Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) will individually interview and assess more than 750 public school principals and vice-principals in Abu Dhabi within six weeks, a senior education official has revealed.

The ADEC's 2008-18 strategic plan will focus on developing leadership skills and performance among school principals, Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director-General of ADEC, told a conference here.

Starting on Sunday, a team of international experts and ADEC will separately interview school principals and vice principals to assess their current capabilities.

The assessment process will include a biographical survey with qualifications, experience and priorities of each principal.
Once information is gathered, each case will be analysed and profiled with recommendations on areas of strengths and weaknesses and where further development is required to help enhance individual performance and leadership skills.

Schedules provided

Educators in the room were each given a booklet with information on what type of questions to expect during the interview, background information such as duration and content and an appointment schedule of when their school principal/vice principal is expected to be interviewed.

Once the plan was announced, school principals in the hall started to anxiously skim through various booklets and documents given to them explaining the process in the upcoming programme to be completed by April 2009.

S.M, a public school principal, told Gulf News she was terrified with the new regulations.

"After hearing ADEC's plan to interview and assess us individually, it's only normal to feel a huge sense of responsibility on my shoulder. I am not sure if I can meet up with all those requirements. I hope I am up to it, we'll see." And that's the general feel most educators at the conference shared.

Professor Masoud Abdullah Badri, Head of Policy and Planning at ADEC, told Gulf News that school principals will now have different roles and expectations comparable to international standards. "It's not an easy reform for them. They will be required to keep with scientific findings, data, market changes and globalisation."

Badri said based upon the assessment results and findings ADEC will design individual professional development programmes for school principals.

"We will start to focus on individual needs. Some principals have better credentials than others; for those who we find ready to keep up with our changes, we will make them readier and for those we feel are not ready, we will offer them our support and make them ready!"

Al Khaili spoke at the conference about the importance of creating strong leadership skills among principals.

"The next five years will witness a significant investment in our children's future with many new initiatives in the way we teach and support our teachers. Our school leaders are at the forefront of these initiatives and the school leadership programme is a vital part of this process," said Al Khaili.