Top UAE school -- one of the only boarding schools in the Middle East -- sees record growth and interest in number of families looking for weekly and flexible boarding options.
Swiss International School Dubai (SISD), a unique IB, bilingual boarding school based in the heart of Dubai, has seen the interest in boarding increase significantly this academic year, as the demand for weekly and flexi boarding options become more attractive. 

Currently over 20% of the boarding cohort of pupils are weekly boarders, spending weekends at home, and the interest has peaked this year, as a result of the intense traffic and high rental prices in the city. Families have cited reasons such as the high rental prices in Dubai forcing families to relocate to cheaper Emirates, and also the drive times making it logistically easier for students to live at school during the week.  

Parents who travel a lot – for work or otherwise – find weekly and flexible boarding options better suit their lifestyles, while reducing the school run to once a week to drop pupils off on Monday and collect them on Friday provides much more time for busy parents, as well as cutting the frustration of commuting – while also helping the environment – one of SISD’s values.

One of Dubai’s youngest schools, recently ranked as one of the world’s top 100 schools, SISD has seen a significant growth and level of interest this year in boarding – of nearly 100% growth year-on-year -- and still growing.  There are several reasons why boarding has increased in popularity – but the other main attractions include the school’s world-class facilities, teaching excellence and the rich, multilingual repertoire of both academic and pastoral care provided on site. 

On top of this, part of the increase is reflected in the city’s rapid population growth – which rose by some 86,607 people between June 2022 and June 2023, hitting a population figure of 3,597,829 citizens. 

Dubai is renowned for being a safe city in which to board, and is considered a dynamic place with lots to do. And as a multinational city, Dubai is attracting new residents who are interested in this type of destination for their children. 

Principal Ruth Burke says: “UK and European boarding schools are often perceived as old fashioned and very traditional in their approach to boarding. SISD is not like that. We believe we are setting a new standard in what 21st century boarding looks like.” 

Boarding students with a passion for sports can enjoy the world-class facilities and training sessions -- including a Speedo Swimming Club and an Athletics Club before and after school easier, without having to rely on early mornings and mum’s taxi. Parents are relived of the burden of driving the kids to and from school early in the morning and later in the evening, after normal school hours. 

And with more time for sleep, and less stress in the logistics of taking part in extra-curricular clubs, SISD sports students and teams tend to excel. Boarders receive greater academic support, providing students with more immediate, appropriate help with studies and homework.

Students live in purpose-built boarding houses on campus, with either individual or shared bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms. They have access to a full academic and pastoral care team living on site to support their needs.

There are pantries on each floor of each boarding house, and students are permitted to make their own snacks and drinks. Older students have access to a cooker and a washing machine to help develop these very important life skills.

Ashley Fitzgibbons, head of boarding, says: “Boarding in the UAE is fast setting the tone for boarding schools worldwide. Refreshingly different, modern, sporty and well-supported that’s how our students and families describe boarding at SISD. 

“It’s a fantastic option for both students and parents, and is well-suited for parents who live in Asia, other GCC countries, or who want to send their children to a safe and exciting city for their boarding experience. 

“Our weekly boarding families are also increasing, as families find this a convenient way of allowing their children to focus more on sports and academic studies, and supports busy working parents.  We also offer flexi boarding for parents who may need to travel, and the students love it!” 

“Boarding is also a great way of students having some independence, and preparing them for life at university, away from home.”

The school’s Al Jadaf location provides easy access to Dubai international Airport, the world’s largest airport hub, and let’s not forget that Dubai always ranks among the world’s safest cities. 

Ashley continues: “Boarding is ideal for parents who travel to Dubai and/or the Middle East a lot, live in GCC countries, or who have commercial business interests in Dubai. 

We are also offering a new boarding skills life programme preparing students for life after school.”

At the heart of the school’s boarding philosophy is a desire to always maintain the student/parent relationship, with parents encouraged to visit the students, and to take them out at the weekends if they are in Dubai.

From a pastoral perspective, every student has their own specific boarding tutor who is responsible for their general welfare, happiness, mental health and wellbeing.

Dedicated boarding counselling sessions are offered in three different languages. There is also a dedicated boarding nurse who attends to students’ medical needs.

Boarding activities don’t end at the weekend, either, with a host of local weekend trips chosen by the students themselves – including the likes of the ICCA culinary institute, the Emirati Centre for Cultural Understanding, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, and of course, the beaches and malls. 

After homework, extra-curricular activities and dinner, evenings are filled with laughter and social activity, as students enjoy movie nights, barbecues and quiz nights.

Student voice and agency is key, with boarding student leaders and ambassadors playing a significant leadership role, not only within the boarding house, but also within the school environment. They have the opportunity to support new and prospective families with school tours, plan house activities, shape boarding house rules and share their own experiences in the boarding school with other students. They also provide significant input into menus, trips and the general running of the houses.

SISD is ranked as one of the Top 100 schools in the world by the Spears Index and Carfax Education. 
Boarding students are available for interview. 
Swiss International School in Dubai 
Global in outlook, bilingual in approach, Swiss in culture, and yet firmly rooted in the local community of Dubai – that’s Swiss International School in Dubai, or SISD.

The Swiss International School in Dubai (SISD), Dubai’s first bilingual International Baccalaureate School, opened in 2015, and is the largest Swiss school outside Switzerland.

The school – part of the TAS sustainable organisation - is a leading international day and boarding school where future generations are inspired to become confident and enthusiastic lifelong learners, properly prepared to embrace all the opportunities and challenges life presents.

With a diverse student body of 1800 pupils comprising more than 100 different nationalities, the school believes the next generation of international citizens will need to be dynamic, flexible and linguistically ambitious. With this in mind, SISD offers immersive bilingual programmes in either of the Swiss languages of French and German, but also a strong English programme with foreign languages. For students who don’t wish to pursue a fully bilingual programme, there is a unique STEAM programme for all children from age 4-11 years. SISD stands out as one of only a handful of educational establishments globally classified as an IB Continuum school, which means it offers International Baccalaureate education to pupils from age 3 to 18.

Offering day school, weekly or full-term boarding options, this leading educational institution offers state-of-the-art STEAM education, and has world-class sporting facilities, too.
The school has laid out its B.E.S.T. Values, as follows:
A unique international and multilingual environment provides students with authentic exposure to English, French, German and Arabic. Students in the immersive bilingual programmes learn to communicate, think and reflect in two different languages. As global citizens, SISD celebrates diversity, promoting all languages and cultures with equal respect.

SISD staff believes in maintaining high standards and aspire to be the best they can be. A spirit of enquiry, encouraging both creative and critical thinking is fostered.

Students and staff believe that social, cultural, economic and environmental awareness prepare us to play our part in shaping a better future, both for ourselves and for those around us. The school campus is eco-friendly, winning international acclaim and awards for using less energy to create a comfortable and healthy environment.

In the school’s international community, we know that we are at our best when we all work together. We view active participation in the community, from the most local to the most global, as the foundation of a valuable life.
Media contact:
Ananda Shakespeare
Shakespeare Communications
00 971 50 296 0503