Dubai school guide

Parents and teachers talk about schools in Dubai 11 Comments

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Yes, yes, we know it’s only February, but if you are looking at getting your child into school this coming September, you need to be looking now. In fact, you should’ve been looking last February or even earlier if you wanted first dibs on some of this town’s most popular primaries. Waiting lists here are notoriously long, and almost every child you come across will have his or her name down at several schools. Come September, there’ll be the usual scramble for places and you may well be lucky, but, even if you’ve left it to the last minute and are beginning to have a complete panic, don’t. True, you probably won’t get into the most-renowned and reputable, but rest assured there are plenty of good schools to go round.

Inspection reports, such as that conducted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), are valuable and will certainly help separate the wheat from the chaff, but they don’t necessarily tell you much about the ‘feel’ of a school – which is where we come in.

While to look at all Dubai schools would be beyond the scope of this magazine, we’ve picked 15 of the most popular or well-known establishments, covering English, American and International Baccalaureate curricula, which have all been rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by the KHDA. We’ve looked at their facilities, checked out their waiting lists and chatted to the top guy or gal. Most importantly though, we’ve asked our team of expert mums – whose kids attend these schools – to tell us exactly what they think because, after all, good old word-of-mouth is often far more insightful than reports and brochures.

So relax and read on, bearing in mind that the academic hothouse which suits maths-whizz Michael next door may not be up your arty Annie’s street.

American Academy for Girls

04 288 7251;

Location: Mizhar
Age range: 4-18
Curriculum: American
School size: 525
Class size: 18-20
Profit or non-profit: Profit (Taaleem)
Annual fees: Dhs34,000-Dhs53,000
KHDA ranking: Good
Waiting list: Open for admissions in all years
Facilities: Swimming pool, well-resourced library, three computer labs, interactive white boards, art studios, music studios, four science labs, mini auditorium, fitness room, gymnasium, sports field, dance studio, KG playroom, separate KG library, outdoor playground, canteen.

Dedicated to delivering excellence, our mission is to promote intellectual curiosity, independent and critical thinking, communication and problem solving skills. We aim to develop self reliant global citizens, committed to being leaders in community involvement and environmental awareness.
Delice Scotto, Head

Mum says: ‘A small school with small classes, students get great individual attention and the teaching standards are excellent. AAG is not massively competitive, so there is plenty opportunity for kids to enjoy activities without lots of pressure. Discipline is strict, so good manners and respect for others is encouraged. I didn’t choose AAG for its single gender ethos, but I can see the benefits now. When boys aren’t in class, girls seem to excel and take a much more active role in lessons. I do think the school would benefit from having more of a cross cultural population. Diversity is a good thing, and I’d like to see more American, European and Asian children at the school.’

By Time Out Kids Staff
Time Out Dubai,

User reviews:

Posted by: Esther on 18 Feb ' 13 at 15:34

Hi there!
I´ve been reading through the article with a lot of attention, since we might be moving to Dubai son, together with our three children of 7, 5 and 2 years old. It´s the typical family moving with father for a two year period.
Of course I´ve searched the net to find out everything about Dubai! We come from the fresh north of Spain and I guess Dubai it´s gonna challenge us all.
The idea is finding places for the two old children, starting September 2013, preferably folloing IB, together in the same school, but I still don´t know where our residence is going to be, etc.
My question is: are things running the same as in 2011? (that´s the date of the article, isn´t it?) Is it keeping so difficult to find a place in one good school ?
I know things change quickly in Dubai, so I just wondered...
Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Lian on 06 Apr ' 11 at 15:30

i want to know how emrati kids are differently treated in EIS
my Son goes to that school and he never complains about them
he has many Arab friends
EIS is a wonderful school the teachers are very friendly and so is the crowd its all very welcoming for a newcomer

Posted by: jarlath madine on 17 Mar ' 11 at 07:52

just a question to TO....
why is there a limited number of schools in your DUBAI SCHOOL GUIDE?

Posted by: jarlath madine on 16 Mar ' 11 at 22:57

just a question to TO....
why is there a limited number of schools in your DUBAI SCHOOL GUIDE?

Posted by: Jane on 16 Mar ' 11 at 12:12

TimeOut! Nice that you only interviewed 'Mums.' I guess fathers don't have an opinion about their children's education, or maybe you're implying they shouldn't be responsible for it. Way to encourage negative social norms.

Posted by: Catherine on 03 Mar ' 11 at 10:31

Greenfield is not up to their beautiful marketing and staff talks. Yes, they are more focused on profit and improving their marketing techniques rather than improving the academics and hiring enough staff. Really really sad. They say classes are limited to 25 students (and this is an IB recommendation to make it possible to provide the individual attention to each student). However, in GCS vocabulary, a student is a 'fully paid fee', so it does not encompass Taaleem staff kids, so 25 could be 26 or more, but this, you learn it after you have fully paid your fees and witnessed your kids' teachers struggling with too many kids. However, I would nuance the comment about competitiveness. IB is about cooperation and empathy, so why asking for competition? Competition is a source of useless stress and jealousy. Our world needs cooperation and it is great that some schools start to promote a new philosophy. Children work towards acheiving the same goal. Each one contributes according to their pace, abilities and special talents... isn't it what everyone should tend to do to make this world more bearable and fair??

Posted by: Paul on 02 Mar ' 11 at 08:02

Thankfully JPS backed off that crazy idea of putting a publically accessible Starbuck in the school next to reception - commercial pressure placed on JPS by the accountants at GEMS I understand !

Posted by: Nik on 01 Mar ' 11 at 02:12

I am a high school student at ASD, and i absolutely HATE this new campus and new administration. The level of education has dropped, especially with the new campus, and with it, Teachers who are barely over the drinking age. I wish i switched to DAA when I had the opportunity. This is the worst school for high school students in Dubai. It has turned from a fun learning environment into a prison, where the Students try to rebel against the Admin. every chance we get.

Posted by: Anwar on 25 Feb ' 11 at 10:43

School has 4-5 star facilities. Attention to girls characters and personality is OK.
School takes good care of staff.

Weak academic achievement.
Iowa school test results for the school were very poor almost no student in the school scored above average in Maths !
value for money is very low.

Posted by: Kay on 16 Feb ' 11 at 11:46

Amazed Dubai British School not listed on the 15 e-pages, is it listed in the actual magazine ?

Posted by: Christina on 03 Feb ' 11 at 10:11

it's absolutely crazy about waiting lists in schools here... i have applied to 10 schools last october for my daughter's FS2 Sept 2011 entry and not one has called back with a place!!! what is this world coming to!

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