One of Dubai’s most expensive private schools, with a certain reputation among Western expat parents in the city, once again made to the local news with another far-fetched internal measure applied yesterday to a little more than 2000 students and their parents. Here we need to point out that similar action was not taken or reported elsewhere in the entire United Arab Emirates. Also, the decision of the school administrators has come quickly under fire from parents who took to the web, the local newspapers and wrote emails to the school administrators.
Parents of pupils at Repton Dubai were emailed by headmaster Jonathan Hughes-D’Aeth telling them the school would be closed yesterday due to the tremors emanating from Iran’s 7.8-magnitude quake. The school head claimed the shut-down was necessary to “allow for specialists to fully check the buildings”. “Our priority is to ensure the buildings are safe for children, parents and staff,” he wrote.
No other school in the whole country took any such similar measures, although nearly 150 private schools are registered in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi the schools are a little more than 200.
Parents were infuriated with the school’s decision as many of them had to arrange care for kids staying at home yesterday. Some questioned the quality of the construction of the school buildings, while others ask for a day of tuition fee refunds. Some posted on Twitter:
— Asma (@asmaalizain) April 17, 2013
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority responsible for private schools governance in Dubai, said in a Twitter post:
@dubaichronicle Schools must teach between 175-180 days per academic year, allowing flexibility for curriculum and unforeseen events.
— KHDA (@KHDA) April 17, 2013
According to our experience and observations, the KHDA was not very responsive to calls and emails regarding that particular school in the past, although many parents raised various concerns about the school since its opening in 2007.
Repton Dubai is owned and managed by a financial company. Although, it uses the name of an established school in the United Kingdom under certain arrangements, it is not managed by the UK’s Repton school, but it hires staff individually. On education and jobs-focused web forums one could read that the school head is recruiting teachers in the United Kingdom during meetings in airport hotels, which is unusual practice. In addition, many parents refer to the teachers at the school as “backpackers.”
The local newspapers often report scandalous news about the school. Few months back, Gulf News reported that students were prevented from attending school, because their parents were late with the tuition fee payment. About a year ago, Emirates News reported that a teacher was involved in an accident due to driving under influence. Even the Abu Dhabi-based The National newspaper reports of very frequent staff changes and other incidents.
At the same time, parents complain about their children struggling at the admission exams for other Dubai-based private schools and universities. During the two years of direct experience we have had with the school, we observed and experienced shocking lack of professionalism among teachers and administrative staff. The school owner refuses discussions, while from the financial company that manages the school, no one returned our numerous emails.
In the show business, a well-known practice for celebrities is to get involved in unusual and scandalous incidents in order to attract more attention from paparazzi and fans. However, the business of education is far more serious and such practices are not common.