It’s probably safe to say that all British expatriates send their children to fee paying private schools in Dubai (with a very small exception who choose to home school). It is allegedly possible for children to attend local schools (the rules keep changing), however they would have to complete exams in Arabic, English and maths and pay nominal fees anyway.
Additionally schooling is largely if not wholly through the medium of Arabic…which is why international schools are the preferred choice of expats.
The very good news is that there are literally hundreds of private schools to choose from (all teaching different curricula from around the world) – the bad news is that their standards vary dramatically, as do their fees. You can pay anything from 5,000 – 100,000 AED annually per child, depending on the institution.
In the past employers sometimes paid a supplement to expatriate staff to put towards their children’s education…if you can negotiate that as part of any new contract, do so!
In terms of the international schools teaching the British national or International Baccalaureate curricula, there is a wide choice. Perhaps one of the most comprehensive lists available is on the DubaiFAQ website.
As you can see from the list, the name of the school doesn’t necessarily tell you much about it, therefore visit individual school’s websites, go on forums and ask for parent and student feedback, and don’t enrol your child until you’ve visited an institution in person.
A school can produce an excellent website, market its standards and achievements well, but the school environment may not suit your child, the teaching staff may not fill you with great confidence, and at the end of the day, as this is your child’s future we’re talking about, you need to invest the time to get it right.
Waiting lists at the best schools can be long, and their fees can be high, but it may we worth postponing your relocation until you can secure your student child a place at the best school.
For parents with children who have special educational needs, there are some institutions in Dubai who cater for various special requirements. Once again, may we refer you to the list on the DubaiFAQ website so that you can research each institution further.
Summer holidays in Dubai are long – because of the intensity of the heat in the region at this time of year. This is the time of year when most expats take their children and have a long vacation away from the emirate. School term dates can occasionally be affected by Ramadan, as they were in 2010.
This is because Ramadan doesn’t fall on a specific date according to the Gregorian calendar. It is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar, however ‘our’ Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar which means that Ramadan moves by about 11 days every year.