Expats moving to Jeddah with children will certainly consider education and schooling to be a priority. The quality of a child's schooling has a huge impact on their transition into expat life. This is especially true in a country which has dramatically different cultural norms to those that they are accustomed to at home.
The expat community in Jeddah is fairly sizeable. Expats don't have access to public schools in Saudi Arabia, as admission into these institutions is restricted to Saudi citizens and naturalised Arabs. However, there are a decent number of international schooling options available for those who decide to relocate to Jeddah with children.
International schools in Jeddah
Several private international schools cater to the expat community in Jeddah, allowing foreign children to study curricula similar to what they had back home – but they can be pricey and space is limited.
It’s important for expat parents to apply to several schools as early as they can. For the most part, schools don’t restrict who can attend, but some may give preference to certain nationalities and students with strong academic records. Admission requirements vary according to the institution. So it's best to contact each school directly to find out more about enrollment procedures. Some schools require references from previous schools and others may require potential students to take entrance exams.
Being charged a non-refundable application fee is standard, and some schools also require a seat deposit. Expat parents should also budget for additional expenses such as textbooks, extra-curricular activities and school excursions.
The school year in Saudi Arabia runs from September to June. It is normally divided into two or three terms, depending on the school. The school week is Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. School hours in international schools in Jeddah are usually from 7am to 3.30pm. School days are shortened during the holy month of Ramadan.
Homeschooling in Jeddah
Homeschooling is not generally recognised in Saudi Arabia and expats living in Jeddah may struggle to find resources. However, it is not illegal and therefore numerous expats do follow this option, even just temporarily until they manage to secure a place for their child at an international school.
►For a list of expat-friendly schools, see International Schools in Jeddah.
Are you an expat living in Jeddah?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jeddah. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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