All International schools in Dubai are private schools. They predominantly offer either a British or an American curriculum. Most of these schools are located in the Jumeirah / Um Suqeim area, as well as close to expatriate housing communities (Meadows, Springs, Emirates Hills etc)
How long are the waitlists?
Some schools like JESS, DESS and ASD have up to 2 year waiting lists for most grades. The younger grades are usually fuller, as families tend to move back to their home countries, or send the children to boarding schools once they get to Secondary levels.
The school population is not very transient in Dubai. Very often just 2-3 seats open up in each grade. The best chances for admission are in August for the new academic year, and if the application is put in 9-12 months in advance. Most schools start taking admission decisions by February for the new academic year starting in August.
Some schools give preference to certain passport holders, siblings and some have Company Debentures in place which circumvents the standard waitlist. Good grades, positive recommendation letters, besides being the right gender and ethnic mix also play a role in admissions. Persistence can certainly pay off.
Companies are becoming more aware of the difficult schooling situation in Dubai, and giving their employees more lead time in moving to Dubai. However, in some cases employees refuse to move unless they can get the right school for their children.
In other cases, employees reconcile themselves with sending their children to their school of second or third choice, in the hope that it is a temporary situation, and that the waitlist in their school of first choice will clear quickly. The reality in Dubai is that schools are full, waitlists are long, and schools are not willing to entertain special requests for school tours or accept applications in some cases.
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