Choosing a Private School in Dubai
Two hundred fifteen — that’s the number of private schools in Dubai. Given that many choices, which school should you choose for your children?
Parents have to consider many factors when deciding on their children’s schooling. A study by Yaacob et al. said these factors include the school syllabus, environment, facilities, academic performance, and quality of teachers.
Naturally, parents examine these factors within specific constraints. Location is one such limitation.
It doesn't make sense to spend hours commuting to and from school when exemplary schools exist in your neighbourhood. Thus, GEMS School Motor City Dubai — i.e., GEMS Metropole School — is a primary option among parents in Uptown Motor City and other communities in Motor City and adjacent Dubai Studio City and Arabian Ranches.
However, even if you restrict your options to a particular location, you’ll still be left with many choices, and it will not be any easier to decide on a school.
This write-up presents three factors parents need to evaluate when looking for potential private schools in Dubai. 1. The Curriculum There are many types of curricula in Dubai. According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), as of January 2022, the 303,262 private school students in Dubai are distributed across the following curricula in the following manner:
● British or U.K. curriculum: 35%
● Indian curriculum: 26%
● American or U.S. curriculum: 16%
● International Baccalaureate or IB curriculum: 6%
● U.K./IB curriculum: 5%
● United Arab Emirates(UAE) Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum: 4%
● French curriculum: 3%
● Other curricula: 3%
● SABIS (U.K./U.S.) curriculum: 2%
Thus, a straightforward way of reducing the number of your private school alternatives is to decide on your preferred curriculum. Do you prefer the British, Indian, American, IB, or another curriculum?
Of course, if you choose the British curriculum, you will not significantly diminish your options. As you can see from the above list, approximately one in every three private schools in Dubai employs the British curriculum.
That said, if you prefer the British curriculum — technically, the national curriculum for England — go for a British-curriculum school. You really shouldn’t choose a curriculum just because it’s less popular and will drastically and effectively narrow down your options.
Actionable tip: If you are planning to send your child to a university in the United Kingdom (e.g., the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge) or somewhere else in Europe after high school, you should probably go for a school with a British curriculum.
Likewise, if you’re thinking of a university in the United States (e.g., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology), it makes sense to choose an American-curriculum private school.
This is not to say studying in a British-curriculum school will set your child’s path firmly toward attending a UK university. Additionally, studying in an American-curriculum school will not render a child ineligible to apply to non-American universities.
American universities will accept general certificates of secondary education (GCSE) results as well as advanced subsidiary (AS) and advanced (A) levels qualifications with university admission applications from British-school graduates.
Similarly, universities in the UK and other countries will consider the advanced placement (AP) exam scores of applicants from American-curriculum schools.
2. Preparation Parents are worried about their children’s future career options. A global parents’ survey conducted by Ipsos Mori for Varkey Foundation reveals that parents’ two primary concerns about their children are:
· Career prospects (will they be able to get a job and have a successful career?)
· Cost of living
One of the things you must consider, therefore, is how a school will prepare your child for a tomorrow filled with exciting opportunities and a future they can afford. This preparation can take many forms.
It can be a system designed to induce high performance (i.e., high-performance learning) or innovation in how the school helps students learn. Perhaps, the school uses tablets and educational apps in its instruction.
Schools may also use robots and drones to teach programming, allow students to experience things first-hand — but from a safe distance — through virtual reality, and unleash their imagination through three-dimensional modelling and printing technologies.
Actionable Tip: Find a school with an innovative approach to learning. Not only will this make school more interesting for your children. It will also equip them better for the future.
3. Islamic and Arabic Education Of the private school students in Dubai, only 10.8% or 32,883, are Emiratis. This is expected since the expatriate population in the emirate (and the rest of the UAE) is considerable. There are approximately seven times more expatriates than Emiratis in the UAE.
Even so, the Arabic language is a compulsory subject across the UAE, required of both Arab and non-Arab learners. Non-native speakers learn it from the foundation stage until year 12. Native speakers, meanwhile, are required to take the subject from year one to nine; the subject becomes optional from year 10 onwards.
You’ve probably heard that Arabic is not an easy language for a non-native speaker to learn. It’s true. Therefore, if you’re an expatriate picking a private school for your child, scrutinise the school’s Arabic language program.
In the UAE, schools also often have an Islamic education program for Muslim students. Such a program usually follows the UAE Ministry of Education’s Islamic studies curriculum.
You also need to evaluate a school’s Islamic studies program if you’re a Muslim. Islamic education in schools is vital in ensuring the culture and values of the religion are correctly and effectively taught to future generations.
Actionable Tip: Go for a school that integrates Arabic education with units of work that will let your child learn more about the UAE and the Arab heritage and culture. This successfully places language learning in context, which can enhance learning outcomes.
You must also assess a school’s Islamic education program.
While there are many Islamic schools in Dubai, you should probably consider an international school that offers superior Islamic education alongside its primarily international curriculum. For Muslim parents, this will ensure their children will have a world-class education anchored on Islamic culture and core Islamic values.
Find the Best School for Your Child
Deciding on a private school for your child is not an easy task.
However, you can follow a systematic approach when making your selection by rigorously examining each school’s curriculum, their Arabic and Islamic education program, and their approach to preparing and equipping your children for the future.