Find out what parents should be looking for in a Dubai school to ensure that their child thrives in the years leading up to university
10 November 2020| Last updated on 12 November 2020
Take these 10 factors into account when choosing the right fit for your child.
Dubai is a fantastic choice for education. With its strong expat population, parents will find an array of international schools that reflects the city's diverse, multicultural, and multilingual community.
With over 160 private schools and and a variety of curriculums on offer, you can make your child's education in Dubai as unique as they are. However, because there are so many schools available, not all may cater to your, or your child's, specific learning needs.
Some Dubai schools offer the chance to help meet post-education aspirations and career goals, such as admissions to universities in specific countries.
We've compiled 10 useful tips to keep in mind, which can help you pick the best education for your child.
Before you begin search for a school, it's important to keep yourself up to date with how school fees in the UAE work.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) creates a School Fees Framework based on their annual school inspections and surveys the region.
The “Educational Cost Index” (ECI) represents how much schools will be allowed to increase their fees. Schools that show improvements in their annual inspections will be allowed to increase their fees by a certain multiplier of the ECI.
Besides this, different schools have different inclusions in their tuition fees, so you should understand how this breakdown works when looking at their figures as some tuition fees include students’ books, costs of exams, internal ASAs and inclusivity measures.
2. A 21st century education
A good school won’t just prepare students for the now, but the immediate future as well. In this respect, they should be teaching students the 21st century skills they need to become global citizens, and effective members of society and the workforce. These include soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Perhaps the best curriculum to teach these skills is the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which not only teaches these skills, but upholds a complete Learner Profile that aims to create lifelong, independent learners who will continue to grow long after they’ve graduated.
Another important component of 21st century education would be technology education and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) knowledge, which will be very helpful in the world's increasingly technology-driven economy and society.
You can see this in SISD’s STEAM programme, which applies to their Pre-KG to Grade 5 students in order to build a personalised, continuous approach to STEAM education that carries into the Middle Years Programme.
3. Internationally recognised
A very practical consideration for your child would be a Dubai school which offers an internationally recognised diploma.
While some schools offer curricula that are specific to countries – French or American Curricula, for example – a well-rounded curriculum that is recognised in universities around the world will open up fantastic post-high school opportunities for your child.
With this in mind, IB World School may be a good choice if you’re looking to provide your child with the best chance in receiving admission in as many universities as possible.
And it’s not just recognition – university admissions officers actually favor IBDP graduates, and in fact, these graduates are accepted, on average, 22 percentage points higher than the average student.
4. Support for students with unique needs
One of the most important mandates of the KHDA’s Dubai Inclusive Education Policy Framework is the support for students experiencing SEND, or special educational needs and disabilities. This allows every student to be given any necessary tailored learning plan in order to help them gain an equitable footing with other students.
How every school achieves inclusivityevery student feeling safe, confident and happy at school. Successful inclusion should see every student making the best progress towards achieving their potential and enjoying their time at school – be that in lessons, during their play or lunchtimes or when involved in any of our school excursions and extra-curricular activities.”
5. Bilingual education
Bilingualism in education has a wide variety of benefits, including cognitive advantages, better grades, and improvements to collaborative skills.
By choosing a school in Dubai that offers strong bilingual programmes with mother tongue-speakers, you maximize these advantages in your children.
With two bilingual streams in English-French and English-German, with Arabic classes as well, SISD has a diverse bilingual education platform that will suit any student. Their classes are taught by native speakers, and apply the principles of translanguaging to provide support for our learners.
6. Accreditations and awards
Awards and accreditations are not just lip service – if provided by government bodies, for example, they’re proof that a certain standard has been achieved by the school.
Having these accreditations ensures that your child’s choice of school strives for excellence, whether in academics or facilities.
Climate change and ecological damage are major concerns that will affect the future of our children. In order to truly create a generation of environmentally-sensitive youth, they must be immersed in a school that walks the talk, so to speak – not only should a school discuss sustainabilityDEWA Conservation Award and conforms to the standards of the Swiss Minergie ecolabel, which shows their commitment to the values of sustainability. Sustainability is one of the school's core values, and they teach it as part of every class to SISD students.
8. Extracurricular activities
Learning doesn’t end in the classroom, and a good framework of extracurricular or after-school activities can help expand your child’s world of learning.
Sports hone the values of teamwork, communication, and perseverance while boosting health. Robotics and programming ASAs can allow children to explore fields of interest that might not be covered in the breadth of the classroom.
It pays to have a large and diverse set of ASAs to choose from so your child will always find a place. SISD, for example, features a wide range of ASAs from sports and language classes, to public speaking and digital design. Every child is sure to find something to look forward to, or discover new interests.
9. Facilities and campus
Exceptional facilities allow your children to grow in an enjoyable environment that caters to their needs.
It isn’t just about a school in Dubai “looking nice”, it’s about providing the students with space to grow and learn. For example, open-use Innovation Labs like SISD’s own allow children to explore in their own time and pace after classes, providing them with the latest technology free for them to use.
10. Boarding school
Many expat parents will want to consider boarding schools in Dubai for their child’s education. You need to select a school that provides the right care for your child, not just in terms of education and nutrition, but also nurturing their growth.
A pastoral care environment like SISD’s boarding school is a good choice for your child – they are given a second home in the campus, and are provided with tailored behavioral agreements that uphold the IB learner profile.
SISD also provide their students with daily healthy meals courtesy of their caterer, Swiss Canonica.
You also should be aware of the boarding options for your child, especially if full-time boarding is not an option. SISD offer weekly boarding and even flexi-boarding for students that can be paid on an as-needed basis.
Swiss International Scientific School: Meeting each of your needs
Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai provides our students with a world-class International Baccalaureate education, preparing each and every one of our students for the future, not just as workers or students, but as productive members of society.
Everything from our top-tier facilities and after-school activities, to our inclusive policy, are all carefully constructed to give our children the best school life while in the Emirate, and the best chance of a bright future.
We also weave important values into the fabric of our education, instilling values like digital citizenship and sustainability that will no doubt be critical components of our students’ lives. We have integrated all of these into a school with a pastoral care environment and respect for each others’ differences, ensuring that everyone gets a chance.