Dubai and the entire UAE are among the world’s best places for a child to go to school. The cultural diversity, quality of education, and the environment are everything you want your child to experience in life.
Since the region is mostly occupied by expatriates, their education sector has 17 different curriculums. Private schools from all over the world seem to be cropping up every day, and herein lies the problem.
With so many international schools around to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one. To make things worse, all the best non-profit schools are already booked years in advance, and you don’t stand a chance unless the Sheikh knows you.
Lucky for you, many parents have been through this before, and we are here to guide you on the best way to choose schools in Dubai.

Check KHDA ratings

Every year, the Knowledge and Human Development Agency, (KHDA) provides a comprehensive school rating in the emirates from WEAK to OUTSTANDING. Their criteria range from facilities, performance, teaching quality, and leadership. While your priorities may differ from what KHDA deems outstanding qualities, it’s still a good place to start because it will give you an idea of schools that are doing well. This will narrow down the options for you and ensure you only have to choose between the best schools.

Age of school

Speaking of KHDA ratings, many schools are yet to get it because they are newer. You will notice that top-rated schools in that list are old schools that have proven themselves over time, so it’s so hard to get in. However, schools that have opened over the last five years are not yet known, and you may not see them in the KHDA list or hear about them in social circles. This does not mean they aren’t good schools and you can visit them to find out more. The best thing about newer schools is that they give you a better enrolment chance (21%-45% compared to an 8% chance in well-known schools).

Curriculum

This is a no-brainer because it’s important to choose a system that matches your home country’s curriculum. The UK education system IGCSE is the most prevalent in the UAE, with more than 34% of the schools, followed by the USA system, International Baccalaureate, and Indian curriculum in that order. If the child is going to high school, you can choose the system according to where you want them to go to university.

Cost of the school

Education in Dubai is expensive by any standard. It can range from AED 1725 to AED 120,000 per year. UK, IB, and USA curriculums tend to be the costliest, while Indians schools are reasonably priced.
Dubai school fees also depends on the location. The New Dubai area is extremely expensive, so if you want cheaper, you should go to the outskirts. In many cases, the age of your child also determines how much you will pay. Higher primary classes are always more expensive than kindergarten levels.
Fortunately, the price of a school seldom reflects on its quality. Most high-priced schools charge that way to cater for extra-curriculum activities and luxuries that have nothing to do with education. When researching a school, start with how much you can afford, just to rule out the ones beyond your price range and compare the rest.

Age of your child

Remember how we said earlier that good non-profit schools are always booked to capacity? Well, this dynamic changes the more your child grows because there are not many children in the upper primary. Dubai is a working place and not a living place, so people tend to leave after a few years. This means there are fewer older kids compared to the young ones in kindergarten to grade two. If you are searching for a school for an older child, consider your options open to any school as long as you visit early enough.

Think in the present

There is this pressure for children to go to schools that will lead them to Yale or Harvard University. However, this does not matter when your child is in grade one. The critical factor at that stage is comfort and proper foundation. Choose a school that caters to the child’s needs at present, you will worry about the future later. For kindergarten and lower primary kids, sufficient outside play areas, toys, and resources are crucial for their physical and mental development. As they grow older, you can look for schools that excel in academic performance.
After checking the ratings, talking to friends, and comparing fee structure between different schools, make a list of top 5 schools you like and visit them. Schools have regular tours where you can see the facilities and listen to the teachers before making your final decision.

Author's Bio: 

I am an educational consultant from United Arab Emirates.