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'Must try harder' Dubai and Northern Emirates school told

Only 88 per cent of the schools inspected by the Ministry of Education have passed muster.

DUBAI // Lack of good leadership and effective teaching methods are the most common faults among schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, inspectors say.

Since starting its evaluation process in 2009, the Ministry of Education has visited 223 schools across the six emirates, excluding Abu Dhabi, rating them as "highly effective", "effective" or "not yet effective".

"To get accredited, schools must be rated effective in six key areas," said Eileen Owens, principal consultant from the CfBT Education Trust, which was contracted by the ministry for the evaluations.

The six areas are leadership, community involvement, teaching and learning, how the curriculum is planned, academic progress of pupils, and pupils' personal growth.

The general findings of the inspections were announced yesterday at the ministry's second annual education conference.

The most positive trend to emerge was in the area of assisting pupils' personal growth, with 96 per cent of the schools rated highly effective or effective.

But of the schools assessed to date, the ministry said, only 88 per cent received a seal of approval.

The schools that failed inspection were most often cited for having ineffective leadership (23 per cent) or poor teaching and learning (22 per cent).

They were given a year to improve before inspectors returned.

"The area schools really need to work on is teaching and learning," said Ms Owens.

"Teachers aren't yet there when it comes to modern teaching. They do not have enough experience in the up-to-date ways and a lot of them still apply traditional rote methods."

Eman Issa, an English teacher at the Al Darari School in Sharjah, said an inspection had been conducted at her school.

"I am not sure about the overall results," Ms Issa said. "But personally I think this feedback, no matter how good or bad, is important."

She said she was not surprised that teaching and learning was highlighted by the inspectors, as she had suggested some changes needed to be made in that area.

"I would like to see a change in the curriculum to adopt our culture," Ms Issa said.

"We also need to be better equip-ped with technology."

Peter Moulson, a special adviser at CfBT, said such results were not surprising because the concept of inspections was fairly new, especially at government schools.

"The schools are no longer being evaluated against each other but according to international standards," said Mr Moulson. "When we tell them they're not up to standard, it's not criticism but a tool to improve."

Schools will not be given an overall rating when the evaluations are completed, he said.

"We won't give an overall mark because that ends up being the only one discussed," he said. "So we only mention how effective the school is in each key area."

Mr Moulson said there were plans to create a team of Emirati evaluators to lead the accreditation process in future.

"Emirati inspectors are currently training with us," he said. "It is interesting because they are all teachers and principals who take out time from their day job to commit to this."

About 83 Emiratis have been trained so far and CfBT aims to prepare another 225 by 2014.

The schools excluded from the ministry inspections are those in the capital, which are overseen by the Abu Dhabi Education Council, and private schools in Dubai, which are regulated by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

aahmed@thenational.ae

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