As a parent, finding the right school for your kids anywhere in the world is extremely important. For families who have recently moved to Qatar, the process of finding a school and enrolling your children may be new and a bit different. Parents should research different schools, select their preferred choice, and visit the school to find out more about the learning environment and curriculum.
Having visited the school and checked that the most important features are there (such as qualified and continually trained staff, international curriculum, global links etc.), either go to the school to pick up an application form or visit their website. Most schools have an ‘Admissions’ tab where you will find admissions policies and criteria, and most schools allow for online enquiries and application. When reviewing the admissions criteria, check if the school prioritizes certain nationalities or if it is all encompassing without preference given to specific passport holders.
There are many different types of schools available here in Qatar, from international schools like Compass International School, to single-sex schools catering for specific nationalities. If you haven’t already visited the school, either schedule an appointment for a campus tour or submit the application. Once the application form is received by the school, an application and assessment fee is also due. By submitting your application form, and relevant fees, you are not automatically guaranteed a place. Application fees and placement assessment fees are non-refundable. Whilst Compass International School Doha values all children and offers an open admissions policy, many schools in Doha do not, and your child may be subject to formal paper tests and assessments.
At Compass International school Doha, we like to ensure that the fit of the child and school is a good one, and this might mean viewing previous school reports, seeing how a child interacts in the classroom, and asking older applicants to complete an online entrance assessment to ensure that we can meet your child's individual learning requirements. Expect good schools to ask your child to spend some time in the school before you or they make a final decision.
Throughout it all, check with your child and ask their opinion of the school. Do they like it? What’s their first impression? Are the admissions staff open to questions and willing to answer your queries? Your child’s acceptance as they move into a new school is imperative to reduce the adjustment time which comes from being a ‘Third Culture Kid’ or a local child moving into a new academic environment. Ask yourself, “Do I like it here at this campus?”
In most schools, once assessments are complete and approved, an offer will be sent with a timeline to return the signed agreement letter along with a seat reservation fee. Typically the seat reservation fee is non-refundable, but is usually deductible from the first term’s fees. It is highly advisable to return the signed agreement as, if not received, the seat may not be held and may be extended to another student on the waiting list. If your child finds themselves on a waiting list, it is imperative not to mention this to the child. Nothing can harm a child’s development more than the child going to a school knowing it may only be temporary and that they are, in fact, waiting for the “better” school to allow them in. Students tend to not try very hard both academically and socially in such circumstances.
Your child will be allocated to a class according to their date of birth. In accordance with the Ministry of Education regulations, students are required to be admitted to the year group for which they are age appropriate. To enter any year group your child must have satisfactorily completed the full previous equivalent academic year, and you are required to submit school reports or certificates to this effect.
Families coming from abroad into Doha need to be aware that the Ministry of Education has a cut-off date for registration as they enter into the academic year. This deadline is usually around mid-October and once passed, families will need to go to the Ministry of Education Private Schools Office to receive special permission to be registered. This special permission will not normally be granted prior to your child’s Qatar Identification (QID) being issued. It is imperative that the family sponsor stay in close communication with the company PRO to expedite the QID processing. Students transferring from a school within Doha can only transfer up until the end of March of the academic year.
It is a daunting prospect to negotiate this in a very competitive environment, but armed with the right information on what to look for, your child will thrive in a school chosen to suit their particular needs and ambitions.
Simon is Director of Learning at Compass International School Doha and recently contributed to Professor Deborah Eyre’s book on High Performance learning. He was assisted in compiling this article by Compass International School Doha’s Director of Admissions and Marketing, Erin Jordan
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