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Choosing the Right School for your Child

Choosing the Right School for your Child

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Choosing the Right School for your Child

Choosing the Right School for your Child 

Choosing a school is a major, major decision and one that many parents struggle with and we see the question every day on our Information Forum. We’ve pulled together some advice for you from our expert base and hope this will help you in making the final decision.

With so many schools in Dubai to choose from, it can be a monumental task trying to decide which school to enrol your child in.As public schools in the UAE are not available to most expats in Dubai unless they home school their children, expatriates have to go through the somewhat challenging and very stressful process of private school selection.

Ranking and Accreditations

khda dubai uae schools


The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) is a Dubai government authority that licenses and oversees both private and public education in Dubai. Since 2008, the Dubai School Inspections Bureau (DSIB), an arm of the KHDA, has been providing a comprehensive review of the performance of each school in Dubai. As 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.

When meeting your selected school, ask to see any accreditation reports so you can better understand the quality of the school and its curriculum.

Curriculum

Since Dubai is a transient and not always the ultimate destination for some expatriates, the type of curriculum, style of teaching, and language of your home country (or the country of your next expat assignment) are generally important deciding factors for a school. As many different types of educational curriculum are offered in Dubai, ranging from British, American, Canadian, Australian, Arabic, and Indian to the International Baccalaureate (IB) system, this may be one way of weeding out different schools.

Timing

school in dubai uae

Since a fair number of schools have waiting lists, your choice of schools may be limited to which schools have availability at the time of your child’s anticipated enrolment. At some schools, students may only enrol at certain grade levels while others may only have openings available if a current student leaves.

Start looking into schools as early as possible since you don’t want to be rushed into an important decision and so that you have time to discuss options with friends who have been through the school selection process.

Fees

There is a huge range of tuition fees in Dubai, starting from approximately AED 5,000 a year to almost a AED 100,000 per year for some schools. Some schools also charge a reservation fee to ensure your child’s placement in addition to application fees. If your children’s school fees are not covered or subsidised by your employer or your spouse’s employer, determine your budget and research the available schools in that price range. We have a big list of Dubai School Fees for you to help you make that all important decision. Go To Dubai School Fees>>

Facilities and Campus

Visit the school and spend several hours there to observe the physical space, from classrooms and libraries to playgrounds and gymnasiums to determine how safe and comfortable your child will be as she will be spending many hours of her day at school. Will your child be happy in this environment? Does the school have adequate safety and security measures in place?

Your Child’s Individual Needs and Extracurricular Activities

If your child is an athlete, is musically or academically talented, or has special needs, these will be critical to your assessment of the school. What types of extracurricular activities does the school offer and are there programmes for the gifted or those with special needs?

Most importantly, involve your child and seek his opinion about the type of school he would like to attend and whether he actually likes the prospective school during your tour of the campus. Allow him to ask questions of teachers and administrators during the school visit. Finally, do listen to any concerns, desires, and expectations that he may have.

School Management, Leadership, and Values

What is the leadership and management like at your child’s prospective school? Are the school’s mission, vision, and values aligned with the goal for your child?

What qualifications do the teachers possess and what is the criterion used for hiring teachers? What types of instruction and assessment methods are used? How will they accommodate students’ differing abilities, interests and learning styles?

What are the relationships like between teachers and students and between students? During your visit to the school, watch how the students, teachers, other staff members like the cafeteria lady and bus driver all interact with each other. Is this the type of environment that will be conducive to your child’s personal development? Will your child fit in with the students at this school?

Try to speak to at least five different set of parents with children at your child’s prospective school to learn about their experience with the school.

Admission Requirements

school college and boarding school in dubai


Some schools may require your child to write an entrance exam, go through an interview, and may request previous school records. Don't stress your child out about the entrance exam as while the scores are important, schools do take a holistic approach to assessing admission requirements.

There are rigorous requirements to even apply for schools so check the website of the school you are interested in to find out which documents you will require. Before leaving your home country, you should have copies of your child’s school records for at least the last two years and any transfer certificates.

School Records and Numbers

Find out the attendance rate of the school. If it is over 90%, this probably indicates that students are not skipping school due to unhappiness with the curriculum or teaching staff.

Are there disciplinary problems at the school? If there is a high rate of students being constantly disciplined, it might signal the teachers’ lack of ability to manage their students.

Does the school seem financially stable? The last thing you would want is to enrol your child in a school which has to cut costs on the quality of the facilities, food and teaching in order to stay afloat financially.

Location and Transportation

You may have found the perfect school for your child in all the critical areas, but then discover at the last minute that your child has to spend two hours each way to get to school. While Dubai is not a geographically large city, traffic jams during rush hour will certainly add time to the bus ride or driving time for you so make sure you find out the length of the commute before handing over the cheque.

Once you have decided on the schools that you are interested in, you can arrange to visit the school to have a look around, get a feel for it and find out a bit more. This will help you to decide if you and your child will be happy with your choice.

Before arranging a school or college visit:
  • Ask the school for their school prospectus and read it.
  • Write a list of questions that you would like to ask.
  • When would you like to visit? (it is best to visit during school hours)
  • Will you be taking your child?
  • Do you want someone to go with you?
  • Is the school easy to get to? (think about transport arrangements)
  • Will you be able to meet staff who would be involved with your child?
  • Will you be able to talk to other parents of children at the school?
  • The sorts of things you might like to ask when visiting a school:
  • How many children will be in your child’s class?
  • How will your child be supported outside lesson time?
  • How does the school deal with difficult behaviour?
  • How is bullying dealt with?
  • How does the school help children mix and make friends?
  • How does the school communicate with parents?
  • When can you talk to your child’s teachers?
  • Will your child be able to have extra visits to the school before transfer and what arrangements will be made to help them settle in?

Questions to ask yourself or talk through with someone after the visit:

  • Did you feel welcomed at the school?
  • Do you think your child would be happy there?
  • Will your child get the support they need?
  • Did you find it easy to talk to the head teacher, teacher, form tutor?
  • Did the children around the school seem to have a good relationship with staff?
  • Do you think the staff will be comfortable and confident in managing your child’s behaviour and directing learning?
  • Do you think the staff will encourage your child to be as independent as possible?
  • Would you feel able to talk to staff about any concerns or issues?
  • Will the work be presented in a way your child would understand?
  • Did the school show you what they do to help children with a variety of needs?
  • We would highly recommend asking advice on the various schools through our Information Board to get some real life experience and advice too.

Advice From The Information Forum

Janesul: “I think that I might be able to safely speak on behalf of lots of us and say that a lot of the time our school choice is decided for us by availability of places in each school. I know that personally, my children are where they are because it was the only school that had places for both of them when we arrived.

BusyBee2: “I would get into a school first and then look for accommodation. There are a lot of people that have to commute and live off- island but their chosen school is on- island or vice versa and the traffic situation is critical so you are best to get a school place first and then accommodation afterwards.

Ellene: “We were just very lucky that the new school had opened just in time for us coming over otherwise I'm not sure where my daughter would be now. I think find a school and then your accommodation!

Faryn: “We all have different education budgets, different needs for our kids, live in different areas and will hopefully get the right school for them.


Just remember you are not alone whilst making the choice of school- we are here to help- we have regular Events and Coffee Mornings so you can meet other parents or Dubai experts and ask them questions or you can interact online here on our Information Forum.




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Latest comments
  • Moh2114 on 11 Apr 2014 07:26:39 AM
    My son is in gems wellington dso Im really satisfied with the school But the fees is too much thats why We are planning to shift him to gems Winchester from september.. I need reviews About gems winchester oud mehta please..
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  • Nora Hosam Sadek on 10 May 2014 01:54:08 AM
    hi do any parents have feedback on Bradenton Prep academy please? Im concerned as the ranking is not high?
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  • Mrsraheel on 14 May 2014 01:57:29 PM
    Are there any islamic schools in dubai? or madrasas for children to go there after school
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  • Mrsraheel on 14 May 2014 02:01:00 PM
    are there madrasas in dubai ? for children or islamic schools
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  • malisha001 on 20 May 2014 09:46:53 AM
    What do you think of Cambridge international school in dubai
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  • Shadowmist on 22 May 2014 09:08:08 PM
    Hi, I am feeling a bit confused at the moment, and a little concerned, my husband arrives in Dubai late august 2014, i plan to follow with the children only January or June 2015, i have 2 boys i will need to find schools for one will be yr 8 going on yr 9 and the other yr 3 going on yr 4 the older one is ADHD, also still need to look for accommodation, please any suggestion on areas and schools would be of great assistance..
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  • gvanvuur on 22 Jan 2015 08:04:38 AM
    Hi we are visiting Dubai on our pre-assignment trip and is going to look at a few schools. I have shortlisted schools with an IB, America and Brittish Curriculum. Coming from South Africa (afrikaans school) im not sure which one is the best or closest to what we have here? My son is in gr5. Any advice would be appreciated, please.
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  • sky15 on 29 May 2015 05:06:44 PM
    Hi what do you think about Uptown School and ontario Canadian school in mirdiff?? Any feed back? Appropriate
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  • admin on 31 May 2015 08:38:42 AM
    Hi sky15, You might get a response in our forums from other woman who know the schools: http://www.expatwoman.com/forum/ HTH EW Admin
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  • Mariem Elbadry on 09 Jun 2015 11:23:52 PM
    Any feed back about Philadelphia private school and Nibras Private school?
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  • Hanan Samir on 30 Nov 2015 11:33:47 AM
    what about cambridge school ?
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  • admin on 01 Dec 2015 12:23:45 PM
    Hi Hanan Samir, The best place to ask will be on our forum: http://www.expatwoman.com/forum/forum23-dubai--northern-emirates.aspx HTH EW Admin
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  • tinni on 01 Feb 2016 10:11:47 AM
    Hello -- we are trying to find out more about the English College Dubai - it would be really helpful to hear first-hand reviews from parents with children at the school. I'd be interested in hearing about the academic standard but also the all round quality of the school. Is your child happy there? Are the facilities good.My son is going in year 9 in September 2016. we are from india.
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  • Daza Daza on 12 Feb 2016 01:48:20 PM
    I want to know about the boarding schools in Dubai.What are the types of rooms there and what are the measurements of each room.Also what are the functions done there.Actually I want to know the boarding school requirements
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  • Daza Daza on 12 Feb 2016 01:51:05 PM
    I want to know about the boarding schools requirements in Dubai . What are the types of roomsin Dubai . The proper dimensions of each room
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  • Saira on 03 Mar 2016 05:43:46 PM
    Has anyone heard of The Childrens Garden Jumerah? any reviews, experience or comments would be welcome please
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  • Mayada Mohamed Kamal on 06 Aug 2016 06:40:09 PM
    Does any one know smart vision school and know its fees
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  • Aisha Ali on 30 Nov 2016 02:37:53 PM
    Hi, Nice article. I did not know how important it is to choose a right school for my kid until I had a bad experience. I had got my kid enrolled in a school which I did not like at all. I had to change his school and that is when I came across W school( Al Wahda Private School ) in Sharjah. I cannot believe the change the school has made in my kid's behaviour. I'm happy that he is doing really well there.
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  • Rohit Batra on 05 Mar 2017 12:32:29 PM
    Hello- We will be moving to Dubai in July and came to know about our relocation only in Feb. Almost all schools i have approached are telling me they have waitlist. Can anyone share their experience on waitlist clearance?
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