Transferring to or between schools in Abu Dhabi

Frequently asked questions regarding transferring to a school in Abu Dhabi from within Abu Dhabi, from another UAE emirate or from overseas. Most paperwork required is designed to ensure that children are registered in the correct age group and academic level on transfer.

Transferring to a school in Abu Dhabi from within Abu Dhabi, from another UAE emirate or from overseas inevitably requires a little more in the way of paper-work!

Abu Dhabi Education and Knowledge Department (ADEK) seeks continuity of education for all children and therefore aims to ensure that children are registered in the correct age group and academic level upon transfer.

This is all the more complex for children who are switching curriculum, particularly if the grading structure in the current school is different to the new one.

 

What is the process to transfer from one school to another within Abu Dhabi?

ADEK applies strict rules for transfer between schools and curricula in Abu Dhabi Emirate.
Parents are responsible for ensuring that a place is available at their school of choice if they do wish to transfer their children. They should also be aware that their current school is entitled to request a term’s notice and payment of fees for this period.

Children are not permitted to transfer between schools or curricula within Abu Dhabi region after 1st October for schools following a September to June academic year, and after 31st May for children following an Asian curriculum. The only exception to this rule would be if a family relocates from one region of Abu Dhabi Emirate to another (e.g. Abu Dhabi to Al Ain).

There are also restrictions on the year groups/grades where transfer is permitted at the start of the academic year. Students may transfer from other curricula at the start of the academic year up to year 10 in the UK curriculum and generally up to the equivalent (grade 9) in other International and Asian curricula.

For children studying in the Indian curriculum transferring between Indian curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi, students in Grade XI and XII need to be joining from CBSE curriculum schools and they should be registered with CBSE. A transfer deadline of 31st December is usually applied.

Exceptionally, students from other curricula wishing to join the CBSE curriculum may join Grade XI, but this must be approved by the CBSE Board. A transfer deadline of 31st May is usually applied.

Since UK curriculum GCSE/iGCSE are two year programmes, commencing in year 10, students wishing to study for these exams must transfer prior to the start of year 10. GCSE/iGCSE exams are a pre-requisite for children wishing to join Year 12 in a UK curriculum school. This means that it is not possible for children who have followed other curricula in grades 9 and 10 (years 10 and 11 equivalent) to join a UK curriculum school for year 12.

Students seeking to attend a US curriculum school may not transfer after the start of Grade 9 to ensure that they complete all 4 required grades in order to receive a High School Diploma.

 

What is the process to transfer from another emirate to Abu Dhabi?

Children are permitted to transfer from another emirate to Abu Dhabi throughout the academic year provided they are transferring to the same curriculum school. Children transferring from another emirate at the start of the academic year are entitled to change curriculum up to year 10 (UK curriculum) or Grade 9 for other curricula.

In general, children transferring to the same curriculum need to have started school in Abu Dhabi at least one month prior to any final exams taking place, in order to ensure that their children qualify for promotion to the next year group/grade at the end of the academic year.
For children studying in the UK curriculum and seeking to move during Year 10, they must have already started their GCSE/iGCSE course. They must also ensure that the school they are transferring to in Abu Dhabi offers the same subject choices and within that, the same Exam Board. If the exam boards are different, they will need to have detailed discussions with the school to ensure there is enough overlap between the two to make the transfer.

For children studying in the Indian curriculum, students in Grade XI and XII need to be joining from CBSE curriculum schools and they should be registered with CBSE. Students from other curricula may join Grade XI, but this must be approved by the CBSE Board. For Asian curriculum schools, December 31st is generally the deadline for transfers from outside Abu Dhabi.

 

What is the process to transfer a student from a school overseas to a private school in Abu Dhabi?

Most schools will accept on-line applications if you are applying from abroad. You will need to submit supporting documents (usually by email). Many popular schools may well be full in certain year groups/grades and we would always recommend that you contact the Admissions team by email in advance of submitting an application. We would usually suggest that you contact at least 2-3 schools initially. Schools may require assessment of children prior to offering a place. This can sometimes take place at the overseas school or may be required on arrival in Abu Dhabi.

As mentioned in our introduction, ADEK seeks continuity of education for all children and therefore aims to ensure that children are registered in the correct age group and academic level upon transfer.

Particular emphasis is placed on children meeting the mandatory age requirement for school entry – that is 6 years on 31st December for schools following a September to June timetable and 31st July for Asian curricula following the April to March timetable. Year 2 in the 13-year UK curriculum or Grade 1 in the 12 Grade international system would be the appropriate year group/grade that children would join for the start of compulsory schooling.

However, many children start school in their Home country at a younger age and may be younger than the ADEK-mandated appropriate age in the Foundation Stage and Year 1 classes of the UK curriculum and in the equivalent KG1 or KG2 for other curricula. Children who do not meet the ADEK age criteria will usually be required to join the age-appropriate year group/grade, even if they have already studied at a higher year group/grade.
An exception can be made for children joining Year1/KG2 or Year 2/Grade 1, if a Transfer Certificate is provided showing that the child has studied at a higher grade abroad. The child will then usually be accepted into the higher year group/grade in Abu Dhabi.

In some instances, there will be the requirement for the new school to apply for “Equivalence” where the grading system in the origin school system is different to the systems used in Abu Dhabi. This applies to children coming from locations such as Eastern Europe. Often the age criteria will be used to determine the appropriate year group/grade depending on the curriculum applied for in Abu Dhabi.

 

Are there restrictions on when my child can transfer from overseas to a school in Abu Dhabi?

ADEK policy allows for Abu Dhabi Private Schools to register students at any time during the academic year if coming from overseas. Whilst it is clearly preferable for students to join at the start of the academic year, most schools will wish students from overseas to join, at the latest, at least one month prior to any year-end exams or tests, in order to ensure that these children can participate and receive an eSIS (ADEK’s registration system) mark entry in the end of year promotion process.

In addition, individual curricula apply specific constraints in relation to admission from overseas where public exams are involved.

For children seeking to move to a UK curriculum school during Year 10, they must have already started their iGCSE /GCSE course. They must also ensure that the school they are transferring to in Abu Dhabi offers the same subject choices and within that, the same Exam Board. If the exam boards are different, they will need to have detailed discussions with the school to ensure there is enough overlap between the two to make the transfer.

Students seeking Year 12 entry in a UK curriculum school will need to ensure that they have completed GCSE/iGCSE in the UK curriculum. UK curriculum schools will rarely allow transfer part way through GCSE/iGCSE (to year 11) or part way through the two year A Level programmes (to year 13).

Similarly, students seeking entry to grades 9 and above US curriculum will need to be studying or to have completed grade 8 in the same curriculum.

For children studying in the Indian curriculum, students in Grade XI and XII need to be joining from CBSE curriculum schools and they should be registered with CBSE. Students from other curricula may join Grade XI, but this must be approved by the CBSE Board. For Asian curriculum schools, December 31st is generally the deadline for transfers from outside Abu Dhabi.

 

What about students transferring from the Southern Hemisphere where the school year is the calendar year?

For families relocating from the Southern Hemisphere, children joining a school in September in Abu Dhabi will be required to repeat the same academic year, since they will not have completed their school year in their home country.

If the family relocates in time for a January (term 2) start and the child has completed the academic year prior to relocation, then s/he will usually be permitted to join the next year group/grade, but this is not always given. We strongly recommend that parents re-confirm with the schools to which they are applying in this case.

 

What are the required documents to transfer to or between school(s) in Abu Dhabi?

The following documents are mandatory for all transfers:
- Transcript or evidence of attending school (Transfer Certificate), specifying the curriculum from the previous academic year. (Attested if required)
- Emirates ID (or copy of Emirates ID Application if in progress)
- Vaccination Cards for KG-Grade 2 students
- Birth Certificate (Attested if required)
- Passport and Residency visa copies
- Recent passport size photograph of the student (colour with white background)
- Copies of school reports (previous 2-3 years).

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.

A child moving to Abu Dhabi legally has to be in school within 30 days (the validity period of the Transfer Certificate); however, many families take longer than 30 days to obtain their Emirates ID.

Some schools do permit children to start school without all of the documents being in place, but this is at the school’s discretion. We strongly recommend that families familiarise themselves with the planned visa and EID application process and time-lines in order to ensure that entry to school is not unnecessarily delayed.

 

What are the Transfer Certificate requirements?

Requirements for Transfer Certificates vary depending on where a student is joining from geographically. The Transfer Certificate generally takes the form of a letter prepared by the previous school confirming the student’s attendance and last recorded school year group/grade. In some cases, this is the only evidence required.

In many cases, however, the authenticity of the Transfer Certificate (and sometimes Identity documents) need to be attested by the Ministry of Education or equivalent Authority and the UAE Consulate in the home country, and by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on arrival in the UAE. (In some cases, the Embassy of the home country in the UAE can fulfil the Attestation requirement for the Education Authority and UAE Consulate). The schools to which you apply will provide you with a sample Transfer Certificate and will confirm the requirements.

The following chart shows the transfer certificate requirements including attestation.

Location they are transferring from Transfer Certificate - Signature, stamp and attestation requirements
Another school in Abu Dhabi A transfer certificate is not required as the transfer is done online via eSIS.
Another Emirate of the UAE School principal’s signature and school stamp.Attestation by the Ministry of Education in the current Emirate.
North America (except Quebec), Western Europe and Australia School principal’s signature and school stamp.
Middle East (excluding the UAE), South and Central America, Asia, Russia and former Russian States, Eastern Europe, Africa and New Zealand School principal’s signature and school stamp.Attestation by the Ministry of Education in the origin country.Attestation by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the origin country or the country’s Embassy in the UAE.Attestation by UAE Consulate or Embassy in the origin country or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE.


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