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KHDA Warns Dubai schools that they must welcome students of determination with SEND. No Excuses.

KHDA Warns Dubai schools that they must welcome students of determination with SEND. No Excuses.

by Jon WestleyJanuary 26, 2020

“The entry assessment process for students of determination must focus on identifying strengths and challenges to learning as well as the strategies that will contribute to the student’s success.

The function of the entry assessment process for students of determination is to inform the school’s provision planning and enable them to be enrolled in the school.

It is not a ‘pass or fail’ process or a ‘hurdle’ that a student must overcome to be admitted to the school.”

KHDA. Directives and Guidance for Inclusive Education. 2020.



Background – Schools Must Act Now to Welcome All Children of Determination and SEND when they Apply to their Schools. 

In a stark warning to schools, the KHDA has issued new guidance to every private school in Dubai that they must welcome students of determination – and that any refusal to admit a child without exceptional grounds for doing so will result in sanctions.


“[Schools that reject children of determination] will be monitored and evaluated by the KHDA.

This may lead to further review and action in accordance with The Executive Council Resolution No. (2) of 2017 Regulating Private Schools in the Emirate of Dubai.”

KHDA. Directives and Guidance for Inclusive Education. 2020.

The aim is to put an end to the practice where too many schools, despite claiming to be inclusive, refuse entry to students simply because of a disability. The reasons are diverse for refusing entry but include minimising costs or not wanting to take on students who could lower their published performance in examination league tables. The aim of these schools is to accept only “easy wins” where children joining the schools are already pretty much guaranteed to attain well.

The impact of schools being inclusive on paper whilst, in practice, rejecting SEND students, in fact produces schools often lacking vibrancy, culture and difference. Children at these schools often learn in a vacuum with a distorted view of life beyond school and without the skills to build relationships with children and adults that reflect the composition of broader society.  In extreme cases it can result in prejudice and fear.

The description of “students of determination” covers a broad spectrum of children. Some may be exceptionally gifted, others may struggle in areas like Mathematics. Some may be physically diasabled, other may be exceptional athletes requiring an enhanced education to ensure that they can meet their potential. The majority of our children, in some way, will be more or less gifted or physically able – the aim of the KHDA’s new stance is to ensure that every child, wherever they are on the spectrum in Dubai, can access the best performing schools without fear of prejudice at the time of applying to the school.

The end result is that every single child in Dubai should benefit.

“Proven benefits [of inclusive schools) include, the development [in students] of social skills, personal responsibility, self-esteem, improved levels of tolerance and a more accepting attitude towards human diversity – essential components for the achievement of a fully cohesive community.”

European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, 2017

We publish the full document below. But the lesson is clear:

  • Schools must now welcome students of determination. In the most exceptional of cases only – one where adjustments in some key way is simply impossible by the school, is the only ground for refusing a child. If a child is rejected without grounds, the regulator will act. Schools that refuse students arbitrarily or without exceptional grounds will now be sanctioned.
  • Parents can now apply to any private school in Dubai and expect to be treated transparently and fairly. They should expect their child to be accepted. 
  • Schools must stop overloading an offer of a place with extra costs as a condition for accepting a student of determination at their school. These offers are not fair and act as a backdoor way of, in practice, excluding students of determination even if they are offered a place. Parents should be offered the same fees and conditions for their child attending a school as any other parent.

A comprehensive KHDA guide written specifically for parents will be published shortly and we will update this new story when we receive it.


The KHDA Guidance for Schools and Parents in Full 

Guidance to parents on Admissions and children with SEND


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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]
  • Mr Anonymous for fear of retaliatory measures
    January 27, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Interesting commitment on KHDA’s part. However, the inspection process forces schools to deny students of determination. KHDA themselves have unrealistic expectations of students meeting international standards testing that impact attainment, which despite what they say are held against the school. There is a superficial rating system as I have seen it very clearly despite pleading my case.
    This is extremely unfortunate as there are many students who do not have access to education. I agree with the author, many say they are inclusive however majority are not. Have a student of determination go to Kings and see what they are told.
    If a slight adjustment was made to the artificial attainment goals based on school’s population make up it would make a huge difference in education in Dubai.

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