Private International Schools

Information about international schools in Dubai: the fees, curricula and how to secure a place at one...

Dubai has a large and growing number of private international schools. Only a handful of these schools are run on a non-profit basis.

Private education can be expensive. Some companies partially or wholly cover the cost of tuition for the children of their employees. It is highly recommended to seek this benefit from an employer during contract negotiations.

School fees

Tuition fees can vary greatly from one school to the next and are usually based on a sliding scale according to the grade level of the student. Due dates for fees depend on the school, but generally they are paid in instalments by term.

Approximate yearly tuition ranges:

  • 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

Yearly tuition increases are monitored by the KHDA. Private schools may increase their tuition fees based on the quality of education they provide (as determined by the KHDA-DSIB reports) and the Education Cost Index calculated by the Dubai Statistics Centre.

  • Outstanding: 6%
  • Good: 4,5%
  • Acceptable: 3%
  • Unsatisfactory: 3%

It is important to note that most schools require a registration or admission fee at the time of enrolment. Although some schools may ask for a larger fee, legally it may not be more than five percent of the yearly tuition or AED 500 (whichever is less).

Also, schools may only ask for tuition payment immediately before the start of each term. Some schools ask for post-dated cheques at the beginning of the school term. If a child leaves the school before the end of the school year, parents may ask for the cheques to be returned if they have given proper notice subject to the school's conditions.

Curriculum

As of the 2010-2011 KHDA-DSIB school inspection report, there are 49 British curriculum schools, 31 US curriculum schools, 21 Indian curriculum schools, 6 International Baccalaureate curriculum schools, and 11 others that follow French, Pakistani, German, Japanese, Phillipine and Russian curriculum.

Almost all private schools in Dubai are affiliated with or accredited by the same education commissions that oversee public and private schools in the UK, US and India. The International Baccalaureate programme is rapidly becoming accepted worldwide as an excellent pre-university qualification.

  • For more information on the International Baccalaureate: Click here

Regardless of nationality or religion, all students are required by the Ministry of Education to take Arabic classes from Year 1 onwards. Muslim and Arab students are required to participate in Islamic studies as well.

Grade levels

Below is a basic chart showing ages and grade levels across the various curricula. The International Baccalaureate curriculum runs similarly to the American grade levels. The Primary Years Programme is for 3-12 year olds, Middle Years Programme is for 11-16 year olds and Diploma Programme is for 16-19 year olds.

Age British Curriculum American Curriculum
3 Nursery Pre-school
4-5 Reception Pre-Kindergarten
5-6 Year 1 Kindergarten

Junior School (Key Stage 2) Elementary School
6-7 Year 2 Grade 1
7-8 Year 3 Grade 2
8-9 Year 4 Grade 3
9-10 Year 5 Grade 4
10-11 Year 6 Grade 5

Secondary School (Key Stage 3) Middle School
11-12 Year 7 Grade 6
12-13 Year 8 Grade 7
13-14 Year 9 Grade 8

Secondary School (Key Stage 4) High School
14-15 Year 10 Grade 9 (Freshman)
15-16 Year 11 Grade 10 (Sophomore)
16-17 Year 12 Grade 11 (Junior)
17-18 Year 13 Grade 12 (Senior)

Securing a place at an international school

Because there can be a shortage of places at the best schools, parents are advised to secure placement in schools before moving to Dubai. Some parents may register or go on a waiting list for more than one school in order to increase the chances of placement.

It is common practice for schools to administer entrance exams and/or interview a child before he or she is offered a place at the school. A few schools have online registration forms and most have websites giving details of the uniform, fees and curriculum offered. Almost all the admissions offices are prepared to process applications via email and fax.

Some companies have purchased debentures at schools which allow priority enrolment for children of families working with that company. It is worth asking an employer if there are debenture places available.

Parents are not allowed to change a child's school during the academic year without approval from the Ministry of Education. Those moving to Dubai on or after 1 May in any year should note that their child may not start school until the beginning of the new school year, which is usually in early September.

Further Information