Boarding school options in the UAE

A more direct comparison of a UAE school to an overseas boarding school.

Repton School in Dubai costs roughly the same for boarding (Dh136,221 for year six to Dh169,325 for year 13) as the UK school does. Jaime Puebla / The National
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A more direct comparison of the costs of a UAE school to an overseas boarding school could come with Repton.

The UK institution opened the UAE’s first boarding school in Dubai, which costs roughly the same for boarding (Dh136,221 for year six to Dh169,325 for year 13) as the UK school does – which charges £34,000 (Dh160,290) a year.

Another boarding school in the emirate is Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, which teaches the International Baccalaureate with a strong focus on learning French and German, and is opening boarding facilities this September. Families can choose between full boarding or returning home at weekends. While the boarding fees have not yet been finalised, the day school is Dh60,000 to Dh110,000 per year, plus a Dh10,000 registration fee. “We’re targeting mainly working parents in Dubai who travel a lot and would like their children to be looked after in the boarding houses,” explains head of admissions, Ursula Sommer.

“Parents can benefit with regard to family life and organising their infrastructure, especially those who currently spend a lot of time having to commute during the week.”

Tim Collins, director of admissions for Repton School in the UK, acknowledges that the Repton-run day options in the UAE provide a “great academic education”. So why bother coughing up the extra money for boarding?

“It’s actually great fun for the children,” says Mr Collins. “They’re with kids their own age constantly, and they’ve got all of the fun side of life – the music, the sport, the drama, the art, the DT – whatever it is they’re into, they can just walk to it.”

Mr Collins also claims that parents’ relationships with their children improve as a result of boarding.

“They now put so much more value into the time spent together. I often hear parents say: ‘My child shows far more affection to me now than he ever did before’.”

He also believes that boarding schools equip students with high-level communications skills that are vital in today’s world.

“Employers are now looking for that emotional quotient in people, not just exam grades,” says Mr Collins.

“I think boarding educates children much better to be able to showcase those skills.”

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