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Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director general of KHDA, addressing school leaders during a welcome event for principals hosted at Knowledge and Human Development Authority Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Inspections for private schools in Dubai will change this academic year onwards, including a shorter notice period and a “review visit” instead of a standard inspection for the top schools, officials announced on Sunday.

The new measures were announced by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA); 185 school representatives were already informed of the changes at a recent gathering of school principals and leaders hosted by the KHDA.

These changes will be implemented from the start of the 12th inspection cycle, beginning next month.

Review visits

Under the new terms, schools that were rated ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Good’ in the previous inspection cycle will now receive shorter review visits instead of longer inspections, aimed at ensuring they continue to provide high-quality education.

On the other hand, in schools that need “more development,” inspectors will be spending more time on campus.

Shorter notice

Also, “following extensive feedback from the community”, the KHDA’s Dubai School Inspection Bureau (DSIB) will shorten the notice period given to schools before inspections begin, from three weeks to five working days.

Schools inspectors will also assess plans put in place by schools to ensure that Emirati students are making progress towards reaching their potential. In addition to evaluating student attainment and progress, they will focus on the extent to which schools are fostering and cultivating Emirati students’ talents and skills.

Going paperless

A further change will see inspectors operate on a paperless platform. Inspectors will access electronic copies of all documents uploaded by the school onto the DSIB platform and cut-down on the use of paper documents during inspections.

Focus areas

Additionally, inspections’ priority focus areas this academic year have been revealed as the National Agenda, Moral Education, UAE social studies, innovation, inclusion and reading.

Meanwhile, new schools in Dubai will continue to benefit from pre-inspection visits leading to a full-inspection in the school’s third year of operation. Parents and learners will still be able to read school inspection reports on the KHDA website,

Informed choices

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General, KHDA, said: “Private school inspections began in Dubai 11 years ago and this year is very special to us because the graduating class represents a full cohort that has benefited from our policies with substantial improvements in our schools. Our reports have given parents clear and helpful information that reassures them of the quality of education, as well as informs them of their children’s future education choices.”

‘Useful feedback’

Fatma Belrehif, CEO, DSIB, said: “After 11 years of inspection, our schools have a deeper understanding of self-evaluation and inspection processes, and are able to engage with the inspection process with a shorter notification period. We have listened to useful feedback from parents, students, teachers, principals and school operators about our school inspections and made some changes to the way we inspect schools. Our inspectors will be spending more time in schools that need more development.”

Focus areas for latest inspections

• Social Studies: This is now a key subject and students’ attainment across the school will be evaluated and reported on.

• National Agenda: This continues to an important strategic initiative and inspectors will measure and monitor each school’s improvement towards achieving their individual National Agenda targets.

• Inclusion: Inspectors will continue to increase expectations of the quality of provision provided to students of determination.

• Moral Education: Inspectors will review schools’ compliance with the UAE’s requirements for Moral Education, in addition to the school’s response to survey data and the impact this has on students’ well-being, happiness and moral development.

• Innovation: Further emphasis will be placed on how well the school has embedded innovation across the school’s leadership, curriculum, learning and teaching.

• Reading across the curriculum: This year the focus of DSIB will continue to be on reading in all subjects, and the development of students’ skills and strategies for reading in English and Arabic as a first language. Additionally, schools are expected to provide evidence of their ongoing assessment of students’ reading skills in these languages.