Dubai: Schools in Dubai should focus more on developing pupils’ personalities and social skills and also focus on education for special needs children, according to new guidelines issued by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
The Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB), under the KHDA, released the fifth annual inspections handbook on Sunday ahead of the new academic year, which commences on September 9.
The handbook, prepared in consultation with school principals, teachers and parents in Dubai, is a set of criteria on which schools can base their progress, while also working as a guideline for DSIB inspectors.
Focusing on the development of personality and preparing pupils to face challenges, the handbook gives clear information on the methods of inspection and what the authority tries to achieve with education in Dubai.
“In our ever-changing society, it is increasingly important that pupils have the attitudes and social skills to deal with all aspects of the modern world, especially in the context of Dubai.
“Reflecting the main messages of the UAE 2021 Vision, we believe that pupils should not only be aware of many aspects of culture, community and the environment, but that they should also be contributing actively to them,” said Jameela Al Muhairi, Chief of DSIB, commenting on the handbook.
Apart from focusing on the social skills of pupils, the handbook spells out additional areas of focus for inspectors in the upcoming inspections cycle.
A stronger emphasis will be placed on the quality of support schools provide for their special needs pupils, as well as on the progress these pupils make across all subjects.
“This handbook is essential in guiding schools’ self-evaluation and making sure they are focused on the quality of provision.
“Our pursuit of high-quality education for all children in Dubai will continue and we will spare no effort in raising schools’ awareness of how this goal can be achieved,” she added.
In line with the UAE 2021 Vision, which has a special emphasis on an inclusive society that eases people with special needs into the mainstream, the handbook is a step in the right direction.
According to Jameela, the provision of specialised education will be one of the key focuses of the revised inspection system.
She indicated that only a minority of schools make good provision for special needs pupils and ensure that their academic progress is good.
“Many schools do not yet have the staff expertise or systems to respond sufficiently to these pupils.
“Therefore, there will be greater attention to the identification of and provision for pupils with special educational needs,” she emphasised.
This will mean schools will have to provide more comprehensive data about all groups of pupils, concentrating on the academic progress and achievements of Emirati pupils.
Inspectors will closely examine the performance of Emiratis compared with their classmates.
Beginning this year, all schools are required to submit a self-evaluation document prior to their inspections.
The self-evaluation resource for schools will be accompanied by the handbook.
Together with each school’s previous inspection report, inspectors will use this self-evaluation form as the starting point for conducting inspections.
“Efficient self-evaluation is widely regarded as crucial to effective school improvement. Inspections will take full account of schools’ self-evaluations, as well as other key data, in determining inspection activities,” noted Jameela.
DSIB inspected 138 private schools in the 2011/12 academic year, visiting 13,789 classes and speaking to around 1,850 pupils and staff. More than 50,000 parents, teachers and pupils completed the DSIB questionnaires, which inspectors used to guide their judgement in specific aspects of school quality.
This year, inspections will begin the last week of September and will be conducted in batches with schools following different curriculum.
The inspection results are announced annually and are linked to schools’ ability to hike tuition fees.
Schools that are ranked outstanding are allowed to raise fees equivalent to twice the Educational Cost Index (ECI x 2), which is set annually by Dubai Statistics Centre and is three per cent of each school’s tuition fee.
Good schools can raise fees equivalent ECI x 1.5, while acceptable and unsatisfactory schools can increase their fees by ECIx1.
School fees in the UAE range from Dh18,000 to Dh92,000 per anum.