“Can anyone recommend a good school in Dubai for..”

It’s a question I used to greet with a silent, but hollow laugh. Back in the heady days of 2008, and before no doubt, it was every new expats concern.

Why the laugh?For a decision so major, and one that every careful parent would spend time and effort on – the fact is, you really had no choice.

Seasoned residents could recommend away, but the real question needed to be “Which school do I have a chance of a place in” as choice, really wasn’t something most of us had the liberty of.

Unless you were a lucky recipient of a gold dust like ‘debenture’, it really was a case of simply finding the most suitable school that actually had a space for your child. You would narrow down to location and curriculum and hope that somewhere had a space – a tense time, if like us, you landed with a matter of weeks notice of your new posting, and these kids need educating!

Registration procedures were vague, and it felt like institutions could charge what they liked with regards to ‘fees’ and ‘admin costs’ – all before you were lucky enough to receive confirmation of a place and the eye watering bills that went along with tuition and extra costs for uniform and transport.

If you were pregnant in Dubai and planning ahead, you still needed to get the little darlings name down on those coveted lists if you had a specific school in mind, and even then you were crossing your fingers.

Things got a little calmer a couple of years ago, but there is no denying that things are ‘hotting up’ again, literally and metaphorically. The traffic is building and those cranes are operating again – which means more people and less places.

Luckily, you have the new KHDA inspections a s a guide to who represents the best education for your needs, and it feels like less of a ‘ shot in the dark’ when choosing your child’s education provider, but with a myriad of brand new establishments opening it can still be a bit trial and error.

This is why such innovations as the Souqalmal.com school and nursery comparison tools are invaluable. Its only by sharing real information, reviews and facts about educational establishments can we begin to feel empowered in the UAE about the choices we make for our kids. Okay, there are no magic wands when it comes to guarantee places, but transparency on fees, facilities and honest feedback from other parents is a huge leap in the right direction for the region.

So let’s get using, commenting and sharing. By adding your own thoughts, and encouraging fellow parents to do the same we are helping each other and ourselves. It’s one of the biggest outlays we have as parents in the UAE, we need to feel that we know where our hard earned Dirhams are going and to whether a school or nursery s a good ‘fit’ for our individual family members.