Overview of Schools In Oman
If you're about to enrol your child in school in Oman, here's an idea of what to expect.
Private schools are common in Oman, mainly to cater for the large expatriate community. The majority are managed by and run for English-speaking western expatriates, although many local families choose to send their children to these schools.
There are schools for the children of Americans, British, French, Germans, Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Japanese and many other nationalities, as well as international schools catering for a variety of nationalities.
The vast majority of private schools teach in English, including the Indian and Pakistani schools. Minority expatriate groups such as the Japanese, French and Germans tend to send their children to international schools, at which the main teaching language is English.
Some private establishments restrict enrolment to pupils of the relevant nationality, e.g. a British government-aided school. Others might have rules concerning religion. International schools tend to have fewer restrictions. Most private schools are co-educational and provide tuition to children from pre-school nursery groups through to university entrance examinations, preparing them for a variety of examinations – often British A levels or the International Baccalaureate, which can be taken in the Gulf.
There are also plenty of private pre-schools, including play groups, nurseries, kindergartens and infant schools. These schools are voluntary, but widely attended, partly because they allow expatriate mothers to socialise. Restrictions on wives securing work visas mean that they can feel isolated at home.
SEE ALSO: Oman school list and their fees
In general, standards at private schools are high, with small class sizes and modern facilities. Some schools catering for pupils from India and Pakistan face heavy demand for places, due to the large number of workers from those countries. There can be severe overcrowding, pupils sometimes being taught in shifts.
Private foreign and international schools tend to have more relaxed, flexible regimes and curricula and to be less formal in terms of dress, behaviour and pupil/teacher relationships than their equivalents in Europe and North America. Like other expatriates, teachers tend to change jobs and locations quite frequently. This can lead to a lack of continuity in children’s education and be a disruptive influence.
The school structure varies between different types of school in Oman, but those catering for American, British, Indian and Pakistani pupils tend to be either primary (for children aged 4 to 11) or secondary (11 to 18). Those catering for children of other nationalities are usually divided into four categories, as follows:
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten
3 - 6
6 - 11
12 - 14
15 - 18
Applications to private schools should be made as early as possible, particularly to international schools, which sometimes have waiting lists. You might need recent school reports or a previous headteacher’s letter of appraisal. For UK and other western expatriates, the British Council is a useful source of information about educational establishments. Enrolment in private schools usually involves an interview with parent and child.
SEE ALSO: List of nurseries in Oman
School hours and holidays vary, although a school day running from around 8am to 2.30pm is common, from Saturday to Wednesday inclusive. Some schools – particularly those catering for children of Asian workers – operate from early morning to evening, in two shifts.
The cost of private education can be high, but in some cases the fees are paid by your employer as part of your contract. It’s vitally important to be aware of the cost of private schooling over the course of a child’s education, particularly if this will include university. What might begin as a manageable expense can quickly become a major financial encumbrance if there are regular increases in fees, as there often are. Read School fees in Oman>>