Education in the Emirates

Choosing the right new school for your children is imperative and a decision that many parents find difficult to make. There are as many as 175 private foreign schools in Dubai,offering a range of curriculums, including those from the UK, USA, Canada, France, Japan, India and Pakistan. The levels of teaching are from pre-school to GCSE/high-school to diploma.

What is important when choosing a school?

School Curriculum in the UAE

Most expats wish their children to follow the same school curriculum in the UAE as in their home country (or the country of their next expat assignment), as well as the same style of teaching and language and these are generally the most important deciding factors when choosing a new school in the UAE. There are many types of educational curriculum offered, ranging from British, French, Swiss, American, Australian, Canadian, Arabic and Indian to the International Baccalaureate (IB)system, so once the syllabus is decided, a school would then be selected within that curriculum.

Availability of schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

A lot of schools have wait lists in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as they are the most popular destinations for expats to live in the UAE. This applies particularly in the younger year groups as sibling priority applies in most of the schools, so it is advisable to select at least 2-3 schools, as your choice may be limited to which school shave availability at the time of enrolment. We advise you to start looking into schools as early as possible, enquire about wait lists and start making applications to schools where there are available places or wait lists are small. Some schools will accept applications and apply application fees (in Dubai), even though waitlists are long and there is little chance of a place be coming available. We advise parents to be aware of this as application fees can be from AED 500 – AED 1000 per child.

 Your Child’s Individual Needs

At the end of the day, you know what is best for your child. It doesn’t mean because a school is right for one child, it’s right for every child, so we advise you to visit the schools and observe for yourself. This will also allow you to ask questions, see the style and standard of teaching and get feedback from the head teacher and other parents also touring the school. It will also allow you to see the scale of the school and decide if your child will be happy in that environment, as well assessing sports facilities and understanding what extracurricular activities the school offers and whether there are programs for the gifted or those with special needs? It would also be beneficial to involve your child in the tours where you can and have his input and opinion about the type of school he would like to attend. This can often help to eliminate any concerns or uncertainties he may have about moving to a new school and a new country.

School Fees in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Expat schools are private and only Emirati’s can attend state schools.

The range of tuition fees is huge, starting from approximately AED 5,000 a year to almost AED 100,000 per year for some schools. Often employers will make a contribution to school fees in the UAE and you can decide whether to top up the allowance if needed. The best thing to do is determine your budget and research the available schools within that price range, with available places. Fee’s are often hiked up due to the facilities offered and scale of the school, be aware of this as tuition prices are not always determined by the standard of education.

Location and Transportation Options in the UAE

Another important factor for your family to consider is where you are going to live and the distance to and from the school. Traffic jams during rush hour and early school drop offs will certainly add time to your commute so make sure you are aware of the length of drive to the school, if buses are available, and how long your child will be sat on the bus if taking this option. 

 Admission Requirements in schools of Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Before leaving your home country, you should obtain copies of your child’s school records for at least the last two years and any transfer certificates that are required.  Some schools may require your child to take an entrance exam, which will be used to assess their level and make sure your child is placed into the right class. Try not to worry about this as schools in the UAE do assess children on many different levels and entrance is not only based on exam results. All the documents you require should be listed on the school websites, it is important to thoroughly check you have everything required before relocating to avoid problems later down the line.

Ranking and Accreditations of Schools in the UAE

In Dubai, KHDA (TheKnowledge and Human Development Authority) was established in a similar way in2006 to develop education and human resource sectors in Dubai and licensed educational institutes in both the public and private sector. Since 2008, theDubai School Inspections Bureau (DSIB), an arm of the KHDA, has been providing a comprehensive review of the performance of each school in Dubai. The KHDA inspection reports place schools into four categories (unsatisfactory,acceptable, good, and outstanding) based on a number of key indicators, they are a great place to start researching potential schools.

 Our Tips –Important Things To Consider Before Choosing A School:

  How many children are there per class?

  How does the school help to integrate the children and get them settled?

  Where do the school employ their staff from and how qualified are they?

  How will your child be supported outside lesson time?

  What is their style of teaching and how do they encourage children?

  How does the school deal with difficult behaviors and bullying?

  How does the school communicate with parents?


 Other useful information about the UAE Education System:

 ·     The Ministry of Education of the United Arab Emirates is responsible for accreditation of schools.

·     Because of the hot temperatures, school times vary, but can operate anywhere between 7.45am–3.00pm.

·     Girls and boys are educated to the same level.

·     A lot of schools have long waiting lists, especially when applying in the younger years so it is important to apply early.

·     It is mandatory for non-Arab students to study Arabic from Grade 1 to 9 inclusive. No exemptions from this rule will me made.

·     All Muslim students will have to attend Islamic studies from Grade 1 to 12/year 13 inclusive.

·     All Arab students registered at the school with Arab passports will have to study Arabic as a first language from Grade 1 to 12 inclusive.

·     Most of the private schools use English as their medium of instruction and cater to several expatriate communities.

·     The medium of instruction in public schools is Arabic with emphasis on English, asa second language.  

 RelocateMe  have a wealth of experience when it comes to the Education System in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Our Education Specialists work with families on a day-to-day basis in supporting their school search in the UAE and we ONLY advise you to pay registration fees in schools where we know they have availability or wait lists are not too long, so you have a good chance of your children being offered places and will save money on unnecessary registration fees. 

 If you would like to simplify your relocation to the UAE and school search process, we will be happy to support you!