15 more villa schools to close in Abu Dhabi by July 2014

Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is to shut down another 15 villa schools by next year on the grounds of safety.

The schools regulator, Abu Dhabi Education Council, began its clampdown on villa schools in 2008, when there were 72 of them. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Fifteen more villa schools will be shut down by July next year for safety reasons.

Only 20 will remain and they will be required to close during 2015. The schools regulator, Abu Dhabi Education Council, began its clampdown on villa schools in 2008, when there were 72.

Despite the closures education chiefs insist there will not be a shortage of school places.

"We have nearly 6,000 additional seats in private schools opening in the Abu Dhabi region for September 2013 which will provide a net increase of more than 3,500 seats when taking into account the villa schools that are closing this summer," said Hamad Al Dhaheri of Adec.

"Many villa schools have failed to fulfil the legally binding commitments they made to Adec regarding developing and relocating to new purpose-built schools. Despite Adec setting deadlines for action and providing extensions, some have been unable to demonstrate that they are serious and capable of building new schools, so unfortunately Adec has been forced to take action and close these schools, which are failing to meet our quality and safety standards."

The 35 villa schools still open accommodate about 24,000 students.

The 15 schools ordered to close follow British, American, Filipino and Indian curriculums. One follows the Ministry of Education's curriculum.

Seven schools - Raowdaty Private Kindergarten, PISCO Private School, Al Bustan Private School, First Steps School, Abu Dhabi Junior Academy, Islamic International School and Castle Private School - will close this summer.

Two Indian curriculum schools, Little Flower Private School and Indian Islahi Islamic School, will close at the end of the Indian school year in March 2014.

Al Fajr English International School, Salahuddin Private School, and Philippine National School will close in July 2014.

All 12 "failed to demonstrate credible replacement plans", Adec said.

The three remaining schools - Al Rawafed Private School, Al Shohub School and Al Salam English Private School - will move to purpose-built accommodation that meets Adec's quality and safety standards.

"We are pleased that the owners of some villa schools are co-operating fully with Adec's requirement to relocate to proper school buildings. We will continue to provide these serious and capable schools with our full support to help them complete the development of new school buildings which they can relocate to," Mr Al Dhaheri said.

Parents of children at the 12 schools that will not move were urged to enrol their children in other schools.

The council said it had arranged a limited number of seats with discounted fees for displaced villa school students in three new private schools - the International Community School (Branch 1), Gems Winchester School and Summit International School, which are to open in September 2013.

No details were given on the number of seats or the fees.

"To minimise disruption to children's education, Adec informed parents that it has negotiated a number of seats at discounted fees in all three of these new schools that will open on Abu Dhabi Island in government school buildings provided by Adec," said the council.

The authority also said another two new schools were to open for the next academic year, the GEMS Cambridge International School in Baniyas and Al Diyafah Private School in Mohammad Bin Zayed City.