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Curricula that the school offers- British, American, IB or Indian… the dilemma of making the right choice!

Statistics for the UAE shows that there are 55 curricula offered in various schools and it is the ‘melting pot’ of what best education has to offer! British, International Baccalaureate American, and Indian, are the four major curricula that are much sot after, but be aware that there are plenty of other choices, so if these big four don’t feel right for you, look deeper

Before you start considering various alternatives, it is vital to understand your child/ren’s needs, interest and how they learn? Do they require a regulated structured environment? Are they more imaginative and creative? Are they very academic and scholastic? Knowing your children will help you identify a programme/ curriculum and the school that best convoke their requirements.

Agreed it’s tough to know your children’s learning style at such an early age of three or four years, but something will stand out for you to know.

Another important factor to base your curriculum decision is on where you are planning to send your child/ren to university and how long you plan on staying in the UAE. I know this may seem many moons away, but it’s important to know that colleges & universities have different requirements in different countries. But ultimately look for how your children will be challenged and positively engaged in their learning.

Respectively each programme has its own significant strengths that have been developed over the years.

The British curriculum also known as National Curriculum of England is learner centered, comprehensive and well-balanced, system of education that is intended to prepare students for their future workplaces. The stress is on creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and flexibility throughout based on children’s needs and understanding. The curriculum is measurable and aims to ensure that students reach their full potential through achievable goals, providing foundation to build on.

Students are encouraged to form opinions, to reason for themselves, relate to others and gain understanding by taking responsibility and being accountable for their own actions and decisions.

The British curriculum is split into several year blocks, which are named as Key Stages, and includes the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework which covers pre-schoolers.

Key Stage 1 includes students from ages 5-7 years old
Key stage 2 includes students from ages 7 to 11 years old
Key stage 3 includes students from ages 11 to 14 years old
Key stage 4 includes students from ages 14 to 16 years old

General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE,) and Advanced level (A-Level) qualifications are subject based, internationally recognised accepted qualifications at majority of the universities worldwide.

The American curriculum emphasises on helping learners determine their aptitudes and make the best of their talents. The main emphasis is on creativity, imagination and social interactions and is aimed to organise students for college and careers. The American curriculum is more open and flexible and allows for more freedom of choice/ less rigid that they will need to follow up to Grade 10 or 11.

American curriculum has

Elementary School which is Pre – K to Grade 6
Middle School grades 7 to 8 and
High school grades 9-12
on reaching grades 11 and 12 students route advanced placement pathways.

Students are confident to study a wide range of subjects up to university level and the curriculum is less pitched to thorough comprehensive in-depth study.

Personal, social, and emotional development of each child is given significant importance. There are no set standards or central curriculum monitoring system, hence the quality and characteristics of education can differ even among the few American curriculum schools to be found in the UAE. However, the curriculum concentrates on constant assessment throughout the year.

The International baccalaureate (IB) programme encourages an active approach to learning, with teamwork and other personal skills included in studies.

The complete IB programme runs from three years old through to 16 years from (FS to 6th Form)

The Primary Years Programme, also called PYP is from 3 to 11 years of age and offers an integrated curriculum, enabling children to learn through guided exploration, investigation, and structured well-thought-out inquiry.

Middle Years Programme also called MYP is from 11 years to 16 years Children take an active and energetic approach to learning. They begin to use the skills learned by taking part in team projects from an early age, such as public broadcasted speaking as well as tapping into presentations skills to present their knowledge and learning of the subject.

Diploma Programme also called DP 16 to 18 years concentrates on developing individual personal skills and talents rather than just academic achievement that they will require for life after school. Nevertheless, students must demonstrate they can keep up with the workload and are organised in their learning which is considered a life skill.

The Indian Curriculum is one of the oldest Curriculum’s offered all around the region within the UAE, as well as globally. The two versions of the Indian Curriculum that students can opt for are the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) which is offered in many international schools. These examination boards offer curricula, resources, and standardised examination against the National Curriculum Framework for grades 9 -12. The mandatory education commences from age 6, most Indian curriculum schools offer two to four years of pre-school education to prepare children for entry to formal schooling at age 6. Indian curriculum schools begin their academic year from April to March. A Secondary School Certificate (SSC) is achieved after students complete 10 years of school n and a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) is obtained after12 years of schooling.

Though certain features and characteristics are unique to the individual curricula, it is essential to comment that schools following any curriculum in UAE must align themselves with the requirements of national expectations assigned by the local governing bodies such as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) Abu Dhabi Department of Education (ADEK) and Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA.) Most schools now have renewed focus on aspects such as tolerance, health, well-being, sustainability, and happiness, thus necessitating the growth of a well-rounded balanced individual. Hence, it would be safe to say that though schools may follow a specific curriculum, but most of the school are now directed by newfound purpose, in that they ensure the overall holistic development of a child, with like skills that not only prepare them for the life in school but gear them with skills and preparing them for life beyond school.


Mrs. Samina Khanyari
General Manager
Jumeirah International Nurseries (JINS)