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Abu Dhabi Education Council to assess headmasters’ administrative abilities

IT will no longer be a standalone subject

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) has informed all private schools in the emirate that they will be monitored and evaluated to assess the performance of their administration. Heads of schools who receive an overall evaluation of ‘Weak’ or “Below Average’ may lose their jobs, according to the assessment requirements sent to schools by the council recently.

Schools that get a low overall assessment grade will also have to follow special procedures to stay in the business.

Sources from the industry told Gulf News that Adec will assess all headmasters in order to know their technical and administrative abilities and if they are technically fit to keep up with developments in the field of education.

Sources added that there will be a designated committee to apply such procedures and their results will be announced by the end of the current school year, which will be in July.

Gulf News has learnt that specialised inspectors will pay visits to private schools to assess the performance of administrations and know how much the schools follow the clauses which have been set by Adec. The visits will also include setting plans to develop curriculums and raising students’ performance.

Additionally, the inspection aims to find out students’ satisfaction with curriculums, quality of school buildings and school facilities.

Schools will have to send their development plans within 30 days of the publication of inspection reports.

The inspection comes as part of a programme called“Irtiqaa” (Arabic for ‘elevation’).

Regulations set by Adec require headmasters and their staff to follow a set of procedures to record any progress or setback. Committees related to Adec have also mandated schools to set detailed development plans.

Schools have been warned against having staff housing inside school campuses without prior permission from Adec.

Meanwhile, pupils of sixth grade at public schools will no longer study Information Technology as a standalone subject, senior education officials announced in the capital today (Monday).

Instead, the use of computers and advanced technology will be integrated within their learning of other core subjects, including maths and science, said Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, director general at Adec.

“Teachers who have so far been involved in teaching Information Technology to Grade 6 pupils will now facilitate the incorporation of advanced technological methods and electronic learning in other subjects. Their support will also be vital as we introduce a new virtual learning system that is further expected to enhance educational standards in the emirate. In addition, the learning outcomes of the subject of Information Technology will be achieved as pupils use advanced systems to study other subjects,” Dr Al Khaili told Gulf News.

The change will be implemented as part of the New School Model (NSM) roll-out for Grade 6 in public schools. The model prioritises creative thinking and innovation, and is already followed by all public school pupils enrolled up to Grade 5.

At a meeting held to announce the upcoming changes, Dr Al Khaili said that the introduction of the NSM across Cycle 2 (Grades 6 to 9) schools marks a transformational development for Abu Dhabi’s educational system.

Nearly 102 public schools in Abu Dhabi enrol sixth graders at present, and the change in the curriculum will apply to all of them. At the same time, Information Technology will continue to be taught as a separate subject in Cycle 1 (Grades 1 to 5) schools.

Other changes will also be seen in the Grade 6 curriculum during the next academic year, including a change in teaching hours for Science.

“The total teaching time per week will remain constant at 35 hours, and each class will run for 45 minutes as usual. The core subjects of English, Arabic, Maths and Science will be taught for six classes a week. This represents an additional two classes that will be devoted to Science learning, and one less for Arabic,” explained Dr Karima Al Mazroui, curriculum division manager at the Adec.

“The seventh Arabic class will instead be devoted to Social Studies, which will be taught in the Arabic language and will cover topics within history, geography, sociology, psychology, economics and national education,” she added.

The instructional time for Physical Education, Islamic Studies and Arts will also remain the same at four classes per week. In addition, health education, which consists of lessons in balanced nutrition, for instance, will be covered during the Physical Education class. This will now be known as Health and Physical Education. A Music class will also be assigned for Grades 7 to 9.

The readiness of pupils and principals to adopt these amendments to the curriculum has been carefully studied by the Adec. For example, subjects like Maths and Science are currently taught in Arabic for Grade 6 pupils. As part of the NSM, however, they will be taught in the English language.

“Pupils who will be enrolled in Grade 6 during 2013-2014 have already been following the NSM in the past three academic years, and this is an indicator that they will be ready for the changes in Grade 6,” said Dr Karima.

Teachers’ ability to adapt to the NSM has also been assessed, using tests such as the International English Language Testing System and the Cambridge Assessment.

“A number of Cycle 2 teachers are not yet prepared for offering English language instruction in Maths and Science, and they have been reassigned to teach other grades that still use Arabic as the main language. Reassigned faculty will also simultaneously receive training in English and as soon as they are qualified, they can take up their positions again,” Dr Al Khaili said.

Officials anticipate a number of challenges as the NSM is launched for Grade 6. Chief among these is the fact that there is less parental involvement compared to the lower grades.

“Parents often become less concerned as their children get older, especially when they transition to middle school. This is why we call upon them to play a more active role as the curriculum is upgraded,” Dr Karima stressed.