Student dropped off home after first day of school after winter break in dubai
The familiar yellow school buses are back on the roads Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: With the start of the new year, schools across the UAE kicked off a new term today with over 1 million students returning to classrooms.

The new session follows a three-week long winter break that included the Christmas and New Year holidays, and saw many families travelling abroad to spend the holidays with family and friends back home. Students and educators are now back on campuses, with the new trimester set to be one filled with activities and events.

GEMS Royal Dubai School 1-1672668844871
A student and educator reunite at GEMS Royal Dubai School on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Exam preps

January is the start of the second term of the academic year for UAE Ministry of Education (MoE), British, American, and International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum schools. The month however marks the start of the final term at Indian and Pakistani curriculum schools, where preparations will be in full force for the end-of-year exams that are set to begin in February.

According to the academic calendar released by the MoE for the current academic year 2022-2023, the current term will be about 91 days long at most schools, with 67 days for actual study, and 24 days as weekly holidays.

Competitions and events

This term is also the first in over two years in which the return to school has not required any precautionary measures. Until last term, face masks were mandatory for many groups of school staff. Schools are therefore lining up many more school-wide and interschool competitions, especially ones that take advantage of the pleasant winter weather sweeping the UAE,

New students

Kelvin Hornsby, principal and chief executive officer at GEMS World Academy – Abu Dhabi and senior vice president for education at GEMS Education, told Gulf News:

“2023 is a year that is going to be full of excitement for us here at our new Al Reem Island campus. The school continues to grow, and we’ve had 50 new starters this term alone. The challenge and the preparation to ensure that everything was in place for our learners and their families was an exciting one for us. It’s been fantastic to have all of the children back on site today. There was lots of excitement and laughter first thing this morning, which is what you want to hear as many haven’t seen each other for three weeks.”

The IB curriculum school is also focussing on professional development for its educators as it works to achieve High Performance Learning World Class school accreditation, as well as IB training for all teachers. Hornsby said there is also a concerted effort to increase children’s access to technology, and their awareness of being global citizens.

Paramjit Ahluwali, principal and director at Dunes International School, said the school community had hit the ground running.

“The school comes back to life when our students return, as always, and I noticed today that our students were well prepared and settled, even on the first day back. They were also eagerly awaiting their school activities and sports, having missed them over the last few weeks,” he added.

Ahluwalia said the staff spent time at the end of the first day planning for the students’ last 100 days of the academic year. This term, the Indian curriculum school will organise its final exams.

‘I’m so excited’

Overall, the first day back appeared to be busy for most families and schools, with the familiar sight of yellow school buses plying the roads and uniformed children heading in at the school gates.

“I am so excited to be back to school and see my friends. I am a member of the netball squad and I look forward to starting back training,” said Hind Al Ali, a Year 3 student at GEMS Royal Dubai School.

“It has been a wonderful day welcoming our new and existing students back to GEMS Royal Dubai School for Term 2. We have been fortunate enough to open a new FS1 class this term, and it has been great to see the happy faces of our new joiners in their smart school uniforms. We look forward to another exciting term ahead,” said Lauren Pennington, assistant head teacher for Years 2 to 4 at the GEMS Royal Dubai School.