Unlike many other countries, private schools are the norm for expats in the UAE. This is because public schools in the country solely cater to Emiratis. But you will still find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to private education, with a wide range of curricula catering to the highly diverse population. Currently there are 185 private schools in Dubai alone, with a total of over 270,000 students per annum.
So, while choosing the very best when it comes to your kids, there are a few factors to keep in mind.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) keeps track of the best schools in the emirate, with its classifications and list being updated annually. In the 2016/17 reports there were 16 ‘Outstanding’ schools in Dubai, and 14 schools were rated Very Good.
Schools strive to better themselves in order to be in the top KHDA brackets.
According to the emirate's education regulator, 22 percent of Dubai's students (66,500) now attend Very Good or Outstanding schools, while a further 42 percent (102,521) attend schools which are deemed to fall into the "Good" ranking.
The sheer volume of good schools in the emirate is great news for both existing residents, as well as those planning to move to the city.
There are currently 16 types of school curricula in the emirate: the UAE Ministry of Education, British (IGCSE), Indian (CBSE), American, International Baccalaureate (IB), Iranian, French, Filipino, Pakistani, SABIS, IAT, German, Russian, Japanese and Canadian.
Each curriculum comes with its own set of strengths, for example, the IB curriculum provides a student centered approach to learning with an emphasis on creative and critical thinking. On the other hand the American curriculum focuses on helping students discover their aptitudes and make the most of their talents. It also emphasises on creativity and social interaction and is designed to prepare students for college and careers.
Research each curricula and go with the one you feel suits your child best.
School fees can vary immensely depending on the area, curriculum and KHDA ranking.
The location of the school is as important as curricula when it comes to the total cost of education involved. As a matter of fact, new Dubai schools tend to cost more than 'old' Dubai schools. In general IB schools are the most expensive schools in the UAE, followed by British and American schools, followed by Indian schools.
Logically, you may think that the most expensive schools are the best in terms of quality, but this is not always the case. The most expensive school in Dubai is not a KHDA ranked Outstanding school as it is too new for a rating. Equally, there are many less expensive schools in the UAE which are ranked Good, and a couple ranked Outstanding.
Fees in Dubai range from AED 1,725 per year to over AED 120,000 per year depending on the school and age range. The average tuition fee paid by a student at a private school in Dubai is AED 18,196 per year, an average increase of 6.0% from last academic year.
To check the KHDA ranking of any school you may be considering, visit https://www.khda.gov.ae/en/DSIB/Reports/