Special Needs Education

In depth information about the provisions for children with special needs in specialist and mainstream schools ...

Parents of children with special needs can find good facilities in Dubai both in terms of education and general quality of life, not to mention a high standard of healthcare.

However, in Dubai, both education and healthcare need to be privately funded. The choice of facilities may also be more limited than parents have been used to in other countries.

In some cases it may not be possible to find a school place for a child straight away and they may need to go on a waiting list.

Schools for Children with Special Needs

The Dubai Government acknowledges that while it supports special needs education, the best establishments for children with special needs are privately-funded schools.

  • For more information on Government policy and a list of recommended schools: Click here
  • For a list of special needs educational institutions in Dubai: Click here

Currently, some of the best known schools for children with special education needs include:

Each school caters for children with physical disabilities, hearing and visual impairments as well as those with behavioural problems. Teaching is provided in both Arabic and English.

Some schools offer transport services and also holiday clubs and work placement schemes for older children. Check with the individual school for information on the full range of facilities and services offered. There are possibilities to attend sessions even when a child has not been admitted as a full-time pupil.

Expatriate parents are expected to pay fees and any other associated costs such as transport to and from school.

Enrolment in these schools is subject to a medical referral from a paediatrician and an assessment of the child's needs. The exact requirements vary from school to school, but parents need to provide medical reports and school reports and assessments from their previous place of residence.

The Department of Health and Medical Services via its Primary Health Care Centres offers support to parents who feel their child has special needs and requires assessment.

  • For further information on the services available at Primary Health Care Centres: Click here

Special Needs Education in Mainstream Schools

Dubai, like many other countries, favours inclusion of children with learning difficulties in mainstream schools. For foreign residents a mainstream school will be a school in the private sector.

Some, but not all, private schools offer learning support for dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and other learning difficulties. Places may be limited.

Specialist facilities can be found at Dubai Modern High school which has a Special Education Unit with assigned counsellors to help children with difficulties.

The website Emirates Special Needs has information on special needs schools and mainstream schools for children with mild learning disabilities:

When enrolling a child, their special needs must be fully discussed and parents should provide as much information as they can from previous schools as well as professional assessments.

Many schools in the private sector ask prospective pupils to sit an entrance examination and/or attend an interview so that their individual ability (and any problems) can be assessed.

As a general rule, class sizes tend to be smaller than children may have been used to and some schools have additional support staff to aid those with learning difficulties.

If concerns arise once a child has begun school, normal procedure is a period of assessment by the class teacher followed by specialist reports by professionals. If necessary, children can be moved to other specialist establishments as outlined above.