RTA Surveys Parents on School Timings

Do you think an earlier or later start could help your children - and reduce congestion? The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority clearly thinks so, and is asking parents their thoughts on changing the times of the school day.
RTA Surveys Parents on School Timings
By Jenny Mollon
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Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) survey on school start timings has been sent to parents across a broad spectrum of schools in Dubai.

As reported in The Khaleej Times, the purpose of the survey is to “assess the impacts of modifying the current school start and end times on road traffic congestion”.

Schools in Dubai typically start anywhere between 7.15am - 7.30am, with a handful starting later, at around 8.00am. The survey gave parents the option of indicating their preference for start times between 6.45am - 7.30am.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com regularly polls parents on each of its school visits. Traffic and road safety are often significant and emotive concerns of most parents we speak to. Parents cite long bus or car journeys, early starts and heavy traffic as having a negative impact upon their children’s lives. Many parents also express how much they would love their child to be able to cycle or walk to school. According to the WSA Parent survey, only 5% of students in the UAE are able to do so. 

This being is a topical subject for so many, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has talked to both parents and school leaders for their reaction to the options presented by the RTA.

Valerie Nordin, a parent at Kent College Dubai in Meydan was concerned that an earlier start time would impact her two children, aged 4 and 7.

Speaking to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, Mrs Nordin had this to say, 

“I really hope that they don’t change the school timings. My children were previously at a school that started at 7.30am, whereas at Kent College morning registration is 8.00am. That extra half an hour a day really makes a big difference to their tiredness levels, especially once we get to the end of the week!”

Mrs Nordin went on to say that she could not see such changes having a big impact on their commute,

“With regards to traffic, I really see no difference between leaving the house at 6.55am or at 7.40am –  from our home, the traffic is just as heavy, either way! I also like that the current timings still allow for an early afternoon finish, leaving my older daughter with time to do her homework and then relax and play with friends”.

Working parents also had specific concerns relating to earlier start times. Michelle Farrell Bootz, whose 6-year-old son attends Dubai International Academy in the Emirates Hills area of Dubai was concerned that an earlier start time would mean an earlier end of day home-time, impacting her childcare arrangements.

“Both my husband and I work full-time” said Mrs Farrell Bootz, “and our nanny cares for the children in the afternoons. This arrangement works because I am able to finish work at 5pm and be with the children fairly early in the evening. A longer afternoon means more time at home and more time for my nanny to find entertaining things to do every afternoon. With two very active young boys, this is already a real challenge - especially in the hotter months!”

At South View School, in the Remraam community, Dubailand, Principal Joanne Wells was delighted that the RTA had taken the time to consult with parents on this important issue.

Speaking to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, Ms Wells said,

"It is a great initiative to invite parents to comment on which start times would best suit their children. These opinions could be considered alongside research into sleep patterns for the various ages and connected with this the times children learn best; hopefully this will optimise the school experience for our students".

Sleep patterns were an issue for Debbie Hewitt, a mum of two children at Dubai British School. Whilst the current 7.45am start works well for the family now, Mrs Hewitt feels that older children may well, in fact, benefit from a later school start.

“I’m really pleased to have been asked and I have completed the survey” said Mrs Hewitt.

“That said, it’s noticeable that they haven’t suggested any later timings. Surely a later start would also ‘stagger’ the traffic issues? My children are still at primary school but, as a Psychotherapist with an interest in brain development, I know that it’s natural for teenagers to sleep later at night and to benefit from a later start in the morning. I’d like to think the RTA could liaise with the schools and paediatricians for advice on this”.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on school start times and traffic issues. Join the discussion on WhichSchoolAdvisor - Facebook, or by commenting below.

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