Education and Schools Abu Dhabi


Getting to grips with the schools Abu Dhabi has to offer and the different types of education/curriculum available is one of the most difficult and worrisome tasks for any family emigrating to the UAE.

You can rest assured that the level of education available is of a very high standard and schooling is taken very seriously by the government.

However, choosing which system and securing a place for your child can be a battle for the newcomer. 

We'll explain the general ins and outs of the education system and hopefully arm you with the right knowledge to make the transition smoothly.

All educational facilities available to children of expats in Abu Dhabi are fee paying. That is, they charge a fee for the educational service they provide.

If you are fortunate, you will have an allowance in your employment contract to cover the cost of school fees. This is important as the fees for schools in Abu Dhabi are substantial, ranging from 25,000 AED to 70,000 AED per year per child.

Which Curriculum?

There are essentially three types (IB, British and American) of school curriculum available for primary and secondary education with each school focussing on one type - although some schools do combine methods in an attempt to offer a more 'international' education.

Each curriculum has its pro's and con's which are discussed further on each types respective page.

Before moving, we recommend you make contact with your preferred schools Abu Dhabi for more information on their admissions procedures, fee's and waiting lists. 

Visa's, Admissions and Waiting Lists

Each child receiving education in Abu Dhabi must have a residents visa (sponsorship) and be registered with the Goverment (via the schools administration department).

If you have an employment visa in your passport and are subsequently processing your dependants visa's, it is possible to enter your child into schooling (during this processing period). 

The facility you choose will give you clear guidance on the admission requirements and possible start dates.

Since the competition for the top schools is fierce, the waiting lists are often long. It is a good idea to get your child listed as soon as you possibly can. 

Location, Buses and Driving

Although Abu Dhabi is a small island it can take hours to navigate the traffic in the mornings and evenings. It is important to take into account your potential school run when choosing the right school.

Most schools offer bus services (for a fee), but these may not be suitable for very young children.

Its also important to note that getting a taxi at rush hour, that is not pre-arranged is next to impossible - which can make the school run in the first few months (and after!), before you've had time to organise a car, somewhat difficult.

When and What Age?

The school day starts early in Abu Dhabi, with many schools commencing at 7.45am and finishing at 3pm - which can seem a long day (and a very early start!)

In contradiction to this, many of the nursery or pre school facilities only run to midday which can be a juggle with mixed age offspring.

The school week runs Sunday to Thursday. Holidays are nurmerous, with the summer break generally lasting 10 weeks through July and August. Most schools have reduced hours during Ramadan.

Many primary schools Abu Dhabi offer places to children aged 3yrs onwards.

When your child graduates at 18yrs of age, they will no longer be your dependant and therefore will need to apply for their own visa to stay in Abu Dhabi (such as going on to University locally with a study visa or sponsored by an employer). Naturally, most children go on to further education in their country of origin.

Click here to read more about family life in Abu Dhabi and expat children.

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