All schools in Dubai require children to take part in an assessment prior to enrolment. But what exactly does this mean? What happens during the assessment? How can you prepare your child to help them get into what you consider to be the best school in Dubai?
Each school will have its own assessment procedures on the basis of which they make their enrolment decisions. Typically, a school will expect a child to pass a test that is in line with their own curriculum and falls within the expectations for a child of that age. This takes into account the child’s age, experience and age-related skills.
Primary schools look for developmental milestones in younger children, such as how well the child is able to communicate needs, follow simple instructions and respond to other children. Play-based observation is the most common method of assessment of nursery school aged children and often takes place with small groups of children and almost always in the school setting. There is a growing awareness, however, that this may not be the most suitable strategy for very young children, and some schools are now recognising the benefit of observing child in settings with which they are more familiar.
Older children are commonly set written tasks, and some schools also use a Cognitive Ability Test together with the written tasks, depending on the age of the child. Assessment is conducted either at the child’s current school or at the school they are applying for. In the latter situation, parents are required to take the child and wait until they have completed the assessment. The length of time will vary, depending on the school, and parents can enquire about this prior beforehand. Schools handle the assessment results in different ways, although many schools send a formal letter within a week to offer a place if the child has passed.
The administration process will be managed by the school Registrar who is a vital point of contact, answering any questions related to the assessment. School websites usually have very clear guidelines about enrolment, and parents should ask if they have any outstanding questions. There is a non-refundable charge for the assessment procedure, but this does not guarantee a place nor does it signify any contractual agreement between the school and parents.
Understandably, this can be an anxious time for both children and parents as they wait to hear if the application has been successful. Ideally, there should be a minimum delay in reporting assessment outcomes. Best practice would see a school giving feedback promptly and discussing the next steps for the child.
In Dubai, the assessment process is two-fold, and following a successful outcome it includes the school planning with the parents for any support or intervention that the child may require. It is important that parents remember at this point that schools are testing to see whether their child falls within the range of abilities of the current school pupils.
Transparency about the process, the fees and the assessment results is essential, and best practice keeps parents informed at every step. The most vital part of the procedure is that the children and their parents are not inconvenienced or caused unnecessary stress. The consideration that a particular school shows to parents and children could very well be indicative of the school’s ethos and be a good precursor to how the child will be treated during their time at that school.