Academic record key for parents when it comes to selecting UAE school

The YouGov Education Investment study questioned about 500 parents across the country to find out what key factors they used to identify a school’s reputation.

DUBAI // Parents in the UAE select the best school for their child based on its academic record rather than fees or location, according to a new survey.

The YouGov education investment study questioned about 500 parents to find out what key factors they used to identify a school’s reputation.

The findings reveal that parents place more weight on a school’s academic record, followed by its overall reputation, extra-curricular activities and its facilities.

“These insights show that it is critical for schools to invest in their reputation,” said Kailash Nagdev, managing director at YouGov UAE.

“This means firstly understanding how parents evaluate schools and, secondly, understanding what parents see as ‘value added’.”

Of those questioned, 44 per cent believe they are getting good value for money from their child’s school.

They highlight the quality of the class teacher and headteacher and positive word of mouth recommendations as significant factors in their perception of value for money.

“Our research and sector experience tells us that these needs vary according to nationality and choice of curriculum,” said Mr Nagdev.

“A strong reputation needs to be earned over time but it starts with truly understanding parents and children’s needs.”

The poll found parents place less importance on how close the school is to their home, ease of access and school fees.

This suggests that UAE parents are more willing to pay higher costs or travel further to make sure their child has the opportunity to attend the best school possible, said YouGov.

“The main thing is that the quality of education is a good as possible,” said a parent of a child in Year 8 at Dubai College, which was rated as “outstanding” in the latest round of inspections.

“Having said that, it would have to be at a price range we could afford.”

Most parents would pay what they could afford to give their child the best, she said.

According the school reports for 2013-14 from Dubai’s education regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, seven schools received an “unsatisfactory” grade upon inspection, with 12 awarded “outstanding” status.

About half of the 140 schools in Dubai were between “outstanding” and “good”, while the overall pass rate was 95 per cent.

The complete findings of the YouGov survey will be made available during the four-day Education Investment MENA conference at the Address Hotel Dubai Mall starting on Monday.

Delegates will be given a hard copy of the survey, which will help them to understand the decision-making process that many parents in the UAE go through.

This year the conference will discuss how to increase investment in education, from premium early years schooling, through to higher education, vocational and special educational needs.

nhanif@thenational.ae

Published: November 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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