ABU DHABI // The capital's first-ever school inspections will not be made public, despite a promise last year that they would be, the Abu Dhabi Education Council said yesterday. The council said it would fully inspect 95 of the capital's 179 private schools this year and not publish its findings, after initially pledging in May that it would inspect them all and make the results public.
Neither will the council inspect any of Abu Dhabi's 305 public schools. Inspectors will visit the 71 so-called villa schools that the council plans to close during the 2011-2012 school year, but only to look at health and safety issues. Yousif al Sheryani, executive director-designate for private schools at the council, said in an e-mail that "minor" adjustments and refinements had been made to the initial plan as the council "has accumulated additional intelligence and data while working with the private schools sector and its school leaders".
Mr al Sheryani said the findings would be released after a second round of inspections is done. The schools which are inspected in the first round will be given their results, and are allowed to make them public if they want to. In 2008, Dubai launched inspections and made the rankings and reports public. They painted a middling picture of school quality, but parents said it became easier to choose a school and to understand how schools were performing.
Several principals in the capital backed the council's decision to withhold the first round of results. "I think the approach they're taking here is to try to work with the schools toward improvement as opposed to trying to get behind them with a whip," said George Robinson, superintendent of the American Community School. Gareth Jones, principal of the American International School-Abu Dhabi, agreed, but wanted all the results published after the second round.
"In principle inspections are good things," added Wayne MacInnis, principal of Raha International School. "Maybe it's good to not publish the first round because it gives schools time to be accustomed to the standards that they're measuring and how they measure them." But parents were in favour of publishing results from the get-go. Bincy Thomas, an Indian mother, said: "It's better to publish. It helps other parents to choose, the people who are new expats will not be much aware of the schools here."
Kristy Wareford, an Australian mother of three, said: "A lot of the schools here are run by big businesses, so why shouldn't they be held accountable?" email@example.com