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3 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Private School in Dubai


3 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Private School in Dubai

Did you know there are 215 kindergarten-to-grade-12/13 (KG-12/13) private schools and 171 early childhood centres in Dubai according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority or KHDA?   This means Dubai parents have plenty of private school options. However, it also means it can be challenging to pick a school.   Even if location is a limiting factor, this will not significantly narrow down your choices. 

For instance, searching for schools in and around Al Mizhar will give you at least forty schools. This will include GEMS Royal Dubai School Mirdif and other schools in the neighbouring Al Khawaneej, Oud Al Muteena, and Muhaisnah, among others.   So, how should you choose a Dubai private school for your children? 

Here are some factors to consider.

1.    KHDA Official Rating

In the United Arab Emirates, government authorities like the KHDA in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) oversee the education sector and its providers.   These regulatory bodies frequently conduct school inspections to assess learning institutions against set criteria. These inspections provide parents and students with an objective evaluation of how schools measure up to the highest standards.   In Dubai, the KHDA is in charge of school inspections and reviews, and it awards schools a rating, which can be one of the following:

●    Outstanding

●    Very Good

●    Good

●    Average

●    Weak

●    Very Weak  

Actionable Tip: If you want an easy way to distinguish private schools, look at their KHDA rating. Specifically, you can limit your search to schools with an outstanding or very good rating.

2.    High Performance Learning (HPL) Accreditation

High Performance Learning is an educational framework. It’s based on the premise that every student can become academically successful or high-performing (an advanced performer who places in top universities, a global leader who has impact, and an enterprising learner who is creative and innovative) regardless of their starting point or initial potential.   In other words, one doesn't have to be a gifted child to become a successful adult, as the HPL framework will systematically build up a student, any student, for high performance. An HPL-accredited school will empower and equip your child with advanced cognitive skills and essential values, attitudes and attributes.

The HPL system has seven pillars:

●    Mindset shift

●    Enquiry and learning

●    Expertise development

●    Practice and training

●    Feedback

●    Engagement of parents

●    With students, not to students  

It will develop the following advanced cognitive performance characteristics:

●    Meta-thinking (meta-cognition, self-regulation, strategy planning, intellectual confidence)

●    Linking (generalisation, connection finding, big-picture thinking, abstraction, imagination, seeing alternative perspectives)

●    Analysing (critical or logical thinking, precision, complex and multi-step problem solving)

●    Creating (intellectual playfulness, flexible thinking, originality, evolutionary and revolutionary thinking)

●    Realising (automaticity, speed and accuracy)


HPL also engenders the following values, attitudes and attributes:

●    Empathetic (collaborative, concerned for society, confident)

●    Agile (enquiring, creative and enterprising, open-minded, risk-taking)

●    Hardworking (practice, perseverance, resilience)  

An HPL school can have any of the following designations:

●    High Performing School Award (HPSA): The school has adopted the HPL framework.

●    Global Community of High Performing Schools: The school has at least two years of HPSA and first accreditation.

●    World Class School Award (WCSA): The school is at the pinnacle of HPL embedding and adoption, specifically by adapting the framework to its context and developing and implementing it according to its vision.  

Actionable Tip: Look for an HPL school. Among the above designations, the World Class School Award is the best, so choose an HPL World Class School if you can.  

3.    The Curriculum

You have several curriculum options in Dubai. These are the top curriculums available and their percentage share of private school students:

●    British: 35%

●    Indian: 26%

●    American (U.S.): 16%

●    International Baccalaureate (IB): 6%

●    British/IB: 5%

●    Ministry of Education (MoE): 4%

●    French: 3%

●    Others: 3%

●    SABIS: 2%  

Note: There are 303,262 private school students in Dubai, according to the KHDA.

 Actionable Tip: Every curriculum has its strengths. It's up to you to assess each one and choose the curriculum that will fulfil your child's needs and help them accomplish what they want to achieve. If you want your child to study overseas, choose an international framework like the British curriculum.  

The British Curriculum in Focus

The British curriculum is technically the national curriculum for England, so it’s the curriculum used in the United Kingdom. It is also globally recognised, as it is used in more than 150 countries worldwide.   The British curriculum is known for its broad focus, giving students a well-rounded and balanced education. From the early stages, core subjects include humanities, drama, art, music, and design, ensuring students are not solely focused on maths, science, and English.   However, the curriculum is learner-centred, too, as it gives students the liberty to apply themselves according to their preferences. Thus, students in the British curriculum can specialise in maths and science or humanities, although they are not allowed to neglect the other subjects.   The British curriculum is also highly organised. It is broken down into the following learner phases or stages:  

Early Years Foundation Stage

The following stages (and age range) comprise this stage:

●    Foundation Stage One or Nursery (three to four years old) ●    Foundation Stage Two or Reception (four to five years old)    

Key Stage One

Key Stage One includes the following:

●    Year One or kindergarten (five to six years old)

●    Year Two or first grade (six to seven years old)    

Key Stage Two

The following grades comprise Key Stage Two:

●    Year Three or second grade (seven to eight years old)

●    Year Four or third grade (eight to nine years old)

●    Year Five or fourth grade (nine to 10 years old)

●    Year Six or fifth grade (10 to 11 years old)  


Key Stage Three

This includes the first three years of secondary school:

●    Year Seven or sixth grade (11 to 12 years old)

●    Year Eight or seventh grade (12 to 13 years old)

●    Year Nine or eighth grade (13 to 14 years old)    

Key Stage Four

This is the stage where students take their general certificate of secondary education (GCSE) for subjects:

●    Year 10 or ninth grade (14 to 15 years old)

●    Year 11 or 10th grade (15 to 16 years old)    

Key Stage 5 (Post-16) how to get glowing skin

This is equivalent to college or sixth form and the stage where students take their A-Level exams for university admission. It encompasses the following grades:

●    Year 12 or 11th grade (16 to 17 years old)

●    Year 13 or 12th grade (17 to 18 years old)    

Choosing the Right School

You can easily find scientific tips online if you want to know how to boost your immune system. However, there is no exact science to choosing a school for your child.   That said, you can try to make the decision process as systematic as possible.   If you want a good selection framework, filter your private school options according to their KHDA rating, HPL designation, and learning curriculum.