Choosing your child's school curriculum in Abu Dhabi

Time Out has useful information to help you choose your child's curriculum in Abu Dhabi. Choices include American, Indian, British, Australian and more

The Knowledge, Moving to Abu Dhabi

The American curriculum
• Students are encouraged to study a broad range of subjects and the curriculum is less geared towards in-depth study.

• Importance is given to the personal development of each child, so that subjects that have not been mastered can be repeated.

• There is no standardised core curriculum monitoring, because it’s flexible and various states follow their own programmes. This means education quality can vary.

• Assessment is constant throughout the year.

• Students can easily transfer into and out of US schools.

The British curriculum
• It’s divided into a number of year blocks, which are called “Key Stages”, as well as the Early Years Foundation Stage, which covers pre-schoolers.

• Later stages have a number of curriculum options including GCSE and A-Level qualifications.

• All qualifications are internationally-recognised and respected, and are accepted at the vast majority of universities across the world.

• Students are encouraged to think for themselves and form opinions.

• The curriculum is strictly regulated by the same British government standards as schools in the UK.

•The curriculum promotes regular testing, enabling teachers to gauge their  student's progress and address any issues.

The International Baccalaureate
• Runs from FS1 (three years old) right through to sixth form.

• Children take an active approach to learning, taking part in team projects that require them to use a number of skills from an early age, such as public speaking and putting together presentations.

• Focuses on developing personal skills, such as team work, that students will require for life after school, rather than just academic achievement.

• Standards are generally high and students may find the work load tough going, especially in the later years.

The French curriculum
• Established by the French Ministry of National Education and officially recognised by the French government.

• At kindergarten level (ages two to six) the French école maternelle curriculum includes reading and writing, numeracy and sometimes a foreign language, as well as creative activities.

• The primary school curriculum includes literacy and numeracy, with classes in French, arithmetic, geography, history, the arts and English.

• The college programme – for students aged 11 to 15 – includes French, maths, history, geography, technical education, art or music, physical education, civic education and some science.

• An excellent option for students of French origin who are looking to continue their education in France.

• School options in the UAE are limited.

The Australian curriculum
• This curriculum is based on the assumption that every student can learn and that the needs of every student are important, too.

• Teachers account for the levels of learning of individual students aiming to develop each student’s key skills.

• Assessment is carried out on a project-by-project basis. There is a lesser emphasis on specific content and a greater emphasis on process, particularly higher-order thinking and inquiry.

• The curriculum is broad, with a wide range of academic options.

• Standards are high, and the qualifications gained are internationally recognised and accepted at most universities.

The Indian curriculum (CBSE and ICSE)

• There are two choices of Indian curricula that are taught in Abu Dhabi: the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE).

• The CBSE is considered more scientific in its approach to education, with each syllabus divided into segments so that they can be comprehensively taught throughout the year, and so students can balance their studies.

• The ICSE is considered to be very tough academically, with a lot of facts that need to be memorised.

• For both systems, the academic standard is incredibly high, with the emphasis on core subjects such as maths, languages and science.

• The system is sometimes criticised for its reliance on exam-based grading and rote learning, rather than on the spot problem solving.

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