Transferring to Schools in the Northern Emirates

The number of schools located in the Northern Emirates of Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain, together with the East coast Emirate of Fujeirah is growing. Not only are independent schools opening their doors, but larger school groups in the UAE, such as GEMS Education, are providing children with the possibility to access education delivered by experienced and reputable organisations at budget-friendly fees.
Transferring to Schools in the Northern Emirates
By Lyn Soppelsa
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Whilst schools in the Emirates of Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, who are all linked by a common on-line registration system, follow broadly similar rules and regulations as laid down by the local Education Zone, schools in Fujeirah tend to follow the rules and regulations of Abu Dhabi more closely. Where these differences exist, they are highlighted.

Below are the most frequently asked questions by parents considering relocation or transfer between schools in the Northern Emirates and Fujeirah.  Please note that due to its size and number of schools, a separate Guide for Sharjah can be found here.

 

What is the process to transfer from one school to another in the same emirate within the Northern Emirates?

Children may transfer between schools following the same curriculum until the end of term 2, April, (for schools following a September to June academic year) and until December for schools following the April to March calendar. This is conditional upon the Transfer Certificate indicating the same grading structure. Education Zones in the Northern Emirates strictly apply the age criteria.
* Fujeirah EZ does not permit transfers during the academic year.

 

Is it possible to transfer from one curriculum to another during the academic year?

Yes, this is possible but such a transfer must take place within two months of the start of the academic year (that is by 31st October for UK and other international curricula and by 31st May for Asian curricula).
* Fujeirah EZ permits curriculum transfers only within the first month of the academic year and only to Grade 8.

Are there any restrictions on curriculum transfer?

Most restrictions are imposed by the schools and are related to the curriculum, rather than by the Education Zone.

The main restrictions apply to students wishing to transfer during Secondary/High School and are based on the need to ensure that the student’s previous education will enable a smooth academic transfer.

UK curriculum schools will seldom permit transfer to Year 11 or Year 13 from other schools (including other UK curriculum schools) since the GCSE/iGCSE and AS/A level studies are part of a two year programme. However, students from non-UK curriculum schools may transfer to Year 10 (for GCSE/iGCSE) and Year 12 (for AS and A levels) with the agreement of the school and the Education Zone, who will request parents to sign an Undertaking Letter.

US curriculum schools usually require that students have completed 4 years of High School in order to receive a High School Diploma and will not, therefore, accept students after the start of Grade 9.

CBSE curriculum schools will usually only accept students from Grade IX or Grade Xl if they are already registered with the CBSE Board, but even then schools are reluctant to accept transfers after Grade 8.
* Fujeirah EZ permits curriculum transfers only within the first month of the academic year and only to Grade 8.

 

Is it possible for children to transfer from another emirate to one of the Northern Emirates during the academic year?

Transfers from another emirate to a school in one of the Northern Emirates are permitted until one month prior to the commencement of examinations at the end of the academic year (beginning of term 3, April, for UK and International curricula schools; by end of January for Asian curricula schools).
Where the school is not covered by the SIS registration system (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), each EZ follows the age criteria for placement over the details of previous year group/grade placement.

 

What is the process to transfer a student from a school overseas to a private school in the Northern Emirates?

Most schools will accept on-line applications if you are applying from abroad. You will need to submit supporting documents (usually by email). 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 the UAE.

Each Education Zone 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 EZ-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 EZ 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.

 

Are there restrictions on when my child can transfer from overseas to a school in the Northern Emirates?

The EZ policy allows for 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 a mark entry in the end of year promotion process.

However, 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 the Northern Emirates 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.

Most UK curriculum schools will not allow transfer part way through GCSE/iGCSE (to year 11) or part way through the two year A Level programmes (to year 13) due to the requirement to match subjects and Exam Boards. Similar constraints exist in relation to the IB Diploma Programme.

Similarly, students seeking entry to grades 9 and above in the 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.

 

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 the Northern Emirates 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.

Asian curriculum schools do not usually accept students from non-Asian curriculum schools from Grade 9 as this is when registration with the CBSE Board takes place.

 

What are the required documents to transfer to or between school(s) in the Northern Emirates?

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. * For Fujeirah - the Transfer Certificate is mandatory for all students joining Grades 2-12 and for students joining KG1-Grade 1 after the first month of the academic year). 
- 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 (parents’ and student’s)
- Recent passport size photographs of the student (colour with white background) – usually 4.
- Copies of school reports (usually the past 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 the UAE 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.

*Note requirements for the Transfer Certificate to be provided in Arabic for transfer to Ajman schools from within the UAE.

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 the same emirate Below Grade 2/year 3, a transfer certificate is not required as the transfer can be done online via SIS, provided that the SIS number is available.From Grade 2/year 3, a transfer certificate is required. *In Ajman, the Transfer Certificate must submitted in Arabic.
Another Emirate of the UAE For students from the Northern Emirates (Ajman, Fujeirah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah) from KG1. *In Ajman, the Transfer Certificate must be submitted in Arabic.For students from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, from Grade 2.School principal’s signature and school stampBoth the Transfer Certificate and the last Report Card require 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. *Fujeirah requires attestation and the original certificate for all countries
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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