Accepting a new job in Qatar and moving your life to a new country is one thing, but bringing children along with you is another. One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is the opportunity to get a quality education, but to find the correct school, as a parent, you need to do your own homework. Here are some of the most common considerations and challenges parents in Doha face.
1 Diversity: Being in an international climate, you will need to consider the diversity of your child’s potential classmates. How many different languages will be spoken; what sort of cultural background do the other children come from, and will this benefit your child?
2 Language: Along with culture, language is of utmost importance. What is the primary language of the school as well as other languages they may teach and communicate in? Living in such a diverse community, children have the opportunity to learn from those around them.
3 Location, location, location!: As is with many other things, location is very important. What is the neighbourhood like? Is it near your home or work; are there other schools in the area and what other amenities are nearby?
4 Curriculum: The curriculum offered is one of the most vital parts of your decision process, especially if you are considering moving back to your home country at some point. Many parents are concerned that if their child follows, for example, an American curriculum but are British, they might have difficulty converting it to a British curriculum when they return to the UK.
5 Price: Pricing is significant for most parents, especially those whose company does not have provisions for education. Price, however, is not a proxy for quality, although it can be an indicator – schools that charge have theoretically more to invest in teachers and facilities.
6 Traffic: As Qatar continues to grow, more and more people make the move, which affects the traffic congestion in a big way. Some people may spend more than an hour in traffic to cover a distance that would normally take them 15 minutes. Sometimes this will be unavoidable, but, if possible, try and find somewhere that won’t result in half your day being stuck in traffic.
7 School facilities: If you get opportunity, try and pay a visit to schools you may be considering. Get a feel for the safety of the building and quality of the facilities.
8 After school activities: If both parents are in full-time jobs, after school activities may be essential. Maybe you come from a country where baseball is part of your culture and therefore you may want to find a school that offers that? However, you may need to consider external companies that provide sporting activities for children in compounds and other locations.
9 Homeschooling: You may want to consider if homeschooling is an option for your family. There are great homeschooling networks in Doha where you can get the support you may need, like the Doha Home Educators: www.dohahomeeducators.wordpress.com.
10 Company Affiliation: Another important factor when considering a school is to chat to your company’s HR department and find out if they are affiliated with any of the schools. Some schools may have openings reserved for certain companies, although they may not explicitly state so.
11 Sibling priority: Does the school have sibling priority? Some do, whereas others don’t. If you have a teenager in high school, you may want to find out which schools offer sibling priority, which may increase your chances of getting a placement.
12 Admin and documents: Before you can begin applying you need to make sure you have the basic requirements to do so, such as a copy of your child’s and your Qatar RP, your passports, latest school reports, nursery report, passport photos and relevant application forms and fees (usually on the school’s website).
13 Start as soon as possible: Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a chicken and egg situation as you can only apply once your child has received their RP, but start looking for which schools have vacancies as soon as you can.
List of (some) Doha Schools
Doha English Speaking School National UK Curriculum.
www.dess.org; firstname.lastname@example.org (4459 2750).
Doha College National UK Curriculum.
www.dohacollege.com (4407 6777).
Cambridge School Doha National UK Curriculum.
www.tcsqatar.com (4469 6590).