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Students return after summer vacation at Pakistan Education Academy in Oud Metha, Dubai, on Monday Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Students reunited with peers and teachers while many new admissions marked the beginning of a new school year in the UAE today.

The familiar yellow school buses were seen on the roads again this morning after two months of summer break. Police patrols and officers were out in full force in and around school zones to ease traffic and secure road users. More than 1.2 million students in private and public schools marched back to class on the first day of the new term.

Nargish Khambatta, Principal, GEMS Modern Academy and Senior Vice President – Education, GEMS Education, said: “We are so ready to embrace a new school term and new academic year after a rejuvenating summer break. The summer months give us the all-important pause to reconnect with loved ones and celebrate the importance of family time."

She added: "But, as we resume our school routines, our focus is recalibrated to our unwavering focus on learning. Through the partnership of our faculty and parent community we will continue to pave the way for comprehensive development that shapes our students into well-rounded individuals prepared for the future’s successes and challenges.”

Naveed Iqbal, Principal/CEO GEMS Metropole School – Motor City, said the school welcomed over 800 new students, with total enrolment set to reach 4,000 pupils.

He added: “We had some tears of joy, nervousness and that is all expected on the first day of school. The teachers were warm and welcoming and I saw the anxiety and nerves subside on the faces of many children.”

Swelling admissions

Lisa Whyte, Group Head of Admissions, Taaleem, said: “Taaleem began this academic year with a significant nine per cent increase in enrolments, reaching 14,000 students compared to 12,860 the previous year. Among the many highlights, Jebel Ali School, which was acquired just over a year ago, saw an impressive 11 per cent growth. DBS Jumeirah Park witnessed a five per cent growth and is now operating at full capacity, akin to its counterpart, the Dubai British School Emirates Hills. Greenfield International School recorded a very commendable nine per cent growth.”

Excited families

Samira Hammadi sent off her two daughters Sophie (Year 4) and Eva (Year 1) to Amity International School.

“Seeing our children’s excitement about returning to school warms my heart as a mother. The past weeks were filled with anticipation especially as we prepared for Eva. She is now proudly wearing her blue shirt—a symbol of the new phase of her school journey. Sofia, too, has eagerly joined in with her infectious enthusiasm.”

Another set of happy parents were Jack Rigby and Melanie Scharpf who were dropping off their son Max to FS1/Nursery at the same school.

“We talked about all the fun things he would experience, sorted his supplies together, and had a hearty breakfast. I assured him he’d do great, and we celebrated his bravery for this new adventure,” they said.

A mother of two students attending GEMS World Academy – Abu Dhabi said her children came back home elated after their first day at school.

“It was important to create a positive mindset of my children and we discussed what to expect on the first day. The school parents’ sessions were great, as it helped us get familiar with the new teachers and new routine for our children,” said Dana Al Hammadi, parent of Alyazya (Year 5) and Mahra (Year 3).

Alyazya said his first day at school went smooth. “The teachers and assistants were friendly and welcoming. The school tour was also so helpful and informative,” he added.

In numbers

1.2 million head back to school for new academic term (2023-2024)

14 new public schools added

20,000 UAE students move from private to public schools

1,200 school bus drivers trained on “golden rules of safety” in Sharjah

3 hour office break for parents on first day of school

Dh1,000 traffic fine for not stopping at a school bus sign