Top Ten Things to Consider when Choosing a School in Dubai
1. Choose which curriculum you are looking for your child to follow
In Dubai there are many different curriculum’s on offer including English, American, French, German, Australian & Indian. When choosing a secondary school offering English National Curriculum investigate what curriculum they offer in years 12 & 13 as many of the schools are offering GCSE and in Years 12 & 13 are offering International Baccalaureate.
Under the Ministry of Education rules all private schools with non Arabic pupils must teach 4 lessons of Arabic a week to all students from year 1 (approx 5 years old) through to and including year 9 (approx. 14 years old). It is also a Ministry of Education requirement that all Muslim pupils attend Islamic Study classes.
3. Choose whether you want a primary school affiliated with a secondary school
If you know you will be in Dubai for a long time or your child is entering education in Dubai at the latter part of primary education it maybe wise to choose a school with a secondary attached, as it can be very hard getting into year 7 and schools with a secondary affiliated to them usually offer automatic entry to the primary school children.
4. Narrow down the area where you will start searching for a school
Over the past few years Dubai has grown so try and choose a school nearby where you want to live so you do not end up in the car for hours doing the school run which is very unpleasant with temperatures in excess of 40 degrees during the summer and autumn term.
5. Think about whether you want to opt for a non-profit school
A few of the schools in Dubai are classified as not for profit schools. This means these schools are administered by a Board of Governors and as such there is generous reinvestment in the school on both a long term and short term basis. The other schools will be owned by private education companies in the private sector and will also invest money into the school but will have shareholders seeking a return.
6. Check to see if the year group that you require in your chosen school has a wait list
Some year groups are more popular than others such as Foundation and Year 7 as these are popular times to move children.
7. Investigate what kind of learning support the school can offer
If your child suffers from any learning difficulties do talk to the schools on your list and make sure they will be able to accommodate your child’s learning difficulties.
8. If you make the wrong choice it is hard to immediately move schools.
You cannot move your child during the academic year unless the Ministry of Education gives its approval and if you do get approval you can only move schools between September and January. It is also worth noting if you arrive in Dubai after mid May your child will need to wait till September to start school.
International Schools have very long summer holidays usually July and August. All schools have to observe Islamic Holidays which are sometimes announced at the last minute or changed at the last minute so making advance holiday plans can be difficult.
10. Look beyond the glitz
Take time to come to Dubai and visit a few of the schools, get a feel for the school, talk to senior management and try and get some information on the turnover of teachers. Some of the schools look great on the outside but there maybe other stories to lurking under all the glitz.