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WSA UAE School Survey 1st Findings – Start Here…


Which School Advisor, the UAE’s first dedicated school guide, was launched a little over a month ago to address the key needs of expat parents in the UAE. We’ve sought to introduce transparency and provide straightforward information to help parents answer the real issues facing them. Our inaugural survey published below provides insight into those issues.

The WSA School Survey is still open. Don’t miss your chance to have your say here…

The survey was conducted online over a period of five weeks through March and April with 596 responses from parents around the UAE. 45 per cent of respondents live in Abu Dhabi, 43 percent in Dubai, almost 10 percent in Sharjah with the remainder spread through the other four emirates.

There’s a lot of material for parents, employers and schools to digest and discuss.

Any family considering moving to the UAE should also find plenty of information which will help guide them in their decision. Because there is much more information to come than published here today, we are keeping the survey open. If you are not one of the 600 to have taken part so far, add your thoughts on education in the UAE so we can continue to extract insights to share.

Educating children in the UAE’s private school system is expensive. Until relatively recently it was an expense that many expat parents could expect to share to some degree with the employer who had persuaded them to spend the key years of their career in the UAE. Working in the desert was a ‘hardship posting’ and people needed additional encouragement to come here. Not any more.

The ‘full expat package’, which included payment in full of school fees, is now only granted to the privileged few. 62 percent of respondents said that they cover the entire cost of their children’s school fees in the UAE. A further 24 percent receive a contribution from their company while just 13 percent have their school fees paid in full.
When asked whether the school fees paid represent ‘good value for the quality of school offering’, a key factor is whether parents pay fees themselves. 54 percent of those who have fees paid think those fees represent ‘good value’ while this falls to just 27 percent of those who pay in full themselves.

Almost one in five families spend more than 30 percent of their household income on school fees. This varies considerably, however, depending on particular school curricula. Those families spending 10 percent or less of their income on fees is 42 percent for Indian curriculum schools, 28 percent of International Baccalaureate (IB schools), 25 percent of British curriculum schools and 19 percent of American curriculum schools.


The good news for schools is that more than six in ten parents surveyed would recommend the school their children attend to other parents. Once again, though, there is a substantial differential in curricula with 70 percent of parents attending IB and/or British schools recommending their schools while just 49 percent of parents at Indian schools would do so.

The single most important criterion when choosing a school is ‘Qualifications of Teachers’ followed by ‘Choice of Curricula’. The third most popular choice is ‘Results in External Examinations’.

Not such good news for educators is the finding that 53 percent of parents have at some time thought about changing their child’s school.

There is a very high correlation between academic performance and consideration of alternatives. Where parents are satisfied with academic performance very few parents think about changing schools (22 percent). Where parents are unsatisfied with academic performance they have almost universally thought about other schools (91 percent).

We’ll be publishing more detailed information regarding attitudes towards academic performance, discipline and feedback from schools over the days to come…


Note: The Which School Advisor Survey is open. We will not close it but continue to collect data that will allow us to release more data based stories with more detailed findings. The WSA Survey has had just under 600 respondents so far, which provides a solid basis for our initial findings. If you are not one of the 600, you can take the survey here. With more responses we will continue to deliver further insights. Keep an eye out also for the survey pages as we will provide updates when relevant to do so.


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