Dubai offers ample opportunities for children’s education. Here you can find many prestigious schools with an International Baccalaureate program or popular national curriculums – British, French, American, etc.

In this post, we are talking about different types of schools in Dubai and how foreigners can get a school place, what it requires, how much it costs, and what features of the UAE education system you should know.

Secondary education in Dubai

There are public and private schools in the Emirates that specialize in different curricula. Public schools offer an Arabic curriculum, while private schools are more diverse – the number of curricula they offer reaches almost two dozen.

School education in Dubai includes 3 levels: Primary, Preparatory and Secondary. The last two stages may also be included into the Technical Secondary school. Many educational institutions, both public and private, teach under the K-12 system, covering education from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The EmSAT test is a final exam, which can also be used to enroll in a university. The test is required for a number of subjects:

  • English;
  • Mathematics;
  • Physics;
  • IT;
  • Chemistry or Biology.

Public schools in Dubai

Most students in public schools are locals. The education in these schools is free for them, while foreigners have to pay. However, the fee is smaller than in private educational institutions. Lessons in public schools is carried out in Arabic, and in addition, students teach the Koran and the history of Islam. Therefore, the vast majority of expats opt for private schools with more familiar curriculum.

Private schools in Dubai

According to the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), as of 2022, there are 217 private schools in the emirate with 18 diverse programs, and their number is constantly growing. The most popular is the British curriculum, 36% of expats choose it. Indian and American curricula follow with 26% and 15%, respectively. The fourth most popular option is the International Baccalaureate (IB) program (7%).

“While the range of curriculums offered in Dubai speaks to the diversity of our community, all schools are committed to a quality-driven and future-oriented approach that will enable students to succeed,” says KHDA CEO Dr. Abdullah Al-Karam.

As already mentioned, the educational process in Dubai private schools is mainly conducted in English, and Arabic is also required to study. Another language can be chosen independently. Thus, in total, children learn at least three languages.

Private school fees in Dubai

The cost of education in private schools in the emirate varies significantly, depending on the curriculum, the KHDA ranking of the educational institution and many other factors. Prices start from AED 2,500 ($680) per year for the Salman Farsi Iranian School for boys with an Iranian program and reach AED 130,000 ($35,500) per year for the prestigious North London Collegiate School with the British curriculum and a high rating.

On average, education in popular schools cost from AED 40,000 ($11,000) per year, but you can find quality options for AED 10,000-30,000 ($2,700-8,200).

Also, you should keep in mind that the fee you pay depends on the grade your child is attending. For instance, studying in the 1st grade of the prestigious Repton Dubai school costs AED 60,000 ($16,500) per year, while in the 12th grade of the same school 95,000 AED ($26,000).

Dubai private school enrollment rules

In order to get a school place in Dubai, you need to follow the next :

  1. Submit your application and documents, in person or online. This can be done at any time, however, the more prestigious the school, the longer they can process your application, so it is better to submit your papers as early as possible. It is also worth taking into account that you have to pay for filing an application in many private schools in Dubai. The fee is AED 525 ($ 140).
  2. The child must pass certification – testing or interview. The format may vary by school.
    The student must also have a good command of English.
  3. After the assessment is completed and you receive an invitation letter, you will need to make a deposit, which will then be deducted from the first trimester/semester fees. As a rule, the deposit is 25% of the annual fee. It is important to note that the deposit is non-refundable. It means if for some reason you change your mind, the entire amount will remain in the school account.

The required documents for enrolling in a school in Dubai include:

  • copies of the child’s birth certificate, passport and visa;
  • a copy of the child’s vaccination card;
  • a copy of the child’s Emirates ID card (both sides);
  • copies of passports, visas and Emirates ID of both parents;
  • a passport size photograph of the child;
  • a copy of report cards for the last 2 years;
  • a copy of graduation/transfer certificate from the current school.

All documents must be in English and legalized.

English speaking schools in Dubai

Finding a good English-speaking school will not be a problem for you, whether you have purchased a property in Dubai in a prestigious family community such as Emirates Hills or Arabian Ranches, or rent an apartment in the more affordable yet comfortable neighborhood of Jumeirah Village Circle.

If you are considering only the most prestigious educational institutions, you should pay attention to the annual rating of private schools in Dubai from KHDA. It ranks schools on a five-point scale from “weak” and “satisfactory” to “good”, “very good” and “excellent”.
Below we offer a few popular schools with an “excellent” rating.

Kings’ School Dubai

It is the only school to receive an “excellent” rating from the KHDA every year. This is a primary school with the British curriculum and pays great attention to the development of the personal qualities of students, such as the ability to cooperate, critical thinking, thirst for knowledge, emotional intelligence and leadership.

Tuition fee: AED 43,500–66,500 ($12,000–18,000).

GEMS Dubai American Academy (DAA)

DAA is the leading American school of GEMS, a major international operator of private education institutions. It is also the only American school in Dubai that has been rated “excellent” since 2011. The educational institution offers the American curriculum and the International Baccalaureate program and prepares its students for the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world.

Tuition fee: AED 61,000–82,500 ($16,500–22,500).

Dubai College

It is a UK-based college with a stellar reputation for offering more than quality education, it seeks to maximize student potential. The four pillars of the educational institution are sports, creativity, charity and academic activities. It offers a broad holistic education in the tradition of British boarding schools.

Tuition fee: AED 60,000–95,000 ($16,500–26,000) per year.

Repton School

Repton School is a renowned international school in the heart of Dubai. The school combines the rigor of the British curriculum with the features of the International Baccalaureate, maintains and strengthens inclusiveness and innovation ideas and delivers brilliant academic results.

Tuition fee: AED 60,000–95,000 ($16,500–26,000) per year.

Gems Wellington Academy

This is another ‘excellent’ rated school with a British and international curriculum and an innovative learning environment providing exceptionally high standards of education for all students.

Tuition fees: AED 44,000–95,500 ($12,000–26,000) per year.

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