Schooling in Dubai: Which options are there available?
August 2, 2017
As parents, one of our main concerns is to offer the best education for our children, and choosing the right school is the key. But easier said than done, isn’t it?
Don’t panic! Luckily, if you are –or about to be- an expat father or mother in the Dubai, there is a wide range of school options in the city. From public schools to private boarding schools, we have looked at the key points to take into account in the search.
1) Schooling types: Public, private and alternative schooling options
Private schools are the most common choice for families, with 90% of Dubai’s students attending private centers. Differently to public schools, where the education is segregated by gender, private schools are coeducational, allowing girls and boys to be together in the same class.
The language of instruction is another significant difference. Whereas the language of instruction in public schools is Arabic -with a great emphasis on English as a second language-, the main language of instruction in private schools can differ widely, according to the schools’ focus.
It is worth to point out that more and more families are considering alternative schooling options for their children. Among these options, the most common one is home-schooling, which it is allowed in the UAE and it basically involves that educating the child at home, either by a parent of a private tutor.
2) Curriculum and performance
While state schools follow the national curriculum, there are currently 17 different curriculums among the 185 private schools in Dubai. For expatriate children, this makes it easier to continue with their current curriculum once they arrive in Dubai or move to an international one, such as the International Baccalaureate, which can be easily transferred once they are back home and it is globally recognized.
For expat parents, it can be useful to read the yearly school reports made by the KHDA (the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, a government authority monitoring Dubai’s private and public education sectors) for the favorite schools. They offer information about current students achievement, curriculum, assessment among many other things.
3) Your child needs and preferences
Deciding the type of center you are looking for and its quality, it is essential for choosing the right school. But still, there is something else to consider: what are your child particular needs and preferences and how will the school be able to satisfy them? Is your child talented in arts or sports? Does your child have any special educational need?
Avoid focusing exclusively on the schools’ reputation and take your child’s needs into the school search equation.
A factor sometimes overlooked is the school’s location. Many times, we are concerned with schools’ reputation, curriculum… and we neglect something basic: how long will it take to reach the school from home – in rush hour? Spending two hours every day going and coming back from school is not enjoyable for anyone – and it can have an impact on your child’s performance at school!