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Mandatory inspections set for Dubai's schools

Private schools in Dubai say they are well prepared for mandatory inspections as they open their doors to scrutiny, some for the first time.

Private schools in Dubai say they are well prepared for mandatory inspections as they open their doors to scrutiny, some for the first time. The Dubai Schools Inspections Bureau will start visits within a fortnight. Outline results of each school's report will be made available for parents to read. The inspections by the bureau, part of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, will cover academic progress, personal and social development, teaching and curriculum standards, school security and leadership.

Both public and private schools are being assessed, with each inspection lasting between three and five days. Peter Daly, the head teacher of Dubai English Speaking College, where inspections begin on Oct 13, said schools "should always be in a state of readiness" for inspections. "You cannot just rush round at the last minute. You should have ongoing self-evaluation. It shouldn't happen that you create policies just before [an inspection]. That's not what they're interested in," he said.

Mr Daly, who has worked as an inspector with Britain's Office for Standards in Education, said schools should not "have to do much extra" to prepare for the inspectors. "Most things should be in place. It's a matter of giving them the things you think they need to know," he said. "We observe our staff, we keep records and feed it back to them throughout the year." Graham Penson, a spokesman for Dubai College, where inspections start next week, said a "very thorough" pre-inspection visit showed the school what the inspectors were going to look at.

"People are making sure that what the inspectors have indicated they're going to be looking at specifically, that these things are in place," he said. "We're trying to make the procedure as easy and as positive for us as possible. There's been an element of preparation, about ensuring that paperwork is in place, but that's always there. It's just making sure it's available for them to inspect." The team of inspectors will meet teachers, students and parents, observe classes and require schools to create action plans to introduce improvements.

Schools will not be ranked but summaries of inspection reports will be made available on the KHDA's website and the schools' websites. dbardsley@thenational.ae

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