Standards at many of Dubai’s private schools have a long way to go, according to a new school inspection report announced on Monday.
KHDA has come out with a comprehensive report detailing the overall performance of all private schools in the last academic year. Majority of the schools failed to improve their rating compared to last year.
Sixty-five were termed ‘acceptable’, while 13 schools languished at the bottom ‘unsatisfactory’ category, raising questions on the pace of improvement at these institutions. Only 49 were rated good and the silver lining came in the form of 11 schools which were graded ‘outstanding’ with five schools joining the list from last year.
The inspections were conducted by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) at 138 private schools, which provide education to 87 per cent of students in the emirate.
“Just under half of Dubai’s students still attend schools providing, overall, an acceptable quality of education. There are around 95,000 students in such schools and this is not significantly different from the previous year,” the report said.
Jameela Al Muhairi, Chief of Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) highlighted issues facing unsatisfactory schools as she said: “Most staff do not have suitable qualification and expertise to provide a good learning experience to these students. The curriculum and examinations are not based on recognised qualifications and students have made slow progress in Islamic and Arabic education.”
While good and outstanding schools have emphasised on improving education, schools in the unsatisfactory category have continued to show no improvement. Most schools have not been successful in improving their overall rating this year despite the rapid improvements noted in the first year of inspection.
More than 199,000 students are enrolled in private schools across Dubai as the annual school inspection reports drive educational reforms at the school level. Inspectors from DSIB attend lessons, take feedback from students and parents and review the school’s leadership as part of the inspection cycle.
Robin Appleby, Superintendent of Dubai American Academy, a school which was rated ‘outstanding’ praised the inspection cycle as she said, “An inspection is a snapshot of a school’s performance as seen within a week’s time by the inspectors. The goal of any school is to continue keeping up with the inspection standards for the entire year.”
She also highlighted the need to relook at the frequency of inspections as she said: “Schools which are improving and taking the inspection more seriously would benefit from more time which will allow them to fully implement improvements. However, schools that are not meeting the standards need to be inspected regularly,”
The Kings Dubai School is the only school which has been rated ‘Outstanding’ in all the school inspections over the last four years.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, Kevin Stedman, Chief Education Officer at Dubai Kings School said: “The publication of school reports and the outstanding rating does influence people’s school choice and we see a difference particularly after the announcement of inspection outcomes. The inspection happens every year and we try not to let it dominate our planning and focus. Kings uses an in depth process of self-review and we consider the opinion of inspectors which help the school take a step further.”
This year’s school inspection cycle also included Iranian schools for the first time as all five Iranian schools received an ‘acceptable’ rating. Schools following the French curriculum were also rated ‘good’ as the report noted, “Students in French schools are often skilled tri-lingual learners when they progress to university education.”
Most private schools following the Ministry of Education curriculum were rated ‘acceptable’, with the exception of one school, which was rated unsatisfactory. Poor learning at kindergarten level and a narrow curriculum were blamed for the ratings.
Every year schools in Dubai are inspected by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) which evaluates a school on various criteria. The inspection results are provided to parents and schools annually as schools are categorised into outstanding, good, acceptable and unsatisfactory category.