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Why I'm Worried about changes to the working week in Dubai

Yes… that’s right. The working week is changing in the UAE. For as long as I’ve been teaching in the UAE, there has been a rumour that the working week will change. It became something I would roll my eyes at.

For those of you who are perhaps unsure. The working week in the UAE has always been Sunday - Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. From 1st January 2022 (fast turnaround) the working week will change towards Monday to Friday like most countries around the world. This has been considered as a way of going more in line with the rest our the world economically. The problem (with an amazing solution) is that Friday is a prayer day. This is much like a Sunday in the UK (and other countries) as an example. Prayer is usually midday in the UAE. This has now been moved to 1.15 from 2022. BUT… this also means that Friday is a half-day. This means that the UAE adopts a 4.5-day working week. So where is the problem? It’s not the long weekend or the shorter working week. It’s the curriculum. It’s HUGE. There’s so much to cram in already and so little time for teachers in Dubai. My other problem is one that is huge in schools already and that is the psychological phenomenon of the sunk cost fallacy. This isn’t meant to be a post about psychology but it basically means that schools struggle to let go of things they’ve put effort into. My fear here (as has been rumoured by some schools already) is that the staff development elements and extra meetings that would normally happen on a Thursday now move to the working week. The problem? The working week actually extends but means that the days we are in actually just become longer. We know that teaching (especially during COVID times) is exhausting so will school days just extend for teachers, burning them out earlier? Could there be subject reductions such as foundation to make up for the time lost?

The fair argument for this, particularly at schools like mine where the school day is already shorter on a Thursday (soon to be Friday) is that ‘it’s only an hour’. I think this is a fair argument and in an ideal world, educators will accept that we will just have less time to teach all of the curricula. However, even as I type this, I know that the subject curriculum can’t just be omitted because we’re accountable professionals.

Perhaps the best fix for this would be to move towards what we would do during Ramadan timetables and go for shorter lessons, much like the Finnish (Finland) curriculum.

I know how terribly pessimistic this blog post sounds and must surely make me seem ungrateful. I’m not! I’m absolutely buzzing! The move towards a shorter working week, in theory, gives children a longer amount of time and to do the things that are most important: being children! I know that I'm excited as it will give me a little bit more time to 'rest' too... knowing me, that's time to work on new projects. I just hope that rest isn't a crash and burn due to exhaustion. This is my concern but unlike my normal emails, I want to hear from you. Let me know what you think the outcome should be here? Are schools right to extend the working week? How could it be done differently? I don’t have the answers but you best believe I’ll make it a blog post when I do! Want to know more about teaching in Dubai? Check out my guides below:

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