The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has announced a revision in the minimum age for children starting school in Dubai, made according to the UAE Ministry of Education (MoE) Resolution no (24).
Announced on 23 February 2021 on the KHDA social media channels, the changes mean a child must now be three years old to be enrolled in FS1 (or pre-KG), and four years old to be enrolled in FS2 (KG1) at the start of the academic year.
Previously, for schools with academic years starting in September, it was possible to start school in FS1 or pre-KG at the age of two, if the child would turn three by the end of December that year.
The new minimum age requirements for starting school
According to the KHDA, children enrolling in FS1 or Pre-KG in schools starting in September must be three years old on or before August 31 of that year. Children enrolling in Pre-KG in schools starting in April must be three years old on or before March 31 f that year.
Children enrolling in FS2 or KG1 must be four years old on or before August 31 for schools starting in September. Children enrolling in KG1 in schools starting in April must be four years old on or before March 31.
Similarly, children enrolling in Year 1 or KG2 must be five years old on or before August 31 for schools starting in September. Children enrolling in KG2 in schools starting in April must be five years old on or before March 31.
The MoE resolution stipulates that all students currently enrolled at private schools in the UAE are not affected by the change. This includes students who enrol for the final term of the 2020/21 academic year.
Schools that start the academic year in September, in line with MoE Resolution no (24):
Schools that start the academic year in April, in line with MoE Resolution no (24):
The KHDA has answered some frequently asked questions on their website:
1. When will this change come into effect?
For schools that start in September, this change will be applicable from the start of the 2021/22 academic year in September 2021.
For schools that start in April, this change will be applicable from the start of the 2022/23 academic year in April 2022.
2. Why was this change made?
This decision was made to bring more consistency to the cut-off dates used by schools in the UAE with those used by schools abroad. For example, UK schools in the UAE will now have the same cut-off date as schools in the UK, and international British schools.
3. Who will this change impact?
This change will impact children up to six years old who are enrolling in school for the first time.
4. Will the new cut-off date apply to all year/grade levels?
It will apply to new students enrolling in FS1, FS2, Year 1 and Year 2 (Pre-KG, KG1, KG2 and Grade 1 respectively) in all schools in the UAE, as stipulated in the MoE resolution.
5. My child was born in October and is now in FS1 – I want to enrol him in another school for FS2. Can I do this or does he have to repeat the year?
Because your child is already enrolled in school, the new cut-off dates in the MoE resolution do not apply. He does not have to repeat the year.
6. My son was enrolled in FS1 this year but I withdrew his enrolment due to Covid. He’ll be 3 years old in September. Can I still enrol him in FS2 next year?
Your child must have formally finished the previous academic year in order to enrol in the next one. Since he does not meet the age requirement for FS2 for next academic year, he must enrol in FS1. According to the MoE resolution, he can enrol in FS2 next academic year only if he completes FS1 this academic year.
7. My daughter will be 4 years old in December. If I enrol her in FS2 for the last term of this year – before the changes come into effect - will she be able to start Year 1 next year?
Yes. The new age requirements will apply for new students from the start of the next academic year only. The MoE resolution stipulates that all students currently enrolled at private schools in the UAE are not affected by the change.
8. I’ve already registered and paid the deposit for my daughter to start school in FS2 in September. She will be four years old in November. Is she affected by this?
According to the new cut-off dates in the MoE resolution, your daughter will not be able to start in FS2 in September. Parents whose children are affected by the new cut-off dates and who have already paid deposits for their children’s enrolment are entitled to a refund if they wish.
9. My child was born one day after the cut-off date. Is there some leeway given?
No exceptions to the cut-off dates will be given under any circumstances.