Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister, Tarja Halonen, former president of Finland, and Shaikh Hamad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, during the Transforming Education Summit at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The quality of teaching staff and better pay are key to ensuring educational excellence for children, international education experts said in the capital yesterday.

While this drive to improve the skills of teachers in public schools has been undertaken by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) over the last three years, a review of teaching standards in private schools is also currently being conducted in the capital, Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Adec's director general, told Gulf News.

"The results of this study, which also includes an analysis of teaching environments, school premises and pupil outcomes, will be published next year. Private schools will then be given time to raise their standards, if required, and align their education standards with Adec's requirements," Dr Al Khaili added.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the first Transforming Education Summit, which was launched in the capital yesterday. Organised by Adec, the conference was inaugurated by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Improve performance

In his keynote address, Gordon Brown, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, pointed out that a high level of experience and qualification among teachers and head teachers was indicative of better pupil performance.

"Various studies have shown that a good teacher increases pupils' performance by 50 per cent, while a poorly qualified teacher with minimum teaching experience decreases performance levels among pupils," Brown said.

"In addition, the global financial crisis calls for educational reform that will help develop children into critical thinkers. This calls for experienced head teachers to help lead the reform, but finding qualified teachers has previously been a challenge faced in the United Kingdom," he added.

More pay needed

Andy Hargreaves, professor of education at Boston College in the United States, agreed with Brown's assessment and added that teachers' pay needed to be improved across the world.

"Currently, most teachers consider teaching to be a temporary job and move on once they can find a higher-paid profession. We need to keep teachers in their professions and encourage them to seek better qualifications over time," Hargreaves explained.

Experts also called for the establishment of educational curricula that encourage children to become creative.

"Teachers and parents must begin tapping this creativity even before five years of age," Brown said.

Adec has increasingly been promoting an interactive curriculum as part of its New School Model introduced in 2009, and Dr Al Khaili said this model will be extended to apply to grade five pupils in the following academic year.

— With inputs from Nada Al Taher, Staff Reporter