By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter

The Supreme Education Council (SEC) has introduced an annual “window for registration” for private schools, starting from the current academic year. It has also issued a set of guidelines for registration of students in different classes and curricula.
“The registration window for 2015-2016 is from March 2 to October 15. Any registrations outside these dates will require the prior approval of the SEC,” announced Aysha al-Hashemi, institute assistant director for Private Schools Affairs, Education Institute, SEC.
There will be a window for registration each year, with the exact dates being announced in a circular from the Private Schools Office (PSO), she told a press conference yesterday.
Each school is required to define and publish its registration procedures. The placement of a student in an appropriate grade or year group is the joint responsibility of the school concerned and the parent.
“Different education systems have different requirements regarding the placement of students and often have different names for particular age groups,” al-Hashemi explained.
The SEC has also issued an equivalency table of international education system for 2015-2016.
Al-Hashemi  stressed that the “age will be the primary consideration when placing a student in an appropriate grade or year group. The school should refer to the equivalency table when making its offer to the parent and follow guidelines associated with its own curriculum and admissions policy. Reference will also be made to the documentation provided by the previous school”.
The new guidelines suggest that parents can transfer their children between private schools without the permission from SEC if there are vacancies at the receiving institution. No student shall be registered over and above the school’s capacity unless  approval is obtained from the SEC.
Schools should make available to parents  guidelines on the admission. Any student on a visa for a period of less than one year will not be allowed to register for admission.
SEC has directed all private schools to identify the number of vacancies before the registration period begins as well as after completing the registration process and inform it. All private schools must provide the SEC with an electronic record of registration by the designated date.
In a significant move, SEC has allowed a child to be placed in a grade or year group with older or younger children if it is in the best interest of the child. However, the maximum age difference between the students of the class should not be more than two years.
In such cases, the school should ensure that parents are fully aware of the immediate and long-term implications of such a decision. Parents will be required to sign a consent form and the school should inform the PSO and provide supporting evidence.
Students in the 3-4 age group are eligible for admission  in pre-school 3 or KG1, 4-5 age group for KG2 or pre-school 4, and 5-6 age group for pre-school 5 or primary class 1.
The official asserted that all schools have to adhere to these rules and SEC will monitor the institutions. Schools which fail to adhere to these guidelines may be subjected to penalties.

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