for private schools and will shortly publish revised by-laws and regulatory guidance for private schools in Abu Dhabi.

"ADEC is aware of the difficulties that some parents have experienced in placing their children in age-appropriate classes at certain schools," she said.

Anita S. and her family arrived from Asia in April. Her daughter now has to wait for the next academic year beginning in September.

"My daughter stands to lose over one-and-half years," said Anita.

Another Asian housewife said, "When I placed my children in an international school, my son was placed in a year below his actual grade. If we go back to our country in say five years it will be too late to have him join his original friends and grade."

Your comments

This is a silly thing to be worried about! In the US a child tests into a grade, the age is merely a suggestion. Your child will not be moved down JUST because of age - and as said the 'year' and 'grade' are NOT the same, so just because something sounds lower you must consider that they are not equal!! Just make the move to the International system - it is best.
Posted: May 14, 2009, 15:35