Every parent wants their child to have the best possible education, but choosing a school in Dubai comes with many hurdles. The biggest one is, of course, the school fees.
According to research, private school fees in Dubai can vary by more than
Dhs 600,000 per year depending on where you live. A report by educational portal Edarabia and real estate website Bayut revealed that Jumeirah Village Circle, Nad Al Sheba, and Arabian Ranches were the top three areas where school fees are most expensive, with average fees up to Dhs 850,000 for all year groups. In contrast, Al Karama, Deira, and Al Qusais are identified as the areas in Dubai with schools offering the lowest fees at just over Dhs 200,000, said the report.
Back in February, it was reported that Dubai school fees are likely to increase again by up to 4.8% this year, according to the new Education Cost Index (ECI) which is used each year by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to set fee increase limits for Dubai schools.
With the KHDA recently stating that private schools in Dubai collected Dhs 6.8 billion in tuition fee revenue in the 2016 to 17 academic year, Dhs 700 million more than the previous year you can see why the expected hike was met with disbelief by many parents. With 185 private schools in Dubai, an additional 15 to 20 new international schools set to open by the end of 2017 and 10 more schools expected to open in the new academic year 2017 to 18 - is this going to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s school fees?
In the latest 2016 to 17 reports from the KHDA the number of ‘Outstanding’ schools in Dubai remained the same at 16 schools, but 14 schools have now been rated as ‘Very Good’ which is up one from the 2015 to 16 reports.
According to the latest Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) report almost two-thirds of Dubai students are now in schools rated ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’, the highest ratio since inspections began in the 2008 to 2009 cycle. The report also noted that 64% of students attend such schools, compared to just 30% in the 2008 to 2009 cycle.
This year, 159 schools were inspected. Of these, 16 were rated Outstanding, 14 were rated as Very Good, 69 as Good, 50 schools as Acceptable and 10 schools as Weak - there are currently no schools which are considered Very Weak. In addition, there were 11 new schools inspected and of these, 6 (Nord Anglia International School, GEMS Firstpoint School, Kings School Al Barsha, Kings School Nad Al Sheba, Safa Community School and Sunmarke School) all achieved a Good rating. Hopefully, the volume of good schools in Dubai should be comforting to residents, as it gives an increasing amount of choice.
Interestingly, none of the KHDA rated Outstanding schools took part in the 2016/17 inspections, as they all took part in the KHDA’s newly launched; ‘Abundance Project’. The project saw the city’s top schools choose self assessment and create and implement strategies to share best practice with Dubai’s lower rated schools.
When researching a school for your child it is worth noting that it is important to read beyond the overall KHDA rankings. Schools can often be marked down for criteria that is not relevant to you and your child so choosing a school ranked as Very Good or Good should not be seen as second best to Outstanding. For example, for non-Muslims the weighting given to Islamic Studies may not be considered so vital when choosing a school.
While the KHDA inspections are mandatory for private schools in Dubai, some schools also choose ‘voluntary’ accreditation and inspections linked to their curricula home country. These inspections will often analyse different aspects and indicators of the school, which can be used in addition to the KHDA inspection reports.
British schools can choose accreditation and inspection from the British Schools Overseas, which will send OFSTED type inspectors from the UK to check the school every 3 years. All French schools must apply to become affiliated with the French Ministry of Education. This process is mandatory and involves a thorough audit on application, and once licensed the school is inspected annually by the French government.
Recently the KHDA requested all US curriculum schools to affiliate themselves with an approved US affiliation body. The preferred choice is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, (NEASC), however some schools already have long standing accreditations with other bodies.
The IB and UK curriculum schools are known to be scoring significantly higher than their peers and already closing in on the UAE set benchmarks for 2021. Higher performance in these tests is reflected in the ratings of schools in the UAE by DSIB and two thirds of Outstanding schools in the emirate are either UK or IB schools. Though the ratings are not necessarily to do with the curriculum, UK and IB schools tend to be the most expensive and therefore are the most well funded schools in Dubai.
Following each inspection, the school gets a full written report with details of their performance and shortfalls. The latest school inspection report can be found through the KHDA website.
www.khda.gov.ae/en - L.C.
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