The School System

Information on the system of schooling in Dubai, from pre-primary to higher education...

Children can start school at the age of four, with nursery and pre-school options before that.


There are plenty of English-speaking nursery and pre-schools available. Depending on the facility, parents may enrol their child in a half-day (4-5 hours), full-day (6-7 hours) or extended morning/day (9-11 hours) programme. Some also have options to attend three, four or five days a week.

Attendance at such schools is purely voluntary, but they are well-used by the expatriate community.

Primary school

Most primary schools begin with a two year Kindergarten (KG1/KG2) or Foundation Stage (FS1/FS2). Generally, a child should be four years old and toilet trained to enrol. Most schools have both a primary and secondary school to allow continuity for pupils. Places in the lower grades at primary schools are usually harder to secure and have long waiting lists. Some schools even encourage parents to register their child several years in advance.

Secondary school

Secondary schools accept students from 14-18 years old. Most British curriculum schools offer preparation and testing for British A Levels and the IGCSE. A few US curriculum schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) preparation and testing. All International Baccalaureate curriculum schools offer the IB Diploma programme. A few schools use a hybrid curriculum and offer a British/US curriculum with the option to enter the IB programme.

Choice may well be governed by the curriculum on offer. Most schools have websites where these details are given.

Higher education

More than 20 international universities have local campuses in Dubai. Many of them are located in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), a Free Zone dedicated to tertiary education establishments.