Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Nerves and excitement as Abu Dhabi pupils head back to school

Parents and pupils flood school gates on first day of new academic term

Tariq Riaz joins his daughter, Emma, 3, on her first day to school at Brighton College Abu Dhabi - Khushnum Bhandari for The National
Tariq Riaz joins his daughter, Emma, 3, on her first day to school at Brighton College Abu Dhabi - Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Tens of thousands of pupils flooded through schools gates across the UAE on Sunday, as the new academic year began ending a long summer break.

For many three and four-year-old children, Sunday marked their first day at school ever.

Clad in fresh uniforms, new backpacks and brimming lunch packs, pupils were accompanied by parents and teachers as they hurriedly made their way to class.

Some schools welcomed pupils on Thursday for an induction day, but it was business as usual on Sunday as most classes began from 7am.

From left, Morgan Beedie, 9, and Sean Beedie, 11 joined by their mother on their first day at their new school, Brighton College Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
From left, Morgan Beedie, 9, and Sean Beedie, 11 joined by their mother on their first day at their new school, Brighton College Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Sean Beedie, 11, and his sister, Morgan, 9, commuted from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to mark their first day at their new school, Brighton College Abu Dhabi.

“I am feeling a bit nervous but I’m excited too,” Sean told The National.

“It’s sad knowing I won’t be at the same school as my Dubai friends but meeting new friends will be fun,” he said.

Having lived in the UAE for two years, Sean and Morgan's hour-long drive from Dubai on Sunday marked the first of many, as the duo will be making the commute for about a month, before moving into their new home in Abu Dhabi.

"The 4.30am alarm clock is really annoying but I'll get used to it," Sean said.

On Saturday, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed wished pupils a happy and successful academic year.

"With the start of the new school year, energies have been renewed, as have aspirations for this to be a year of success, excellence and creativity," the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces said on Twitter.

"We wish to God Almighty that this will be a good year and a success for our children by adhering to noble values and continuing the pursuit of knowledge and modern science."

He also wished success to schools and their teachers.

While Sunday marked the start of the new 2019-2020 academic year for many schools, including those following the British, International Baccalaureate (IB) and American curriculum, other campuses, such as ones following Indian and Pakistani curriculum, marked the start of a new semester.

Father-of-two, Gaurav Varma, joined his youngest child, Krishiv, 3, as he started his first day of “big school” at Brighton College Abu Dhabi.

He was one of more than 100 pupils who started FS1 at the school.

“We have another child in Year 2 so it feels surreal to have both children in big school now,” Mr Varma said.

Like all FS1 pupils at Brighton College Abu Dhabi, Krishiv will be doing staggered hours in class for the first four weeks to help with the transition.

“Thankfully there was no drama this morning getting Krishiv ready for school,” Mr Varma said.

“He has been talking non-stop about starting the same school as his big brother so there was no nervousness, just excitement.”

Like Krishiv, three-year-old Emma Riaz started school for the first time too. Her mum and dad, Zaara and Tariq Riaz, accompanied her to class.

“She’s been looking forward to starting the same school as her big sister, but I think she is a little overwhelmed now we are here,” her mother, Zaara, said.

More than 370,000 pupils went back to school in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, as more than 450 public and private schools opened their doors after the two-month long summer break.

About 1,800 pupils returned to Brighton College Abu Dhabi, including more than 100 FS1 pupils.

Kelly Mansbridge, head of pre-prep at the school said it is an exciting time of year.

“Our FS1 pupils are spread across six classrooms this year,” she said.

"A lot of the time we see more tears from parents than pupils on the first day back as it's a big step for everyone.

“We started the transition process [for FSI pupils] in March and invited children and parents in for a few play dates to get them familiarised with the school and teachers.”

Updated: September 1, 2019 12:58 PM

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