Compulsory education in the UAE is from age 6 years to 18 years (or completion of Grade 12/Year 13). Despite this, it is very common for children to start school at as young as 3 years old (Pre-KG/FS1). This is, of course, the choice of the child’s parents, and the varying norms of a family’s home country often plays a role in the decision.
UAE nurseries are able to accept children from 45 days to 4 years old, with many Dubai nurseries and early learning centres now also licensed to accept children up to 6-years old, for FS2/KG1 and Year 1/KG2 (for them to do so, they are required to apply for permission from the KHDA, and must have adequate space, resources, expertise and qualified staff in place).
For nurseries in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates, FS1/Pre-KG (3-4 year olds) is the oldest age group generally permitted in nurseries, according to their licensing.
Any decision to move a child to a different year group would require the school to seek permission from the school's education regulator, and would only be considered on a case by case basis (if at all). Dubai's KHDA states the following: "No exceptions to the cut-off dates will be given under any circumstances."
The below is as per revisions made in 2021 by the UAE's federal education authority, and is accurate at the time of writing.
|Grade (UK)||Grade (IB/US/Int.)||Age Requirement|
|FS1||Pre-KG||3 years old by August 31|
|FS2||KG1||4 years old by August 31|
|Year 1||KG2||5 years old by August 31|
|Year 2||Grade 1||6 years old by August 31|
|Year 3||Grade 2||7 years old by August 31|
|Year 4||Grade 3||8 years old by August 31|
|Year 5||Grade 4||9 years old by August 31|
|Year 6||Grade 5||10 years old by August 31|
|Year 7||Grade 6||11 years old by August 31|
|Year 8||Grade 7||12 years old by August 31|
|Year 9||Grade 8||13 years old by August 31|
|Year 10||Grade 9||14 years old by August 31|
|Year 11||Grade 10||15 years old by August 31|
|Year 12||Grade 11||16 years old by August 31|
|Year 13||Grade 12||17 years old by August 31|
For schools with an academic year starting in March, rather than September, the same age requirements apply with a cut off date of March 31 rather than August 31.