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 preferred school.
This is particularly true if you are seeking places in FS1, FS2 or KG1 and KG2, since demand is at its greatest for Early Years places. There is also strong demand for year 7 and grade 6 in more selective Secondary/Middle schools and also increasingly for Sixth Form (years 12 and 13) and Senior High (grades 11 and 12).
We advise you to check well in advance of application deadlines and identify any supporting documents that may be necessary.
Some schools operate a strict first come-first served policy (so the earliest applicants are highest on the waiting list), whilst some Indian curriculum schools operate a lottery system or accept applications only during a very narrow window (approx. 3 weeks in some cases). You can find out more details in terms of when to apply by reading When should I start to look for a school?
Many schools operate on-line registration systems through their website. You will need to complete all the details for your child/ren and yourselves as parents, and potentially need to upload photos, birth certificate and passport documents. You may well need to include previous school reports (if your children are already in school) and health records. Often you will receive an acknowledgement by email of your initial application and a request to email the remaining documents.
You may also need to pay a registration fee (the norm in the UAE). Schools will often not consider the application until this payment has been made and will also insist that all required documents are provided. Once everything is in place, you can expect an acknowledgement of the application and confirmation of next steps in terms of a possible invitation for assessment or entrance test. If you have completed the application process on-line and do not hear from the Admissions team within a few days, do follow up.
So now you have completed the first step to securing a school place for your child, what happens next?
Generally, the Admissions staff will be responsible for checking the application before forwarding it to the relevant Academic staff. If your child is already in the same curriculum Primary/Elementary school either in the UAE or overseas, school reports and examination or standardised test results (where relevant) will be reviewed and confidential assessments requested, but it is quite possible that your child will not be assessed by the school.
For Secondary/Middle and High School applications, schools may also rely on reports (particularly if there are standardised tests available), may offer remote assessment (at the current school) or may require assessment and an interview at the school in the UAE. Often, the school may offer a conditional place, based on the documents provided and a confidential report from the current school and may conduct a final assessment and interview at the school when you arrive in the UAE, if you are not already based here.
If you are applying for Early Years, the teaching team will review each application and decide whether to invite your child for an assessment. Schools vary as to whether they offer an invitation to all applicants for assessment, or where, if they have significantly more applicants than places, they will prioritise applications based on siblings already in school, nationality, application date and, in some cases, Corporate relationships with companies who pay to reserve places at the school.
If your child is attending Nursery, pre-School or an Early Learning Centre, check whether they have a relationship with one or more schools. Often,if you have applied for a place, schools will visit nurseries to carry out assessments and since this happens earlier than the general assessments, your child may get priority as a result.
The form that assessments take varies widely between schools for Early Years. Many schools focus purely on the ability of the child to separate from its parent, interact with another adult (the teacher or assistant), respond to simple questions or requests, play happily with other children, hold a pencil and use fine motor skills through use of building blocks, drawing or similar activities.
As a parent, there is not a great deal you can do to prepare your child for this type of interaction, other than encourage your child to leave your side – something they will hopefully already be familiar with through visits to nursery, play groups or other socialisation settings.
Sometimes, schools ask for more advanced skills to be shown – recognising letters, numbers and objects, counting and reading simple words for example.
You should have no hesitation in checking with the school what is involved in the assessment.
Schools should be completely open with you about their requirements. Teachers will also take into account that this is a “strange” environment with unknown adults and that your child may not show his/her usual confidence.