Dubai, UAE: Parents of around 100 grade nine students who go to GEMS Winchester School in Oud Metha, Dubai, worry they will not find admission for their children after the school was not granted permission to start grade 10 classes.
The parents claimed they were informed late — in March — that the school’s request to open grade 10 classes was denied for the second time by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
“Admissions close in May. They informed us at the end of March, that is too late. I have tried to enrol my daughter in 12 schools and they all took a registration fee that ranges from Dh500 to Dh1,000 only to say later that they don’t have any available seats or put us on a waiting list,” said M.P, one of the parents that voiced his complaints.
M.P. said around 100 other parents are also struggling to find school seats for his children. He said schools with available seats are very expensive and charge around Dh40,000, which is a huge jump from the Dh18,000 school fee they pay at their school.
Jenny M., who is also struggling to find a seat for her daughter, said she might have to take a loan to guarantee her daughter a seat in one of the over- budget schools with available seats, for the next academic year.
“The school gave us the impression that they were 100 per cent going to get approval for grade 10 for the next academic year, so we did not look to book any other seats for our children because that would mean paying Dh5,000 to Dh10,000 for no reason.”
Jenny said, however, if the school had not raised the parents’ hopes they would have paid to book seats earlier.
“I have approached four British schools and all of them said they will put her on the waiting list. There are only two solutions left — either take a loan or enrol her in a school in Sharjah and have her go through a two-hour trip daily to get back home in Marina.”
Another parent, I.A., also said he did not look for a school earlier because the school was confident that it would get the KHDA’s approval.
“We were informed officially by the school when it was too late. Everyone is running around. GEMS Winchester did not refer the cases to other schools either. If you have around 70 students who can’t continue studying, they should have helped with alternative placements. We pay a Dh500 non-refundable fee for an entry test for each school and after that they say they don’t have seats available.”
Mohammad Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Permits Commission at KHDA, said the request to add grades is decided by the KHDA based on the quality of education the school offers.
Commenting on the Winchester school situation, Darwish said: “The KHDA expects schools to have required approvals in place before making promises, offering places and collecting deposits/fees for the services they are not yet authorised to offer.”
He also said in such situations schools are required to plan better, giving parents enough time to find places in other schools and ensure a smooth transition should the expansion plans not materialise.
Despite parents claiming that the school informed them too late, a spokesperson from the school said otherwise.
“The GEMS Winchester School, Dubai, offers the national curriculum for England for students from Foundation Stage 1 to Year 9. Unfortunately, the school did not receive the necessary approvals to extend Year 10 classes for our students. All parents were engaged and informed at an early stage, to enable the facilitation of suitable arrangements for their wards. We are supporting families by offering priority placement in schools where we may have places available.”
The parents also said they have not received any priority placement in other schools from GEMS Winchester.
© Gulf News
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