This is our third edition of the story of affordable UK curriculum based education in the UAE, and it is a tale that continues to weave new narratives. Although we’ve dropped four schools since 2017, we have added one and have news of another all set for significant expansion. In the 2018 article we have also added a set of schools we believe are ones to watch... Story by Cursty Hoppe.
Most of our top affordable schools have continued to improve their offerings and the 2017/18 KHDA inspection reports highlight these developments.
Affordable UK schools in Dubai are priced at a maximum of 40,000 AED for Year 13. Many schools here cost significantly less than this. In addition, for a school to be included, it has to be rated at least Good by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) in one or more phases – Foundation, Primary, Secondary and/or Post-16 study. The school needs to be doing well in terms of opinion - parents need to be behind the school. Finally, the school needs a thumbs up from our team of editors.
What Don’t You Get at this Fee level?
Before we begin it is important parents consider what the payoff for lower fees will be. There is no escaping the fact that less expensive schools will, usually, have fewer facilities. You can't expect planetariums and Olympic sized swimming pools if you don't want to pay for them.
There are however some necessities you should expect. These include in our view, outdoor play areas, sports facilities, technology labs, qualified teachers… . However ultimately parents need to be realistic and decide what they, and their child, can and cannot live without before assessing any affordable British school in Dubai.
Although the 2018 fee-freeze has affected every school in Dubai, it is likely to have impacted those at the lower end of the fee-scale more than those at the premium end. With already low fees, the small annual additional income is a lifeline for development and improvement for many of these schools.
You should also be aware that many of the less expensive schools are also 'older', so updating their buildings, facilities and equipment, is usually more of a live issue than in the city’s more recently established schools.
Finally many 'budget' schools trade off lower fees with fewer subjects offered for GCSEs and A' Levels. If your child is planning Mandarin and Theatre Studies post 16, expect to be disappointed by what's on offer. Or at the very least to have to work very hard to find the school that matches your requirements. You will likely also have to be compromise elsewhere...
To help you understand what you do get we have added a new facilities section, so you can see just what you are getting for your money.
To this end we have also added subject choices at both (I)GCSE and A Level, and extra-curricular activities on offer. Note, it is often hard to determine if the latter are free or paid for. Usually, if it involves a third party there will be an extra cost.
Finally look at the mix of staffing as this is a school’s biggest cost. Usually a balance of older teachers with experience, with the fresh ideas and passion of younger staff works well. Too low a turnover and you have the possibility of disinterest. Too high a turnover, and there is the possibility of a lack of knowledge, and poor processes.
Finally, look where teachers are recruited from and what their qualifications are. A fallacy however is that good quality British education requires British teachers to deliver it. Don't just take our word for it, check the ratings awarded by the KHDA who recognise good teaching wherever it takes place, regardless of nationality.
Read on to find some of Dubai's best, and most affordable schools...