School fees in Dubai can really cut into the family budget, with institutions charging tens of thousands of dirhams a year.
But Dubai is home to 217 private schools, meaning parents have many options to choose from.
Fees at the top schools can vary widely. Gems World Academy, an International Baccalaureate school, is Dh117,552 ($32,000) for Year 12, while Gems Our Own English High School charges Dh15,772.
Both have been rated “very good” by the emirate's private school regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
Parents do not need to make a choice between quality and price, however, as a number of reasonably priced schools have been rated highly by the regulator.
The KHDA has rated 39 schools as “very good”, and many do not come with a high price tag.
The Indian High School, Delhi Private School Dubai and Gems Our Own English High School – all Indian curriculum schools – charge less than Dh16,000 a year, even for senior years.
Schools in Dubai were assessed by private school inspectors this year.
The National takes a look at six “very good” schools that offer high-quality education at a reasonable price.
The Indian High School: Up to Dh10,465 a year
The school in Oud Metha was founded in 1961 and is one of three campuses that make up the Indian High Group of Schools. More than 15,000 pupils attend the schools.
About 9,000 pupils currently attend the Oud Metha campus.
It is one of the oldest and largest schools in Dubai and opened a new three-storey building in May 2022 that features dozens of classrooms, laboratories and activity rooms.
The school has also established a well-being centre, where pupils can seek help from counsellors if they have mental health concerns.
Annual fees start at Dh5,525 and go up to Dh10,465.
Delhi Private School Dubai: Up to Dh14,416 a year
Delhi Private School Dubai has been rated “very good” for six years in a row and has about 3,800 pupils enrolled.
The school in Jebel Ali follows India's Central Board of Secondary Education curriculum and says it focuses on academic excellence, leadership, pastoral care and ensuring children receive emotional support.
It has 288 teachers and a turnover of 16 per cent.
The school was one of the first to enact the KHDA's Rahhal programme, an initiative that treats all forms of learning as legitimate.
“Change is always good and one should not ignore new trends,” principal Rashmi Nandkeolyar said in 2019 when the school signed up for the Rahhal initiative.
“Finland has shown that alternative methods of education do work. You can see the shift in education.”
Pupils who are part of the programme can at times be allowed to miss classes due to a tournament or for skills development.
Fees for 2022/2023 at the school ranged from Dh10,298 in kindergarten to Dh14,416 in Grade 12.
Gems Our Own English High School: Up to Dh15,772 a year
The Indian curriculum school in Al Warqa 3 has more than 10,400 pupils and is one of the emirate’s largest schools.
It is also one of the oldest in the Emirates and celebrated its golden jubilee in 2018.
The school has pupils from 17 different countries. It is coeducational from kindergarten to Grade 4 and is for girls only from Grades 5 to 12.
Fees at the school range from Dh7,710 in kindergarten to Dh15,772 in higher grades.
The school has been rated “very good” by the KHDA since the 2015-2016 academic year.
MSB Private School: Up to Dh22,500 a year
MSB Private School was established in 1985 and now has two campuses for primary and secondary education.
The school in Al Nahda 2 follows the National Curriculum of England and Wales from Year 1 to Year 9, and IGCSE in Years 10 and 11.
It is one of the least expensive UK-curriculum schools in the emirate.
Annual fees at the school range from Dh9,606 in the foundation stage to Dh22,500 in Year 13.
The school says it focuses on preparing pupils to be analytical, imaginative, action-orientated and caring.
JSS Private School: Up to Dh25,116 a year
Included here as the final year's fees only just cross the Dh25,000 threshold, JSS Private School in Al Safa is an Indian curriculum institution established in 2011.
The school has more than 2,000 pupils enrolled from pre-primary level to Grade 12.
Fees start at Dh11,567 in pre-primary and reach Dh25,116 in Grade 12.
The school says it aims to help ensure pupils become confident global citizens with a keen sense of commitment, social awareness and responsibility.
It offers blended trips, dance, music, drama and group projects.
The Millennium School: Up to Dh25,594 a year
Another one included as years 11 and 12 are only Dh600 more than the Dh25,000 cut-off point, the 22-year-old school in Al Qusais has about 2,800 pupils enrolled from pre-primary to Grade 12.
It was established in 2000 with only 40 pupils and 11 teachers.
Today, there are 160 teachers, with staff turnover of 9 per cent.
Fees at the Indian curriculum school start at Dh17,405 in pre-primary and go up to Dh25,594 in Grade 12.
The school focuses on providing personalised and digital-driven learning.