With over 600 schools in the UAE at present, finding the perfect school for your child can be a daunting experience.
However, there’s more to selecting the perfect school for your child than imagining what they will grow up to be – with many factors for parents to consider such as curriculum, subjects taught, location and fees, amongst others.
Alison Lamb, Principal, Dubai Heights Academy, said: “Before making any decision, it’s important to visit and participate in a tour of all schools on your consideration list. Just a short visit, during school hours, can be enough to help you and your child identify a school’s strengths and challenges.”
So, what are the key things to consider when looking for the school that is right for your child?
For most parents, the location of a school, the transportation provided and the distance their child will need to travel on a daily basis is a huge factor, with a lot of families preferring to select a school which is close to home.
The next thing to consider is fees. While selecting the best school possible with the most impressive academic results is important, parents need to be fully aware of the fees involved and select a school which offers a manageable payment structure for them.
Principal Lamb said: “The curriculum followed, and indeed the range of subjects taught, are often the most important deciding factors for families. These are extremely important when looking at the future examinations that your child will take, and indeed, the future qualifications that they may require for future studies or employment.
“At DHA we follow the British curriculum, so for expat families who may consider relocating back to the UK while their child is still in education, curriculum and subjects taught may be the deciding factor to ensure a smooth transition.”
While, social media can provide you with an initial insight into a school’s environment, it is best you and your child experience this for yourself during a visit of the campus. During these tours you can assess whether the school is safe and secure and gauge the overall positivity of both pupils and staff as well as viewing the facilities available, meeting with teachers and seeing other students in their daily environment and observing how they interact with their fellow students.
“Speaking with other parents who already have students at the school can provide you with a wealth of information on the environment and the wellbeing of staff and students – both of which are extremely important,” Principal Lamb added.
“Through these conversations you can establish whether the school really does live up to its ethos and whether it is as open and inclusive as it promises. They can also provide you with a genuine insight into the daily environment, academic performance and the quality of the teaching staff.”
The final factors to consider are school leadership and quality of education provided. Always do your research, read up on KDHA school inspection reports and prepare a list of questions so you can establish the school’s strengths and potential weaknesses.
During school visits don’t be afraid to ask for a detailed briefing on the leadership or to question the structure of a school, it’s vision and of course it’s philosophy as these will provide the basis for your child’s learning and consequently their future.
In general, high performing schools usually have a great deal of parental involvement and are usually very engaging, as they rely on parent interaction and involve parents in every aspect of school life and school decisions.