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New to the UAE, Looking for a School? Start Here

New to the UAE, Looking for a School? Start Here

We have reached that stressful time of the year again when prospective parents new or about to arrive in the UAE are seeking places for their children in nurseries or schools.

As the academic year for most schools does not start until early September, it is likely that the school administration is also closed until late August further compounding the challenge of finding places in a limited and oversubscribed market.

How do I get through this?

Don’t panic, just be prepared for a lot of ‘legwork’ as the school admissions staff are now returning and reopening their sections.

Which School Advisor cannot find school places for you, but there is a wealth of information and advice on this site that can inform you. There are informative Which School Advisor School Reviews that offer extensive coverage of English medium schools plus, when available, offer links to school inspection reports. A more recent addition to this is where some schools have responded to our questionnaire asking the sort of questions that you would ask. This gives you another insight into the school and its ethos.

Location of a school is important and schools that are conveniently located to where you will be living can be easily identified on the Which School Advisor UAE Map of Schools. But remember that close proximity to your residence is not always essential for the older students as many schools offer transport to and from school.

The Which School Advisor Guides bring together a great deal of useful advice as well as information. There is general advice on what to look for and how to go about the search for an appropriate school; more specific information on, for example, different early years curricula and, as you now have choice, comment on the differences between the IB Diploma and the GCE A levels at the post-sixteen stage.

As many schools are now oversubscribed in the UAE, the waiting list information is a valuable resource. This is slowly growing as more schools see the value of this and offer information. Once the schools reopen we will be able to update and expand this listing – expect a major update early September. If a school is oversubscribed, it cannot be assumed that this is the case in every grade or year group and it is always best to check and confirm by making a telephone call to the admissions staff of those schools on your shortlist.


If you are looking for places in the early years of schooling, you must accept that this will present the biggest challenge of all. Ideally, a school with a KG or Foundation section would offer you a seamless entry in the same school to the first years of primary schooling. However, this will prove hard to achieve at this late stage and so do consider the nurseries, especially those who have well considered learning programmes. Again, check out our Guides to see what to look for and the difference between different curriculums on offer.

Finally, you would have come from a particular school system and it is likely that you would wish the same for your youngster. Do, however, recognise that you have choice in the UAE with a range of school curricula operating in a range of fee structures. It may just be that, although you have come from, say, the UK, an IB (International Baccalaureate), international or American style school becomes an option.

The focal point of relevant and pertinent school information on Which School Advisor will take some of the stress out of the process by helping to inform your shortlist of schools. Making contact and visiting the schools or nurseries as they reopen for the new academic year will give you the final answers that you need.

All best wishes from the Which School Advisor team as you face the challenge of finding an appropriate school for your youngster.


1 Comment

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  1. Fadi merhi says
    May 5, 2014, 6:52 pm

    UAE is a safe country to live in. We feel welcome here and secure.


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