Working abroad for a few years,works well, as long as everything works well! You’ve all your degrees authenticated, your passport is in order, you have no past convictions, you’re parents are well and are enthusiastic about your leaving, your wife is only too happy to give up her marketing career to be a full-time mom for a while and the kids are excited that they will be living in a hot country with a swimming pool beside their house, you’re delighted they’ll be going to a private English school with a history of turning out more doctors and lawyers than you’re whole county at home!
You try to list out the negatives but you’re finding it hard, it’s a perfect opportunity for the whole family. You trying hard to see what it is in Ireland you will miss for your planned four year stint, but apart from Tayto and rashers, you can’t pinpoint anything.
Life is rosy abroad until one day Lucy comes home from school, writing her b’s backwards. There are other issues too surrounding r’s, p’s and q’s and d’s are dubious so you approach her teacher for advice. Broaching the subject as openly as possible you mention that this is something you have noticed and you sit back to absorb the reassurance. ‘She is young, they are all the same at that age, I wouldn’t place too much importance on that at this age’, alas there is no reassurance only assurance that indeed you are correct and quite right to be worried. Ignoring the fact that you are miffed that the teacher did not approach you on the matter and somewhat at a loss for guidance, you throw trust after hope and ask the teacher, what your next step should be for this type of situation. Without hesitation she mentions the bid bad d word, Byslexia! ‘you need to get her tested for Dyslexia’, she adds as flippantly as you like.
Now, in your naivety, you had assumed that the school, the private fee paying school, would have had some responsibility in getting a diagnosis or at very least steering the parents to where they might find a conclusion. But aha, this is where your wrong, this is what you would have put on the ‘missing from home’ list before tayto and rashers if you had known that enrolling your child in a private fee paying school in Qatar does only guarantees results if all is well but if all isn’t well, then they will not be able, obliged or interested in referring you for diagnosis of Asperger’s, autism, adhd, dyspraxia, dyslexia, slow processing issues, gross or find motor skill issues. These will all be issues you will diagnose, understand and treat alone. You turn to your friend, google and the dyslexia expert you have found online in Doha was an estate agent in Manchester until she moved to Doha 18 months ago.
Not like home where your local national school would be able to refer your child to an Educational Assessor and thereafter to whatever suitably qualified person is employed by the state to have the welfare of your child and their ability to learn at the forefront of their minds. As a parent you would imaginably receive a booklet or a well-produced pamphlet outlining, ‘how to deal with your dyslexic child’, kind of thing.
Not in Doha, you’re on own, the school will certainly turn out doctors and lawyers but those that don’t make the grade will receive no investigation and will be placed in the bottom set, (streaming in classes for spellings and maths starts at the age of 5) and stay there, because the school runs as fast as the fastest man or five year old in my friends case.
So when you’re writing that pro’s and con’s list before your leave the damp oul sod for the blue skies of Doha, remember that the education system is Ireland definitely deserves a place if not before tayto then certainly right after!