Getting a School Place in the Northern Emirates

The 4 most Northerly-located Emirates of Ajman, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, together with the Emirate of Fujeirah on the East Coast, are generally referred to as the Northern Emirates. Schools in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras al Khaimah are linked to the same School registration system as those in Sharjah and follow broadly the same rules and regulations. Fujeirah, has different rules more closely linked to Abu Dhabi and, where this is the case, they are highlighted.
Getting a School Place in the Northern Emirates
By Lyn Soppelsa
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Each emirate has its own Education Zone (EZ) under the oversight of the Ministry of Education.

These are the most frequently asked questions about getting a school place in the  Northern Emirates.


How old does my child need to be to attend school?

Children are registered with the relevant Education Zone (EZ) from FS2/KG1 and must be 4 years old by 31st December to attend a UK curriculum or other international school operating a September to June academic year, and by 31st July to attend an Asian curriculum school operating an April to March academic year.

Some schools offer FS1/pre-KG and these children are not registered with EZ, but may be registered, together with nursery students, with the Ministry of Education.

Each EZ is responsible for Private Education regulation from KG1 to Grade 12. In the UK curriculum, this translates to FS2 to Year 13 (see our Age/Grade table at Getting a School Place in the UAE). In general, schools in the Northern Emirates do not offer FS1. Where they do so, families wishing to place their child in FS1 (pre-KG equivalent) in a UK curriculum school in may do so provided the child is 3 years old on 1st September. Some schools following the UK curriculum use the international 12 grade system – please therefore check directly with the school or via the individual school website to ensure that you are applying for the correct grade.

Children are legally required to be in school in the year in which they turn 6 years of age – this is Year 2/Grade 1.


Is there anything I can do if I feel that my child is too young or has social or other issues that mean s/he should not join the age-appropriate year group/grade?

In general, the Education Zone (EZ) applies the age/grade criteria to the placement of children in school, although exceptions may be made. Each EZ seeks to ensure continuity of education for children in an age-appropriate social group. Where exceptions are made, a difference of a maximum of 2 years in age is permitted. * This may be up to 3 years in Umm Al Quwain.

Parents can request that their child is placed in a lower year group/grade Year 2/grade 1 upwards, if there are reasons why they feel this would be more appropriate. This Demotion process must be supported by both the parents and the Principal of the school to obtain the approval of the EZ. * Demotion is not permitted in Fujeirah.

Age criteria are usually strictly applied to children in FS2/KG1 and Year 1/KG2 and no possibility for Demotion is provided. An Emirates ID reader is used to upload the child’s information to the on-line student registration system and this automatically allocates the year group/grade based on the date of birth.

Once a child is demoted, there is no possibility to reverse this decision irrespective of the child’s future academic performance. Schools therefore encourage families to place their child in the age-appropriate year group/grade with additional support if required.


How do I register my child at a private school?

Private schools manage their enrolment and registration themselves, but are required to adhere to a set of requirements laid out in a policy document issued by the regulator. The EZ’s use an on-line registration system (SIS) which is updated by the schools’ Admissions teams.

Some private schools will require your child to participate in an assessment to determine your child’s current level of academic or personal development. This may take the form of an individual interview or group assessment – you can find out from the school Admissions team whether your child will be asked to take part in such an assessment and what form it will take.

Whilst some schools accept registration on-line via their websites, many will ask you to visit the school to complete the application process. You will also need to submit supporting documents.

The types of documents you may be asked to submit include:

1. Birth Certificate (Attested where required – link to Getting a school place in the UAE - *Fujeirah requires all birth certificates to be attested)
2. Emirates ID (or copy of Emirates ID Application if in progress)
3. Passport and Residency visa copies (parents’ and student’s)
4. Recent passport size photograph of the student (Coloured with white background)
5.Vaccination Cards for FS2/KG- Year3/Grade 2 students

Please note that all documents must be submitted in either English or Arabic and legally translated and attested copies will be required where these are not the original languages of issue.

Children are not legally permitted to start school until all of the required documents are available to enable their registration in EZ’s system. Some schools may offer flexibility in this regard, but you should aim to ensure that you have all the documents needed if possible.


Is there a fee to register students on a school's waiting list? Is this fee refundable?

The policy in relation to fees varies and whilst in all 4 emirates a registration fee, together with an enrolment fee, is often required by schools, this is not always the case. These fees are not usually refundable. Some schools will require a Seat Booking payment once a place is offered. This is deducted from the school fees (usually during the first term). Schools may also charge an assessment fee. Full details of fees can be found on each school’s website under the Admissions process.


When does the registration for private schools open? When is the deadline?

Most schools have specific periods during the academic year when they open registration for the year groups or grades in high demand. This applies particularly to families seeking places in FS1, FS2 and KG1 and KG2.

Most schools offering a September start will take applications for these year groups/grades from October through to December, although parents may apply to school for admission at any point during the academic year. Many schools have a policy giving priority to siblings and will often open applications to these children in advance of the general admission period.
Schools following the April to March academic calendar tend to open registrations for KG1 and KG2 in late October/early November and, due to the particularly high level of demand, often accept applications for only a very limited window of time. Parents should therefore ensure that they submit their application on-time.

For students already in school in the UAE, they must be registered at the start of the academic year and all necessary documents provided to enable the Admissions team to register them with the relevant EZ by the end of October (for UK and International curriculum schools), and by end of May for Indian, Pakistani and Japanese schools.


Should I apply to more than one school?

This will depend on the curriculum you are choosing, your location and whether you wish to apply to specific schools with high demand. In general, schools tend to experience the highest demand for FS and KG classes across all curricula. The exception to this will be newer schools who have not yet developed the reputation of the more established ones. This should not be a concern to parents, since all schools follow strict policies and controls by EZ.

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