If you have recently moved to Dubai with your family, one of the main challenges you will face is selecting the right school for your children.
With so many educational institutions to choose from, narrowing down your choices can prove to be difficult. After all, there are a number of American, French, Indian, Australian and British schools in Dubai. There are also several private schools that offer other curricula including German, Filipino, Iranian, Japanese, and Pakistani.
To help you make the right choice and ensure you will enroll your kids in the right school, consider the following important factors and tips during the decision-making process:
- The start of the semester or academic calendar
If you relocated to Dubai during the summer, you don’t have to worry about your kids not being accepted by a school since they will be able to join the first day of classes.
However, there are still many schools in this emirate that have waiting lists. Because of this, you and your kids’ choice of schools may be limited to which ones have availability at the time of your child’s expected enrolment.
As such, if you want you to have plenty of options to choose from, start looking into the different schools as soon as possible. You can begin your research online. You can also ask your friends, neighbors, and other expats about which schools their kids go to and if they think your children will love going there.
- School accreditation and ranking
When visiting a particular school, ask to see their permits or licenses and some accreditation reports so you that you will have a good idea of the quality of the school and the curriculum.
At the very least, you have to be sure that the school is accredited by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). KHDA is the local government authority that licenses and oversees both private and public education in Dubai.
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You should also check the category of the school. The Dubai School Inspections Bureau (DSIB), a branch of KHDA, provides a comprehensive review of the performance of each school in Dubai.
Under their review, the schools are divided into four categories: unsatisfactory, acceptable, good, and outstanding. Make sure you and your kids consider each school’s ranking in your final decision.
- Admission requirements
Certain schools in Dubai require incoming students to undergo an entrance exam, submit an essay, and go through an interview. They will request for recommendations and previous school records as well.
Make sure you don’t stress out your kids about getting high scores on the exam or essay since even if the scores are important, the majority of these schools still take a holistic approach to assessing incoming students.
In addition, be sure you have your children’s original school records for at least the last two years and any transfer certificates. Keep copies of these documents since every school you will go to will require them.
- School location
Although Dubai is not a large city, traffic jams occur here frequently during rush hours. As such, consider the distance of the school from your home especially if you will be driving your kids to and from school every day.
If your kids will be taking public transportation, make sure there is a bus stop near the school. It would be better if the school offers transport services to their students. Make sure you ask about this before you enroll your kids.
- School facilities and campus
Before making your final decision, visit your shortlisted schools with your kids. Have them see the classrooms, playground, gym, library, and other facilities. Ask them if they like the campus and the facilities, and if they feel they will like studying there.
It is important that your children feel comfortable in the campus since they will be spending a lot of time there.
While visiting the campus, ask the school staff if they offer the extracurricular activities your kids like.
For instance, if your son loves football, find out if the school has a football field and if they have a team. If your daughter is into music, let her visit the music room and see the different musical instruments. Get some details about the school’s music program as well.
As a final tip, consider your budget, too, especially if your sponsor or employer will not cover or subsidize your children’s school fees.
To choose the right school for your kids, you need to do a lot of research and legwork. Don’t forget to include your children in the final decision since they will be the ones spending hours in the school learning, making new friends, and building new lives with you in a new country.