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Changing Schools, Curriculum in the UAE – Can I?

Changing Schools, Curriculum in the UAE – Can I?

by David WestleyMarch 23, 2017

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 worldwide are increasingly knowledgeable about the main internationally offered curricula and how they compare with the local ones, it does often make sense to place your child in a school offering the curricula with which their future destination is likely to be familiar.

There are some obvious time-points during the academic career which lend themselves best to transfer between curricula.

These are generally:

– at the end of Primary/Elementary (year 6/grade 5);

– in the period prior to main Public Exams (UK, IB or Indian curricula) or in order to meet a specific requirement for attendance (US High School).

It is often easier to find places in Secondary/Middle School for years 8 and 9 (grades 7 and 8) than for year 7/grade 6 or year 10/grade 9 (prior to the start of the (I)GCSE or CBSE 2 year exam programmes.  This ensures that children are able to settle into the new school, routine and curriculum before the demands of the Public Exam studies commence.


Increasingly, families are also considering their options for the final two years of study within the UK, IB and Indian curricula.

Whilst it is common in the UK for students to leave their school to attend a Sixth Form College for the final two years of their education, this has historically not been the norm in the UAE.

However, there is no reason why children should not change schools at this stage and there are many more options available – find out here .

For children considering the IB MYP and Diploma programmes, for the UK A Level programmes (both 2 year programmes again) and for the High School Diploma (requiring a 4 year proof of study in High School), timing of transfer is important and should be carefully planned.

You can find out more detailed information about the different curricula here

If you do want to transfer your child from one school to another, you will need to ensure that you complete the application process at the new school in good time and also give notice to your child’s current school.

Usually, a term’s notice is required and all outstanding payments will need to have been cleared.

It is also increasingly common for schools to seek a re-registration fee towards the end of term 2 or beginning of term 3 in order to guarantee your child’s place for the following academic year.  You will therefore need to have secured a place at the new school prior to this point.

If your child is transferring between schools within Dubai, the process is entirely electronic and, in theory at least, can occur at any time during the academic year in Primary/Elementary school between schools of the same curriculum. 

However, this is subject to the “new” school accepting the transfer timing. Changes of curriculum are only permitted until November (for schools with a September academic year start) and May, for April starters.

The other Emirates do not permit transfer between schools or curricula during the academic year, but if a transfer is taking place at the start of the new academic year within the same Emirate, as in Dubai, a transfer certificate is not required.

For transfers between Emirates – which may take place at any time up to April for September starters and January for April academic year schools, a transfer certificate will be required.  This is prepared by the current school and this will need to be attested by the relevant Regulator (KHDA, ADEC or the relevant Education Zone).

About The Author
David Westley
David is the co-founder and GM of Which Media, the owner of and

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