If you are moving your family to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, this is everything you need to know about getting your child a place in school
The UAE explained: How to enrol your child in school
Dubai has 194 private schools following 16 curriculums and Abu Dhabi emirate has 185. But places at the most sort-after educational institutions fill up fast.
If you are moving to the UAE with children the system of administration can be confusing. So here is everything you need to know about school admissions in UAE:
How do I find the right school for my child?
First, make a list of schools that suit your child’s educational needs. Parents should choose a curriculum and make an appointment to visit the schools that offer it. Ask about exam rate success, extracurricular activities, class sizes, staff turnover and any specific needs.
Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at education provider Taaleem, says research on the schools is crucial. He encourages parents to consult school inspection reports from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi, the Department of Education and Knowledge.
How do I chose the right curriculum?
Judith Finnemore, an education expert at Focal Point Management, believes parents should choose a curriculum based on what their child would best fit back into should they decide to return to their home country before they have graduated. Parents should also look into what each curriculum entails.
The International Baccalaureate is often considered the “universal donor” of education and is highly transportable for those who are likely to move around to different countries.
How do I find a school that fits my budget?
Education institutions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi can vary widely when it comes to fees. While the top schools can be pricey, in the last year, fees at schools in Dubai have fallen. Twenty-two schools froze their fees and they will remain frozen for the coming academic year.
A grade 12 pupil in Bright Riders School in Abu Dhabi pays around Dh19,100 a year in tuition fees, whereas a grade 12 pupil at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will pay Dh96,333.
Repton School in Dubai charges Dh95,000 for year 12 and 13 pupils, while at Shaikh Rashid Al Maktoum Pakistani School pupils pay Dh6,259.
I've found an appropriate school, how do we apply?
Mr Pierrepont says:
1. Complete the online application form.
2. Provide the required documents as requested by the school, make an appointment for assessment and pay any application fees. Mr Pierrepont warns parents to be wary of a school that offers a place on the spot. It can be a sign that they are desperate to boost numbers.
3. After assessment and if you receive an acceptance letter, a deposit is required to reserve your seat. A place usually cannot be held until the payment has been received.
Where do I find a school's admission criteria?
Parents can ask schools directly, or find the information on the regulators’ websites. Some schools will be at capacity and the most popular schools will have waiting lists.
What should my child expect from the admission test?
Tests depend on the grade and curriculum. They typically cover key subjects such as science, maths and English. In Abu Dhabi, children are accepted on a first come, first serve basis and the tests are used to help determine the child’s grade level. In Dubai, assessments are often prerequisites for elite schools and some carry a non-refundable fee of up to Dh1,000.
What is the timeline for admissions?
Parents who want their child admitted to schools now will probably find the best ones are already full. But those that have places available will keep taking children until September. In British and American curriculum schools, admissions for the following academic year open about March 1. The earlier you apply the better. Unfortunately for those who arrive late in the year, there is no quick route to finding out which schools still have places. Parents will need to speak to each school that matches their criteria.
What documents do I need?
A school application form, copies of the passports of both pupil and parents and their UAE visa pages, Emirates ID, eight passport-size photographs, a copy of the child's birth certificate, their school records for the last two years, immunisation records and a school transfer certificate. Incoming students whose documents are incomplete cannot be registered, but most schools allow a few weeks to acquire these.
How does this process differ in other emirates?
The process is generally the same across the UAE, although there may be some minor differences.