There are already more than 200 private schools in Dubai – which makes one wonder what the five newest ones could possibly offer to make them stand out from the crowd.
Quite a lot, as it turns out. From planting hundreds of trees on the premises to making homework optional, the popularity of Dubai's five newest schools is rising, and some are still taking new pupils despite the academic year having already started.
Here, The National takes a look at the newest schools in Dubai.
Gems Metropole School Al Waha
The British curriculum school opened with more than 700 pupils in August and has a focus on sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.
Jeremy Hallum, principal at the school, said he would have to open extra classes due to demand from the community. He hopes to have 850 pupils at the school by August 2024.
Places at the school cost between Dh36,000 to Dh45,000 this year.
In total, the capacity of the current facilities is 3,450 pupils, with a second phase of construction ultimately taking that number to 4,500.
“We have an enormous forest school area which has more than 170 trees so every child can go out of their classroom into the forest school and we have a trained forest schoolteacher,” said Mr Hallum.
“We offer the forest school curriculum and are a single-use plastic free school. There will be a composting section at the school in a few months.”
The UK curriculum school is also building a farm, which will have goats, ducks and chickens.
Glendale International School
Glendale International School, which offers the UK curriculum, focuses on learning through nature and pupils will be able to take classes in outdoor spaces at the school during the cooler months.
The school is home to 200 plant species.
“We are a very green campus and we want that atmosphere for children to learn outdoors and for children. There is a garden area and a petting zoo,” said Jasmit Kang, principal at Glendale International School in Oud Metha.
There are 130 pupils enrolled at the school from foundation stage one to year six, as only the primary school has opened this year.
Fees for 2023 range from Dh33,600 to Dh44,160.
Ms Kang said admissions are still open and that they are busy enrolling more pupils.
“On a weekly basis, we have new pupils enrolling and I think we will have a lot more children joining us for term two in January. We have children moving to the country,” she added.
The school is offering a discount of 20 per cent to families who join in the first year.
Ms Kang hopes the school will have about 300-350 pupils by August 2024.
Arcadia Global School
At Arcadia Global School in Al Furjan, homework is optional and children are encouraged to learn through a business mindset through the junior MBA programme offered by the school.
The school opened its doors this academic term and already has 900 pupils, with a capacity of 2,600 in the primary section. The school has a total capacity of 4,200 pupils.
Andrew Wilson, principal at the UK curriculum school, said the focus was on offering the highest quality education with the best facilities at the lowest possible price.
“If you walk through our doors, what you get is a state-of-the-art building that's super energy efficient. We have got all the technology you would expect from the highest possible premium schools but the fees wouldn’t be anywhere near what you'd expect to pay … we're a value school,” he said.
Fees at the school range from Dh22,455 to Dh27,559 this year.
The school is offering a 39 to 44 per cent discount on its fees in the first year and pupils who join will be eligible for a founding fee rate throughout their time at the school, with fees only going up each year by the education cost index announced by the emirate.
The Indian CBSE curriculum school opened its doors in 2023 and has enrolled 757 pupils with hopes of growing this number to 850 by the next academic year.
Seema Umar, principal at the school in Al Quoz, said the school already had pupils on a waiting list.
“We are running at full capacity in many grades. We have closed admissions for all the grades except grade one and grade five, where we only have four seats available,” said Ms Umar.
“We've also offered a discount from 20 per cent to 36 per cent to all grades.”
The school believes in celebrating Indian heritage and offers languages including Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil.
It has a focus on literacy and improving children’s reading skills.
Dewvale had about 300 pupils when it opened in April. Fees are from Dh9,500 to Dh11,950.
Highgate International School
Highgate International School follows the Indian CBSE curriculum and is one of the least expensive new schools in the city.
The school in Arjan places an emphasis on holistic education and co-curricular activities are part of the curriculum.
Located in Al Barsha South, the school offers many after-school activities such as gymnastics, tennis, karate, cricket, swimming, basketball and football.
Prices start from Dh12,000 for kindergarten pupils.