DUBAI // Inspectors visiting 138 Dubai private schools in the coming academic year will judge them on new requirements laid out by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
In the fifth round of annual inspections, officials will concentrate on efforts to develop pupils' social skills and accuracy in schools' self-evaluation reports.
Priority last academic year was given to provisions for children with special education needs and the progress of Emirati pupils.
Schools will be judged on their ability to instil appreciation of the role and values of Islam in society, respect for the heritage and culture of the UAE, understanding other cultures, community involvement and environmental awareness.
"In our ever-changing society it is increasingly important that students have the attitudes and social skills to deal with all aspects of the modern world," said Jameela Al Muhairi, chief of the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB).
"Students should not only be aware of many aspects of culture, community and the environment, but that they should also be contributing actively to them."
DSIB requires all schools to submit a self-evaluation before inspectors visit.
"Efficient self-evaluation is widely regarded as crucial to effective school improvement," said Ms Al Muhairi. "Inspections will take full account of schools' self-evaluations, as well as other key data in determining inspection activities."
Schools will lose marks if the evaluation is not rigorous enough, or if too many unrealistic targets are set.
Maya Hindi, the vice principal of Dubai Carmel School, said the new areas of focus were challenges the school, which was rated "Acceptable" in the most recent round of inspections, had already begun addressing.
"The challenge in a self-evaluation is the ever-changing student body and staff turnover," Ms Hindi said. "Every year we have to start with a new baseline."
She said that since the last inspections the school had changed the curriculum for the lower classes.
It had also begun tracking pupils' progress in all subjects, enabling it to analyse progress and adapt lessons.
Sameera Fernandes, the mother of two children at the JSS Private School in Dubai, said schools should provide a well-rounded education.
"Exposing them to good values at a young age is necessary to make them an active and productive part of society," said Mrs Fernandes.
She said schools were making an effort but needed take it more seriously.
"It needs to be done on a regular basis," Mrs Fernandes said. "Community service for the children must be compulsory."
She would like to see more emphasis on understanding the culture and learning Arabic.
"Speaking conversational Arabic is important for us," Mrs Fernandes said. "The children should be learning the national anthem of the UAE, its heritage and landmarks too."