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School Guide

One of the biggest concerns for any parent when relocating is finding suitable education for their children. This guide will offer an overview of the Education options available within the UAE.

Have you arrived in Dubai and now you need to find the school best suited to your children? Or maybe you're planning on relocating to Dubai and you want to see what type of schooling is available? We have put together a comprehensive guide providing vital information about each of the schools in Dubai.
Once you've decided which school is best for your children, you can run a search of all the properties for sale or rent within your chosen kilometer radius of that school! Searching for property has never been easier! Start today by click here.

Education on Offer

The population of the UAE is made up of almost 90% expats, thus having to cater for many different Educational needs from Nursery to University including all age's in-between. In 2006 the Ministry of Education in Dubai introduced the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to stabilize and increase the standard of Education. In 2008, the KHDA, along with the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau launched their first School Inspections of Primary and Secondary Schools with the results being posted on the KHDA website for parents to see.

There are 2 main types of schools within the UAE:

  • State Schools
  • Private Schools

State Schools are run by the Government. Primary and Secondary Education is free to all UAE citizens and is compulsory from the age of 5 to 18, it is unlikely that a State School will be appropriate for Expats because all lessons are taught in Arabic. English is only taught as a foreign language. All State Schools are same-sex, so parents may want to consider the cultural and religious differences when enrolling their child into a State School. Once a child is enrolled into a State School, it will not be possible to change school during the academic year unless you get approval from the Ministry of Education, this also applies to Private Schools. Local Arab children are given preference in the admissions process.

Private Schools are run and managed on a profit basis, therefore Private Education can be expensive. Some companies may partially or wholly cover the cost of your child's education so it may be worth taking this into consideration when negotiating your employment contract.

School Fees

Private School fees vary greatly from Nursery to Nursery/School to School and on a sliding scale depending onthe age of the child. On average here is a breakdown of annual Private School Fees:

  • Nursery: AED 19,000 - 60,000
  • Kindergarten: AED 15,000 - 66,000
  • Primary School: AED 30,000 - 70,000
  • Secondary School: AED 40,000 - 90,000

Private School Fees are generally paid on a yearly or termly basis in advance. Tuition fees may be increased on a yearly basis, the increases are monitored by the KHDA and may only be increased by a maximum percentage according to the previous School Inspection report.


When enrolling in a Private School it is important to start the process as soon as possible, in most cases it is advisable to secure a place before you move to Dubai as there are a limited number of places available. Parents may want to register with a few Schools to increase their chances of securing a place for their child. Most Private Schools will ask a child to sit an entrance exam or interview before a place is offered. Most Schools have online registration forms which can be completed and returned by email or fax. When registering with a Private School, it is important to take note that a non refundable registration fee is payable (usually AED 500-1000). Some companies have purchased debentures at Private Schools which give priority for children with parents who work at these companies. Ask with your employer if there are debenture places available. For parents moving to Dubai after May 1st in any year should note that their child will not be able to start School until the following academic year (usually beginning of September). When enrolling your child in a Private School, there is an extensive list of documentation which is required, this will vary from School to School, Smith & Ken Relocation will assist with the enrollment process.


  • Copy of Childs Passport and Visa
  • Copy of Fathers Passport and Visa
  • Copy of up-to-date Immunization Record
  • Copy Childs Birth Certificate
  • Passport Photos
  • Registration Form
  • Registration Fee
Primary/Secondary School
  • Copy of your Child's Passport, UAE entry stamp and/or residency page
  • Copies of both Parent's / Legal Guardian's Passports, UAE entry stamp and/or residency page
  • Passport photographs
  • Copies of your Child's last 2 school reports for all children entering Year 1 and above
  • Full details of any special educational needs, individual education plans (IEPs) and any Educational Psychologist's or other therapists reports available. It is essential that all educational history is presented to prior to a place being offered
  • Copy of your Child's birth certificate (residents of some countries must produce an attested copy)
  • Copy of up-to-date Immunisation Record
  • Transfer Certificate
  • Registration Fee (non-refundable)

Please note that every student is required by UAE Ministry of Education Law to produce a transfer certificate from their last school. This is strictly enforced and failure to produce a properly completed certificate, or a legally binding undertaking to produce all the necessary documentation, will result in your child's place being withdrawn. It is advisable to discuss your child's transfer certificate requirements with the School Registrar as your country of origin and last school is taken into consideration.

The Certificate must be on official school letterhead and must contain the following information:

  • Full name of the child
  • Date of enrolment in the school
  • Child's date of birth
  • Date the child left the school
  • Grade / Class on leaving the school
  • School stamp and signature of the Principal
  • Curriculum used
NB: Children coming from countries or continents other than United States, Australia, Canada, Europe and New Zealand should have the original Transfer Certificate (TC) attested. When submitting documents in the UAE such as birth, marriage and degree certificates, it is always useful to get these attested in your home country and at your Embassy here in the UAE.


There are many different curriculums on offer in the UAE. The most common curriculums which are offered within Private Schools are:

  • British
  • American
  • International Baccalaureate
  • French
  • German
  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Filipino
  • Russian
  • Japanese


When choosing a School for your Child there are a few minor considerations to take into account when conducting your search:

  • Location – Although traffic has eased within Dubai over the last few years it may be worth choosing a school which is located close to home. Many Private Schools offer a Bus Service for an additional fee.
  • Special Needs – It is against Federal Law to refuse admission to a child based on learning difficulties or special needs. Many Private Schools offer Learning Support; it is advisable for parents to check the standard of support offered.
  • Curriculum Change – The Ministry of Education will not allow a child to skip a grade if a parent wishes for their child to change curriculum. This becomes an issue when a child starts in the US Curriculum then transfers to the British Curriculum. The US Curriculum is based on 12 grades compared to the British Curriculum which is based on 13, so the child will enter the British Curriculum one year below his/her current grade.

Useful Websites

Please click here to download our Schools Guide in pdf.

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