Sending your child to a Dubai school is an expensive exercise. First you need to compare all the Dubai schools to find the right one for your child and for your wallet.  You can search by location, curriculum and eventually sort by fees and more importantly compare all the extra costs such meals, school fees and extra curricular activities.  According to a 2016 report by Zurich Life, UAE parents spend an estimated AED 1 million in education expenses per child, over the lifetime of their education. Schooling fees alone, including pre-school, primary and secondary can add up to over AED 500,000!

But as well as the fees, there are a whole host of other expenses to consider. From school shoes and uniforms to school trips, lunches, craft markets, book fairs, charitable donations, presents for teachers and more, sending a child to school is more than the standard fees.

And it’s not just what happens in school hours that you need to consider. Getting to and from school will cost too. If you are driving there yourself there is petrol to consider, otherwise a regular taxi fare or school bus fees will quickly add up. In addition to that, there is also the cost of what to do with the kids after school.

While non-working mums may shell out for after school clubs such as ballet, musical instrument lessons or extra tuition, working parents may hire the services of nurseries or nannies to care for their offspring after hours. It’s a series of costs that can see some parents spending thousands of dirhams on top of the standard fees.

Hala El Khoury, 29, from Lebanon, estimates she spends an extra AED15,000 on her four-year-old daughter’s education on top of the AED23,400 she already spends on fees.

This could double when her seven-month-old son joins her daughter at one of the Dubai schools.  While the extra amount is not a surprise to her, she does feel it is “too much”.

She said: “Dubai Schools are reluctant to position it as a one off payment because it will appear quiet inflated so they came with this category of ‘additional’ costs. A transparent approach to costing would enable a better financial management and a proper management of the parent’s expectations.”

For Briton Sameena Ramtoola, she estimates the extras cost her AED 2,500 on top of the AED 38,000 she spends on school fees for her five-year-old son. Again she will see these amounts double when her 21-month-old daughter goes to school.

She said: “The extra amount was a surprise to me. The amount of school trips they have per term, the collections, contributions, every two weeks there is something new. The cost of the uniform was what surprised me the most.”

There are a few ways to keep the costs down when your child attends a Dubai school:

  • Choose bus fees over taxis
  • Buy secondhand uniform from the school secondhand shop rather than brand new
  • Also, limit how much you give your child to spend at book sales, craft fairs and for charitable events and only sign up for the school trips you think are valuable for your child.
  • When it comes to after school, think carefully about which clubs to send your child to. If they don’t like ballet or karate or the piano, don’t make them do it just because you want them to go.
  • Also, if your child is already having a rounded education in school, do they really need that tutor? Think carefully about what you can afford and what your child enjoys and then sign them up.

As much as you want your child to do everything they can, you must consider the financial implications for you. Education in a Dubai school is expensive in itself and that is without adding a series of educational extras you don’t need