Factors to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Child

Sunmarke Blog > Education > Factors to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Child

Selecting the right school in Dubai for your child’s education is one of the most crucial life decisions a parent makes. It’s also one of the toughest.  An institution that provides proper infrastructure and a great learning environment for kids can significantly impact your child’s academic career.

Of course the phrase ‘right choice’ is always subjective and debatable but there are broad points that everyone can agree on when it comes to choosing a school in Dubai, a global city that offers immense opportunities for growth.

 The diversity in schooling and the curricula they offer ensure that your child gets the foundation needed to succeed in life. However, the abundance of options can often confuse you when it comes to choosing a school for your kids. This is why it is extremely essential that beyond getting swayed by the impressive ads and aggressive promotions, you need to invest time in research and consider the key factors before you zero in on a school.

Here are 11 important considerations to help you in your decision-making process. While it might be difficult to find an institution that ticks all the boxes, you can use this information as a guide to selecting the right school in Dubai:

What’s Important for You and Your Child

This is your first step toward choosing a school for your kids. Broadly, these should be your criteria:

  •     Subjects you want your children to learn and the desired level of academic difficulty
  •     Your child’s preferred learning style (more practical, less theory etc.)
  •     Social needs (looking for greater contact with peers)
  •     Practical matters (scheduling, extracurricular activities etc.)
  •     Fabulous teachers and staff, and engaged children
  •     A rigorous curriculum to meet your child’s academic needs
  •     A vibrant parent-teacher association

2. The Child’s Focus and Larger Goal

A great learning environment for kids must include elements that aid their larger learning journey. For example, if attaining mastery over a second language is important to you as a family, choose a school that includes foreign language as a part of the curriculum. If you want your child to get a background in the arts, look for schools that not just offer these components but also provide detailed explanations of their facilities.

3. Location of the School

Location is an important consideration when choosing a school in Dubai. Frankly, the city is not too huge geographically but there are several questions you need answers for. Do you want your kids to attend a school within walking distance of your home or do you not mind a little distance if that school meets your other criteria? The school run is a significant task for parents, and if both are very busy, a distant school might prove challenging. How far are you willing to drive your child to school? Does your child have any special transportation needs?  Proximity matters because a nearby school means less commuting time, reducing stress. A nearby school also fosters a sense of community and enables easier participation in events and activities. 

4. The School’s Scores and Rating

An educational institution’s rating by a reputable agency provides a good idea of its performance. In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Agency (KHDA) releases annual ratings of schools based on stringent criteria including education quality, curriculum, infrastructure and cleanliness. They are then ranked under five different categories as ‘Outstanding’, ‘Very good’, ‘Good’, ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Weak’. These ratings can be important factors in choosing a school for your kids.

5. The diversity in the curriculum

Find out if the school has a strong programme of core academic subjects such as English, history, mathematics, science, arts and foreign languages. A proficiency in any of these subjects is the bedrock on which a child pursues his or her real passions.  Then check what the school offers in addition to the core subjects. Selecting the right school in Dubai largely depends on the variety of curricula it boasts of. For instance, if a school has challenging courses such as International Baccalaureate (IB) and high school honours, it would be ideal for parents seeking a globalised education for their children. Multiple pathways enhance the child’s chances of getting into a top university for their under-graduation or graduate studies. If your child has special learning needs, ensure the school has the necessary support system.

6. Extracurricular Activities

As we mentioned above, when choosing a school for kids, always look for one that offers more than just the key subjects. Education should be holistic, helping students acquire skills that go beyond the classroom. The school should offer opportunities for students to become well-rounded individuals equipped to thrive in a competitive world. Be it the arts or sports, these disciplines help students gain confidence and become global citizens who can contribute to a better world, can adjust to any culture and lifestyle and have deep knowledge about general topics. Similarly, a school that organises regular field trips where students are given an exposure to varied cultures, should rank high on your checklist. Sports is another arena that plays an integral role in the development of a child. How much importance does the school give to sports? Does it have the infrastructure and facilities to train budding sportspersons?

7. Approach to Mental Health and Value-Based Education

As in other realms, mental health has become a central topic of discussion even in the field of education. However, it’s unfortunate that children’s mental health is not given top priority in most organisations. If a school emphasises this aspect,  it means it is a forward-thinking and caring institution. Find out how the school addresses mental health issues and what initiatives are in place to promote well-being.  Similarly, a school that places importance on positive values should be considered. For instance, Sunmarke School in Dubai is a good example of this approach where the positive education ethos permeates every programme, academic or otherwise. Its Wellness Wednesday initiative is another way through which conversations around physical and mental health are encouraged. The idea of education should be to groom future leaders and empathetic citizens, hence, when you are choosing schools for your kids, look for ways in which these values are incorporated into their system.

8. Tech Savviness and AI readiness

Technology is transforming education. In today’s world, it is extremely essential that a school is agile and  able to harness the power of technology to enhance the education it offers its students. This requires investment on part of the school from installing the necessary gadgets and devices to training students to use them optimally. WIth hybrid education becoming the order of the day, is the school equipped to impart online studies if needed? Another key factor is AI which is causing large-scale disruption to the landscape. A lot of questions are being asked on the impact of AI on education but if managed well, it can be a huge ally for students and teachers. Find out what the AI policy of the school is.

9. The School’s Reputation

Understanding a school’s reputation is crucial. Investigate the school’s academic track record, including test scores, graduation rates and college placement success. Seek inputs from current and former parents. An in-person visit to the venue can provide invaluable firsthand information about its environment and culture. Also, refer to school listing directories or websites when you are choosing a school for your kid, they can be useful guides and provide good information. 

10. Cost and Financial Aid

Financial considerations are significant when selecting the right school in Dubai.  Create a realistic budget encompassing tuition fees, transportation and additional expenses such as uniforms and supplies. Consider the long-term affordability of the school. Research the availability of financial aid, scholarships and grants to make private education more accessible.

11. Facilities and Services

Check if the school has a well-stocked library, reading materials in other languages and access to computers and the internet. Is there a school nurse on duty daily? Does the school offer a nutritionally well-balanced lunch programme? How effective are the facilities like the auditorium for school assemblies?

In conclusion, choosing the right school for your child involves considering multiple factors. Use this guide to help you make an informed decision that will set the stage for your child’s academic and personal success.

What makes Sunmarke unique 

Sunmarke has distinguished itself as one of Dubai’s top international schools offering a British curriculum through diverse coursework, an inspiring value-based education, and a forward-thinking approach. While unique Signature Programmes set it apart, Sunmarke is one of the few schools in the country to offer both, the IB and A-level curriculum pathways as well as BTECs. The school has numerous programmes to develop global citizens, including language lessons, a dynamic creative arts programme, excellent sports infrastructure and cutting-edge technology.

Influenced by the legacy of Fortes Education, renowned for its educational achievements, Sunmarke truly embodies the spirit of ‘Where Amazing Happens’. Additionally, it offers a range of extracurricular activities fostering entrepreneurship, media training, networking with business leaders and exciting field trips. Guided by the philosophy of Positive Education, Sunmarke boasts outstanding IB and A-Level results, top university placements, and notable achievements in the arts and sports. Consistently rated ‘Very Good’ by KHDA, the definitive authority of education in the UAE, Sunmarke is a leading choice in private education in the region.

Schedule a tour to experience the facilities firsthand, and learn more about the admissions process. 

Note: This article offers general insights into the benefits of a private education and does not serve as an endorsement by Sunmarke School.