Soon after arrival in Qatar, for expatriates fortunate enough to have their families with them or sure about their landing in the country at a later date, the hunt for a suitable school for the kids begins. The task can be thankless and plenty of homework goes into making sure the child finds the correct school. In many cases, matters are made easier by the fact that there are plenty of schools in the country catering to different nationalities.
While many parents would automatically submit applications there, in other instances, some would place theirs in schools whose curriculum they would like their child to follow. An example of this would be an application by a non-American to an American school, which would help the child become aware of the US system and conceivably help him to get into a US college or university.
BQ magazine has picked out a few expatriate schools at random and gives a brief rundown on what they have to offer. The 17 schools have been listed alphabetically.
American School of Doha
ASD ensures value of learning for its students. This school, which is highly sought after when it comes to admissions, offers all kinds of facilities as it caters to a diverse range of nationalities. With many of the students aspiring to get into American higher education institutions, ASD provides a platform with its curriculum.
Plenty of after-school activities are on offer, sporting or otherwise, as well as field trips. The school encourages parents to be part of the learning focus and they are constantly updated on areas like academic progress. On-campus facilities are numerous, including a performance stage, sports activities, and cafeteria where healthy foods are made available.
Compass International School Doha
With three campuses in Doha, located at Rayyan, Gharaffa and Madinat Khalifa, Compass offers the International Primary Curriculum, English National Curriculum and the IB diploma. Each school provides a popular native Dutch programme which is available to Dutch and Belgian students. The Rayyan campus is the newest of the three and recently added 10 new classrooms, a sports hall, IT facilities and enhanced play facilities.
The 264 students in the 3 to 11 age group are from 48 different countries. The Gharaffa facility caters to the same age group and is the larger of the two primary school campuses, with 500 students from 47 nationalities. It offers outdoor grass play areas, a football pitch, swimming pool, multipurpose hall, two libraries, computer suite and dedicated language learning rooms.
Investments are made in iPads and learning with technology is a focus area. Although the curriculum is based on the British system, a number of languages are supported and programmes are offered for native Dutch and Arabic speakers. The Madinat Khalifa campus is for the 5-18 age group and students are encouraged to be grounded in numeracy and literacy and plenty of extracurricular activities are on offer.
Established in 1980, this is one of the oldest British curriculum schools in Qatar with 1,800 students between the ages of 3 and 18 drawn from over 70 nationalities. It operates under the British Embassy’s sponsorship and runs on a not-for-profit basis. Regular monitoring, tracking and mentoring of students, supports their development from Year 7 to Year 11, preparing the way for transition into 6th Form.
Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and Doha College’s extracurricular programme includes the International Award, Model United Nations, debating, sports, music and drama as well as local and international trips. As a school much in demand by parents, it is currently operating at maximum capacity at the Al Waab campus. A new campus, likely to be at Al Wajba, is to be set up which will add 30 to 40 percent to the student body.
Doha English Speaking School
British nationals are given priority when it comes to admission to DESS, founded in 1981, although the student body has a strong international element. DESS follows the English National Curriculum which allows children to gain the knowledge, skills and understanding to continue their education internationally or to return to the UK education system.
The school offers a cookery room, playing field, ICT suites, gymnasiums, library, music room and a swimming pool, ensuring the students find time for varied activities. Lessons are timetabled at the 20-metre, shaded swimming pool during the school week for all classes from preschool to Year 6. Plenty of after-school activities are also on offer to keep children busy.
Doha Modern Indian School
With a credo of `Learn to Live’, the school is the only Indian educational institution in the region to offer day boarding facilities, a boon to parents who both work. The school offers spacious classrooms equipped with projectors and internet, a library, science and ICT laboratories, a network of computers, art studio, music room and audio-visual room.
The recent addition of a new building has meant more classrooms. Along with a cafeteria, there is an indoor swimming pool and multipurpose hall. Children can access the badminton court and cricket and football fields. Students can also upgrade their skills in journalism, public speaking, quizzing, arts and crafts, yoga, karate, scouting and guiding.
GEMS American Academy
Located in Al Wakrah, GEMS offers an American curriculum based on the United States Common Core State Standards and others for children from KG to Grade 9. It empowers students to fully develop the necessary intellectual, emotional, social, creative and physical skills and offers a range of athletics and life-enhancing activities.
Students learn to make decisions independently, solve problems effectively and interact positively and with tolerance. It aims to ensure the school community values the Islamic faith and celebrates the language, traditions, history and culture of Qatar by placing these elements centrally within the curriculum framework. The school offers a science room, art room, robotics room, dance studio and football pitch, among other facilities.
German International School Doha
Principal Helmut Jolk says German families look for a school which secures the seamless re-integration into the German school system upon their return to the home country. Non-German families look for an additional language qualification for their children in order to give them better qualification in later life and easier access to German universities.
“From next school year on, we will have mandatory Arabic classes for our students in order to facilitate the mutual understanding and integration of the multiple nations at the school,” he adds. There is definite demand for Arabic from families of all nationalities.
A newly opened music school offers classes at all levels, including an instrument carousel, where students can try several instruments in order to pick the one which appeals the most to them. There are sports like football, handball, chess and field hockey as well as options for theatre and gardening. Use of computers is taught from Grade 1 onwards.
There is a waiting list for kindergarten, with seven groups already next year. Half the student body comprises Germans while many are from Europe and Arab countries where parents have ties with Germany, as well as Qataris.
Ideal Indian School
The school houses four sections, two of which are divided on the basis of gender, and the other sections for the junior and kindergarten students. The use of a ‘house’ system, means students are part of a particular house, named after famous personalities like Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi.
Students of these houses compete in activities in sports, arts, and sciences. Ideal has well-equipped laboratories, an engineering drawing room, basketball court, cricket pitch, health centre, library facilities and mosque and prayer arrangements. Special attention is given to slow learners.
International School of Choueifat Doha
Through the SABIS Educational System, the school, a member of the global SABIS School Network, ensures students develop the knowledge and skills needed to gain admission to top colleges and universities around the world. A new campus offers world-class educational facilities.
These include modern classroom buildings, computer laboratory, science laboratories, an integrated testing and learning centre, exam hall, library, an indoor semi-Olympic swimming pool, indoor multipurpose courts, a gymnasium, a grass football pitch, playgrounds and a cafeteria. The kindergarten section is equipped with its own play area, a car track and its own indoor swimming pool.
MES Indian School
Started in 1974, the school is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi and takes care of the all-round development of students’ personalities. MES is the first Indian expatriate school in Qatar to launch e-learning, which is facilitated by interactive classrooms. In 2010, MES launched the internationally benchmarked global curriculum, CBSE-i, which is learner-friendly, skill-based and stress-free.
The school has spacious classrooms, floodlit playgrounds, a swimming pool, well-equipped laboratories and an engineering drawing workshop for students. Special coaching in karate, athletics, basketball, table tennis, football and volleyball is given in the afternoons.
Pak Shamaa School
Affiliated to the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, the school meets the academic needs of the students but also takes care of a balanced personality of the future builders. The new campus provides spacious classrooms, playground and well-equipped science laboratories.
Students can take active part in co-curricular activities, especially in sports like cricket, football, and volleyball. The school works towards instilling positive attitudes among its students to ensure they have successful futures at colleges and universities and once they embark on their careers.
Philippine School Doha
Established in 1992, the school had 2,920 students enrolled in the 2014-2015 academic year. PSD received DepEd recognition in 2000 and is one of two schools to which it was granted in the Middle East.
The school provides students a learning experience in tune with the relevance of time and technology advancement that complements the holistic development of Filipino learners with a deep sense of nationalism and patriotism without departing from the Filipino tradition, culture, values and skills. PSD has clubs and organisations to cater to the needs of the students, a comprehensive sports programme, student government, publication, performing arts and educational outbound programme.
A part of Qatar Foundation, Qatar Academy offers two fully staffed libraries with services in English and Arabic available in each. The preschool library is for children from Preschool 3 through Grade 1 while the primary library is for students from Grade 2 through Grade 5.
The school auditorium can seat 250 people and is used for school plays and musicals, debates, choral and orchestral events and invited speakers. There is an Olympic-standard 50-metre swimming pool replete with electronic timing and scoreboards, training pools for young swimmers, a multipurpose sports complex, fitness centres, squash and tennis courts, running track, four football pitches, four indoor gymnasiums and a gymnastics room.
Qatar Canadian School
Small is beautiful for the school as 25 classrooms ensure students can get individual attention and not be lost in the shuffle. Interactive and constructivist studies are based on research by the universities of Calgary and Alberta, known for innovations in learning design.
The curriculum follows the Alberta Programs of Study and the school promotes English, French and Arabic studies. QCS grants Alberta Senior High School Diplomas to graduating students based on a credit system. To achieve this level, the students must earn a minimum of 100 credits with mandatory requirements in their course selection.
Qatar-Finland International School
The school prides itself in the fact that Finland has one of the best educational systems in the world and provides an education based on Finnish education practices. The primary school goes up to Grade 2 and in the 2015-2016 academic year, will expand up to sixth grade.
The main medium of instruction is English and all students study the Arabic language. The goal is to educate functionally bilingual students. The school’s indoor, outdoor and digital spaces form an integrated learning environment supporting child-centered active and playful learning as well as inquiry-based and problem-solving approaches.
The only overseas school developed by a historic and distinguished British school founded in 1550 under a royal charter. Sherborne’s ethos, outlook and standards are monitored from Sherborne Dorset, which also provides educational input. Sherborne Qatar has two schools: the preparatory school (pre-school – Year 6) and the senior school (Year 7 – Upper Sixth).
The school caters to the international and local communities. The educational experience focuses on the intellectual, the creative, the emotional and the practical talents of each pupil and the goal is to ensure that pupils learn the value of kindness, respect, manners, concern for others and service to the community. The academic programme, though rigorous, is offset by strong sports, drama, music and art at all levels. All schools in the Outstanding Schools Programme teach Arabic, Islamic studies and Qatar history.
The Phoenix Private School
Offering top-class educational facilities, there are two brand new, modern science laboratories and a prep room for primary and secondary lessons. A sensory room will be introduced for special educational needs. An outdoor sports area provides facilities for badminton, netball, volleyball, five-a-side football and basketball while there is a playground area equipped with slides and climbing apparatus.
A main hall is used as the indoor sports hall when required as well as the assembly and lunch hall. The school library provides conventional books long with a ‘Library go Kindle’ initiative which is aimed at providing e-books to students. There are plans to provide a horticulture facility which will allow students to grow their own food. Extra-curricular activities are encouraged to develop a well-rounded student.