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Top Affordable British Schools in Dubai – with latest KHDA fees and ratings

Looking for the best affordable British schools in Dubai? There’s no denying that Dubai school fees are one of the biggest outlays for expat families. The cost of an education in the UAE is the second-highest in the world after Hong Kong, according to the most recent “Value of Education” report by HSBC, with the average family shelling out just under $100,000 (Dh365,000) per child to pay for their primary-to-university education.

And yet a child’s education is the one thing most parents refuse to compromise on, with mums and dads saying in the same report that they prefer to make sacrifices on leisure activities, holidays and hobbies in order to save money, rather than compromising on the quality of their child’s school.

Despite the deeply multicultural landscape in Dubai, it is British Curriculum schools that are the most plentiful and popular, with 36% of all 216 Dubai schools using the UK curriculum, followed by the Indian curriculum (26%), American Curriculum (15%), IB curriculum (7%) and the rest made up by a selection of ‘Other’ curricula.

However, British-curriculum schools are also some of the most expensive (averaging second only to the teacher-intensive IB), with high recruitment costs for UK-trained teachers pushing up fees to make them some of the priciest educational establishments in the emirate.

But there is hope for parents who want to find the best affordable British schools in Dubai. It is possible to find some schools offering a highly effective education and high-quality teaching that are on the less expensive end of the scale.

Why are some Dubai schools so much more expensive than others?

It’s possible to find two outstanding British schools with a seemingly comparable education offering, one of which is double (or more) the cost of the other. Why is this?

There are many possible reasons.

In many cases it can be explained simply by the age of the school. Newer schools often cost significantly more – partly because they have snazzy, top-of-the-range new facilities and the rent on brand-new real-estate to pay off, and partly because older schools that opened with a lower price point 20+ years ago (when the Dubai education landscape was very different) are tightly restricted by the KHDA (the Dubai schools regulator) on how much they can raise their fees each year. Many of these schools, too, have invested heavily in updating facilities over the years – so there is good value to be found here. Just because a school is older, does not necessarily mean that its facilities are outdated. It is also worth noting that many older schools offer access to an alumni network for graduating students which newer schools not owned by a major group cannot.

But there are many other factors too that can significantly affect the cost of education including the student-to-teacher ratios (class sizes can vary from around 15 students per class to 35 or more); the number of subject options that students are allowed to choose between (subject breadth is exceptionally important – and the more subjects offered the greater the investment in teachers required of a school); the extent of extra-curricular choices offered; the number of qualification pathways offered (not all British schools offer a BTEC technical stream pathways and not all offer an ASDAN pathways for students of determination, for example); and, the experience and nationality of the school staff (some countries are more expensive to recruit from than others). You will also usually expect to pay more for a recognised brand, whether of an established local school group, or a globally recognised brand that has opened in the region. The rationale is that established brands and school groups give parents the security of working with a known and proven quantity and quality of delivery.

Balancing affordability and quality in your Dubai school

Below we have gathered a simple list of the best affordable British schools in Dubai, categorised by their Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) rating from 2023-2024, and rated in numerical order of their most affordable “starting from” fees (which is usually the earliest year, Foundation Stage 1). Pay close attention to the fee range however, as some schools start their fees much lower in the Early Years, but then leap up to be much higher in older years, so you may need to factor in affordability across the entire timeframe that you would expect your child to be at the school. Of course, some parents will only be concerned with securing as lower fees as possible immediately.

DSIB ratings are provided in conjunction with the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority), which regulates Dubai schools, and is based on numerous criteria pertaining to the quality of a school’s offering, covering such areas as teaching quality, facilities, student attainment and student wellbeing.

We have opted only to include those schools rated Outstanding, Very Good and Good (below these are Acceptable, Weak and Very Weak), since these ratings mean you can be confident that the education on offer is of a good standard. The KHDA expect all schools operating in Dubai to offer this minimum “Good” standard of education. Schools ranked “Good” do deliver highly for students, and significantly better than schools in other countries. Schools ranked ‘Very Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ are delivering significantly above and beyond expectation.

The Guide to the Best Affordable British schools in Dubai

We have also chosen Dh40,000 per year as the maximum cut-off starting point for ‘affordability’. While this is still a very large amount of money and will not be ‘affordable’ for many families, when you consider that many British-curriculum schools are charging Dh60,000 and upwards, it can perhaps be seen as, at least, ‘relatively affordable’.

Please note: the only school with fees starting from Dh40,000 or less that is rated Outstanding is a primary-only school. When you model what primary-only school fees would look like by projecting likely fee levels in later years, the fees would rise significantly beyond the AED 40,000 cut-off.

It’s also important to note throughout that there may be some big differences in cost depending on the age-range, which is why we have included the full fee range, from the lowest fees to the highest fees, charged at each school.

We also have not included many newer schools that maybe performing at a very high standard, but which are too early in their life to have achieved a KHDA ranking. Two examples are Arcadia Global School and GEMS Metropole Al Waha.  We would eventually expect these two new schools to join the list of best affordable British schools in Dubai.

It is certainly worth considering new schools that do not yet have a rating in your weighing up of options, and particularly because new schools are historically proven to be more likely to offer relatively steep discounts for families willing to take the chance (and opportunity) of joining a school early on and helping to shape its eventual provision as a founding family.

On that note, finally, we have not included discounted fees. Many schools make available discounted fees, particularly to those newly joining a school. These can further increase the value-proposition of each school. However, because these are not uniformly available to all families, and because these often vary according to negotiation and the individual circumstances of each family (for example if they have more than one child attending the school), we have chosen to use the maximum KHDA fees permitted at each school as the baseline.

Every school is hyperlinked to our review, so you can click-through and learn all about what we think of its facilities, teachers, subject options, student happiness and more.

Outstanding Dubai Schools from Dh40,000 or less

School Age range Area Fees (AED)
Victory Heights Primary School Primary FS1-Y6 Victory Heights 39,216 – 53,476

Very Good Dubai Schools from Dh40,000 or less

School Age Range Area Fees (AED)
Emirates International School, Jumeirah  FS1 – Y13 Umm Suqeim First 34,749 – 79,992
GEMS Founders School FS1 – Y13 Al Barsha Second 24,181 – 36,272
GEMS New Millennium School Y10 – Y13 (Indian all-through, with UK curriculum offered in 16+ only) Al Khail 31,656 (Y10) – 31,832 (Y13)
GEMS Royal School FS1-Y6 (secondary from August 2024) Mirdif 39,238 – 83,799
Horizon International School FS1 – Y13 Umm Al Sheif 37,940 – 71,445
MSB Private School FS1 – Y13 Al Nadha Second 11,545 – 23,800
Raffles International School – Umm Suqeim South branch FS1 – Y13 Umm Suqeim Third 32,273 – 83,799
The Winchester School FS1 – Y13 Jebel Ali First 14,607 – 32,586


 Good Dubai schools from Dh40,000 or less

School Age Range Area Fees (AED)
Al Diyafah High School FS1 – Y13 Al Nahda Second 11,378 – 24,185


Al Salam Community School FS1-Y13 Al Twar Second 23,249 – 40,158
Al Salam Private School FS1 – Y8 Al Nahda Second 17,449 – 27, 881
Apple International School FS1 – Y12 Al Qusais First 9,172 – 20,923
Cambridge International School FS1 – Y13 Al Twar First 23,599 – 36,881
Capital School FS1-Y10 Al Qusais First 20,500 – 48,000
Dubai Gem Private School FS1 – Y13 Oud Metha 15,147 – 29,046
Dubai Scholars Private School FS1 – Y13 Al Qusais First 15,468 – 31,820


GEMS Founders School Mizhar FS1 – Y13 Al Mizhar First 24,306 – 36,987


GEMS Metropole School

-Dubai branch

FS1 – Y13 Motor City 37,511 – 50,015
GEMS Winchester School FS1 – Y13 Dubai Land 19,902 – 37, 521
International School of

Creative Sciences

FS1 – Y12 Nad Al Shiba 36,550 – 68,750
Newlands School FS1 – Y11 Al Warqa First 20,881 – 36,936
Pristine Private School FS1 – Y13 Al Nahda Second 24,200 – 24,516
Smart Vision School FS1 – Y13 Al Barsha Second 30,992 – 76,020
St Mary Catholic High School – Muhaisanah Branch FS1 – Y12 Muhaisanah Fourth 9,334 – 18,133
St Mary Catholic High School Dubai Y1 – Y13 Umm Hurair First 8,643 – 16,791
Star International

School (branch)

FS1 – Y10 Mirdif 29,120 – 49,350
Star International School FS1 – Y13 Al Qusais First 20,976 – 46,146
The City School International FS1 – Y12 Nadd Al Hamar 14,442 – 34,874
The School Of Research Science FS1 – Y11 Al Warqa Fourth 36,310 – 77,958
The Sheffield Private School FS1 – Y13 Al Nahda Second 23,562 – 45,321
The Westminster School FS1 – Y13 Al Qusais First 9,449 – 17,852
Oxford School Fs1 – Y13 Muhaisnah 13,218 – 19,994

Online Options

Happily, parents in the UAE are no longer constrained to bricks and mortar schools.  With the advent of flexible, online schooling a new avenue has opened for families wanting a British education, albeit one delivered online.  Kings InterHigh has a timetable that is fully adapted for the UAE, with lessons starting from 8am GST.

School Age Range Area Fees
King’s InterHigh 7 – 19 Online 16,000 – 28,000


© A WhichMedia Group publication. 2024 – 2025. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and Parents United's WHICHPlaydates - a regular meeting place for UAE parents to discuss the issues that matter to them, make friends and network with others. You can often find Tabitha too on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

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