IB, GCSE, Indian..? Which Curriculum is Right?

IB, GCSE, Indian..? Which Curriculum is Right?
By WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
Do your children attend a UAE school? Take our survey and help other parents.
WhichSchoolAdvisor's annual school survey.

When moving to the Emirates and finding a suitable school for your child, there are probably more options for types of schools than you would normally be used to. When we say ‘types’ of schools, we are referring to the choices of educational curriculums, which are far broader than in most countries. Naturally the multi-national demographic of the country has created a demand for a wide mix of educational curriculum, allowing transient families to continue with the same system wherever they are in the world, thus avoiding disruption to their child’s education.

Schools in the Emirates cater for many different education systems:

UK – GCSE/A-level
European, Global - International Baccalaureate (IB)

The question is, do you stick with your country’s National Curriculum or, now that you have the opportunity, do you explore and research a new educational system that may be better for your child’s needs and your future plans for your family?

Here is a rundown of top three most popular school education systems in the Emirates.


UK National Curriculum (GCSE, A-Level)
The most well-known and established educational system, with a generally high standard of teaching, the National Curriculum for England and Wales covers learning for children aged 5-16.

Divided into four Key Stages, students are continually assessed in their learning and throughout Key Stages 1 and 2, children are routinely tested in SATS.

At GCSE level, students must take English, Maths and Science, and can choose up to seven more examinations depending on their areas of strength and their plans for university and a future career. Specialising in specific subjects is expected from a very young age and the British curriculum is often criticised for its lack of breadth and in-depth studying of one or two subjects rather than continued learning across all subjects.

At the age of 16, students have the option of remaining in education and specializing in three key areas for advanced level certification (A-level) that will be required for university entry.

Examples of some British National Curriculum schools in the UAE are:

- Dubai College
- Jumeirah English Speaking School
- Repton School Dubai
- The British School, Abu Dhabi

More information: Go! 


International Baccalaureate (IB – EYP, MYP, DP, CC)
Often considered to be the most ‘well-rounded’ of education systems, the International Baccalaureate takes the students from age 3 to 19 years with its Early Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes and focuses on providing a good framework of academic challenges and life skills to students, going above and beyond traditional school subjects. In short, IB has been formulated to provide a standard of education that ‘prepares students for modern day life’.

Many schools in Dubai offer the IB system and for long term expatriates this is often a good option, as their children will be more likely to go on to study overseas and remain global expatriates themselves.

For students in higher education, the IB Diploma can be an alternative to A-levels, where they can choose six subjects to study instead of three. Most worldwide universities openly accept the IB Diploma as a recognized qualification.

Schools that offer IB Early Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes are knows as IB Continuum schools.

Interested? Try these for size:

- American International School – Abu Dhabi
- Raha International School – Abu Dhabi
- Dubai International Academy – Dubai
- GEMS World Academy – Dubai


Indian Curriculum (CBSE, CISCE)
This would normally be the ideal option for Indian nationals who want to continue their children’s education internationally, but expect to settle back in India. The Indian system is widely offered in the UAE and schools offer either the CBSE or CISCE. The two boards offer frameworks that can accommodate students of varying abilities. 

There are quite fundamental differences between CBSE and CISCE. To find out more, go to our curriculum guides.

There are many choices for Indian schools in the Emirates, a few of which are:

- Abu Dhabi Indian School
- The Indian High School – Dubai
- Sharjah Indian School
- Our Own Indian High School - Dubai
- Global Indian International School – Dubai


External reading
For IB: www.ibo.org
For the UK National Framework: www.education.gov.uk



Latest UAE articles
Courses & Curricula

Feb Half Term Camps Dubai 2023: The Big List!

It's that time again; schools in Dubai are soon to close for half term and we know that yo…

Choosing A School

Why Choose the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP)?

MYP students at Dubai International Academy - Al Barsha As your child races through their …

Courses & Curricula

UK Summer Schools 2023

A summer school programme at a UK boarding school is a great opportunity to get a taste of…

School Performance

Sharjah School Inspections to be Published April

Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) is set to publish the results of its first comp…

New Schools

First School for Dubai South to Open Sept 2024

Dubai South has signed an agreemenet with school investor and operator, Bright Capital Inv…


Heavy Rain: Which UAE Schools Have Closed?

With heavy rain in Dubai and the northern emirates on Wednesday, and more falling Thursday…


Schools to Remain Open Despite Rain - KHDA

The KHDA has confirmed via social media that schools will remain open on Thursday despite …

Choosing A School

Are School Based Nurseries the Best Option?

As of 2021, KHDA has eased the path for Dubai schools to open early childhood centres with…

0 Schools Selected
keyboard_arrow_down keyboard_arrow_up
Your selection Clear All