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Private schools to be targeted over Emiratis' needs

Inspectors are to focus on whether private schools are meeting Emirati needs.

DUBAI // Inspectors will be paying particular attention next year to whether private schools are meeting Emiratis' needs, the education authority announced yesterday.

Laying out plans for the next set of annual inspections, Dr Abdulla Al Karam, the director general of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said analysing the progress of Emiratis in private schools was a priority.

According to the KHDA, 57 per cent of Dubai's Emirati children go to private schools rather than the free state schools.

"We will be looking at the key subjects - Arabic, Islamic education, English, mathematics and science," he said. "The detailed report will give a clear idea on how they are progressing in private schools."

Schools will also be rated according to how well they provide for children with special education needs.

But even those rated as good or outstanding would still be subject to annual inspections, said Dr Al Karam - despite their requests for a laxer schedule.

"Most schools are run on a for-profit basis and this makes it essential to monitor their intentions and quality," said Dr Al Karam.

He said that the high turnover of staff at many institutions added to the problem, meaning a school that is good one year cannot be assumed to be as good the next.

However, this year all schools will be asked to evaluate themselves, which will be compared with the inspectors' judgement. "For good and outstanding schools, this will provide us with an idea of whether we should increase the gap between inspections."

Jameela Al Muhairi, the chief of Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, said this was important because many schools were not realistically appraising their own performance, and therefore making plans to address any problems.

"Even the schools that were performing well did not have goals in place, it was just daily work they concentrated on."

Guruswami Kalloor, the general manager of JSS International School in Dubai, which received a good rating this year, said annual inspections were tedious for staff.

"Being inspected once in two years seems more reasonable," he said. "It would give us more time to make changes and have significant results to prove our efforts."

He said the school had developed an action plan and was preparing for the next inspections.

Clive Pierrepont, the director of communications at Taaleem, which has six international schools in Dubai, said self-evaluation was already part of its accreditation process.

"As with the self-evaluation exercise for international accreditation, the inspection system should look, in the future, to measure schools against the best in the world," he said.

aahmed@thenational.ae

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