Your Expert Guide on Finding a Great School in Abu Dhabi
Expatriate families maybe some of the most fortunate in the world, in terms of providing a great education for their children. These families - especially if they reside in the UAE - have access to some of the best schools in the world. As such, they have their choice of numerous schools in Abu Dhabi and beyond - the only problem is deciding which one to partner with!
Here, we’ve assembled advice from experienced expat families and educational experts to help you make that difficult decision. Your child’s future is important. Guide your decisions with these key factors to ensure you make the right one:
1. Consider Curriculum
For many expatriate parents in the UAE, choosing a school by selecting the ideal curriculum for their child is a top priority. There are several popular options, and each has its advantages based on what kind of education you want for your child and what you hope for them to accomplish with it after their schooling concludes.
Some curricula closely follow the structures of the educational systems of other countries, such as the US HS diploma curriculum. Others offer a more global perspective and are more useful for children who aren’t sure where they’ll end up working or attending university after secondary school ends. Choose your school based on the curriculum that works best for your family and your student - remember, you have lots of options!
Where is the school you’re considering located? For expatriate families, the location might not be as important as it would be for families who aren’t relocating. After all, your family may be able to move to find the best possible schools, whereas many might be stuck choosing between the limited options available in their immediate area.
However, location is still a supremely important aspect of finding the right school for your family’s needs. Are you prepared to transport your child to school every day? Do you need school-sponsored transportation or public transportation to assist your family in getting them there? Does the school offer sufficient transportation options, or are nearby students expected to walk, bicycle, etc.? These are all considerations to make when choosing a school that fits your family’s needs.
3. Take a Tour
One of the best ways to assess whether a school is a good fit for your child and family is to take a tour of the institution yourself.
This doesn’t just give you an intimate and accurate picture of what the school looks like and how it functions, which would be important enough, on its own. It also gives you a very good idea of the level of safety and security your child will have while in school. In today’s world, that is especially important.
Watch also for the way students interact with one another and with their teachers. This will help you determine if this is the supportive, nurturing environment you want for your child - and how likely they are to be happy there.
4. Take Your Budget Into Account
Obviously, private schools come with a cost. Even many public schools require fees for things like uniforms and books, but the fees associated with private academies are higher.
Every school will have different fee schedules and associated costs, but the best options for your family will obviously be those that you can afford. Being an expatriate family is already financially taxing in many scenarios; your child’s education should be an investment, not a financial detriment.
Look for a school that offers affordable education and a manageable payment structure to grant the most benefits at the best price.
5. Learn About Leadership
What does the leadership in your child’s prospective new school look like? This is an important factor since peer and elder leadership is the primary way your child will be guided during their instructional time and beyond.
What questions should you consider asking when inquiring about school leadership at your potential school? Here are just a few:
- What is the chain of adult leadership within the school and the district or board that operates it?
- What kind of peer leadership opportunities are available for students?
- How often are inspections or supervisory visits performed in the school?
- Who do teachers and administrators answer to - and do parents have contact with this entity?
- What is the school’s mission statement, philosophy, etc.?
As always, never hesitate to voice opinions or concerns. This is your child’s education - you deserve to rest assured that it is being placed in good hands!
It is important to realize that most top-performing schools are also highly involved not only with their students but with interested families as well. The more cooperative you can be with your child’s teachers and administrative staff, the better their overall schooling experience will be.