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UAE school guides

Guides covering education and schooling in the UAE. If you have something you'd live covered, email to: editor at .

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April 20, 2017

Best Schools for Sport in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Our Guide to the best leagues and competitions for schools showed which competitive sports are the most popular among UAE schools and how schools across a range of curricula perform against each other in the most popular sports. Our list of  best schools for competitive sports has been arrived at based on their league and competition results, the range of sports offered and the evident commitment by these schools to see their students perform not only academically, but across the numerous sports they offer. The range of sport on offer across the different leagues is significant but makes it hard to determine which schools offer the best opportunities for competitive sport, with [...]
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April 20, 2017

Best Leagues, Competitions for School Sports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

In a country with relatively small numbers of students compared with more established countries, there seems to be a perception that the range of available sports and quality of sports coaching in schools – particularly for competitive sports – is limited.

Our research shows that this is very much NOT the case, although inter-school competition for outdoor ball sports is more limited in some curricula than others.

ALSO SEE: The best schools in the UAE for Sport

Whilst competitive sports is absolutely integral to the curriculum of most UK, US and IB curriculum schools, it seems to be less so among other curricula.  In particular, many Asian schools offer some [...]

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April 11, 2017

My Child Did Not Get a School Place. What Can I Do?

After all the research and preparation, culminating in the application and, perhaps, assessment, hopefully, you will receive an offer from your preferred school. It can be enormously disappointing for both you and your child, after all this effort, if you do not then receive the anticipated Acceptance letter.  If you are among the disappointed parents, there are still some proactive steps you can take, which will at least enable you and your child to understand why s/he was not successful.

Firstly, you are entitled to ask on what grounds no offer was made. Often there will have been siblings or other priority groups who have been offered places ahead of your child. Sometimes, it is a [...]

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April 10, 2017

Application and Assessment – What Happens Next?

You’ve completed your research, determined which is the right curriculum and right school for your child, and now it’s time to take the next step.

Whilst many schools will not permit you to apply until the academic year prior to the one you are seeking, some schools do still accept applications two or more years ahead. It is therefore important to check with your short-listed schools what time-lines apply.

Once you have narrowed down your schooling options, we would generally advise you to apply to at least 2 and possibly 3 schools, unless you can be certain (through discussion with the School Admissions team) that places are available for your child at your [...]

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April 6, 2017

Choosing a school – What Makes A School The Right One for my Child?

To some extent, choosing your child’s school is not dissimilar to choosing a home.  In this case, you will probably want to consider location, budget, facilities and perhaps, the reputation of the developer.  You may want a particular style of home. You will probably identify several options and have a check-list of requirements in mind before you arrange a viewing.

Often, the home seems to meet your needs, but when you visit it, somehow it just doesn’t fit…And then, eventually, you find the one that is somehow…just right. This is often a more emotional decision than purely a practical one.

In choosing a school, you will probably also go [...]

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April 3, 2017

Moving to the UAE With Children: Rules and Regulations You Should Know

If you are planning to relocate from overseas to the UAE, this guide will provide you with the basic information you need.

Schools in the UAE are governed by a UAE-wide authority – the Ministry of Education – and regulators based in, and responsible for schools in, each emirate. Although there is officially a standard set of rules and regulations covering the registration process for the UAE, there are variations between emirates and we would always recommend that you confirm information with the relevant Admissions staff at the schools you contact.

Children are legally required to be in school in the UAE during the academic year in which they turn 6 (5+ years on [...]

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April 2, 2017

The School Visit Checklist – What You Need to Look For…

This checklist provides a summary of the main impressions we think you will want to take away from a school visit. Many of the questions will be covered as you tour the school. Some will require you to ask if the Tour leader does not provide the information. Some questions may not be relevant to you.

You may find a printable version here

We suggest you use the checklist to add your personal impressions to the school comparisons that you make on


Name of school Location Fees Inspection rating Accreditation Number of students attending the school Total capacity of the school Number of students per [...]
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March 30, 2017

The Choice between New and Established Schools

In recent years, a significant number of new schools have opened – particularly in Dubai – to meet the increasing demand from families relocating to the UAE and the desire of Emirati families to place their children in international schools. This trend is now being seen in the other Emirates. Whilst a welcome relief for parents who have struggled to find places for their children in the past, there is often some concern as to whether these new schools can match up to the more established ones.

The good news is that owners and operators of all new schools go through a rigorous application process to prove their suitability prior to receiving approval to [...]

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March 29, 2017

UAE School Accreditation: What To Look For, and Why?

Nowadays, schools in the UAE go through a rigorous process with the Regulator in each Emirate (ADEC – the Abu Dhabi Education Council in Abu Dhabi, KHDA – the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai and Ajman, and the relevant Education Zone in the other Emirates), and in accordance with the UAE Ministry of Education, prior to receiving approval to open.

This ensures that the school owners, managers and staff are able to deliver the school itself, the curriculum and that the latter meets international requirements to enable access to university or college.

However, in the past there was not quite the same degree of oversight. Schools opened who stated that [...]

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March 28, 2017

When Can My Child Start School?

Choosing and sending your child off to school for the first time, or to a new school, is likely to be one of the most emotionally challenging and nerve-wracking decisions that any parent makes. After all, you are choosing what you hope will be the best school, the best education and the best future for your child, often based on a fairly subjective decision.

Our Guide, of which this is the first in a series about choosing and applying to schools in the UAE, is designed to assist you through this process.

Schools in the UAE operate to two distinct Academic calendars. There is supposed to be a unified calendar that applies to all schools throughout the [...]

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March 27, 2017

When Do I Start to Look for a School?

You think that point has arrived where you know that finding a school for your child is their next step towards starting them on the long (and expensive road) to their education. Given the commitment that you are making to your child (and potentially from your pocket), it’s important to get this right.

Historically, some especially anxious parents would try to register their new-borns at their preferred school within days of their birth.

That is no longer the case.

As more and more schools have introduced automated Admissions systems, and as they have got to grips with the long waiting-lists that needed to be updated on a regular basis, so the norm has tended to [...]

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March 27, 2017

Which School Curriculum Should I Choose?

Curriculum choice is one of the factors that seems to cause more hardship and confusion for parents than most others related to choice of school! In reality, when children start school at the age of 3 or 4, there is very little difference between what takes place in a UK curriculum Foundation classroom versus a US curriculum, IB curriculum or Indian curriculum school at this level.

The first year of school is very much about children learning to adapt to the “big school” environment, learning to socialise, to cooperate, and work together, about refining fine and gross motor skills and so on. It is definitely not the norm for children to spend long periods sitting on chairs at [...]

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March 23, 2017

Changing Schools, Curriculum in the UAE – Can I?

Irrespective of which curriculum you may choose for your child at the outset of their academic career, it is not unusual for parents to consider a change of curriculum at some stage, perhaps due to change of location, circumstances or because their child’s experience of the current curriculum may not be as satisfactory as wished for. There are definite times and options which work best for this situation.

Often parents place their child/ren in school and choose a curriculum which serves them well for their entire school career.  The choice of curriculum will be guided most likely by future plans for your child’s education.

Although reputable schools and universities [...]

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March 15, 2017

Which Post 16 Curriculum – How to Choose

In our first Guide, which you can read here, we covered the many reasons why parents may need to change the school their child(ren) attend at the critical two-year period of secondary education between 16 and 18/19 years of age. We also covered why, in many cases, changing school for these years is in practice often the best course of action for children and something that many should do.

The reason why many students and families choose to stay in the same all-through school is often driven by security of what is known – but there can be a high price paid for this, particularly in ensuring the best qualifications for an individual child.

If there is a [...]

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March 12, 2017

16+ Education in the UAE, The Guide

Background – why we have written this Guide

Following numerous requests from parents we have produced the following guide to shine a light on the complex choices facing families at the critical point in each child’s education where they need to decide on options at age 16.

If there is a single key message to be drawn from the following it is that there should be a considered choice made by parents and young men and women whether to move schools, or to remain within an existing all-through school, for the final two years of study before graduation – whether that will be directly into industry, graduate study or a year out.

We believe that there are many [...]

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January 19, 2017

Dubai’s Best Schools – A Parents Guide to KHDA “Outstanding” Rankings

We are often asked by parents, which are the absolute and very best schools in Dubai.

As with so much in life, there is, we believe, not a simple, all-encompassing, final answer to this question, and certainly not one that is fixed in time. We also have some concern about the merits of league tables when they are used exclusively as a tool to decide where to educate children. Many schools offer something unique and valuable to their children that are inevitably lost in tables and may well, in fact often do, fall outside a top ranking.

However, factually, it is possible to identify, in the following table, Dubai’s top schools, as rated “Outstanding” by the Dubai [...]

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January 17, 2017

Using PISA to Benchmark UAE Schools – Why, & Why Not…

Many parents will have come across discussion of something called PISA. Schools are being helped by the Schools Inspectorates across all 7 Emirates to improve their education of our children – and PISA is one way they are being measured.

In the following we look at what PISA is – and ask what it tells us about the state of education in the UAE. Can it help parents choose the best school? Is it going to drive up standards? Is it in any way useful for parents or is it really something complicated whose real value lies only behind the scenes? And does it give us as parents any better of understanding how the education our children are getting here, compares with that they would [...]

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September 16, 2016

British Pre-School Nursery Curriculum Guide & EYFS

Updated November 2016

Our pre-school guides have been written following requests from parents for us to help make sense of the early years choices facing them in deciding provision for their Child(ren). One concern that has been relayed to us is that parents, when visiting pre-schools as part of their shortlisting, face schools that to some degree seem “much of a muchness,” with children painting and generally carrying on activities that seem pretty standard and similar to what they would expect from  simple day care.

In the following, and related Pre-school Guides for the range of alternative curricular nurseries, we explore the differences between [...]

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September 15, 2016

Reggio Emilia Pre-School Curriculum Guide

Updated November 2016

In this Curriculum Guide we look at the Reggio Emilia approach to pre-school education.

In broad outline there are five different approaches adopted in the UAE, although in some schools these are combined on something of a ‘pick n’ mix’ basis:

(1) Reggio Emilia

(2) Montessori – our Curriculum Guide can be found here.

(3) Waldorf-Steiner

(4) Froebel

(5) UK /Traditional

Setting the scene

Typically, nursery schools provide pre-primary education for children between 3 and 4 years (according to the date of a child’s birthday this may be on a scale between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 years) of age prior to their [...]

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September 13, 2016

Montessori Pre-School Curriculum Guide

Updated November 2016

In this Curriculum Guide we look at the Montessori approach to pre-school education.

In broad outline there are five different approaches adopted in the UAE, although in some schools these are combined on something of a ‘pick n’ mix’ basis:

(1) Montessori

(2) Reggio Emilia – our Curriculum Guide can be found here.

(3) Waldorf-Steiner

(4) Froebel

(5) UK /Traditional


Setting the scene

Typically, nursery schools provide pre-primary education for children between 3 and 4 years (according to the date of a child’s birthday this may be on a scale between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 years) of age prior to [...]

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