These findings are in line with the results of the PISA tests, which besides testing students basic skills and knowledge, interviewed them, asking whether they missed a class or an entire day of school in the past two weeks. Pupils’ answers reveal a shocking picture – while 84% of them said they were feeling happy at school, 50% said they skipped a class or a day.
Most of the British schools in Dubai, even the most expensive ones as Repton and the GEMS schools, offer watered down curriculum. Usually, teachers teach only a few chapters of what they would have to in the United Kingdom. This is because most of them are poorly qualified and usually come to the Middle East in the search for easy life and higher salaries. Expat parents label some as “the backpackers.”
In addition, British schools are notoriously popular for weak performance when it comes to foreign languages, and this doesn’t mean only Arabic but French, Spanish or German as well. Traditionally, British people do not speak any other language but English. Therefore, British schools in Dubai usually have weak strategies when it comes to teaching foreign languages; do not follow consistent learning programs and do not hire qualified professionals.
Even more disturbing than the teaching shortcomings is the demoralising effect British schools in Dubai have on other than British students. Foul language, lack of discipline, hostility and harassment, abusive behaviour are amongst the problems students and parents may face.
Despite the relatively low quality of education across most private schools in Dubai, tuition fees are extremely high – higher than in the UK. In addition, they rise almost every year, forcing some of the expat parents to either send their kids to their home country or to enrol them in online schools. Primary schools fees start at AED 40,000 a year while for senior students you can pay up to AED 150,000 a year. But there are additional costs to consider, as well – most schools will require an application fee (between AED 500 and AED 3,000) and an admission fee (AED 2,000-5,000). Some institutions also charge a deposit of up to AED 50,000 against damage to school property. Don’t forget about the uniforms, bus transport, and textbooks – they are rarely included in the tuition fee but are always mandatory. In addition, the schools have become virtuosos in extracting additional funds from parents by charging them for exams, unnecessary school trips, additional tests etc.
Shortage of seats in Dubai schools
This is such a huge problem, that there are cases when a mother will apply for a school for her child while she is still pregnant. It may sound unbelievable, especially in Dubai, where new schools open each year, but it’s a largely advertised and heralded claim. Many parents choose to start the application process even before arriving in the country and this is a good strategy if your chosen school has any seats at all. Some other, boldly walk into a private school two weeks prior the start of the academic year and book a place instantly.
A few outstanding-rated schools are full for the next several years, as per their claims. Waiting lists are long, or so they say, so you should register as soon as possible. And it is a well-known fact that the application process is hardly transparent, being simply at the discretion of the school. Also, it comes with a s fee. The dates and procedures are very different at various schools, which makes it even more complicated to apply.
When relocating to the UAE, make sure you research schools very well – homeschooling may be a better alternative to traditional methods for education. There are many international tests that your children can pass each year, instead of attending an incredibly expensive private school in Dubai, which will provide poor quality of education and often no internationally recognized diploma.