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Choosing an International School in UAE

International schools abound in the UAE, particularly in the expat hotspots of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and you may feel that you are spoilt for choice. However, school fees can be astronomical and finding an available place for your child at the school of your choice is akin to striking gold.

If your family is newly arrived in the Emirates, chances are that finding the perfect school for the kids will top your list of priorities. Keep in mind, when choosing a school that you are probably not in the Emirates forever. Good international schools which offers a familiar type of environment and curriculum, and that is a good fit for your child will help your child settle in and, looking to the future, will make for a seamless transition into the home school system, on your return. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are absolutely teeming with international schools and one of the most interesting aspects of the UAE is, without a doubt, the range of curricula on offer! You can have more information through this guide to choose a school in UAE

You may make a beeline for the well-established schools that are most popular among the expat community. In treading the traditional path, however, you may miss some real gems by overlooking more recently opened schools and those with a lower price point, so do your research!

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the Government of Dubai’s school regulatory authority has already done some of the work for you, since all private schools are annually inspected and given a rating, ranging from ‘very weak’ to ‘outstanding’.  All ratings, as well as a more detailed report, can be found on the KHDA  website. Although helpful, the ratings should only serve as a guideline, since the criteria the KHDA uses in its ratings are not necessarily the ones that you, as a parent, would use.

Scoring a place at one of the schools of your choice is not quite as easy as it may seem. The greater the prestige a school has, and this is often linked to its KDSA rating and how long the school has been in operation, the higher the demand for places with waiting lists at many top-rated schools stretching from here to eternity. However, all is not lost!

Ratings can change rapidly and some schools, such as Dubai English Speaking College and Horizon School, have gone from a rating of ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ in the space of two years. If you are only looking at top-rated schools, you could be excluding some up and coming outstanding schools which are delivering the kind of education you want for your child, excelling in the areas you consider important, and at a lower price point. It makes sense to look at both the ‘good’ and ‘very good’ schools, which have the potential to become ‘outstanding’ schools!

A further consideration is budget. You may be lucky enough to work for a company that allows will cover the entire cost of your child’s education but if you are less fortunate, you will have to dig deep into your pocket to cover the entire or partial costs of your child’s schooling. Keep in mind that a high price tag does not necessarily buy you superior tuition, so it pays to look around. Although the more expensive U.K. schools, such as Dubai College, dominate the KDSA ‘outstanding’ list, the Indian High School with its low price point has retained its ‘outstanding’ rating for several years.

Think flexibly, remain open to choice and, above all, ask other expats and you will find the perfect school!  Happy hunting!




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