Questions To Ask When Visiting A School


Have you been extremely stressed about finding the right school that caters to your child's needs?

It is a frustrating process alike for parents that are looking to move their child to a new school that suits them better and parents that have just moved into the country and are confused about where to look and need help.

The best way to find the perfect fit for your child is by visiting the school.

On visiting, parents can scope out and see whether the school suits their child's demands and needs.

To help lighten the pressure felt, Connector, in conversation with teachers from schools around the UAE, has shared their questions to ask when visiting a school to help make the process easier.

  • Communication policy: Parents should be able to communicate easily with the school. Mark Atkins, Principal at Durham School Dubai advised, "Find out about the strength of the links between the parents and the school, are parents welcome in the school and how do they raise questions or concerns." As parents know their children the best and get involved in their school life, the school staff need to be able to take care of the concerns of the parents as well as help them through their issues with ease. Janice Butterworth, Director of Learning at Citizens School Dubai said, "The visibility of the leadership can be a strong indicator as to the ethos and vision of the school and school leaders certainly should not be invisible. Face to face interactions send out a powerful message that they really are there to take care of your most special possession, your child!"
  • School facilities: Mark Ford, Principal at The English College Dubai said, "Have a look at the facilities and resources and see if they are well kept and looks like the school has invested in it financially." It is important to see whether the facilities work with your child. Schools are a great place for learning new skills and life lessons that can be used throughout their life. Once learnt, activities like sports, art and swimming are retained for life; it is important to note if the school invests in the upkeep of their facilities. Abigail Fishbourne, Director of Learning at International Schools Partnership, which operates Nibras International School and The Aquila School in Dubai and Aspen Heights British School and Reach British School in Abu Dhabi, added that parents should "Have a look at the school facilities, the library, the student bathrooms, and classrooms. Ask to see a few classrooms and not just the one show classroom they have prepared for your tour." This will help to get a real idea of the facilities.
  • Support provided: A school should provide a child with all the development tools they need. Schools can be a fruitful and stressful environment for children, and in some situations where the stress gets too much, to help them overcome any hardships at school. Abigail Fishbourne, Director of Learning at International Schools Partnership advised it is important to ask "How do you support children who are having a hard time academically, socially and emotionally?"
  • Encouraging personal development: Leadership is one step to independence and should be taught at a younger age. Some children are natural leaders, whereas others need a little push in the right direction to get to the right level and schools are a great way to impart leadership skills to students. As it is the most commonly used skill in a workplace, adding leadership roles to activities and academics helps them prepare for the real world. Another way to highlight a child's growth is by displaying their hard work and effort to let them know their input has value and encourage them to continue on the same path. Robert Ellis, Principal at Emirates International School Jumeirah said, "Classroom displays should be full of students’ learning and not just laminated teachers' work."
  • School curriculum: As the world continues to grow, schools need to continue on the same trajectory and constantly update their curriculum to teach students to get an all-around education. We are currently living in a digital world where technology has been implemented into most of our daily routines and as it advances, it is key to stay on track. Robert Ellis, Principal at Emirates International School Jumeirah said, "Schools should be continually updating their curriculum to meet the needs of the ever-changing world around us." Schools teaching children about the advances in the world and incorporating them into their curriculum will help them be better prepared to understand the things happening around them. Additionally, Janice Butterworth, Director of Learning at Citizens School Dubai said, "Depending on your child and what you believe will best meet their needs. Are you seeking somewhere that has specialist provision in terms of SEN/academics or a more bespoke curriculum that prioritises the whole child?" A school should be able to fit all the requirements of your child. As the world evolves and there are many opportunities for growth in various fields, parents need to enquire and find out if the school is more focused on academics, creativity or is a balance of both and aligns with your child's needs. Abigail Fishbourne, Director of Learning at International Schools Partnership added, "Consider the curriculum the school is offering. Will this curriculum set your child up for the universities and career options you will be considering when they are leaving school? This may be a long way ahead but the last thing you want to be doing is having to take your child out of a school they love in future years." As schools are where children discover their passions and figure out what they would like to do in the future, checking whether the curriculum offers the right requirements for the universities and careers of their choice is key.
  • School community: A good community for a child to grow and develop in is important as your child should feel free to express themselves with ease. Mark Ford, Principal at The English College Dubai advised, "When visiting the school, to check how the teachers are greeting you and if they are courteous and professional." When children are put in an environment where they feel safe, understood and accepted, it gives them the space to express themselves wholeheartedly and learn and be more receptive to others around them. If the school community is kind and helpful, it can help children stay connected with one another and make meaningful bonds. Janice Butterworth, Director of Learning at Citizens School Dubai added that as we are currently in a post COVID-19 world, "A sense of community and belonging in this transient and culturally diverse nation is also incredibly important." As children got the brunt of the pandemic and could not interact, a good community is essential for their growth.
  • School values: Children should be given the tools to develop in all aspects rather than just academically. Abigail Fishbourne, Director of Learning at International Schools Partnership said, "Inclusive schools will celebrate effort and attainment. Check if all children are celebrated for their unique abilities or if the school only celebrate the best children." Each child develops at a different pace and schools that help a child develop in all aspects are better as they will help the child in the long run and in their overall development.
  • Bullying management: Enquiring about bullying is important as it helps to ensure your child's safety at school. Bullying is a very difficult experience for a child to go through and schools that have good protocols in place to help support the child and deal with the situation are key. Mark Atkins, Principal at Durham School Dubai said, "Ask the principal about bullying in the school, if there is any and if there is, how is it dealt with."
  • Induction programmes: Induction programmes are held to help children get used to going back to school and include activities like getting to know their peers, introducing teachers and more. Robert Ellis, Principal at Emirates International School Jumeirah said, "The induction procedures for new students and the support programmes should be top of the agenda, as the first few weeks are really important." Starting at a new school is extremely daunting for children and schools should provide induction programmes during the first few weeks of the school year to ensure their happiness.
  • Encouraging risks in the post-pandemic world: Many children had to undergo the unprecedented times of the pandemic and even though we are in the recovery phase, the pandemic taught everyone to take risks. As we all learn through mistakes, schools that give children the ability to make mistakes and learn from them help them thrive and learn more through first-hand experience. Janice Butterworth, Director of Learning at Citizens School Dubai advised to ask "How does the school promote intellectual risk-taking for the students given the future of the world is now so uncertain and everchanging?" As the world evolves, schools should provide children with the ability to adjust to new changes as well as encourage them to face changes with determination and strength. 
  • Safety protocols: Schools need to be safe and secure places for students. Mark Atkins, Principal at Durham School Dubai advised to ask "Are visitors to the school checked before entering?" Schools should provide tight security to ensure the safety of the children and visitors should not be allowed to walk into the school premise without being checked.
  • Relationship between teacher and students: As children learn from their teachers, Mark Ford, Principal at The English College Dubai advised, "Go to classes, look at the relationships between students and teachers, and see if it is a positive, productive climate for learning." This helps them learn in a comfortable environment. Abigail Fishbourne, Director of Learning at International Schools Partnership advised, "Many schools talk about an ‘open-door policy’. Did you see this when you visited?" Schools should have an open door policy, where students and parents have the ability to enquire at any time, creating a great mode of communication and trust with parents, students and teachers.
  • Teacher's background: Teachers are responsible for helping students in shaping their lives, and making sure they are on the right path. Mark Ford, Principal at The English College Dubai said that when visiting, to enquire "Where are the teaching staff from, and how much experience do they have?" The more the experience the more knowledge teachers have in positively dealing with children. Mark Atkins, Principal at Durham School Dubai added, "Ask about the teachers, what their background is and where they are recruited from. Ask about how lessons are conducted and what the school management feels good lessons look like." Teachers guide their students and are important to ask to ensure your child gets the best quality education.

For parents that do not have time to visit the school, all schools have websites as well as a social media presence that helps you stay updated on all the activities, events and happenings at the school.

Additionally, virtual tours are also available at some schools to get a glimpse of the school and its facilities from the comfort of your home.

Finding a school can be an extremely exhausting and stressful period and asking these questions is important to stay positive and trust your instincts.

Parents know their children the best and going with what feels like the right fit for their child, ensuring their happiness, which is the ultimate goal. 


Read our other back to school topics:

Tips To Get Ready For The New Academic Year

Products To Get You Ready For Back To School

Making A Last Minute School Choice For Your Child

Healthy Eating Tips To Avoid Kids Wasting Food

Go Back To School Feeling Fit As A Fiddle!

How To Find The Right Extracurricular Activity For Your Child?

Picking The Right Nursery For Your Child

Share this page!
Connector Directory