Are you a parent looking for the best schools in Abu Dhabi?

Obviously, you won’t choose a school just because it’s the closest one to your home. Location matters, but when it comes to choosing the best school, it’s not the biggest priority.

Instead, remember to focus on the following 10 factors when assessing your child’s school options.

Teacher Quality

Teacher effectiveness is crucial to student academic progress. In fact, according to Teachers Matter: Understanding Teachers’ Impact on Student Achievement by economist Isaac Opper, ‘Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling’.

In the 2019 Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey published by the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education), 79% of the parent-respondents said the quality of the teachers, principal, and other staff was a ‘Very Important’ consideration when deciding on a school for their children.

Teacher quality was particularly crucial for parents who chose private school education.

Action Item: Inquire about teacher qualifications, years of experience, and educational philosophy. You want teachers who are subject-matter experts with the credentials and demonstrable skills to prove it.

Class Size

The number of students in a classroom affects the quality of learning.

Smaller class sizes mean more individualized attention and instruction. This means more teacher-student interaction, better student engagement and, consequently, superior student performance.

Action Item: Consider the student-teacher ratio when choosing a school.

Facilities And Resources

The physical environment in a school affects children’s learning experiences. A study in Ghana (Baafi, 2020) showed students with better learning environments performed better academically than their peers who learned in an inferior environment.

As a case in point, a school that teaches programming to primary school students must have a one-to-one terminal-to-student ratio.

Additionally, a school that promises a progressive performing arts programme must have the auditorium, stage and equipment (e.g., musical instruments, video cameras, sound boards, audio-video processing studios, etc.) that such programmes require.

Action Item: Visit the school. You want well-lit, clean, and comfortable rooms with up-to-date technology and resources. Check everything. Libraries, laboratories, art studios, and athletic facilities. Make sure there are functional facilities available for every program the school offers.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities like sports, arts, clubs, and community service can help students discover their passions, build character, and develop leadership skills. They also enhance student academic performance.

Action Item: Examine the variety and quality of extracurricular and enrichment programs available and check if they are aligned with your children’s interests and goals.


Parent And Community Involvement

Active parent involvement and strong community ties mean a supportive, enriching environment for children. They also indicate open communication lines between the school and parents and that the school is open and listens to the parent feedback.

Action Item: Check if the school has an active and engaged community of parents, teachers, and students and provides opportunities for community involvement.

Graduated Approach to Student Needs

A school with a graduated approach to learning and instruction operates from the premise that students require individualized support and conducts ongoing assessments to determine individual student needs.

In general, the school would provide support through a curriculum adjusted for individual learning requirements. For students that require more than curriculum differentiation, it institutes short-term interventions. For students with highly specialised needs, the school provides long-term interventions and a customised curriculum.

Action Item: Ask the school about their special educational needs (SEN) or graduated approach and check if it tailors its curriculum to individual student needs, especially for students that require highly specialised support. Assess the school and see if they have the staff and resources to provide SEN support and individualized education plans.


Cost is a crucial factor. You want the best school you can afford.

Action Item: Evaluate school tuition fees and other costs, including transportation, uniforms, books, and extracurricular activities, to see how much sending your children to that school will cost. There are academic scholarships in the UAE that can help defray school fees; ask the school if they offer these.


There are many curriculums. The diverse range of international schools in the UAE means you’ll find establishments offering the British, American, International Baccalaureate (IB), or Indian curriculum. Each has pros and cons, and it’s up to you to determine your priorities.

Action Item: Check the curriculum against your requirements. It can be a simple matter of identifying which curriculum suits your children’s post-school plans best. For example, if you’re planning to send your children back to the United Kingdom or Europe for university, you might want to pick a British curriculum school. In this sentence, we could add ‘for example’ at the beginning. For example, you’re planning to send your children back to the…


School Reputation And Academic Performance

While not the only measure of school quality, academic performance and overall reputation are useful indicators of a school’s commitment to educational excellence.

Action Item: Look at standardized test scores, graduation rates, college acceptance rates, and the school’s other academic achievements. In the UAE, check the school’s Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB) or Irtiqaa rating (for Abu Dhabi academic establishments).

Safety And Discipline

When students feel safe, they can focus on learning. Seventy-one percent of the parents in the Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey said that school safety is a very important consideration in their school choices.

Action Item: Check if the school has ample security facilities, clear policies on student behaviour and fair disciplinary measures.

Find The Greatest School For Your Child

Choosing from among so many schools entails assessing your top choices across several criteria.

Use the 10 factors discussed here or tweak the list according to your needs to make deciding on the best school for your child easier.